This delicious hybrid, the specialty of my dear friend Jean Turpen, is one of those desserts that American bakers love -- it is relatively easy, makes enough for a crowd, and is utterly irresistible. Baked in a jelly-roll pan, it's a cross between a cobbler, a pie, and a big cookie. The pie can be made with just about any seasonal fruit -- peaches, nectarines, and Italian purple plums are all excellent substitutes for the apples -- adjusting the amount of sugar as needed. A layer of crushed cornflakes on the bottom crust soaks up and thickens the fruit juices so the consistency is always perfect.
Make Ahead: The pie dough can be made up to 2 days ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated. The pie is best served the day it is made, but it can be made 1 day ahead, loosely covered, and stored at cool room temperature.
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see Note)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk (save the white for brushing the top dough)
2/3 cup milk, as needed
2-1/2 cups cornflakes, crushed (place the cornflakes in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin)
3 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
1 large egg white, beaten until foamy
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon boiling water, as needed
1. To make the dough, whisk the flour and salt to combine in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the vegetable shortening and butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Mix the egg yolk and enough milk to make 3/4 cup liquid. Gradually stir the milk into the flour to make a dough that clumps together (you may not need all of the milk). Gather up the dough and divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other. Shape each portion of dough into a thick rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. (The dough can be made up to 2 days ahead. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before rolling out.)
2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger dough portion into a thin 17 x 12-inch rectangle. Transfer to a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan, letting the excess hang over the edges. If the dough cracks, just piece and press it back together. Distribute the cornflakes evenly over the dough. Arrange the apples in a layer over the cornflakes. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, then dot with the butter. Roll out the smaller dough portion into a thin 16 x 11-inch rectangle and place over the apples. Again, don't worry if the dough cracks; just patch it up. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal. Cut a few slits in the top of the dough and brush lightly with some of the beaten egg white.
4. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the apples feel tender when pierced through the slits in the crust with the tip of a small knife, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
5. When the pie is cool, make the glaze. Sift the confectioners sugar into a small bowl. Add the vanilla. Stir in enough boiling water to make a glaze about the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle the glaze over the pie, then brush it into a thin layer with a pastry brush. Let the glaze set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut the pie into large squares.
Note: If you are concerned about the trans-fatty acids in vegetable shortening, substitute an additional 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, for the shortening. The baked crust will not be as flaky or tender, but it will be delicious.
Excerpted from Celebrations 101 by Rick Rodgers (Broadway Books, 2004). © 2004 by Rick Rodgers.
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