Tasty Fakes 3: French Apple Pie with Angela Ranalli of Le Virtu

A recipe that’s easy to make at home — and is much more delicious than the pre-packaged version.

We like to think of apple pie as quintessentially American, but plenty of other cultures have their own versions — and even Tastykake knows it. One of the most popular treats put out by Philly-based Tasty Baking Co. is the French Apple Pie.

Presented in a foil tin, the pocket pie is filled with apples and raisins (supposedly, although anecdotally, the raisins often seem to be missing) and is covered with a white sugar glaze.

Italians also make an apple pie variation. Called serpentone (for its snake-like shape), it’s a butter cookie crust rolled up like a stromboli around apples, cinnamon and raisins. At Le Virtu on East Passyunk, pastry chef Angela Ranalli serves it once a year — and every time she does, people tell her it tastes like French apple pie.

She knows this from experience, too: When she was growing up in South Jersey, her grandfather would take her to Johnson’s Farm in Medford to buy French apple pies. If they were out of season, though, they’d stay home and eat her grandma’s serpentone instead.

For the third installment in our Tasty Fakes video series, Ranalli skipped the part about making the dessert look pythonesque and instead created a pie shaped like a larger version of the Tastykake — but one that tastes about 100x better. Check out her deft handiwork below, and then give it a try at home.

French Apple Pie

By Angela Ranalli at Le Virtu

Filling

2 apples (peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch slices.)
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup water

Place apples, sugar, cinnamon and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until apples are tender. Remove apples and let cool.

Dough

½ cup butter, softened
⅔ cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp baking powder
3 cups flour (plus up to 2 more cups reserved flour on the side for rolling out dough)

In electric mixer or using electric hand-held beaters, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Add flour and baking powder and mix on medium speed until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding a little flour at a time until dough is no longer sticky. Divide in half and flatten into ½-inch discs. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for ½ hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out each piece into oblong shape about ¼-inch thick. Place about 4 tablespoons cooled apples down the center of each piece. Sprinkle in raisins. Fold longest sides of dough toward the center as if making stromboli and pinch together at seam. Fold over the ends. Flip and place on baking sheet. Bake in 350°F oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and drizzle with icing.

Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water

Stir together until smooth. Drizzle over cooled pastry.

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