Those of you who regularly visit my blog know about my obsession with all things pumpkin. What you may not know is that I have a similar obsession with apples. Not just apples, but apple pie. So I was excited to find out that the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker has not one, but three apple pie recipes. And that each is quite different than the others. And none of them is the usual double-crusted or crumb-topped pie that I’m accustomed to. Not that there’s anything wrong with the standard apple pie. But I thought it would be nice to have a few interesting twists on the old standby dessert to add to my repertoire.
The first of the apple pie recipes is actually based on a cake — gâteau Breton, a dense French cake that’s a lot like our pound cake. Nick’s twist on the classic Breton, as the cake is commonly known, is the addition of an apple filling, which is spread between two layers of dough.
Unlike most apple pie recipes, which are made with a firm baking apple, this recipe calls for Golden Delicious apples. Firmer apples are generally preferred for baking, as they don’t break down when cooked like softer, sweeter apples. But that’s exactly what the apples are supposed to do in this recipe, so Golden Delicious are a good choice.
I started by peeling, coring, and slicing the apples, then putting them in an enameled Dutch oven with butter, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.
I cooked the apples until they gave off most of their juice, then continued cooking until the water had evaporated and the apples began to break down. The filling had the consistency of chunky applesauce.
While the apples were cooling, I made the dough. After beating sugar, butter, and vanilla to incorporate air, which would make for a light dough, I beat in egg yolks, then stirred in flour. If you have ever made a pound cake, this method probably sounds familiar, as it is very similar to how pound cake batter is made.
I spread about half the batter into a 10-inch stoneware pan that had been buttered and lined with parchment on the bottom, and pressed the dough partway up the sides of the pan.
I spread the cooled apple filling over the crust, then topped it with the rest of the dough, which had been pressed into a 10-inch circle. After brushing the top crust with egg wash, I used the tines of a fork to trace a lattice pattern on the Breton.
I baked the Breton for about 50 minutes in a 350° F oven, until it was baked through and the dough was golden brown.
After it cooled, I turned the pie out of the pan and onto a cake platter. I served it plain, and it was fine that way, although it also would have been good with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
I really liked the flavor and texture of this dessert, although it seemed more like a cake to me than a pie. The next time I make it, I think I’ll just call it a “Breton” and let everyone decide for themselves what that means.