Some people are simply naturally gifted at the science-meets-art of baking. Others toil through pastry school. Whichever category you fall into, your latest book of advanced projects is The Artful Baker, by Istanbul-based recipe developer and blogger Cenk Sönmezsoy. Whatever the occasion that calls for your expertise, this book has a recipe for it, like this waste-reductionist peel-to-stem apple pie.
After discovering the gelling power of apple pectin, I knew I had to revisit my apple pie recipe. I had buried the recipe in the “maybe” pile long before I started working on my book. Now it was time to polish it.
I had always imagined cinnamon-specked apple slices suspended in a thick, gooey sauce under a golden-brown shell that shatters with each bite. The best I had achieved was having the fruit swim in a pool of sauce that left the bottom crust soggy. I hoped that the pectin stock I would make with the apple peels and cores would thicken the sauce for the pie of my dreams.
I baked what I had in mind, waited impatiently for the pie to cool, cut a slice, and was disappointed. There was improvement, but the filling still wasn’t as thick as I had hoped. I returned the recipe to the “maybe” pile until I thought of another ingredient: salep.
Salep is a powder made from dried tubers of terrestrial orchids that grow in parts of Anatolia. The plant contains a nutritious polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate) called glucomannan, which gives Turkish ice cream its silky, elastic texture. Salep also refers to a wintertime drink in Turkey made with milk and sugar, thickened with salep powder, and topped with cinnamon. To distinguish it from the drink, the ingredient is referred to as saf (“pure”) salep.
Pure salep turned my apple stock into a silky, gooey sauce and thickened it enough to hold the distinct layers of apple slices tightly together.
Sadly, the orchids from which salep is made are endangered, and it is illegal to export pure salep, so your chances of finding it are slim. Happily, my dear friend Rachel Boller, who tested almost every recipe in this book, had great success substituting glutinous rice flour.
If you are curious about salep and ever find yourself in İstanbul, look for it at the Spice Bazaar. It is expensive, so be sure to buy it from a reliable source, like Ucuzcular Baharat in the Spice Bazaar. Do steer clear of the boxed instant salep mixes (usually with a photo of a steaming cup on the front) — these contain the smallest amount of pure salep needed to include it on the label and are loaded with starches and thickeners.
Storage: The pie is best the day it is made, but it will keep, wrapped airtight, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Before serving, reheat in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.
- 2 1/4 pounds Flaky Pie Dough, rolled out as two 13-inch rounds for a double-crust pie and chilled
- 2 1/4 pounds granny smith apples
- 2 1/4 pounds sweet and firm apples, such as Fuji or Gala
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons pure salep or glutinous rice flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Flaky Pie Dough (makes 17 ounces, enough for one 13-inch galette dough)
- 10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cold unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the dough
Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and freeze for 20 minutes. In a small pitcher, stir together the water and vinegar and refrigerate until needed.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour, sugar, and salt until blended. Add the butter pieces, pulsing until they are the size of hazelnuts. While pulsing, gradually drizzle in all but 2 tablespoons of the cold water–vinegar mixture through the feed tube until the dough resembles coarse meal.
To test it, squeeze a small piece of the dough in the palm of your hand. If it mostly sticks together, you have added enough liquid. If not, gradually pulse in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water-vinegar until the dough holds together when squeezed. Empty the dough into a medium bowl and gently press it into a ball with your hands. For a double recipe, divide the dough into two balls (17 ounces; 480 grams each) and follow the steps below for each of the balls.
Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a 6-inch disk, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (The dough will keep, double-wrapped with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)
Flatten the dough between two large sheets of parchment paper into a rough disk about 9 ½ inches in diameter by pounding it with a rolling pin. Roll out the dough into a round about 13 inches in diameter, occasionally flipping the dough with the parchment, then lifting and smoothing the parchment to avoid creases. If the dough becomes soft and sticky as you roll, transfer the dough and parchment to a baking sheet and freeze for 5 to 10 minutes before continuing.
For a 10-inch double-crust pie, peel off the top parchment sheets and trim the edges with a pizza cutter or paring knife to form two neat 13-inch rounds. Cover with the top parchment sheets, stack the covered doughs on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Gather the scraps into a small ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for patching the crusts later if needed. The chilled dough rounds are now ready to use in recipes.
For the crust
Peel away the parchment from one of the dough rounds, leaving the other round in the refrigerator. Center the dough over a 10-inch fluted pie dish that is 2 1/2 inches deep, easing it across the bottom and up the sides without pressing the edges onto the sides of the dish. Trim the edges of the dough to leave a 1/2-inch overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
For the Filling
Peel, core, and cut both types of apples in half lengthwise (top to bottom). Do not discard the cores and peels. Use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice the apples crosswise into 1/16- to 1/8-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices into a bowl large enough to comfortably toss them. Add the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and cinnamon, tossing them gently to avoid breaking up the apple slices too much. Let the apples macerate until they release their juices, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the apple cores and peels and transfer them to a medium saucepan. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, partially covered, until 1/2 inch of liquid is left in the pan, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the mixture through a mesh strainer into a separate medium saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract all of the apple stock.
Set mesh strainers over two large bowls, roughly divide the macerated apple slices with their juices between the strainers, and let them drain for 30 minutes.
Transfer the apple slices from the strainers to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed. Scrape the juices from the two bowls into the apple stock in the pan, and cook over medium- high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to 1⁄2 cup, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how much juice the apples have released. Watch closely toward the end to prevent scorching.
Remove the pan from the heat, immediately add the butter, salep, and salt, and whisk until blended. (If using glutinous rice flour, cook an additional 2 minutes, whisking constantly.) Scrape the apple sauce into a bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, until it reaches room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Once cool, the mixture will be sticky and as thick as porridge.
For the pie
Stack about one-quarter of the chilled apple slices in concentric circles over the bottom of the chilled crust. Spread about one-third of the apple sauce evenly over the slices. Continue layering in this manner until you have used all of the apples and sauce, ending with apple slices. The slices will rise about 1 inch above the lip of the dish. If the edges of the dough are very soft, freeze the pie before continuing, uncovered, until the edges are firm, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and heavy cream with a fork until blended.
Remove the pie from the freezer and the second dough round from the refrigerator, peel away the parchment, and center the dough over the filling. If needed, trim the dough to make a 1-inch overhang. Tuck the overhang under the bottom crust and press the dough firmly onto the fluted edges of the pie pan to seal it. Brush the dough with the glaze and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top. Starting about 1 inch from the center, cut 4 evenly spaced slits 2 inches long as steam vents on the top crust. Freeze the pie, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, set a rack in the lower third of the oven, center a rim- med baking sheet lined with aluminum foil on the rack, and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Set the pie on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling up through the slits, about 55 minutes longer.
Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 3 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature, with salted caramel ice cream if you wish.