President Obama has a special nickname for his pastry chef, Bill Yosses.
“The President calls Bill ‘The Crust Master,’ ” Michelle Obama revealed last year at the Governor s Dinner preview event in the White House Kitchen, “because he’s a big pie guy, and he has some of the best pies and tarts that come out of this place, and the fillings are just perfection – which is a problem.”
But the nickname isn’t a problem for Yosses, who tells PEOPLE that his “apple pie is certainly a crowd pleaser.”
“There are very few refusals from anyone when apple pie is the dessert,” he says. Apart from his crust, the pastry chef has another secret: He uses a combination of apples “for a more complex flavor.” (His favorites include Honey Crisp; Granny Smith and Braeburn, among others.)
And then there’s that secret crust. “More important is the technique of pre-baking the pie shell bottom beforehand,” Yosses tells PEOPLE, “then filling it and adding the top cover. That gives a well-baked crust that melds with the filling.”
Curious about how to bake the pie? Read on for Yosses’ recipe (and baking tips).
Bill Yosses’s Apple Pie Recipe
For Pie Crust:
• 3 cups (about 13 oz ) all purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 10 oz. (2 ½ sticks) cool room temperature, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
• 6-7 tablespoons ice water
• 1 egg and 1 teaspoon salt for egg wash
• 3 lbs apples, such as Gala, Granny Smith or McIntosh, peeled cored and cut into half-inch wedges.
• 1 cup sugar
• ½ cup honey, preferably local
• ½ cup cornstarch
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Zest and juice of one lemon
Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse five times. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-sized pieces, about 20 seconds. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until mixture just holds together. Divide dough and form into two equal-sized balls, then press each ball down to form a 5-inch disc. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to two days. On a lightly floured surface roll out each disc into a 14-inch circle. Place one circle between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate.
Grease a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan and gently place the other circle in the pan, leaving a one-inch overhang. Chill the dough in the pie pan for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Remove the pie pan with the bottom crust from the refrigerator and let soften for five to ten minutes. Fold the edge of the overhang under itself and pinch the dough to form a fluted edge. Line with foil and fill with pie weights, rice, or navy beans. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and lift out foil and pie weights; allow pie shell to cool for 10 minutes.
In a large saucepan, sift together the sugar and cornstarch, then toss with apples, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Bring fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened slightly, making sure fruit does not stick to the bottom of saucepan. Remove from heat and cool.
Whisk the egg and salt and brush the rim of the prebaked pie shell. Fill with the fruit filling and then lay the second dough circle over the filling, press very gently around the edges to make sure the egg wash seals the top pie dough to the bottom pre-baked crust. With a paring knife, puncture the top pie dough in a wide circle about 10 times with the tip of the knife to form steam vents. Brush top with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake another 30-40 minutes or until the pie filling is starting to bubble out the vents and the top pie crust is golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 1-2 hours before serving.
(The egg wash is an egg that is stirred and thinned out by adding salt, it is then used as a paint to give color to the finished baked product or to stick the two doughs together, in this case the top and bottom of the pie.)