…I know what you are thinking… Brown Bag?? What does that mean? Well, actually, it means exactly that. I baked an apple pie INSIDE of a brown bag. And let me tell you…it was the most BEAUTIFUL apple pie ever created. I promise you. The crust turns out to be the most gorgeous flaky crust you’ve ever witnessed and the filling is perfectly cooked. I like apple pie, but I am a bigger fan of apple crumble. Instead of a hard shell, I like the little buttery, soft crumbles that layer on top of the apples. Here is a recipe that will blow your mind. Oh… and don’t burn your house down. I am serious.
Brown Bag Apple Pie
Let’s start with the crust.
Place the following in a mixing bowl:
1 1/4 cups of King Arthur Unbleached all purpose flour
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Mix to combine.
Add 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces.
Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. You can use a pastry blender or mixer to do this, but really, your fingers are the best tools for the task.
Add 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork as you sprinkle the water into the dough
When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it, transfer it to a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface.
Gently pat it into a smooth disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
While the dough is in the fridge, make the filling.
You’ll need 8 cups sliced apples, which translates to about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds purchased weight.
Peel and core the apples.All you have to do is cut the slices into smaller pieces.
Put the apples in a big microwave-safe bowl, and add the following:
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons boiled cider, optional but tasty
Stir until the spices are fully distributed. Microwave the filling, uncovered, for 5 minutes. This softens the apples just a bit, and gets their juices flowing. Skip this step if you like; it’s not critical, though I think it helps.
Start preheating your oven to 425°F.
Next, spray a 9′ pie pan, one that’s about 1 1/2″ deep, with non-stick spray.
Why the spray? It makes it easier to get slices out intact, and helps counteract the stickiness of any potential filling leak.
Take the dough out of the fridge. If it’s been chilling longer than 30 minutes, give it 10 minutes or so to warm up a bit.
Place the dough on a well-floured surface; a rolling mat works well here, and makes cleanup a breeze.
Roll the dough into a circle, making sure to keep the underside well-floured to prevent sticking. A giant spatula is a big (well, a giant!) help here.
Roll the crust until it’s between 12″ and 13″ diameter.
Transfer the crust to the pan. Again, that giant spatula comes in handy.
Settle it gently into the pan, without stretching.
Did you know that stretching your pie crust is one of the reasons a crust sometimes shrinks as it bakes? It pays to be gentle.
Mix the following until crumbly:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into pats
Spoon the apple filling into the crust.
Spread the streusel on top.
Ah, here comes the paper bag part. Put the pie in a large brown grocery bag. Paper, not plastic!!!
Fold the opening closed, and secure it with staples or paper clips.
Note: If you have ANY hesitation at all about doing this – contaminants in recycled paper, lead-based inks, you’re afraid of the bag catching on fire, whatever – substitute parchment paper. Staple two pieces together to fashion a bag; you’ll want to make sure your pie pan doesn’t have an overly wide rim, so it fits in the “bag.”
I baked the pie a paper grocery bag, and it turned out fine. This doesn’t guarantee results for everyone. As I said – any hesitation, use parchment, OK?
Put the pie in its bag (paper, or parchment) on a baking sheet.
Bake the pie in a preheated 425°F oven for 50 min.
Remove the baking sheet and pie from the oven, and carefully slit the bag open, watching out for steam.
…Golden crust, light-gold streusel…
Let the pie cool for an hour or so before cutting. Serve it warm, or at room temperature.
Vanilla ice cream is always welcome.