Snowed-in Washington weekend project: White House apple pie

The White House recently released a recipe for the apple pie that President Barack Obama has called "the best pie I've ever tasted." With its many steps, this dessert makes a perfect culinary project for a snowed-in Washington weekend.

White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses shared some of his secrets with Obamafoodorama, including pre-baking the bottom shells, cutting the apples into chunks (not slices), and using plenty of lard, which, as writer Eddie Kohan points out, is technically no worse for you than butter.

In an AP interview last summer, when Obama was asked to reveal a secret about the White House, he responded, "The pastry chef makes the best pie I've ever tasted, and that is causing big problems for Michelle and myself. I mean, whatever pie you like, he will make it, and it will be the best pie you've ever eaten."

The photo here was taken at Obama's Aug. 4 birthday party, and two of the pies can be seen in the lower left.


White House Apple Pie


Ingredients for the crust:

3 cups All-Purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
3 ounces lard, cold, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the egg wash:
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Sugar, for sprinkling

Method

To make the crust, in a food processor pulse together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and lard, then pulse briefly until the mixture forms small crumbs. Add the ice water and pulse just until a dough forms. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

When chilled, to prepare the pie shell, on a floured surface roll out one disc to a 14-inch circle using a rolling pin. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased, deep 9-inch pie pan, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Refrigerate the crust in the pan for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

When ready to bake the bottom crust, heat the oven to 375 F. Line the cold crust with foil and fill with baking weights, rice or dry beans to hold it in place. Bake the pie shell for 30 minutes and remove from oven. Leave the oven on once the crust is done.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large saucepan, toss together the apples, sugar, honey, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Bring the fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the fruit thickens. Let cool.

When the bottom the filling has cooled, pour the it into the baked crust. Roll out the second disc of dough to about 12 inches.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with the salt. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg on the edges of the cooked crust. Place the top crust over the filling. Using a fork or crimper, gently crimp the top crust, sealing the pie around the edges.

Slit the top of the crust with a paring knife in several places to create steam vents. Brush egg wash over the crust, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the top crust is golden brown. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Servings: 8