Who Needs a Pie Pan to Make Pie?: Crusty Apple Pie

A couple of weeks ago I bought some Calville Blanc apples at the farmer's market, and I decided to use them for an apple dessert for my co-workers for Rosh Hashanah. When it comes to apple desserts, I've made a lot of apple cakes (like this one) and apple tarts (like this one, this one, and this one) -- but I never make apple pie. While I like to think that I am a versatile baker, traditional pies are my kryptonite; I always have problems with the bottom crust.

However, I came across a non-traditional apple pie from King Arthur Flour that looked like it might turn out better for a crust-challenged baker like me. The Crusty Apple Pie is essentially a two-crust galette -- a pie baked freeform, without a pie pan.

You make the crust in the food processor, from flour, salt, cream cheese, cold butter, and ice water. You divide the crust into two pieces and put them in the fridge. After they are chilled, you roll out one piece into a circle, and then sprinkle on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. You arrange sliced apples in concentric circles on top of the sugar, sprinkle on salt and lemon juice, and then dot the apples with butter. You then roll the other piece of dough out into a slightly smaller circle, lay it on top of the apples and bring up the edges of the bottom crust and pinch to seal. You brush the top crust with milk, sprinkle on coarse sugar, cut some vents, and then put the pie in the oven to bake.
The pie baked up nice and brown, and you could see the apples bubbling through the vents on top. I waited for the pie to cool completely before cutting into it. I love the way this pie is so easy to cut and serve. Each piece stayed completely intact -- there was no loose juice, no runny fruit, no muss, and no fuss. And the bottom crust was cooked! You could actually pick up a slice and eat a piece of pie as a hand food.
The pie was delicious. The crust in particular was tender, rich, and flaky. The cinnamon-apple flavor was fantastic. The one complaint I have is that the apples were very soft and didn't have any bite to them. I found this particularly disappointing, because even though this was my first time using Calville Blanc apples, I know that they are supposed to retain their shape during cooking.

The soft apples are a minor quibble, and my tasters weren't complaining -- they absolutely loved the pie. I was estatic that the pie turned out so well, especially given my lousy pie track record. This beautiful pie was so good that it made me wonder why I've been wasting my time with pie pans all these years!

Recipe: "Crusty Apple Pie" from King Arthur Flour.

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