Tuesday, April 15, 2008

APPLE PIE '63, adapted

Yes, it really is a Bake-Off Cookbook. In 1964, for 35 cents, I got all 100 recipes from the 14th Grand National Bake-Off. And now, you can find every recipe from the past 50+ years of bakeoffs online at pillsbury.com.

Pillsbury's 14th Grand National Bake-Off produced this cutting-edge winning recipe, originated by Mrs. Erwin Smogor of South Bend, Indiana. The grand prize in 1963 was $25,000.
Mrs. Smogor probably wouldn't win the Pillsbury $1,000,000 with this recipe now, since the trend in recipes is fewer ingredients, less prep time. I love this recipe -- it makes it possible to serve apple pie to a group of 24 people, so it's great for a party. We had dinner company on Sunday, and I decided to make this for dessert. I was hoping to reduce that bag of self-rising flour still sitting in my pantry. The recipe does state that self-rising flour can be subbed; but there is no baking powder or soda in the crust recipe, and that should have been my clue. The crust was terrible, though no one seemed to mind. It was more like a muffin bottom -- so take a tip from me and don't use self-rising flour when you make this. And you really should make it, because it's a wonderful recipe that has endured through the years. I found blogs where people stated they make it all the time instead of traditional apple pie.
Some notes: 1. Whenever possible, I always cook my apples twice, because it intensifies the flavors. I take the liquid that is left after cooking the apples and reduce it to a syrup. The difference in flavor by doing this is just amazing -- it's like the difference between toasting nuts and using them raw. It is, however, more work.
2. Instead of unwrapping all the little caramels (ugh -- the kind of work I hate), I opted to use a jar of caramel sundae sauce. This cut time and worked really well, so I guess it counteracted the additional time of pre-cooking the apples and reducing the apple liquid to a syrup.

3. I created the cardinal sin of pastry mixing: I added all the liquids at once instead of using 3/4 and checking if any more was needed. Please don't pour all the liquids in at once. You might end up with a soupy mess, which is what happened to me. Then I added more SR flour -- probably should have added oats or all-purpose flour in hindsight. Is it any wonder the crust was awful? The amazing thing is this dessert was still delicious. It's hard to kill.
4. If you want to see the updated Pillsbury version of this recipe, go to pillsbury.com and do a search for "Apple Pie '63."
Apple Pie '63, adapted

Caramel topping: 1 small jar of caramel sundae sauce

2-1/2 cups all purpose unbleached or self-rising flour (omit salt if using self-rising flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1 egg

Apple filling: 9 cups sliced peeled apples
3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Cheesecake Topping: 1 (8 oz.) pkg. Neufchatel cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Other: 1/3 cup chopped or broken walnuts

DIRECTIONS: 1. Prepare apple filling: Preheat oven to 400F. Combine apples, sugar, apple juice concentrate and butter in large baking pan (10 x 15 x 3), tossing to combine well. Bake 20-25 minutes, or till apples are tender. Remove from oven. Transfer apples to a 12 x 17 baking sheet to cool, reserving liquid in the 10x15x3 pan. Up the heat to 425F. Place the liquid back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or till liquid is slightly syruppy and somewhat reduced. Pour the liquid over the apples. Sprinkle the 2 Tbsp. flour over the apples and toss to combine. Set aside to cool thoroughly while you prepare the other parts. Reduce oven heat to 375F.

2. Prepare crust: In workbowl of food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter. Pulse till mixture is like cornmeal. In small bowl, whisk the oil, water and egg till frothy. Slowly add about 3/4 of this liquid to the dry ingredients, pulsing till it is incorporated. Add only enough liquid to make the mixture come together like a pie crust dough. Press this mixture onto bottom and sides of a 10" x 15" jelly roll pan. (You can roll it out if you want, but it's easier to just press it onto the pan with your fingers.)

3. Prepare cream cheese topping: Wipe work bowl and blades of food processor with damp paper towel (you don't need to get every speck of dough out of bowl). Combine cheese and sugar in work bowl and pulse till smooth. Add egg and vanilla and pulse till combined.

4. Assemble the dessert: Spoon the now-cooled apple filling over the crust evenly. Spoon the cream cheese topping in diagonal strips over top of apples. Spoon the caramel sauce in between the cheese topping. Sprinkle the walnuts over the caramel sauce. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Cool on wire rack for several hours, then refrigerate till thoroughly cooled. Serve cold. Cut in 24 squares.

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