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Best Flaky Pastry Recipe – How to Make Apple Custard Pie

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Author Notes

Crispier than store-bought puff pastry, this “fail-proof” flaky pastry dough shatters into flakes almost like a chip. It’s fast and simple to put together, not to mention endlessly versatile when it comes to fillings. A rustic pie of sorts, this one is stuffed with a fragrant apple purée and a silky vanilla custard—it’s proved to be a crowd-pleaser. You can also use this dough recipe to make individual hand pies, or even skip the filling and use the buttery pastry as a fancy topping for soups.

Depending on your texture preference, you can use a range of 5 to 7 tablespoons of butter in the dough: the more butter, the more delicate, lace-like flakes appear in the finished pastry. I highly recommend using a large block of butter instead of smaller sticks, as it’s easier to cut a few pieces from the large block with a bench scraper (or knife).

When serving, this super-flaky finished pastry will be much easier to slice into portions with a kitchen scissors than with a knife. —Mandy @ Lady and pups

Watch This Recipe

Flakiest Pastry With Apple Purée & Vanilla Custard

  • Prep time
    20 minutes
  • Cook time
    1 hour 5 minutes
  • makes
    1 pastry slab
Ingredients
  • Apple Purée & Vanilla Custard Fillings:

  • 3

    (about 1 pound) medium Fuji apples, or another firm and sweet apple, like Gala or Pink Lady

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    plus 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    (50 grams) light brown sugar

  • 1/2 tablespoon

    fragrant honey, like clover, buckwheat or orange blossom

  • Sea salt


  • 1 cup

    (240 grams) whole milk

  • 1/2

    vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3

    large egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup

    (50 grams) granulated sugar

  • 3 tablespoons

    (25 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons

    (32 grams) unsalted butter
  • Pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups

    (195 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    sea salt

  • 1/3 cup

    , plus 2 tablespoons (115 grams) water

  • 5 to 7 tablespoons

    (70 to 91 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/16-inch pieces and chilled (see headnote)

  • 1

    large egg, beaten
Directions
  1. Apple Purée & Vanilla Custard Fillings:
  2. For the apple purée: Peel, core, and chop the apples into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. In a small pot, combine apple, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, light brown sugar, honey, and a pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples become translucent and soft, and the liquid has almost totally evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender (or transfer to a food-processor,) and pulse until the apples are mostly puréed, but not completely smooth.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and place in the freezer to flash-chill until cold, about 1 hour, stirring it every 15 minutes speeds up the process. (Alternatively, make the purée up to 24 hours in advance and chill, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.)
  6. For the vanilla custard: In a small pot, whisk together the milk, vanilla bean scrapings, egg yolks, granulated sugar, and flour until completely smooth (purée in a blender or in the pot with an immersion blender to expedite this process). Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken and bubbles slowly form on the surface, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat immediately, then stir in butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt until the custard is silky and smooth.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap that directly touches the surface of the custard (to prevent a skin from forming). Place in the freezer to flash-chill until cold, about 1 hour (stirring it every 15 minutes speeds up the process. (Alternatively, make the purée up to 24 hours in advance and chill, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  1. Pastry
  2. For the pastry dough: In a large bowl, combine flour, sea salt and water, and mix until a craggy but even and cohesive dough forms (it should look somewhere in between shaggy pie dough and smooth brioche dough). Resist the urge to knead it further—we don’t want much gluten to develop. Lightly flour the dough and wrap it in parchment, then place in the freezer to flash-chill for until the dough is cool to the touch, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the chilled dough onto a well-floured work surface and roll it out into a rectangle about 8×11-inch. Evenly arrange the sliced butter to cover the bottom two-thirds of the rectangular dough, leaving about a 3/4-inch border all around. Working quickly (especially if it’s warm in your kitchen, as the butter will soften fast,) brush some of the beaten egg over the margin.
  4. Fold the dough like an envelope: fold the exposed top third halfway over the buttered area. Gently smooth the folded area to eliminate any big air pockets, then fold the bottom, buttered third of the dough over so you’re left with a rectangle roughly 8×3 2/3-inches. Gently smooth out air pockets then pinch outer edges of the dough together to make sure they’re sealed. Trim any excess edges for a neater dough-envelope.
  5. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, dust with just a bit of flour if the dough is sticking, then roll it out into another 8×11-inch rectangle. (This would only happen if the temperature in the room is warm, but some butter may squeeze out from the edges but don’t panic, simply smear it back onto the dough wherever, dust with a bit more flour, and keep rolling. If any large air bubbles surface, poke them with a wooden skewer.)
  6. Dust the dough with more flour, then fold it like an envelope as you did in step 3. Repeat step 4, then fold the dough like an envelope once more, for a total of three folds. Place the dough on a small sheet pan or plate and transfer to the freezer to chill for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface, seam-side down, and roll out into a rectangle about 10×15-inches. Trim all the edges to make it a perfect rectangle.
  8. Spread the apple purée in the middle of the pastry, covering an area little more than one third, and leaving a 3/4-inch margin.
  9. Gently spread the vanilla custard on top of the apple purée in about a 3/4-inch layer (you may have extra left which is great for eating from a spoon).
  10. Brush more beaten egg around the margin, then fold the left and right sides of the dough towards the middle, and over the fillings (the dough should partially overlap). Pinch the top and bottom edges to seal tightly, then flip the whole thing over so the seam-side is down. Chill in the fridge while you preheat the oven (but no longer). Preheat the oven to 400°F (fan-on convection oven) or 425°F in a conventional oven.
  11. When ready to bake, brush the surface of the pastry with more beaten egg, and cut a few slits on the top to allow steam to escape. Bake for 35 min, rotating halfway, until golden-brown all over. Let cool on a rack for 20 minute before slicing.

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