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ADA'S APPLE PIE

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Torta di mele di Ada
Preparation - Medium
Serves 6 - 8

Because less sugar is used here than in the traditional apple pie, the taste of the apples is accented in this unusual dessert. The pie is made with the same Italian pastry that is used for open-faced fruit tarts. You can prepare the pie a day ahead and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake it. It is best served tepid, on its own or with heavy cream, or even 'alla Americana', with ice cream. In Italy, we use a squat green and yellow apple called renetta, which shrivels over the season but keeps its excellent flavor. If apples aren't at their best, use half apples and half plums, peaches, or apricots.

INGREDIENTS:

For the pasta frolla (pie pastry):
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into bits
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
For the filling:
  • 3 pounds (1,350 g) Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thick slices
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fruit jam (apricot, if possible)
  • Confectioners' sugar
OO 9" Pie pan, dough preparation utensils, rolling pin, foil (for bottom of oven if pie drips).

METHOD:
  1. Peel, core and slice the apples.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375DEG F (190DEG C). Butter a 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan, preferably with removable sides.
  3. If using an electric mixer:
    Put the pastry ingredients in the large bowl of the mixer. Wrap a towel over the top around the bowl of the mixer to keep the flour from scattering. Using the paddle attachment, mix the pastry just until it masses around the paddle, 2 or 3 minutes. IF the pastry won't form, add water slowly, a few drops at a time.

    If using a food processor:
    Remove the butter directly from the refrigerator and cut in several pieces. Put all the ingredients in the work bowl and process just until mixed. If the pastry won't form, add water slowly, a few drops at a time.

    If mixing by hand:
    Mound the flour on a marble surface or pastry board. Make a well in the center and put in the sugar, egg yolks, and butter. Mix by rubbing the ingredients together as though washing your hands. Mix just until the butter is well blended and the pastry is the consistency of coarse meal. Gather the pastry together, kneading once or twice. If the pastry won't form, add water slowly, a few drops at a time.
  4. Cut the pastry in two pieces, one a little larger (for the bottom crust). Lightly flour a marble or wooden surface and roll out the bottom crust about 1/8 inch (1/2 cm) thick. Using a long metal spatula or kitchen knife, detach the pastry from the surface and drape it over the rolling pin. Unroll the crust onto the prepared pie pan, leaving some overhang. Cut off the extra pastry.
  5. Spread the jam over the bottom crust. Line the bottom of the crust with a layer of apple slices around the bottom of the pan with ends pointed toward the center so as not to tear the crust. Keep adding layers of apples, always with the thinner edges toward the center, until a little "mountain" is formed.
  6. Roll out the top crust, place it over the rolling pin, and unfold it on top of the apples. With your hands, press the crust firmly onto the apples so it adheres. Fold the extra crust under the edges and crimp.
  7. Put a piece of foil, folded up at the corners to make a "tray," on the bottom of the oven to catch the juices. Bake the pie for 1 1/2 hours (if the pie browns too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of foil). Cool on a rack and, if you used a pan with removable sides, remove from the pan when tepid. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Source:
Italian Cooking in the Grand Tradition
Jo Bettoja and Anna Maria Cornetto
The Dial Press

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