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The 2011 Garden State Cake Show is less than a month away!

January 11, 2011

Hi all!

Just a quick post for those of you interested.  The Garden State Cake Show is coming up in February – the 4th, 5th & 6th to be exact.  Here is a link to the official site with details about classes, demos, challenges, contests, vendors, and more. 

We are planning to attend (and possibly enter a cake too) so we hope to see you there!

Happy baking!

Christina & Meghan

Little Mermaid cake makes a little girl’s 3rd birthday super special!

January 10, 2011

Hi all!

Happy New Year!  2011 has already been a busy and exciting year, filled with dog training (Christina got a Black lab puppy for Christmas, a new friend for Meghan’s pups, Tucker and Mason) and cakes too.  Christina made the cake below for a New Year’s celebration at the home of her neighborhood friends, Jonathan and Marli.  (Let the record show that because of the aforementioned puppy, she could not join her best friend Maria at her home for their traditional and annual sleepover – sorry, Rie!)

Happy New Year!

 

The first week back at work (recall we are both teachers) was a busy one.  By Friday, we were exhausted and looking forward to our next day off!  Then, a message came to us via our site that would rock Christina’s weekend.

(Note:  The rest of this post if from Christina’s perspective.)

Irene, a mom of four from Miami, Florida, sent us a message requesting a last-minute cake for her daughter, Mia’s, third birthday.  She wanted the cake to be an Ariel (Little Mermaid) cake like the one she saw on our blog made back in June 2010, which she found via a Google search in her hunt for someone to make what she wanted.  And she wanted the cake delivered to Sloan Kettering in Manhattan at 1pm on Monday.

Upon reading the message, I was torn because if the cake had to be delivered to Sloan Kettering, that meant that Mia was a cancer patient, and who wouldn’t want to make a cake for any child, let alone one suffering from that dreaded disease?  But the delivery time was just not possible; both of us work at that time and we can’t just call out from work to deliver a cake!

I sent Irene a heartfelt message apologizing and telling her that I just didn’t see it working out.  Not only was it last-minute (I had a packed weekend planned with vet visits, kids’ birthday parties, dinner plans, etc) but the delivery would be impossible too.  I also told her that the Ariel cake pictured on our site served over 50 people, so perhaps a smaller cake and picked up on Sunday evening might work better.  It was the best I could offer on such short notice.

Irene got back to me and said smaller was fine, but she was from Miami and did not know the area so pick up was not possible.  Could we find a way to deliver?  At this point, it was Friday evening and I had dinner plans with some girlfriends.  Over wine and sushi that night, I told Marli, Gina, and Steph about the situation, and Gina, saint that she is, offered to deliver the cake herself.  All three women agreed that this was a cake I simply had to do, if only because it was good karma, let alone that all four of us are moms and could not imagine what Irene (and Mia) must be going through.

Filled with hope and goodwill, I came home and sent a late-night message to Irene telling her I would make the cake for Mia and to call me in the morning.  After a mishap with a wrong number (I told you it was late at night!), I spoke with Irene early Saturday afternoon.  We agreed on the details of the cake, and off I set to make the most perfect cake ever.

By 9:30 that night, exhausted but pleased after 8 hours of work, I went to bed with a final message to Irene that I would deliver the cake to her in the morning.

Sunday morning dawned cold and sunny.  I set out with Mandara, my oldest child, into the upper east side.  Our destination was Ronald McDonald House on 73rd, between York and 1st.  The Ariel cake was nestled safely in its box on the floor of the front seat.  By 11am, we arrived at our destination, and were waiting in the lobby for Irene, Mia, and the rest of their family to meet us.

When the elevator doors opened, I experienced a feeling of panic and exhilaration.  What was I doing, meeting perfect strangers this way, putting myself out there like this?  But when I saw Mia, I knew I had done the right thing.  All of my hard work, all of my doubts and worries, all paid off when I saw her sweet face.  And especially when I saw how thrilled and touched Irene was.  Nothing could compensate me for that look;  I will never forget it.

Mia was hungry, as we had interrupted her breakfast, so we accompanied the family up to the dining room.  Mia’s sister, Cecilia, got her waffle ready while we settled Mia at a table and I unveiled the cake.  Mia loved it!  She had been fussing up to that point, but settled down and set about admiring it.  It seemed that she approved.

Mandara and I spent a lovely hour with the family, talking about their experience (Mia was diagnosed on February 19, 2010 with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.  In Miami there was nothing they could do for her; only Sloan Kettering gave them hope for their baby.  Their pediatric oncologist removed a 2 lb tumor from her tummy which they never knew was there because Mia never complained), admiring the cake, playing hide and seek, and taking pictures.

Mia's special cake!

 

Mia admiring her cake with her mom, Irene, and her friend, Esther!

 

      By the time we left Irene and Mia in the lobby, I knew that I hadn’t seen the last of them nor was I ever going to be the same.  I came home determined to dedicate some of my time to Mia and children like her, not only making them cakes for special occasions but also offering whatever else I can give.  Mia and her family have forever touched my heart and I wish them all the best in their journey.

Happy baking!

Christina (and Meghan)

P.S.  I just received this e-mail from Irene:

“Good morning Christina,
Thank you so much for everything.  Today is the big day. What you did for Mia speaks volumes.  Your kindness and giving heart is truly beautiful.  You have shown your daughter a very valuable lesson in life.  You gave (your daughter) a chance to see very special little children yesterday.  Mia kept saying “No eat my cake”… lol.   She just wants to kept it.  That is so funny (because) I knew she would not want to eat it.  It really is beautiful.  I will forward you pics from Sloan.  Again, thank you so very very much!!

 
Always thankful,

Irene & Mia”

Holiday greetings and our first Daring Baker’s Challenge: Christmas Stollen!

December 25, 2010

Hi all!

It’s been a while since we posted.  December has been a hectic month filled with shopping, holiday preparations, and personal baking.  We took a hiatus from baking for customers so that we could focus on our families during this season of love and giving.

We did, however, do one thing that is new and exciting for us: we joined an on-line community called the Daring Kitchen where we partake in monthly challenges as Daring Bakers.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

 

Our finished stollen! Not bad for a first attempt.

 

 

Upon doing a little research, we discovered that a stollen is a German cake made during the holidays which contains dried fruit and is covered with powdered sugar.  Pronounced \ˈshtō-lən\, this tradition dates back to as early as 1474 and was originally meant to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes.  (Our friend and colleague, German teacher, Brian, will be proud of us when he reads this!)

The idea of making something that required yeast to rise was intimidating at first, coupled with the fact that this sounded an awful lot like fruit cake, and you know the reputation that has….

But we are Daring Bakers, after all, so we (wo)manned up and got ‘er did!  The final product was slightly drier than we wanted it to be, but overall, it tasted great and the whole family, including the grandparents, seems to love it!  Check out the process as it unfolded below, as well as the recipe to see if you can be a daring baker too!  And be sure to stay tuned each month for the latest challenge.

 

The dry ingredients in the mixer with the candied peel, glaced cherries, and rum-soaked craisins ready to go!

After it rose in the fridge for a couple of days and proofed for two hours at room, temperature, we rolled out the dough into a 16"x24" rectangle.

Then we rolled it up tightly the long way to form a long cylinder that would be formed into the requisite wreath.

Once we formed the wreath, we used kitchen shears to cut slits 2/3s into the sides, spaced about 2" apart.

A look inside of a slice - you can see the fruit, nuts, and general yumminess. It is delicious toasted with butter, and in Christina's house, with a glass of coquito (Puerto Rican eggnog) to wash it down!

 

 

Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas in German) and happy baking!

Christina & Meghan

**Note:  The recipe and pictures below are courtesy of the Daring Kitchen challenge forum and host, Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.**

Preparation time:

The following times are approximate. I suggest you gather and scale/weigh/measure (mise en place) all your ingredients before you begin mixing.
• Approximately 1 hour first stage – then rest overnight or up to 3 days
• 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration
• 15 minutes shaping
• 2 hours proofing
• 30-45 minutes baking

Equipment required:

• Mixer with dough hook or strong arms and hands
• Mixing bowl
• Bowl to soak raisins
• Small saucepan
• Sheet of plastic or plastic wrap to cover when proofing
• Bench or pastry scraper (very handy for cutting dough and also cleaning work surface)
• Rolling pin
• Dough whisk can be handy but not necessary
• Pastry Brush
• A scale is really important to have when making bread so I strongly recommend you to get one. You do not have to have one though. (would make a good Christmas gift!)
• Sheet Pan or round Pizza pan
• Parchment Paper

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people

Ingredients

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Directions:

Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

This was before I pinched it together

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

Daring Baker's  Stollen Daring Baker's  Stollen
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm

Storage
The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Additional Information:

Here is a link to recipes to make your own candied citrus peel
http://www.harvestwizard.com/2006/12/candied_citron_recipe.html
http://video.about.com/candy/Make-Candied-Citrus-Peel.htm

http://userealbutter.com/2007/10/09/candied-orange-peels-recipe/

Kneading Bread
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWj8oHMPFm0

Martha Stewart’s wreath
http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/stollen-wreath-bread-with-mrs-kostyra

New Show: Next Great Baker on TLC

December 7, 2010

Hi all!

So you know we love our cake shows here at Touch of Class.  We are huge Duff Goldman and Buddy Valastro fans, setting our DVRs to every episode, new and old, of “Ace of Cakes” and “Cake Boss”, as well as “Amazing Wedding Cakes” (TLC), “Cupcake Wars” (FNW), “Food Network Challenge” (FNW), and “Ultimate Cakeoff” (TLC), to name a few.

Now the TLC network has brought us a new, exciting show starring Chef Buddy called “Next Great Baker”, airing on Monday nights at 9pm.  The premise is simple and not a new one, if you watch any other reality show like this one:

“In the series, Buddy, along with various family members, put 10 talented pastry chefs through the ringer to earn the title of “Next Great Baker.” At stake — $50,000 cash and a chance to work side-by-side with Buddy at Carlo’s Bakery. Each week, Buddy pushes the contestants’ baking and decorating skills to the limit through a series of increasingly difficult challenges that test their business sense and cake artistry. Someone will be sent packing each week until the Next Great Baker is the last one standing.” (courtesy of TLC.com)

We are excited to watch the new series unfold and see what the contestants bring to the table each week.  And who knows, maybe one day we might be on there too!  😉

Happy baking!

Christina & Meghan

Bridal Shower Cookie Favors

December 4, 2010

Hi all!

Just a quick post to share some beautiful bridal shower cookie favors we made for the friend of a friend.  The wedding color is a light blue with gray undertones.  We made four different designs on both blue and white fondant with contrasting icing.  The cookies were dusted in edible luster dust, measured five-inches each, and were bagged individually with coordinating ribbon.  Enjoy!

Happy baking!

Christina & Meghan

All of the designs together

Design #1: blue cake with white stripes, squiggles, and flowers

Design #2: blue cake with white drapes

Design #2: white cake with blue drapes

Design #3: blue quilted look with white dragee accents

Design #3: white quilted look with blue dragees

Design #4 (and our personal favorite): blue cake with flower "topper" and polka dots. It just looks like a cake we would make! 🙂

Design #4: white cake with blue flower "topper" and blue polka dots. This is Christina's favorite, hands down!

Recipe Sharing: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting!

December 3, 2010

Hi all!

Now that Thanksgiving is past us (and our waistlines are thicker as a result), we will begin saying goodbye to the beautiful autumnal decorations all around us and waving in the holiday ones.

Already, the malls are bedecked with holiday cheer, radio and television stations are bombarding us with festive programing, and holiday party invitations are rolling in.  It saddened me to think that yet another season was coming to an end so quickly, so as a last-ditch effort to hold onto fall, I decided to make autumnal cupcakes for a little gathering I am having tomorrow.

These cupcakes are pumpkin spice and I found the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website.   The recipe, however, did not recommend a frosting, so before I committed to the usual cream cheese frosting that I happen to prefer with pumpkin spice baked goods, I searched around for something more inspired.  As in the past, I struck gold with our friends over at “Cupcakes Take the Cake” who posted the same Martha Stewart recipe back in September but with a frosting recipe from their own personal collection.  The reviews were rave for this frosting so I decided to go with it, and – OMG, it is SCRUMPTIOUS!!!  🙂

I decorated the frosted cupcakes with varying colors of fondant leaves that I made the night before so they would harden and – VOILA!  The perfect little cupcake to pay homage to the end of the fall.  There are so many things you could do to decorate these, so go ahead and have fun with it!

An autumnal trio!

 

The recipe for both the cupcakes and the frosting are posted below.  Trust me, you have to make these babies!  They are divine and a fabulous way to bid adieu to the fall!

Happy baking!

Christina

Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice*
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée

* = I just used 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (which is a combination of all these spices) and it worked just fine!

Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin purée.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.  Yields between 24-30 cupcakes.
Read more at Marthastewart.com: Pumpkin Cupcakes – Martha Stewart Recipes
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
courtesy of “Cupcakes Take The Cake
Ingredients: 
  • 8 oz fat free cream cheese – room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:
In an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon until fully incorporated. Gradually add powdered sugar in small portions, scraping down the sides with each addition, until desired consistency is reached.

Happy Thanksgiving: Christina’s Perfect Apple Pie

November 24, 2010

Hi All!

I love apple pie.

It is by far my favorite pie of all pies.  There is something comforting about the smell and taste of it.  Perhaps it is because it reminds me of my childhood.  My mom always made apple pie and all other types of apple desserts.  The smell brings me back to her kitchen, learning about baking at her loving side.

Sadly, I am highly allergic to apples in their raw form – in fact, my throat closes up if I ingest them and I even break out in hives if raw apple touches my skin.  The allergy has worsened over time, so much so that my children have learned to wash their hands and faces before coming near Mommy after eating apples.  My husband, Tim, acts as my sous chef when I need or want to make an apple dessert so that I don’t have to handle them, and this Thanksgiving is no different.

Here is another little known fact about me:  for a very long time, I was deathly afraid of any type of dough.  It intimidated me because it was so temperamental, and so for many years, I avoided making any kind of pie that required crust; if I did make one, I “cheated” and used refrigerated dough (my mother will kill me when she reads this)!

Finally, last fall, I decided to conquer my fear once and for all, inspired by an episode of “Good Eats” on the Food Network in which Alton Brown, one of my favorite chefs and science geeks, broke down this scary food for me.

Inspired, I took Alton’s recipe and tried it as is.  It was okay, in my book, but then again, I am very specific about my apple pie.  I like a flaky, buttery crust and a filling that is both sweet and tart with a good, thick consistency.  (Have you ever had a Kings supermarket apple pie?  If you have, then you have had the king of all apple pies, in my book.)  So I tried recipe after recipe, finding tons of variations on-line as well as in “Apple Pie Perfect” by Ken Haedrich.  My husband patiently peeled, cored, and sliced dozens of apples for me, consoling himself with the promise of endless taste testing.

Finally, I hit success.  The result was an apple pie that was all that I wanted and more, so this year I have decided to share my labor of love with you, devoted reader and friend.  It definitely takes practice and guts to make, and perhaps after it is all said and done, you might not like it because it doesn’t suit your tastes – apple pie is a very personal thing.  However, I challenge you to try it and then set out to tweak it to make it your own.

May you enjoy a wonderful, satisfying Thanksgiving, wherever you may go.  I am off to my parents’ house to share the holiday with them, my husband, and our three children.  I am thankful for them, for the rest of my extended family, my beloved friends, and for you, our faithful readers.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy baking!

Christina

 

Christina’s Perfect Apple Pie

Crust:

– 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

– 1 tablespoon sugar

– 2 teaspoons kosher salt

– ½ teaspoon baking powder

– 1 ¾ cups (3 and ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces

– 2/3 cup ice-cold water

– 2 tablespoons sour cream

– 1 teaspoon vinegar

1.     In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

2.     Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients; replace the cover.  Pulse the machine 5 or 6 times to cut in the butter, leaving chunks the size of peas.  Remove the lid and fluff the mixture with a fork, lifting from the bottom of the bowl.

3.     Combine the water, sour cream, and vinegar in a separate bowl, and then add liquids all at once to the flour mixture.  Pulse 5 or 6 times; do not over mix.  The dough should be slightly crumbly.  Let dough rest in the refrigerator right in the food processor bowl for at least 2 hours or overnight.

4.     Divide dough into three portions (the finished dough should break, not stretch); shape into a ball, packing as you would a snowball.  Make one ball slightly larger than the other; this will be the bottom crust.  Flatten into a ¾-inch thick disks on a floured surface.  Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour before rolling out, or wrap and refrigerate up to 3 days.  (Note:  You can also freeze the dough up to 1 month, making sure to thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen.)

Filling:

– 8 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples – 2 of each of the following:

  • Braeburn
  • Gala
  • Golden Delicious
  • Honey Crisp
  • Granny Smith

– 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup more

– 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

– 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

– 1 ½ teaspoons apple pie spice

– 3 tablespoons flour

– ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

– 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Glaze:

– Milk

– Granulated sugar

1.     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter the apple pie pan.  Set aside.

2.     Combine apples, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar.   Toss to coat apples, and then place in a colander over a bowl for 1 ½ hours to allow apples to drain most of their juices.  Once this is done, proceed!

3.     If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate at least an hour, until firm enough to roll.

4.     On a slightly floured surface (or on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, if you prefer – makes transferring easier!), roll the larger portion of pastry to 13 ½-inch circle with a floured rolling pin.  Invert the pastry over a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.  Center it and gently tuck the pastry into the buttered pan without stretching it.  Refrigerate the pan.

5.     While the crust chills, combine the remaining ¼ cup white granulated sugar, lime juice, apple pie spice, flour (3 tablespoons), and salt with the drained apples.  Toss well.

6.     In prepared pan, arrange apples in concentric circles, beginning at the edges and working toward the center, being sure to make a mound in the center (this will cook down, so don’t worry if it seems high); dot the filling with the 4 tablespoons of cold, cut butter.

7.     On floured surface, roll the other half of pastry into 11 ½-inch circle.  Lightly moisten the rim of pie shell with a wet finger.  Invert top pastry, center it, molding it to the mound of the fruit beneath, and press top and bottom pastries together along dampened edge.  Crimp edge as desired.

8.     Cut 4 small slits on top crust to allow steam to escape.  (Note:  At this point, you can use left over dough scraps to make decorative designs, if desired.)  Lightly brush pastry with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

9.     Place pie pan on foil-lined baking sheet and place directly on the center oven rack.

10. Bake for 30 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.   When the pie is done, you should be able to see the juices bubbling up onto the crust.

11. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.