French Apple Custard Pie, A BIG Winner

Chefs, Cooking, Recipes By Nov 17, 2012

I’m not suggesting that you eliminate the pumpkin pie from your Thanksgiving menu. In some families that may cause a dessert riot.

But bring out this award-winning French Apple Cream Pie alongside the traditional pumpkin. This apple delicacy could turn out to be a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Rhonda Martin, Rancho Santa Margarita, was the division winner for all pie entries at this summer’s Orange County Fair. It was this sweet-tart-custardy treasure that did the trick.

(I can testify that it was the very best pie. I was a judge and tasted over 100 entries …)

Martin cuts good-sized holes in the top crust before it bakes, then spoons warm custard into the holes once it is out of the oven. Delicious as is. No whipped cream or ice cream needed.

Pie-baking aficionado Rhonda Martin started entering pie competitions at the Fair in 2004 and has won many blue ribbons and honorable mentions.

Her French Apple Cream Pie is best served warm or at room temperature (it can sit on a cooling rack for up to 2 hours), or it can be made a day ahead, cooled, refrigerated and reheated in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. When chilled the custard solidifies, so be sure to heat it before serving if it has been refrigerated.

Rhonda Martin’s French Apple Cream Pie
Yield: 8 servings
Pie crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable shortening such as Crisco
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water (without ice), divided use
Pie filling:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups peeled, chunks Granny Smith apples, see cook’s notes
1 tablespoon butter, cut into 6 pieces
Garnish: 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Custard Filling:
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Minced lemon zest (lemon peel, colored portion only) of 1/2 medium-sized lemon

Cook’s notes: Cut apples into quarters; peel and core. Cut each quarter crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

1. For the dough: Mix together all dry ingredients and then cut in shortening with pastry cutter or two knives until mixture looks like coarse meal and shortening is in small pieces (like very small peas). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water over the flour mixture and stir gently with a fork. Repeat until all the dough is moistened. Form dough into a ball and cut in half. Form each half into a disc shape, wrap with plastic-wrap, and place in the refrigerator until ready to roll out, at least 30 minutes (Martin usually chills it while she cuts the apples and prepares the filling).

2. For the filling: In a bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add apples and toss; set aside.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle; preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a dry, lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out 1 disk of dough to 3/16-inches thickness and ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Lightly dust work surface with flour and roll out the second disk of dough to make the top crust. Cut out 6 (1 1/2-inch) circles using a floured biscuit cutter, cookie cutter or glass (make one in the center, and five around it leaving a space between each. Place apple mixture in bottom crust in the pie pan and dot with butter. Cover pie with top crust. Pinch top and bottom crusts together around the edge of the pie pan. Fold over excess dough and crimp edge if desired, or press together with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle top crust with sugar.

4. To prevent over-browning, cover edge of pie with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes and then remove foil and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Custard filling: While pie bakes, place eggs and sugar in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture just coats a metal spoon (about 10 minutes). To coat a spoon is a culinary term that means when you drag your finger over the back of the spoon it is thick enough to leave a trail. Do not overheat or eggs will curdle. Remove from heat; add cream cheese in small amounts stirring until cream cheese melts. Stir in sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

6. Remove pie from oven and place on cooking rack. Carefully spoon custard into holes in top of pie crust. Cool slightly. Serve warm. Chill to store.

Nutrition information (per serving):  270 calories, 40 percent of calories from fat, 11 g fat,  6g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 12 g protein,  280mg sodium, 0.5 g fiber

Source: Rhonda Martin, Rancho Santa Margarita


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