1 / Dining and Restaurants / Eating / Food and Cooking

America’s top piemaker

I hereby proclaim Bill Yosses as Piemaker of the Year for 2009 for focusing the spotlight on America’s dessert at the highest level.
He’s the White House pastry chef that President Obama calls The Crustmaster: “The pastry chef makes the best pie I’ve ever tasted, and that is causing big problems for Michelle and myself. I mean, whatever pie you like, he will make it, and it will be the best pie you’ve ever eaten.” Obama’s faves include banana cream pie and huckleberry pie.
Yosses’ “secrets” are ones I’ve often preached about: The crust is hand-mixed, to avoid overworking the dough, according to AP. The bottom crust is pre-baked to keep it from being doughy. For fruit pies, the filling is cooked on the stove, then placed in the cooked pie shell and covered with the rolled-out top dough. The top is then brushed with egg-wash and the whole thing is baked again.

For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
3 ounces lard, cold, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup ice water
For the filling:
2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
For the egg wash:
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Sugar, for sprinkling
To make the crust, in a food processor pulse together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and lard, then pulse briefly until the mixture forms small crumbs. Add the ice water and pulse just until a dough forms.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
To prepare the pie shell, on a floured surface roll out one disc to a 14-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased, deep 9-inch pie pan, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Refrigerate the crust in the pan for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
When ready to bake the bottom crust, heat the oven to 375 F. Line the cold crust with foil and fill with baking weights, rice or dry beans to hold it in place. Bake the pie shell for 30 minutes. Leave the oven on once the crust is done.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a large saucepan, toss together the apples, sugar, honey, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Bring the fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the fruit thickens. Let cool.
When the bottom crust is baked and the filling has cooled, pour the fruit into the crust.
Roll out the second disc of dough to about 12 inches.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with the salt. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg on the edges of the cooked crust. Place the top crust over the filling. Gently crimp the top crust, sealing the pie around the edges.
Puncture the top of the crust with a paring knife in several places to create steam vents. Brush egg wash over the crust, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the top crust is golden brown. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

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