Brown Butter Apple and Pear Pie
Courtesy of Polina Chesnakova (Col ’14)
Freelance food writer and recipe developer Polina Chesnakova has worked in everything from traditional restaurants to natural wine bars—even creating food programming for the Tom Tom Founders Festival in Charlottesville. Based in Seattle, she now invests her time developing recipes, with an expertise in Russian and Georgian food, as featured on her blog, Chesnok. “For most American families,” Chesnakova says, “you can’t get more traditional than a classic apple pie, but seeing as I can never help tinkering with recipes, I add my own twist to it here. Apples share the limelight with soft, tender pears (an underrated fruit in my eyes) and the butter is browned to give the filling extra depth and nuttiness.”
- Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a large chilled bowl. Add cubed butter and toss to coat. Use your fingers or a fork to cut butter into flour. Continue until you have butter pieces the size of walnut halves. If you find the butter warming up at any point, refrigerate bowl for a few minutes.
- Mix water with vinegar and drizzle a few tablespoons over flour-butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, stir water into flour. Continue to add more water, a few tablespoons at a time, until dough is hydrated, but not sticky—when you squeeze the dough into clumps, it shouldn’t fall apart. Press dough together, divide in half and form it into 2 rounds. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using, or overnight.
- Roll out 1 piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a ⅛-inch-thick round (about a 12-inch circle). Transfer it to a pie plate and trim it to leave a ½-inch overhang. Refrigerate. Roll out the remaining dough until it is roughly 11 inches in diameter. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate as well.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, melt butter in a small saucepan with a light-colored bottom (to more easily keep track of its browning) over medium heat. Continue cooking at a low simmer, swirling pan occasionally, as color progresses from light yellow to golden brown. Butter is ready when foam subsides and bubbling quiets down, and it smells nutty. Remove from heat and strain into a heat-safe bowl to remove solids. Allow to slightly cool.
- Toss all filling ingredients in a medium bowl until combined. Taste and season with more sugar, lemon juice or salt if needed.
- Remove pie dish from refrigerator and arrange filling into it. Cover with remaining dough (or consider a lattice top, as our food stylist has done in the image above). Press edges gently to seal, trim the excess and then crimp with a fork. Transfer pie to refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
- Heat oven to 425°F. Lightly beat egg with milk or water in a small bowl. Cut 4 slits in the top of the crust, if not using a lattice top, and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.
- Transfer pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.