A friend of mine shared a video with me that he had seen on YouTube for a cinnamon swirl apple pie where they showed you how to make this swirly pie crust. The pie looked like it was topped with flat little cinnamon rolls. So unusual!
Anyway, I had some apples I needed to use up so I decided to make a Caramel Apple Pie for dessert tonight, but I thought why not try using that fun technique for the top crust of my pie? I didn’t bother doing it for the bottom crust since no one would see that anyway. It turned out really cute! It made you feel like you couldn’t wait to take a bite out of the pie! I’m going to post the instructions here for making the cinnamon swirl top crust, but if you don’t want to go through the trouble, feel free to make this recipe with a plain crust on top.
I like to use 2 or 3 varieties of apples whenever I make an apple pie. I always start with 3 Granny Smiths for their tart flavor and firm flesh – perfect for baking. Then I add in some sweet varieties. I always add 3 Honeycrisp apples when Honeycrisps are in season because they’re sweet and juicy and have a firm flesh that doesn’t break down too much when baked. Then I include 2 Braeburns, or Galas, or Fujis, or Jonathans, any of which are great for baking because they’re sweet and hold their shape well throughout cooking.I find that the combination of tart and sweet adds a complexity of flavor that’s delicious in this American comfort food classic.
My sister, Helen, and I once took a tart making class at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. It was a while back but it was where I learned to make this basic pastry dough. I’m probably biased, but I think this is one of the best pastry doughs ever! The recipe is so easy and very versatile. It makes a great crust for tarts — crisp, tasty, and one that doesn’t turn soggy an hour after being filled. If you’re making a dessert tart and want a sweeter crust, you could add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the dough recipe.
BASIC PASTRY DOUGH
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5-8 tbsp. ice cold water
Combine flour, salt and butter until mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add cold water and toss with a fork until dough comes together when squeezed in your hand.
Sandwich dough between two pieces of parchment paper.
With a rolling pin, roll out dough to size you need.
Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
NOTE: Dough can be shaped into a disk, wrapped in saran wrap and frozen for up to two weeks.
TO PRE-BAKE TART CRUST:
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Place rolled dough into tart pan with removable bottom, taking care not to stretch dough out.
Trim off excess dough by running a rolling pin across the top of the tart pan.
A lot of people are afraid to make pie crust from scratch for various reasons, but with a little bit of practice, making a great pie dough is easy to master. Just remember, you want your ingredients to stay cold as long as possible. Also, the less you handle the dough, the more tender the crust. Over-mix it and your crust could turn out greasy and tough. A food processor is the easiest way to go so if you have one, use it, but by no means is it an absolute necessity. You could just as easily make your crust by hand using 2 knives or a pastry blender to mix the butter and shortening into the flour.
FOR SINGLE CRUST
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1-1/4 sticks very cold (frozen is okay) butter, cut into pieces
2-1/2 tbsp. very cold (frozen is better) shortening, cut into 2 pieces
about 1/4 cup ice water
Put flour, sugar and salt in food processor fitted with metal blade.
Pulse just to combine.
Drop in butter and shortening and pulse until just cut into flour. Don’t overmix! You want some pea-sized and some barley-sized pieces.
Add 3 tbsp. of water, one tablespoon at a time and pulsing once after each addition. Then use a few long pulses to blend water and flour well. If dough is still dry after a dozen or so pulses, add as much water as necessary to get dough to stick together when pinched.
Scrape dough out onto work surface.
Gather into a ball, flatten to a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill dough for an hour before rolling out.
FOR DOUBLE CRUST
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/2 sticks very cold (frozen is okay) butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup very cold (frozen is better) shortening, cut into 4 pieces
about 1/2 cup ice water
Follow directions above up to Step 5.
Gather dough into a ball and cut in half.
Flatten each half into 2 disks and wrap each in plastic wrap.
Chill for an hour before rolling out.
NOTE: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.