Random Act of Pie

Every now and then, six or seven firefighters sit in a row of chairs in front of the firehouse at dusk, sometimes after dark, cooling off. I’ve driven by on my way home and there they are, side by side, sitting on folding chairs in the driveway, facing the street. Makes me smile.

And because of that, I decided to bake them a slab apple pie (also known as apple pie bars).

Picked up Jonathan and Cortland apples from the farmer’s market. Used vodka, along with water, in the dough for the first time because Cook’s Illustrated says it makes the best pie crust. It’s all about science and gluten (which makes tough crusts). When water is combined with flour, it forms gluten. Replace some of the water with vodka and you don’t get as much crust-toughening gluten. I probably won’t do it again. My original crust was easier to work with. Just sayin’.

Also tried adding apple cider to the glaze, rather than my standard milk.

Then it was time for the delivery. I stopped in just as the firefighters were finishing dinner. “Here’s the dessert I ordered,” said the guy who held the door open for me.

It made the guys smile. Which made me smile. Again.

Here’s the recipe:

Slab Apple Pie

3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
½ cup ice water
¼ cup ice cold vodka or water

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 cups sliced apples
1 recipe Vanilla Glaze (below)

1. For pastry, stir together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine ice water and vodka; mix into flour mixture until dough holds together in a ball. Divide dough into two-thirds and one-third portions. Flatten each portion into a rectangle and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 to 24 hours.

2. On a floured surface, roll the larger portion of dough into an 18×12-inch rectangle. (Because the dough is sticky, you might need more flour than you expect.) Transfer carefully into a 15x10x1-inch baking pan (jelly roll pan). Pastry should hang over edges of pan. (I roll the pastry around rolling pin and then unroll over baking pan.)

3. Preheat oven to 375 F. For filling, stir together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Spoon apples into prepared crust. Sprinkle with sugar mixture.

4. Roll remaining dough into a 16×11-inch rectangle. Place dough over fruit. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Seal edges with tines of fork. Prick top of pastry surface all over with fork.

5. Bake in preheated oven about 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack. Drizzle with Vanilla Glaze.

Cider Vanilla Glaze: 
Stir together 1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and enough apple cider or milk (5 to 6 tsp) to make of drizzling consistency.


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