After living in Spain for a year I knew it was going to be necessary to try my hand at baking, even though I’ve never been a baker. Or a cooker. I pretty much don’t have the patience for many recipes. If there’s more than like, three steps, or the preparation time is more than 7 minutes, I’m out. I think it all stems from the fact that I’ve never had sharp knives so chopping was a hassle and made me hate anything I was making because it was too difficult. I know that’s the worst excuse ever, but it’s true.
Anyway, I got motivated to bake an apple pie around Thanksgiving time in 2012. We were planning Thanksgiving dinner with some of the Americans in my town and some Spanish co-workers and friends. We were doing it potluck style so everyone was supposed to make something an I volunteered to make a Thanksgiving staple- apple pie. I quickly thought to myself… shit I have no idea how to make apple pie! I found this recipe online and used it as the base to what ultimately has become my “signature” apple pie amongst my Spanish friends. I figured I’d share it along with my modifications (and Mercadona suggestions) so that all of you non-bakers out there can have a taste of home… it’s hard to celebrate Thanksgiving abroad and for me fall and winter are super nostalgic seasons and always make me miss certain comforts of home. I’m sure this apple pie will help cure your homesickness, and I promise, if I can make this, you can too.
Note: I tried to be as thorough and specific as possible when writing this because this is exactly the type of recipe I wish I could find… I’ve made all the mistakes possible and want you to be able to avoid them!
Frozen pie crust (masa quebrada)
- Mercadona makes two types of frozen doughs… a puff pastry type (masa de hojaldre) and the pie crust/empanada kind (masa quebrada). You need two sheets of it. Mercadona’s box comes with two sheets, but other stores’ might not so make sure you check!
114 grams of unsalted butter (mantequilla sin sal)
- I use the sin sal blocks of butter from Mercadona which have markings on the wrapper for grams.
3 tbsp of all-purpose flour (harina de trigo)
- I still don’t have official tea or tablespoons. I use the big spoon in my utensil drawer for all tbsp measurements.
1/4 cup of water (60 mL)
- I bought a glass liquids measuring cup at a chino for like 2 euros. Honestly, I even use it to measure “dry” ingredients. I know you’re not supposed to do that… but I don’t care. Mine has both cups and mL measurements
1/2 cup white sugar (azúcar blanco)
1/2 cup brown sugar (azúcar moreno)
- I’m sure the original recipe that I looked at was calling for your normal moist, molasses-based brown sugar. That doesn’t exist in Spain to my knowledge, and I haven’t easily come by molasses to make my own brown sugar (though I’m planning on searching after I move). That being said, I just used the azucar moreno that can be easily found in Mercadona and the pie turns out great.
4-8 Granny Smith apples
- I have, on occasion, used a mixture of green and yellow apples but I’ve psychologically tricked myself into thinking that this pie is the best with those tart greenies. You may not need all eight depending on the size of the apples. Four soft-ball sized apples should do the trick but if your apples are smaller, get a few more.
Cinnamon to taste (canela)
You’ll need: Pie dish, knives (to peel and cut apples; I used a paring knive and a chopping knife), large mixing bowl, non-stick frying pan, and a mixing utensil.
Buy a pie tin/dish. There are disposable aluminum tins at Mercadona, however I can’t condone them because I’ve only ever used my glass pie dish from the chino. It was 1€ which is cheaper than the pack of 3 disposables, which are deeper and smaller than a normal pie dish.
Defrost the crust! You only really need like a half hour (maybe a bit more if your apartment is as cold as mine) of defrosting to make the dough malleable enough. I’m seriously an idiot when it comes to these things… I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve defrosted my crust in the microwave on a plate because I forgot to defrost it the normal way first. Duh.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°C
Peel and slice the apples. Learn how to use a paring knife, I promise you (from experience) that Spaniards will judge you if you don’t know how to peel fruit using one. After you peel off the skin, use a big knife to chop the 4 “sides” off the apple (ultimately leaving the core as a rectangular column). Place the sides flat side down and create thin slices so that you have half-moon shaped slices. Put the slices in the empty pie dish! Keep peeling and slicing until your pie dish is full and mounded.
Melt butter in a pan on medium heat.
Add flour to the melted butter and mix it in so that the butter is a little thicker
Add the sugars and cinnamon when there are no clumps of flour left. Stir it up (little darlin’ stir it up) until everything is liquified. And bubbling.
Add the water and cinnamon, mix it in, and bring to a boil. After the sugary mixture is good and bubbly, reduce to a simmer, or even turn it off.
Prepare the crust while the liquid is simmering. The Mercadona box of frozen dough comes with two rectangles. Butter the dish and place one of the doughs in the dish, molding to the the shape of the dish. You’ll want about an inch of dough (or less) to be hanging over the edge of the dish the whole way around (ripping off corners will be necessary). With the second crust, lay it horizontally (Hamburger not hotdog) on the counter on top of the parchment paper that the dough comes with and cut it into 8 even strips.
Pour sliced apples into mixing bowl and pour the liquid over the apples. Stir it up until the liquid has covered all of the apples and everything is nice and sticky.
Add apple mixture to the pie dish and spread it evenly.
Make the top of the apple pie by placing 4 strips vertically across the pie. One by one, add the four horizontal strips by weaving them over under over under (alternating under over under over) until you have a nice grid covering your pie.
Roll the edges of the crust. Pinch the bottom crust and top crust together and twist towards the center of the pie until you make your way around the whole pie.
Bake for 15 minutes at 220°C and then reduce heat to 175°C. Let bake for 30-40 minutes at 175°C. Keep an eye on it because every oven will be different. You don’t want the crust to burn! If the crust is getting too dark too quick, try covering it with a square of foil once it reaches the desired golden brown hue.
So what do you think… can you do this? I love this apple pie recipe because it’s pretty straight forward and there are no weird ingredients that are hard to find at the store. Let me know if you guys try it out, I’d love to hear your feedback.