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Ken Haedrich
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 Apple Pie Perfect

 Ken Haedrich
Ken Haedrich

Ken Haedrich is a former Navy Seabee turned pie aficionado. His new book, Apple Pie Perfect has over 100 recipes ranging from skins-on-the-apples in a whole wheat crust to frozen apple and peanut butter mousse.

Order Apple Pie Perfect


 traditional apple

Traditional Pie Apples:
- Northern Spy
- Cox's Orange Pippin
- Wealthy
- Yellow Bellflower
- Rhode Island Greening
- Bramley's Seedling
- Bightigheimer
- Newtown Pippin
- Holstein
- Calville Blanc
- Summer Rambo
- Jonathon
- Duchess
- Grimes Golden
- Gravenstein
- Winesap
- York Imperial
- King David
- Rome Beauty

Newer Pie Apples:
- Macoun
- Jonagold
- Granny Smith
- Ida Red
- Spigold
- Braeburn

For variety, try:
- Golden Russet
- Tolman Sweet
- Tompkins King
- Haralson
- Honeycrisp
- Swiss Gourmet
- Fuji
- Wolf River
- Baldwin

 Apple Pie Perfect
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Of Apple Pie, Thanksgiving, and Little White Lies
November 2002

The other day I was giving an interview on live radio - about the zillioneth since the release of my new cookbook, Apple Pie Perfect, two months ago - when the show's host said to me: "Ken, since you wrote the book on apple pie, please tell our listeners what sort of apple pie you'll be baking for Thanksgiving this year. I'll bet it's one of your favorites."

At which point I told a little white lie. I said: "Well, Celeste, I'll probably be making my delicious Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping, from page 76" - this because I thought it would be a little too decadent to tell the truth: "I'm not really cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, Celeste, because I'm flying off to an incredibly gorgeous resort in Hawaii, all expenses paid, to give a couple of apple pie baking demonstrations" - something I thought I'd have a hard time saying without sounding as if I wanted to tack a "So there!" at the end of it.

I said that this was a little white lie, on the grounds that if I was actually going to be home in Annapolis this Thanksgiving, I would most likely be preparing that favorite apple-cherry pie of mine. Apple Pie Perfect has 100 recipes for apple pie, America's signature dessert. And, much as I'm often asked, I find it all but impossible to play favorites. But this pie does hold a special place in my heart. Not to mention the fact that it's so darn fetching. (Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. Apple Pie Perfect was given a nice review in the November 18th issue of People magazine, and this was the photo they used.)

Now perhaps you're thinking: Why the dickens an apple-cherry pie this time of year? And you'd have a point: Cherries aren't exactly in season right now. Indeed, the recipe itself appears in the summer chapter of Apple Pie Perfect. My only defense, if one is required, is that I don't believe the Thanksgiving menu needs to be a model of logic or seasonal correctness. I believe there's a little room for the unexpected. And since the rest of the menu is likely to be fairly traditional, a surprise ending may be quite welcome.

We put this lovely apple-cherry filling in my Best Butter Pie Pastry, which I prepare in the food processor. If you don't have one, simply adapt the recipe to the hand method you're used to: mix the dry ingredients in a bowl; cut in the butter with a pastry blender; then add the liquid. As for the topping, this one is a crunchy, golden brown combination of flour, sugar, butter, coconut and almonds. It all tastes so heavenly that I guarantee the last thing that will cross your mind - or the minds of your guests - is the fact cherries aren't currently in season.

Happy Thanksgiving. And let me know how you enjoy the pie. You can reach me through my web site, applepieperfect.com

Best Butter Pie Pastry

This is the workhorse of my pie pastry repertoire. It has a great buttery flavor, it's easy to roll, and holds its shape beautifully in the pan - everything you could ask for in a great bottom crust.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
About 3 tablespoons cold water

1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix.
Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly - 6 or 7 one-second bursts - until the butter is broken in very small pieces.

2. Place the egg yolk in a 1-cup glass measure and add just enough of the water to equal 1/4 cup liquid. Using a fork, blend the water and yolk. Remove the lid of the food processor and pour the liquid over the entire surface of the dry ingredients. Don't, in other words, pour it into one spot. Pulse the machine again, in short bursts, until the pastry starts to form large clumps. Don't overprocess, or the butter will start to melt rather than stay in small pieces. Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap about 14 inches long and place it nearby.

3. Empty the crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, pack the dough as you would a snowball. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, right in the bowl. Put the dough in the center of the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disk about 3/4 inch thick. The edges will probably crack slightly; just pinch and mold them back into a smooth disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 45 minutes to 60 minutes.

Makes enough pastry for one 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping

You can use either frozen, thawed cherries here, or drained canned cherries. If the former, do make sure to have them at room temperature before mixing them into the filling. Otherwise the pastry will cook much faster than the filling. Use your favorite pie apples here. I like Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Winesap, Jonagold, Cortlands, and many others.

1 recipe Best Butter Pie Pastry (above), refrigerated

Filling

5 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
3 cups pitted and halved cherries (see headnote)
2 tablespoons amaretto (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Coconut Almond Crumb Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon milk or light cream

1. If you haven't already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, about 45 minutes or so.

2. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13 1/2-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Center it, then peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Put the pie shell in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

3. To make the filling, combine the apples, cherries, amaretto, vanilla, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl; toss well. Mix in 1/2 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cornstarch. Sprinkle over the fruit and toss well. Turn the filling into the frozen pie shell. Smooth the filling with your hands to even it out. Place directly on the center oven rack and bake for 35 minutes.

5. While the pie bakes, make the topping. Put the flour, sugar, salt, almonds, and coconut in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the milk and pulse again until the crumbs are more gravelly in texture. Refrigerate.

6. After 35 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and place it on a large, dark baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie and spread them evenly over the surface with your hands. Press on the crumbs gently, to compact them. Put the pie on the baking back in the oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, another 35 to 40 minutes.

7. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for a least 1 hour before slicing.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

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