It’s not quite autumn, but apple season has started in some areas. One of the real pleasures of fall in the Midwest is visiting apple orchards, trying the cider made on the farm and figuring out which apples will make the best pies!
I’m already thinking of cool days where a sweater is just needed to keep the chill off, walking with my wife through trees with multi-colored leaves. Outdoor cooking season is even better on cool days, and apple pie baked on a grill is even better than using an ordinary oven.
I’ve developed a philosophy that food doesn’t have to be complex to be great, but the ingredients really do matter. Orchard-picked apples with high quality cinnamon and a crust made with rich butter make a fantastic pie that really isn’t that much more difficult than getting store-bought pie. It’s worthy trying to find out how simple it is.
Before putting the pie together, get your grill or outdoor cooker up to about 350 degrees. Set up your grill for indirect cooking, using a pizza or baking stone if available. for a smoker, again use a stone.
Starting with the crust, a pate brisee is a simple but deliciously flaky wrapping for apples. The ingredients are:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- about 1/3-1/2 cup very cold water (I put it in the freezer for a bit)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cane sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) very cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/4″ pieces
The crust can be made in a food processor, but it’s also very easy to do in a bowl with just hands or a fork to mix. Whichever method, the dough should be handled as little as possible, just until it will hold together. Add all the ingredients except the water, ensuring the butter pieces are separated and mixed well through the dough, then add first 1/3 cup of water and mix to see if the crust holds together. Add more water if needed; humidity and environment seem to affect how much water might be needed. Form two balls of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling.
The filling is even easier:
- 6-8 apples, preferably a mix of 2-3 varieties like Winesap, Ida Red, Northern Spy, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/4″ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup Turbinado sugar, or a mix of 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar
- Dash of Salt
- 2 tbsp butter
The easiest way to deal with the apples is to use an apple peeler/corer/slicer. It makes the apple prep go by really quickly! Putting the slices in a large bowl, add the other ingredients except the butter and carefully stir to coat the apples with the dry ingredients.
Setting aside the apple slices, roll out the dough on a floured surface, making 2 rounds from the dough set in the fridge. Place one in the bottom of a deep dish pie plate, allowing the crust to go over the sides. This is where a lot of people get upset with a pie because it may crack or break. I’ve come to the belief that just fixing it in the pie plate works just great, and no one cares one teensy bit if it had previously cracked. It’s still going to be delicious!
Fill the crust with the apple slices. Load ‘em up and make this a big pie! Some of the apples may not fit, which is fine, but fit in as many slices as possible. Top with the butter held back earlier, cut into about 5-6 pieces, spread around the top of the filling. Carefully put the top crust on the pie, again not worrying about cracks, etc. Just push the crust back together or cut off extra in one area to add to an area that needs a bit more crust. With a butter knife, cut the extra crust off around the edge of the pie plate, and crimp the top and bottom crust. With the butter knife, cut a few slits in the crust to allow the pie to vent while it cooks, or it will likely overflow the pie plate and make a mess. I like to brush the crust with milk and a sprinkle of cane sugar to add some color and texture as it bakes.
Put the pie on the cooker, and let it bake. Turn it about every 15 minutes and bake for about an hour, or until the crust is the color you like. Slice the pie after it rests for about 10 minutes… and enjoy. It’s great with a scoop of ice cream or a slice of good cheddar cheese, and the use of the outdoor cooker adds a bit of something you can’t duplicate in the oven. ~ Livefire