My most popular post, as far as google is concerned, is about the Sawa 2000. But I have a feeling this post will shortly become a favorite. And the reason is obvious: Bacon!
When I told my sister that I was making an apple pie with a bacon lattice, her response was, “….ew….” When I told my labmates that I was making an apple pie with a bacon lattice for them to eat, their responses were generally, “…YES!…..wait, really?”
You can see that I had mixed reactions before I even had a chance to make my Bacon Lattice Apple Pie. Pie is also tricky, because people can tell if you cut into it to sneak a taste before you feed other people. So I had no idea whether this was going to be glorious or a glorious disaster before I fed my labmates.
The verdict: it’s a winner.
Pie Crust Directions: First thing is first. You need the pie dough to chill for about 30′, so get this done first. I decided to make a double-crust of my Mom’s recipe (ie enough to make a top and bottom crust), because I wanted to have plenty of dough left over to make the edges. Plus, sometimes I think the double crust recipe is more like 1-3/4 crust. (Or maybe I just can’t roll it thin like my Momma.)
To start, measure out your flour and salt in a medium bowl and mix well with a fork. Next, cut in the Crisco and butter with a pastry cutter. Basically you’re trying to cut the Crisco and butter into small bits to blend it in with the flour. You want to work with cold butter to prevent gluten from forming (the difference between a flaky and tough crust). Use the pastry cutter to blend the flour and fats until you get pea-sized clumps. (See the top picture below.) You really just want to check that there aren’t large chunks of butter that slipped through.
Next add the ice-cold water to assemble the dough. Imagine that the flour-fat mixture is divided in quarters. Add 1 T of water to each quarter, and mix individually with a fork. This method is better than just dumping water and mixing excessively because that would over-develop the gluten, making your dough chewy rather than flaky. My pics below are for a single pie crust recipe, where you would do the same procedure in thirds, but I hope the pictures help give you the general idea. Add 1 T of water to one section of the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork until just combined. (Like the area in my pictures below indicated with the green arrows.) Mix in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tablespoon of water into their perspective sections. Finally, use your hands to press the dough together into a ball. The dough should be soft and slightly moist. If it seems dry, add some more flour.
Now wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. If your dough seemed too wet when you pressed it together, refrigerate it for 1 hour. While the dough is chilling, make the apple pie filling (see below).
After the apples are cooked and chilling, it’s time to roll out the pie crust. I used my pie crust roller to roll out about 3/4 of the dough. Keep the remaining dough in the fridge for later. Carefully transfer it to a pie tin. (The pie crust roller is one of the most useful things I own. It makes it really easy to move the rolled out dough into the pie tin. Definitely recommend!) I just pressed the edges up, because I planned on lining the edge with little leaves, but if you don’t have any leaf cutters, you’ll want to make a nice edge now.
Set aside the crust at room temp until you’re ready to add the filling.
Apple Pie Filling Directions: You should make the filling while your crust is in the fridge waiting to be rolled out. I used Jonagold apples, as per my Mom’s recommendation. (And by my Mom’s recommendation, I mean she emailed me an “apple chart” she picked up at Bristol Farms.) Slice the apples such that they are all approximately the same thickness. At this point, I usually split my apple slices in half to saute because my pan isn’t quite big enough. Melt 3T of butter in a large saute pan. Saute until just softened (~6 min).
Pour apples into a large bowl. Saute the second half of apples slices in the remaining 3T of butter, and add to the first batch of apples. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon and cloves the the warm apples. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch until you don’t see any more chunks. Add to the apple mixture, and let the apples cool completely (~30 minutes) before adding them to the pie crust.
Transfer the apples to the unbaked pie crust. (Do not dot with butter. All of the butter you’ll ever need was in the saute.)
Finishing Touches: Preheat the oven to 375°F. You’ll want to pick your bacon carefully. Obviously, you don’t want peppered bacon. Gross. At Berkeley Bowl, there were only 2 choices of fresh bacon: peppered and apple wood. DUH! Applewood it is! I got 10 slices, and I believe 8 were used to make the lattice.
Slice the bacon in half length-wise. You’ll want some long pieces and some shorter pieces of bacon, depending on where you are placing the slice. As you go, cut the bacon about the length of the part of the pie it will go on, leaving about 1″ extra (0.5″ extra on each side), because as the bacon cooks in the oven, it will shrink.
Now to start the lattice! Yes, you’ll use the raw bacon to make the lattice. They’ll bake up nicely with the pie. To start, set up several strips of bacon going in one direction at an even spacing.
Fold up every other bacon half way.
Place your first long piece of bacon in the opposite direction. After the bacon is laid down, return the folded bacon to its original position.
For the next strip of bacon, fold up the other set of every-other bacon that you did not fold up last time. Place down your 2nd piece of bacon in the opposite direction, and return the folded bacon to it’s original spot.
Keep going until you have a full lattice! Once all of the bacon has been laid down, tuck the edges down into the pie. This will help keep it in place while it bakes.
Now for the little leaves to line the edge. I used a cutter from a set of Williams Sonoma pie decorating cutters. They come out with a new kit every year, and this year their kit has a TURKEY! Hilarious.
Then I pressed the leaves into the edge of the pie crust. This also helps keeps the bacon tucked into the pie in the end. Before you bake, you’ll want to line the edge of the pie tin with foil to protect the leaves from burning.
Bake for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue baking for ~5 minutes to help brown the leaves to a nice golden color.
Let the pie cool all the way before slicing. As the pie cools, the cornstarch will continue to do it’s job of condensing all o the juices into a nice condensed gel. You’ll also want to store this pie at room temperature because if you refrigerate it, some of the juices will seep out, and make the pie soggy. And no one likes soggy bacon…or soggy pie.
I’ll admit that this pie is quite difficult to cut to get a nice looking slice. In fact, I’m not sure any of the slices looked like a thing of beauty. But they all tasted like one! The savory of the bacon and the crust worked really well with the spice and the sweetness of the apples. And the Jonagold were really a great selection for the pie. It was nice and mild so that you get the apple flavor without overpowering any of the other flavors. If anyone else makes this pie, let me know how it turns out for you and your crowd!