A rustic slab pie can be a terrific dessert for all those holiday gatherings (read: hungry crowd). In fact, the pie can be made a day ahead to make life a little easier during the busy festive season.
Though the recipe has lots of steps, the recipe actually distills down into to a few things. Mix up the giant double dough and keep it chilled for best handling. Mix up the filling, pack it on the crust and top with more crust. It’s really just pie. A big giant pie, but still, just pie.
The pie is best suited to a 13-inch x 9-inch jelly roll baking pan with stumpy sides like this. I have four of these quarter sheet pans and use them constantly. I didn’t think they were useful before I bought the first one. Turns out I use them for everything from roasting vegetables to making small batches of cookies and now, pie.
If the thought of rolling out and flipping a big crust neatly on top of the filling makes you nervous – here’s an easy idea to save your sanity. Roll out the dough (1/8-inch thick) and cut out festive holiday shapes and place them on top of the filling, overlapping or next to one another and you will have a festive pie (no extra venting – for you or the pie – required).
If you don’t like the idea of slab pie, then use the dough to make two 9-inch pies distributing all the ingredients evenly between the two pans.
If you make the slab pie and when the bottom crust gets put into the pan and cracks or squiggles (technical term for folding on itself) just press it into the pan and up the sides. No one is going to see the inside of the crust.
Your best friend for this pie is the refrigerator. Chilling the dough makes it so much more compliant – but not too chilled where it cracks. Work the dough when you can form it but while it still feels quite cold. Warm floppy dough is not a friend to anyone.
Vodka makes a great dough enhancer (flaky crust) but if you are averse (the alcohol goes away during baking) use chilled water.
Apple pie spice is handy to have. It is one jar, rather than four or five spices and can be used in so many things it is worthwhile to have on hand. Small jar = long life.
In testing the recipe we found that the candied ginger has to be minced finely or it will result in an unpleasant surprise to bite into a large piece. It also distributes into the filling a little more cooperatively when diced very fine. However, if you hate ginger, leave it out. Add dried cranberries or even raisins. It will be a slightly different flavor but just as tasty.
I like Granny Smith apples for this pie but use whatever type you enjoy. There is no added sugar in the pie (except that which comes from the apple butter) and it was quite sweet because of the ripe pears. The pie needs to bake for almost two weeks (read: long time) to make sure the center is fully cooked (see instructions) but take it out when the center is bubbling away and the crust is golden brown.
Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream or in the case of the Mr. Canteen family, add a hunk of sharp cheddar cheese (I still don’t get that one).
Happy almost festive.
|Apple Pear & Ginger Slab Pie|| |
- 600 grams Canteen flour blend (4⅔ cups) (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 230 grams unsalted butter, chilled (1 cup/2 sticks)
- 112 grams Spectrum Organic Shortening (1/2 cup/8 tablespoons)
- 100-120 grams Vodka or chilled water (scant ½ cup)
- 8 to 9 medium Granny Smith apples
- 2 large Bartlett Pears
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 35 grams finely diced candied or crystallized ginger (1/4 cup)
- 100 grams good quality apple butter (5 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 2 teaspoons apple pie spice
- In a food processor or very large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt until blended. Cube butter into ½ –inch pieces and distribute over the top of the flour mixture. Spoon shortening over the flour mixture and butter. Pulse or blend with a fork until the mixture forms coarse uneven crumbs. Don’t work in the butter and shortening too much – you want different sized pieces worked into the flour mixture.
- Pour in half the Vodka and pulse or stir with a fork. Add a tablespoon more at a time and keep pulsing or stirring. To test if the dough is ready, squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it stays together, don’t add more liquid. If it seems crumbly or won’t hold together add more liquid just until it holds together.
- Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap and knead any stray pieces into the dough so it forms a ball but don’t work the dough very much or the butter will start melting. Divide dough in two pieces with one being just about 10% larger than the other. The larger piece will be the bottom of the pie. Chill dough at least an hour in the refrigerator.
- Roll the larger piece of dough into a rectangle between two sheets of plastic wrap. If the dough is very sticky dust the plastic with a bit of starch or flour. Roll dough slightly larger than 13x9 sheet pan (quarter sheet pan) so there is enough to slope up the sides of the pan. To measure hold the pan over the dough and see if you have rolled it large enough to accommodate the sides.
- Remove top plastic and carefully (this part is tricky, but no worries – easy to patch) flip the dough into the pan. If the dough breaks or folds on itself, just press to fit or patch by pinching pieces together with your fingers. No one is going to see the inside of the bottom crust so it doesn’t matter if it looks pretty – it just matters if it fits. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you roll the top crust and prepare the filling.
- Roll the top crust between sheets of plastic wrap and dust with flour if necessary. Roll just an inch larger than the pan and when finished, place the crust, plastic wrap covered onto a larger baking sheet and refrigerate while preparing the filling.
- If there is leftover crust, make some holiday cut-outs and chill those, too.
- Peel and cut apple and pears into very thin slices. Zest lemon over the apples and sprinkle with the lemon juice and fold the apple pear mixture so all the fruit is coated with lemon. The apples won’t turn brown if they are coated with lemon. Dice the ginger into a mince so the pieces are very tiny – larger pieces in the pie will not be pleasant to anyone biting into it. Fold into apple pear mixture.
- Gently fold in apple butter, apple pie spice and starch until blended.
- Remove the crusts from the refrigerator and let them warm up for five minutes only. Form the edge of the crust, once it is pliable, by making sure it comes straight up the sides and is a fraction of an inch over the top edge.
- Scrape the filling into the pie packing it down as you go making sure to fill in any gaps. Pack down the filling so that it just barely forms a hill in the center but is mostly flat and well distributed without any gaps.
- Remove the top piece of plastic from the dough if you want to cut out any vent shapes with holiday cookie cutters, now is when to do that but stick to small shapes and the center of the dough for best results. Carefully flip the top piece onto the pie. If it cracks or breaks, just bring those pieces together and using a finger dipped in water, paint the surface until the crack disappears. A little bit of water goes a long way.
- Pinch the edges together and dock it with a small fork. Using a small paring knife, trim the edge all around the pan so it is flush and even. Add the cutouts to the top of the pie if you made any.
- Chill the prepared pie for 20 minutes before baking. Meantime preheat oven to 375°F. Place pie on a larger sheet pan (to catch drips) and bake for a very long time. First bake will be 60 minutes. Rotate pan and bake 30 minutes more or until the filling is bubbling in the center and the crust is a light golden brown. The sheet pan under the pie slows down the baking so it needs to remain in the oven for a long time but it also not only catches drips, but helps keep it from getting too brown on the edges and underbaked in the center. Remove from the oven when the filling is bubbling in the center vent and the crust is lightly brown.
- Cool on a rack until room temperature. Can be made one day ahead and refrigerated overnight (covered loosely with plastic wrap). Warm in a low, 300°F oven for 20 minutes before serving or serve chilled. Great with ice cream. Serves 10-12.