Danish apple slab pie offers up surprise

Published 4:27 pm Monday, February 12, 2018

Danish Apple Slab Pie

— 2 1/2 cups flour

— 1 teaspoon salt

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— 1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

— 1 egg, separated

— 2/3 cup cold water

— 1 cup cornflakes cereal

— 8 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (10 cups)

— 3/4 cup white sugar

— 2 teaspoons cinnamon

For Glaze

— 1/2 cup powdered sugar

— 1 tablespoon milk

— 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together flour and salt in a large bowl. With a pastry blender or 2 butter knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg white in a small bowl until frothy and set aside. Beat egg yolk in a cup; stir in cold water until combined. With a fork, gradually stir egg yolk mixture into flour mixture until dough can be packed into a ball. Divide ball into 2 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, roll half of dough into a 10×14 inch rectangle. Fold in half crosswise, transfer to a 9×13 inch pan, and unfold, arranging dough to cover pan bottom and pressing it to extend about 1 inch up sides. Scatter cornflakes evenly over dough, top with apple slices, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Roll remaining dough into a 9×13 inch rectangle. Lay dough over filling, tucking edges along pan sides. Brush top with beaten egg white.

Bake until top is golden brown and apples are tender, about 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Make Glaze:

Beat powdered sugar with milk and almond extract in a small bowl until smooth. Brush over warn crust. Cool completely (about 2 hours) in pan on a wire rack before cutting into 24 pieces. (These can be made up to 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.)

Over the years I have seen several recipes for slab pies in all flavors. Every time I see one of those recipes or a picture of a slab pie I think, “I’m going to make one of those one of these days.”

My brother Alan’s birthday was approaching and one of his favorite desserts is apple pie, so while thumbing through the September/October issue of Allrecipes magazine one day at lunch, I ran across today’s recipe for Danish apple slab pie.

The picture caught my eye because it had a huge scoop of ice cream on top.

After reading the ingredients and the directions, I decided this could be the perfect dessert to surprise Alan with.

The only thing I didn’t have to make the pie was apples. The day before his birthday, I headed to the grocery store and bought three different kinds of apples (I bought six granny smith, three gala, and one that I’d never heard of and can’t remember what it was called). The recipe called for eight apples, but I wanted to make sure I had plenty so I went with 10.

After supper that evening, I gathered all the ingredients and set on my adventure making a slab pie.

I followed the directions exactly for the crust of this pie, not letting the butter soften, because a crust’s flakiness is generally reliant on the butter being cold. Even though it took some arm strength, I finally got the butter incorporated with the flour and salt using a pastry blender.

I separated the egg and added the water to the yolk. It didn’t look like much liquid for the amount of pastry crumbs I had, but after a few tosses with a fork (again you don’t want to handle crust too much or it will be tough) the dough came together.

Eyeballing the dough, I divided it in half.

I always roll pie crust out on floured waxed paper for ease of getting it into the pie plate, so I did the same thing for this slab pie.

I floured some waxed paper and my rolling pin. I measured 10×14 inches and made creases in the waxed paper so I’d have a guide when I rolled out the dough. It took some effort, but I finally got that ball of dough rolled out big enough.

I folded the waxed paper in half and tried to peel the waxed paper off one side. Obviously I hadn’t floured it enough, and had a really hard time separating the dough from the paper.

I wrestled with that dough and the waxed paper for several minutes, finally I was able to get the waxed paper off and get it laid out in the pan and a little up the sides of the pan.

While rolling out the dough, I kept thinking to myself “this doesn’t look like pie dough,” but I figured it was a different kind of dough.

Using my apple peeler, corer, slicer on all those apples was a huge help in getting the apples ready quickly. I ended up using eight, just like the recipe called for.

I spread about half of them on top of the crust in the pan when I spotted the cornflakes sitting on the counter. So I removed the apples I’d just put in the pan and spread the corn flakes over the crust (a note with the recipe said cornflakes help absorb extra apple juices so the crust doesn’t get soggy).

I placed all the apple slices on top of the cornflakes, then I sprinkled the sugar/cinnamon mixture on top.

For the top crust, I repeated the process of flouring some wax paper but this time I used more flour and then rolled it out.

I flipped it over on top of the apples and the wax paper peeled right off.

After tucking in the edges and brushing the egg white on top, the pie was ready to go in the oven.

I checked on the pie after it had been in the oven for an hour and it looked done to me, but I let it bake for five more minutes — just like the recipe said.

When time was up, I removed the pie from the oven and it smelled so good. Brad even commented on the aroma.

I mixed up the glaze, which took less than a minute, and brushed all of it over the top of the pie.

The next day I took the slab pie to work with me and texted my brother to see when he would be home, letting him know I had a little something for him for his birthday. He let me know he’d meet me after work.

When I got to Alan’s house, he opened the door and asked what I had. I let him know it was his birthday pie and I wanted a piece.

We went through the usual, “You didn’t need to do that,” and “Oh, but I wanted to do a little something for your birthday” thing for a few minutes then cut a piece to take home and to photograph, then snapped a few pictures of Alan with the pie.

He mentioned a long-time friend of his, Doug, wanted to know when he would get to be a taste tester and I suggested Alan share the slab pie with him. He said he’d have to think about that.

While I was still at Alan’s house he did take a taste of the dessert and said “The filling is really good, and the crust reminds me of something but I can’t think of what.”

After a couple more bites he said, “The crust doesn’t taste like pie crust, it tastes like Hostess pies did when we were kids.”

I’m sure the look on my face said “Really? Hostess pie?”

After a little more conversation, I headed home, and after supper, Brad and I tried the pie.

Brad thought it was good and I thought it tasted like a pastry or Danish — not pie. It was the crust, you know, it wasn’t flaky.

I really didn’t think about the recipe’s title “Danish Apple Slab Pie” meaning Danish, the pastry. I thought maybe the person who came up with it was from Denmark.

The next night, Alan let me know that even though he’s stingy when it comes to his dessert, especially apple pie, he did share some with his friend Doug and they both agreed it was a big winner.

Alan’s other comment was, “Better than any pastry shop pie I’ve ever had,” and his friend’s comment was, “That pie is great,” and he hopes you will make something as good for his birthday in a few months.

So with two thumbs up from Alan and Doug, and Brad’s “It’s good,” I nailed this recipe. Though when I want pie, it won’t be the recipe I turn to, it is something I’ll make again — maybe the next time I take snack to Sunday School since it certainly did remind us of a danish.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.