Top Apple-Fennel Pie
Makes one 9" pie
Crust: (makes enough for top and bottom crusts)
2 + 2/3 cup all-purpose King Arthur flour
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp white sugar
18 TB butter (2 sticks and 2 TB/9 oz), chilled and diced
About 1/2 cup ice cold water
Apples for Filling:
About 4 lbs. apples, use a variety including Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Gala, Braeburn, and Granny Smiths
2/3 cup white sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground anise seed or star anise
¼ tsp fine sea salt
3-4 TB all-purpose King Arthur flour, cornstarch, or a combination of the two
2 TB butter
Fennel for Filling:
2 TB butter
4 heads fennel bulb
4 TB white sugar
pinch of salt
Extra all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
Make the Crust:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold butter and using two knives, a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are large pea-sized pieces of butter still showing. Sprinkle ice cold water over the flour mixture, a little at a time, and toss the mixture with a fork to incorporate. Use as much or as little water as needed. The dough should still look dry and crumbly but hold together if squeezed in the hand.
Divide dough into two equal parts, press gently together and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour, preferably overnight. Can be done up to two days in advance.
Make the Apple Filling:
Peel and core the apples, then slice them about ¼-inch thick or thicker. Drizzle lemon juice over the apples and toss. Add sugar, salt and spices and stir until evenly coated.
In a small bowl combine flour and cornstarch (if using) and add enough water to make a slurry, stirring until smooth.
Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add the apples and spices and stir until the sugar melts and juices from the apples start to simmer. Slowly drizzle in the flour slurry, stirring constantly. Only add enough to make the juices thicken. Once juices are thickened, remove apples from heat, spread thin on a sheet pan or in a roasting pan and chill immediately to stop the cooking process. Let cool completely. Can be done up to two days in advance.
Make the Fennel Filling:
Remove green stalks from the fennel bulb. Quarter and then slice fennel bulbs, removing the core.
Place a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add butter and let it melt. Add the fennel, sugar and a pinch of salt. Turn heat to low and let the fennel cook slowly until soft and slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally. Once cooked through, remove from heat and chill until cooled completely. Can be done up to two days in advance.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease a 9”-deep dish pie pan.
Using a liberal amount of flour on a clean surface, roll one portion of the dough out into a circle about 15” in diameter, the dough should be less than ¼” thick. Remember to spin the dough often to ensure it is not sticking to the surface underneath. Once desired thickness and shape are reached, fold the dough in half and then in half again so that a sort of triangle is formed. Lift the dough and place the “tip” of the triangle in the center of the pan. Carefully unfold the dough so that the circle completely covers the surface of the pan. Gently press the dough down into the corners and patch any tears. Set aside.
Roll out the second portion of dough in the same manner as above. Once the disc reaches 15” in diameter, use a sharp knife to cut strips of dough about 1” in width.
Mix together the cooled apples and fennel until combined. Pour apple-fennel mixture into the dough lined pie pan and level the top. To form a lattice top, start by placing the longest strip down the center of the pie, and then placing the next longest perpendicular to the first strip. Continue to place the strips back and forth over the top of the pie. To truly create the lattice, each strip will have to be woven into the strips previously laid down, by lifting already placed strips up and tucking the new strip under for every other row.
Once all of the strips are used and the lattice is formed, trim any excess dough overhanging the edge of the pan by more than 1”. Roll the hanging dough over itself to form a ring around the pie pan and then crimp or press the dough to form the desired crust design.
In a small bowl, whisk together one egg with 1 TB of water and a pinch of salt until thoroughly combined. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the dough with the egg mixture.
Place the pie in the oven with a sheet pan one shelf below to catch any grease or juice drippings. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for about 45 minutes or until top is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling.
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least one hour before serving.