Guest blogger: John Xavier, father of three, food enthusiast, Big Green Egg owner. John spent the past 10 years in New York City, where he ate at a different restaurant weekly. He now lives in Newton Center, where he is a Top Shopper at Wegman’s.
It has been a great summer so far. I have been methodically eating my way to all of the fresh produce and meats I find at my local farmer’s market. The other day I got an urge to bake something involving Apples. This was indeed strange as I never bake anything really. I am more of slow roaster or a high-heat searer. So, baking it was. Armed with a recipe from Smitten Kitchen as inspiration, I checked a trusty source for what apples are currently in season. Pickyourown has a really good tables on what fruits and other produce are in season. The list looked tasty enough, Gala, Earligold, Paula Red, Sweet Tango and Granny Smiths. I checked my local market and picked up 7 good looking granny smiths.
There are parts of this process that will scare you but have courage and a pie will come out in the end. Steel yourself as you prepare the dough especially, unless you are a seasoned baker. You will need a cast iron skillet for this also. The easy part is peeling, coring and cutting each apple into 8 slices. Put those aside, you can add lemon to them to keep from browning but this isn’t necessary. We will get back to the Apples in about 30 minutes.
Now comes the fun. Make some room in your freezer first then in a food processor pre-mix 1 ½ cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. You could also cook this on your grill, watching carefully to avoid too much smokiness. Cube a stick and two tablespoons of butter and place the butter and the food processor in the freezer. You will need to place about a half a cup of ice with several ice cubes in the fridge. After about 20 minutes, slowly add the freezer water, along with the ice cubes to the flour and butter. Slowly pulse the ingredients together until it looks like coarse lumpy couscous. Flour a table and pour out the mixture. Don’t handle it too much but slowly work it into a flat round disk that is big enough to cover the top of your skillet. Place in fridge.
Back to the apples. Melt one stick of butter in a skillet and add two cups of sugar.
Combine these ingredients for a couple of minutes and then add the apples, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. Slowly brown and turn them.
You may need to add more because these will shrink in the pan. When a light caramel color is reached, place the dough over the apples and tuck in on the side.
Bake for 35 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Remove to cooling rack.
After several minutes, run knife along side of pan to make sure nothing is sticking. Place round serving platter on top of the pan and flip. If you need more caramelization, you can use a torch here.
Serve with a dollop of Vanilla-bean ice cream and garnish with a mint leaf.