Apple pie is another one of my favorite foods. It has a simple yet perfect taste profile for me. The subtle flavors get me every time – sweet apples, spicy cinnamon, and salty crust. I like my apple pies rustic looking; it never lasts very long because we eat it so fast, so I don’t fuss too much when making it. The most important thing is the crust though, for which I do fuss a little bit, but I promise it’s worth it! There are tons of recipes out there, but the one below is for an all butter crust (since I rarely have Crisco in my fridge on those random nights I’m just itching for apple pie…). Keep in mind, temperature is key for this recipe, so try to work quickly.
2.5 c. All-purpose flour
1 t. Salt
1 c. Unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold and diced into cubes
Up to 1/2 c. Ice water
8 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces (I prefer a mix – macouns, galas, and pink lady’s are great)
2 T. Butter, diced into cubes
1/4 t. Cinnamon
1/3 c. White or brown sugar (or a mix!)
2 T. Flour
2 T. Lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
1. Mix together the flour and salt. Add the cold butter and cut with a pastry blender until the butter is in pea-sized bits and the mixture resembles lightly damp, clumpy sand.
2. Add the water slowly and toss with a spoon until the mixture just starts to come together. You have added enough when you take a fistful of the mixture and it comes together in a ball without being sticky.
- Tip: the amount of water you will need will depend on the moisture content of your flour. You could only need as little as 1/4 cup, so keep a close eye on the mixture as you add the water so that it does not get too wet. Again, temperature is key – keep everything cold and don’t overwork it with your warm hands.
3. Gently form one big ball of dough on a floured work surface. Cut it into two pieces, and quickly but gently form two discs. If you have time, wrap them both in plastic wrap and throw them in the fridge for 30 minutes. You can also freeze them at this point for later use. If you are impatient, like me, wrap one disc in plastic and throw it in the fridge, and quickly roll the other out to fit your pie dish. All of this rushing is not due to eagerness to EAT PIE but is so that the dough does not warm up to room temperature. We want to keep the butter cool; this will help make the crust flaky when it’s done.
Note: I use a pastry frame when I roll out my dough, and love it. I prefer it to my silicone mat because it is canvas, and with canvas I don’t have to use too much flour to keep the dough from sticking, which allows my crust to be flaky instead of cracker-like. Cleanup is also easy. You can find it here.
4. While I am impatient, I’m not so impatient that I like that gooey, raw bottom crust that you often see in apple pies. So, I blind bake my bottom crust. It really only adds 15 minutes to the process, and in my opinion makes a world of difference. I don’t have pie weights so I just use whatever dried beans I have in my pantry. I’ve even used pennies before but that weirded me out so I probably won’t do that again unless I’m really in a bind. Anyway, once your bottom crust is in and pressed against your pie plate, crimp the edges (or don’t if you don’t want to). Throw a huge piece of aluminum foil in top and gently press it onto the dough. Then add your pie weights/beans. I use a lot and try to mimic the shape of the pie dish a bit so that beans are touching as much of the sides of the pie crust as possible. This will help the sides of your crust from falling down as it bakes in the oven. Throw this in the 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.
6. Take your second dough out of the fridge and roll it out. Top the pie with it. Seal the top crust to the bottom crust by pressing a fork against the edges. You can also crimp them together but I find this difficult (actually, impossible for me) with a prebaked crust. Cut slits or poke fork holes in the top crust. Something simple is fine as long as the steam has some place to go. If you have extra dough you can make fun shapes out of them and place them on the top crust as decoration. Work quickly so that the heat from the bottom crust doesn’t melt the top crust before you get it in the oven!
- Optional: if you want a shiny crust, you can brush the crust with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Pop the beauty in the oven at 425 for the first 15 minutes, then turn it down to 375 for 40 minutes or until golden brown. If the edges of your pie start to get too brown before the pie is ready to come out, you can cover them with a ring of foil or with a handy dandy edge protector like this.
- Tip: I always bake my pies with a cookie tray on the rack below the pie to catch any leakage so that I’m not left with a smoking oven.
8. When the pie is done, let it cool a bit a little before cutting it open. The first piece is always a mess but never disappoints, especially with some vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!