Sometimes life calls for the homey and comforting goodness of pie. Between my work-travel schedule this fall and all the election noise (mostly the latter, I’ll admit), I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. I want little more than to curl up in my favorite ‘womb’ chair (It’s a thing. Really. Google it.) with my not-so-puppy Chip, a cup of hot tea and nibble on a warm piece of apple pie while listening to my West Wing Weekly podcast. Decompressing is important no matter how you do it – yoga, meditation, knitting, needlepoint, podcasts (preferably non-political), rom-com binges – I just happen to think that it’s always better with pie.
Today’s soothing pie is an apple slab. Shaped and baked in a shallow quart sheet pan, it looks a lot like a super-sized PopTart® but, rest assured, this pie is not meant as a single serving. Slab pies have a higher crust to filling ratio and the filling is firmer than traditional pies. Cut into single-serving rectangles or squares, it is easily eaten out of hand but I prefer a small plate and fork so I can hug Chip, sip my tea or upload (or is it download? I’m never clear on the proper verbiage.) my next podcast in between bites. If you don’t own a quarter sheet pan you can buy one here. It’s a handy little pan and you’ve likely noticed that mine gets a lot of use. I use it for toasting nuts, reheating pie and quiche slices, roasting small amounts of veggies as well as slab pies.
This recipe is another in my series of The Everyday Baker “mash-ups” meaning that this slab pie is made of two components – the crust is made using the lattice crust recipe in the book (page 323) paired with a new filling explained below in the recipe. I’ve made it with apples and Apple Jack Brandy but you can substitute pears and Poire William.
Drop me a line if you’ve created any of your own Everyday Baker mash-ups. You can reach me at email@example.com or via social media where I’m @abbydodge on most platforms (@abbydodge3 on snapchat). I’d love to see what you’re baking.
Enjoy these October days and remember that Everyday is a great day for baking!
Notes from my kitchen:
- The pie dough can be made, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen up to 1 month.
- Feel free to substitute firm-ripe pears for all or some of the apples. You can also use the same about of Poire William or cider of either fruit.
- The pie is best when served within 1 day and can be warmed in a 300°F oven, if desired, but leftovers are yummy for days and make a mighty fine breakfast treat too.
For Your Reference: Here are The Everyday Baker page numbers for the essential techniques you’ll be using in this recipe. Take a look in the book before you start baking.
- For more about ingredients and equipment, see p. 5 thru 28.
- For more about measuring and mixing dry ingredients, see p. 32 and p. 570.
- For more about mixing butter and flour together until the butter is pea- sized, see p. 80.
- For more about using your hand to help mix, see p. 85.
- For more about fraisage, see p. 549.
- For more about rolling dough between parchment, see p. 133.
- For more about lining a pie pan or plate, see p. 364.
- For more about coring apples, see p. 122.
Boozy Apple Slab Pie
For the dough
See recipe in The Everyday Baker, page 323.
For the filling
3 lbs. crisp, firm apples (I like Golden Delicious, Ginger Golds or Honey Crisps)
2/3 cup apple cider
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./99 g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of table salt
3 Tbs. applejack brandy
1 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. heavy cream or milk
2 Tbs. coarse sanding sugar
Make the dough
- Make the dough as directed on page 323 of The Everyday Baker. Divide the dough into two pieces with one slightly larger than the other (13 oz. & 10 oz. each) and shape each pile into 4 x6-inch rectangles. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.
Make the filling
- Peel and core the apples and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 8 cups).
- Put the apples, cider, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large saucepan and stir until well blended. Set over medium high heat and bring the liquid to a full boil, using a silicone spatula to stir occasionally. Continue boiling (the mixture will be foamy), stirring occasionally, until the liquid is syrupy and about 3/4 cup, 10 to 13 minutes. (if the liquid begins to boil over, reduce the heat. Doing so may increase the cooking time.) To check the liquid, slide the pan from the heat and when the bubbling has subsided tip the saucepan to one side and eyeball the liquid or pour into a heat-proof measure (I use Pyrex).
- Stir the brandy and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the fruit, stirring constantly, and boil until the liquid is thickened and clear, about 30 seconds. Slide the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. If the liquid is clumpy and not smooth, add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of cider. The apples should be evenly covered with a coating of the thickened, glossy liquid but the liquid should not be sticky and gloppy. Set aside to cool.
Make the top crust
- Remove the smaller dough rectangle from the refrigerator and, if it’s very cold, set it out at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, 10 to 20 minutes. Arrange a large piece of parchment on a work surface and lightly flour. Put the unwrapped dough in the center and cover with another sheet of parchment. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle that’s slightly larger than 9 x 12 inches, lifting, turning, and repositioning the parchment several times and lightly flouring throughout the rolling.
- Have ready a cookie sheet. Peel away the top parchment and trim off some of the jagged edges to make a 9 x 12 inch rectangle (slightly smaller than the dimensions of the pan). Wrap any scraps in plastic and keep at room temperature. Slide the cookie sheet under the parchment, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Make the bottom crust
- Have ready a 9 1/2 x 13 x 1-inch quarter sheet pan. Put the heavy cream in a small ramekin and have the coarse sanding sugar ready.
- Pull the larger dough rectangle from the fridge and, if it’s very cold, set it out at room temperature until it’s just pliable enough to roll, 10 to 20 minutes. Arrange a large piece of parchment on the work surface, put the unwrapped dough in the center, and cover with another piece of parchment. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between the parchment to a rectangle slightly larger than 13 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches turning, lifting, and repositioning the parchment and lightly flouring throughout the rolling. If the pastry edges are uneven dab a little water at the edge and press on some of the reserved scraps where needed.
- Peel away the top parchment and, if desired, trim off some of the jagged edges to make a 13 1/2 x16 inch rectangle. (I prefer the look of jagged, rustic-looking edges so I don’t trim.) Carefully and loosely roll the dough around the pin, leaving the bottom parchment behind, and transfer it to the prepared pan gently nudging it into the bottom and sides of the pan. The dough will hang over the edges of the pan.
Assemble and bake the pie
- Scrape the cooled filling into the bottom crust and spread evenly. Remove the top crust from the fridge and peel away the plastic. Slide your palm under the parchment and center it under the top crust. Lift the paper and invert the dough onto the filling, using your palm as a guide to center it.
- Using your fingers, lift the edges of the bottom crust up and over the top crust. There should be about 1-inch border of dough. Brush the top generously with the heavy cream and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Using the tines of a fork, randomly prick the top crust all over. Slide the pie into the fridge while the oven heats.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and set a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on the rack (my slab pie has never bubbled over so this is just a precautionary measure.). Heat the oven to 425°F.
- Put the pie on the heated baking sheet and reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Move the sheet to a rack and let cool until warm (or cool completely) before serving. The pie is best when served within 1 day and can be warmed in a 300°F oven, if desired.