Walnut-Crusted Apple Pie
Could new kitchen techniques improve on one of our very first recipes? Yes, with a secret ingredient in the crust. By Sidney Fry, MS, RD
One of our first apple pies after launching this magazine had an interesting walnut crust, filled with healthy fats and nutty flavor. But to save 300 calories, the Test Kitchen had simply removed the bottom crust, yielding a sort of cobbler.
We liked and kept the walnuts but decided we were willing to serve up a few more calories if we could get back that bottom crust. Yes, there are a few more calories than in 1987, but our new pie still has only half those in a typical bakery pie.
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• 1987 | Just a top crust, more of a cobbler than a pie
• 2012 | Double-crusted, fluted, and delicious
• 1987 | Walnuts, margarine, and shortening
• 2012 | Walnuts and just enough butter
• 1987 | 209 per slice
• 2012 | 281 per slice
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How we make our crust healthy, tasty, and beautiful
Step 1 | Pulse the walnuts until finely ground but not pasty. The nuts will release their good-for-you oils when ground, reducing the need for extra butter.
Step 2 | Healthier fats make for a soft dough. After processing, turn dough out onto a surface and knead gently 3 or 4 times, just enough to gather dough together; any more handling might toughen the crust.
Step 3 | After brushing on a light egg wash, start the baking at a higher temperature to seal the crust. Reduce the oven temperature midway through baking, and shield pie edges to prevent overbrowning.
1 pound Pink Lady apples (about 2), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 pound Golden Delicious apples (about 2), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons ice-cold vodka
1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk
1 large egg yolk
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1. Combine first 8 ingredients; toss to coat.
2. Place nuts in a food processor; process until finely ground. Weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to food processor; pulse 5 times. Add butter; pulse 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add vodka through food chute, processing just until combined (do not form a ball). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 3 to 4 times. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Gently press each portion into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 425°.
4. Unwrap and place 1 dough piece on plastic wrap. Cover with 2 sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into a 10-inch circle. Place into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Spoon apple mixture into pie plate.
5. Unwrap and place remaining portion of dough on plastic wrap. Cover with 2 sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into a 12-inch circle. Place over apple mixture. Press edges of dough together. Fold edges under; flute. Cut slits in top of dough to allow steam to escape.
6. Combine milk and egg yolk, stirring with a whisk. Gently brush top of dough with milk mixture. Place pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet; bake at 425° for 20 minutes in the lower third of oven. Shield edges of piecrust with foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove pie from oven); bake an additional 30 minutes or until browned. Cool on a wire rack.