This apple pie from the Alto Adige is called a torte, but it's more like a double crust tart than a cake. Precooking the apples concentrates the juices and keeps the crust from getting soggy.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (l 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons cold milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into l-inch chunks (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Confectioners' sugar, in a shaker
- To make the dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat the egg, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla until blended. Stir the liquid into the flour mixture just until dough forms. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk if needed. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one twice as large as the other. Shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- To make the filling, in a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and sugar. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the apples release their juices. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest. Set aside and let cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough to an 11-inch circle. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim off all but a 1/2-inch border of the dough. Fold the border against the inside of the pan and press it into place, building it up slightly above the rim. Spread the apple filling in the pan.
- Roll out the remaining piece of dough to a 10-inch circle. Place it over the filling. Pinch the top and bottom layers of dough together to seal around the edge of the pan. Trim off the excess dough. Brush the top of the torte with the egg yolk mixture. Cut 6 to 8 small slits in the surface to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Cool the torte on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the rim by placing the pan on a coffee can or similar tall object and sliding the rim down. Place the torte on the rack to cool completely.
- Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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Excerpted from A FRESH TASTE OF ITALY by Michele Scicolone Copyright© 1997 by Ouida Sebestyen. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.