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Desserts, Sweet Snacks

“Fallen Leaves” Spiced Apple Pie

Here is my unsolicited piece of advice for fruit pie baking: cook the fillings separately. There are lots of reasons that this is a good idea, but most importantly, if you are baking a two crust pie (top and bottom), pies have a tendency to dome; that is, you fill them full of raw fruit and then when the fruit condenses in the baking process, you have a top crust that sits above (or collapses on to) the pie. If you cook the filling ahead of time, then you’ve already removed much of the water from the equation. Another bonus of cooking the filling separately is that you can do it up to a week in advance, so you aren’t pressed for time on the day of, or the day before, the holiday. Fair warning though, you will need double as much fruit than if you use raw in your pie. For example, this 9-inch pie used a full 14 medium sized apples (my non-pre-cook recipe uses about 8 apples).

Ingredients
for the pastry
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, diced
6 tablespoons (or more) ice water

for the filing
14 Pink Lady or Honey Crisp apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (yes, this is a lot)
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 4 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Plus
2 tablespoons milk, for egg wash
1 egg yolk, for egg wash

And you will also need: small leaf shaped cookie cutters

Directions
Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 tablespoons ice water and process until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather into ball, then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 2 hours.

In the meantime, make your filling. In a medium sauce pan, heat butter until shimmering. Add apples and sauté for a minute or two. Add sugar and pinch of salt. The apples should get soft and start to become juicy. Sauté until almost all of the liquid is evaporated and the apples are very soft. Add spices, then the cornstarch slurry, stirring frequently as the remaining juices thicken. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and set aside to cool. This can be done a day or two or three ahead of time.

Preheat to 400F. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with baking spray.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to the prepared pie dish. Fold edge under, forming high-standing rim; crimp. Add filling. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface. Using your leaf shaped cookie cutters, cut out enough leaves to cover the surface of the pie (I needed about 60). Cover the entire surface of the filled pie, overlapping so there are no gaps. Using a pastry brush, brush surface with the egg wash and sprinkle on sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any juices if the pie overflows) and place in oven and bake pie 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F. Continue baking until juices bubble thickly between the top rounds and crust is deep golden, covering edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour. Let pie cool a minimum of 2 hours before cutting. This is important as the pie filling will be pretty loose. If you want to serve warm pie, reheat pieces individually.

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