Just like last year, I made Nick Malgieri’s Breton Apple Pie for Thanksgiving. I cut the recipe for dough by a third (I pressed the dough into an 8″ round pan instead of a 10″ pan), but made the full amount of apple filling. I think this was the right ratio of apple to crust.
Instead of making pumpkin pie and pecan pie, I made Vera’s Pumpkin Mousse Cake with Maple Whipped Cream Topping. A lot of work, but so worth it. My changes to Vera’s recipe: (1) 2 Tbl. bourbon, 2 Tbl. water, and 1 Tbl. vanilla instead of brandy in the filling; (2) Kojel instead of gelatin; (3) glazed pecans instead of candied ginger on top; and (4) Rich’s Whip (dairy-free) instead of cream. I used a 3″ wide acetate strip as a liner in my springform pan, and it was the perfect height for the cake, filling, and topping.
I am not sure that the Kojel did anything. Next time I would just leave it out. Maybe just add a Tbl. of bourbon and a Tbl. vanilla. The cake is excellent and I would make that by itself. Instead of making two thin layers, I would bake it in one pan.
Making the apple breton in an 8″ cake pan works out perfectly, but I’ve noticed that the top tends to crack. I didn’t have this problem when I made the larger 10″ size. I wonder what causes this. Pressing down the top crust too much before baking? Is it adding the extra filling? Maybe it is because I am using a whole egg instead of all yolks.
Another thing to keep in mind: the pattern on the top disappears when you brush it with egg wash after pricking it with a fork. I must remember next time to brush the breton with egg before pricking the top crust with a fork.
The recipe is available online, but I want to record my changes:
My version of Nick’ Malgieri’s Apple Breton
3 tablespoons margarine (or coconut oil) (Earth’s Best margarine works fine even though it is salted)
2 1/2 – 3 pounds golden delicious apples, peeled, cut in half and cored; cut each half into 6 wedges (about 6 apples)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice from half a lemon; before slicing the lemon, grate and save the rind for the dough)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional, you just need a shake to enhance the apple flavor)
Melt the margarine over medium heat in a 2-3 quart saucepan. Add sugar. Sometimes, I like to caramelize the sugar before adding the apples to the pot, but you can add the apple right over the sugar without this extra step. Add the apples and sprinkle them with the lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook for about 20 minutes. You can cover the apples for the first half of cooking, until the apples give off their juice. Then uncover the pot and cook off the excess liquid. It doesn’t matter how long you cover the pot or if you cover it at all, as long as you regularly check on the apples and give them a good stir. Also, it is important to let the excess liquid cook off. The apples will start to break down into a chunky applesauce, but this is ok.
Let the apples cool down while you make the dough for the crust. I have added slightly warm apples to the crust, but, letting the apple filling fully cool before pouring into the crust is a much better idea.
5 ounces margarine (Earth’s Best works fine even though it is salted)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg (or 3 yolks, if you want to make the original way)
1 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbl. flour (really 1 1/2 plus 1/3 cups)
zest from 1 lemon (optional, but good)
Cream the margarine and sugar until the mixture is very light. The color of the mixture should go from yellow to pale ivory. Add the rind, vanilla, and the egg (or the yolks, reserving a teaspoonful or so of egg for your egg wash. If you forget, this is ok, but you will need to crack open a whole egg later just to get the spoonful of egg you need for an egg wash, so it really pays to be attentive here and save a bit of egg for brushing over your crust later. I don’t measure, I just eyeball the amount I save. Fold in the flour with a spatula in three additions.
Grease and line an 8″ round pan with parchment. Take about half the dough and press it evenly over the bottom and about 1″-1 1/2″ up the sides of the pan to make the bottom crust. Spread the cooled apple filling over the crust.
Take the other half of the dough and dust it lightly with flour. Press it out into a 8″ round circle. Put the the circle of dough onto a 8″ cake circle (dusted with flour), and slide the circle of dough from the cardboard round onto the top of the apple breton. Press the edges of the top crust to adhere it to the sides of the bottom crust. Brush the crust with egg and prick the crust with a fork to make a lattice (diamond) pattern.
Put the breton in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, until golden brown. Let the breton cool to just slightly warmer than room temperature before attempting to unmold.