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Recipe of the Month: Are You Feeling Zesty?

Monday, November 1, 2010 @ 07:11 AM

008I have something to admit…I am 27 years old and have never been apple picking… until now.  This may not seem shocking to most of you, but if you grew up in the Midwest, like I did, this is a Fall experience most people take part in annually.  So, when I knew we were moving back up north, I knew it was finally time to embrace my Midwestern lifestyle and take part in this fall tradition.  It also happened to work out well that I wanted to go pumpkin picking also and many of the orchards around the area do both.  And even more exciting was that our friends Chad and Amy wanted to join us. 

So last Saturday we set out just up the road a bit to Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard where we picked some wonderfully fresh Golden Delicious apples, a few pumpkins to carve, and purchased some other wonderful fall treats.  Now I love me some apples and I have been known to go through a couple in a day even. However, I knew that if I wanted to take full advantage of these apples I would need to incorporate them into something; and since my husband loves a good pie (and from what I am finding, what man doesn’t? ;)),  I figured I would try my hand at making an apple pie for the first time.  So, although I am not a huge fan of baking with all the precise measurements and time it takes to get it right, I figured if I was going to do it, and do it all the way. 

I began researching some recipes for apple pie and realized there are a TON! I realized that I was just going to have to settle on one that peaked my interest, and having found that Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) typically has some pretty standard versions of recipes, I chose her Deep-dish Apple Pie.

Deep-dish Apple Pie

2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time:
45 min
Inactive Prep Time:
30 min
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
1 (9-or 10-inch) pie


  • 4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim. Don’t stretch the dough; if it’s too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1-inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.

Perfect Pie Crust:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Yield: 2 (10-inch) crusts



Let me just say it now…this recipe alone is why I don’t bake! …having to cut, peel, quarter, and then cut again 4 pounds of apples before you can even begin assembling….well that is just not my cup of tea.  Still, I went with it for all your sake ;).  I also even followed the recipe all the way to making my own crust. Not the store bought stuff folks, but the real deal, and surprisingly it was a lot easier to do than I expected,… well at least until I had to roll it out, but we’ll get to that.  One change I did make from the start is using golden delicious apples, instead of granny smith, because the whole purpose was to use the apples we had picked. 

So off I went, first incorporating the ingredients for the dough and refrigerating it, then on to slicing, dicing, and peeling the apples…

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After cutting up all those lovely apples I began mixing them together with the other ingredients for the inside of the pie.  I didn’t really get any pictures of these steps, but you will notice from the recipe that this dish requires A LOT OF ZEST, both lemon and orange.  I thought this was a bit odd, because of all the apple pie I have eaten, I typically don’t remember it having those strong zesty citrus flavors. But, I went with it and figure Ina knows better than I do…  I also thought it should have had more of a binder besides the flour, sugar, and water… but again, I thought I would trust the recipe.


Again I know I really should have taken pictures of this next step, because this is when things started to get a little sticky…literally!  A problem arose when I just happened to run out of flour…with just enough for the actual recipe, forgetting I would need some so I could easily roll out the dough.  Let’s just say this is where things got super messy and frustrating.  After 3 failed roll-out attempts, I finally just kind of maneuvered it with my hands in the pan to create the bottom crust.  I then ladled the apple mixture inside, which turned out to be quite tall!  Then I "attempted" to roll out and stretch the top layer of dough over that apple mixture, but without the flour, as you can see it did not work out perfect. Still, I was happy enough with my attempt, and into the oven it went!



One hour later it was golden brown and ready to be removed.  I will admit that at this moment I was beaming with joy. Sure…it didn’t look prize winning, but I was darn proud that it came out in one piece, was not burned, and looked delicious! ;)  It patiently sat cooling on the counter the rest of the afternoon until we took it with to share for dinner and dessert with the Adam’s parents.


By the time we got to dessert, I was pretty full. This often happens with me when I bake.  I am so dead after the process, that I no longer care about what I actually made.  However, I was interested to find out what the family thought of my endeavor; and of course I did take a bite for posterity and trial sake…in case you were wondering. ;)  Overall the votes varied wildly and I attribute that to a variety of taste buds in the family.  With my one bite I knew that the crust was amazing, but the pie filling itself tasted too zesty.  Adam agreed with me. He enjoyed it, but would have laid off the zest too. The problem was that with so much citrus zest, it didn’t taste much like apple, which I think is what an "apple" pie should taste like.  However, my in-laws thought it was very good, but mentioned that I should have used corn flour to help create more of a binder and that gel-like consistency typical in apple pie.  I agreed, because as it was this filling was far too watery and didn’t adhere well to the crust or itself.  Still, both were HUGE fans and ended up pretty much finishing it off the next couple of days. :) 

TASTE: The conclusion I arrived at was keep the crust, but find a new filling recipe. We all agreed that the crust was super yummy, but the pie filling was a bit lacking.  Next time I would sub a more standard filling instead of this one and will definitely stay away from so much zest. 

EASE OF PREPARATION: Not being an avid baker, this recipe is accurate in saying it is a tad more intermediate.  Nothing it calls for is necessarily difficult…it just takes a fair amount of time, preparation, and patience if you are apparently not gifted at rolling out dough such as myself.

COST: Most of the ingredients I had on hand, so the cost was rather low.  But if you were going to have to buy each ingredient needed, it would cost you a quite a bit more seeing as it calls for a fair amount of things.  However, none of the ingredients are real out of the ordinary and are easily found year round, making the cost not exorbitant.

COMPLEXITY: This dish is not overly complex per se, it just requires a lot of prep work and patience.  Peeling and cutting 4 pounds of apples is what is the most time consuming, but still not a difficult task.  The most complex part is getting the dough rolled out and laid properly on both the pan and over the apples without ripping or sticking.  This is where I was not totally successful, but given more practice likely could be.

PORTION SIZE: This pie is enormous and has a TON of apples in it.  I only cut 3 rather good slices last night and still had a good 3/4 of the pie left; and since each slice has so much stuff in it, they are rather filling.

So although this recipe was not a total dud, I was still a tad disappointed with the flavor and consistency of the pie.  But now knowing what I didn’t like, I know what to change in the future and am certain my best pie days are ahead of me.  That being said…I give the Barefoot Contessa’s Deep Dish Apple Pie 3 ‘Little Piggies’


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