Sweet Sunday: How to Make Classic Apple Pie
It’s officially apple pie season. As soon those first apples hit the market — the ones that are made for pie — I could not resist filling my basket with their firm, tart flesh. Suddenly the kitchen is cinnamon scented and the idea of sweaters and cold evenings doesn’t seem so bad.
Enjoy my prized recipe for making a classic apple pie!
We must start with the pie crust – a very opinionated subject. Grandma uses oil, my mom swears by crisco and I am a butter girl with a touch of Grandma’s oil and cream. Whichever recipe you use, choose one that is sturdy enough to construct a pie and yet so tender it falls apart at the mention of a fork.
I’ve included my prized recipe below.
For a classic apple pie it has to be Gravensteins. Their season is short and comes late summer so snatch them up when you see them.
Gravensteins are a firm, tart baking apple with a tender skin and a crisp flesh. They hold their shape well in the pie and don’t produce a lot of juice which helps to create a sturdy pie.
I could say more but I think apple enthusiast Edward Bunyard says it best,
“Of Gravenstein it is hard to speak in mere prose, so distinct in flavour is it, Cox itself not standing more solitary, so full of juice and scented with the very attar of apple. This aroma comes out on the oily skin and remains on the fingers despite many washings, bringing to mind the autumnal orchard in mellow sunlight.”
Apple pie filling
Makes enough for 1 pie
- 2 pounds peeled, sliced apples
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter
I make the fill while the dough chills.
Combine everything, except the butter, in a bowl and mix well to combine.
- 2 ⅓ cup (11.75 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 sticks (8 oz) cold butter, cut in small cubes
- 2 tablespoon oil (I use a neutral, flavorless oil)
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1-3 tablespoons cold water
In the large bowl add the dry ingredients and whisk until light and no clumps remain. Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients then use your hands to break up the butter. With your fingers smear the little butter cubes with the flour so that flat pieces of pea size butter remain. In the mixing some butter will get incorporated into the flour making it look a bit like cornmeal. You want a mix of this and large pieces of butter in the flour.
Add the oil, cream and 1 tablespoon cold water. Again, use your hands to mix the ingredients. Evenly distribute the parts that have more liquid until the whole mix feels evenly damp. Squeeze a bit of the dough in your hands. If it comes together and holds its shape it is ready. If it still crumbles once squeezed add a bit more water until the dough just holds.
Divide the dough in two round discs about 1/2″ thick with one having a bit more dough than the other – this will be the top crust.
Wrap in plastic wrap then refrigerate for one hour so that the butter can get good and chilled and the liquid will absorb into the flour.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Rolling out the dough
Roll out the smaller of the two doughs first on a evenly floured surface. I like to roll out my dough on a silpat so my counters stay bit cleaner and I find that I have to use less flour. The dough should be about 1/8″ thick.
Gently roll this dough around your rolling pin then unroll over the pie pan.
Fill the pie with your prepared fruit (recipe above) and dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Then repeat with the next disc of dough.
Roll out the top crust to 1/4” thick then roll it up on the pin and place on the pie. Tuck in the edges to create a thick crust.
Place the pie on a sheet tray to catch any juices that fall from the pie. Sprinkle the top of the crust with sugar and cut small slits in the dough to allow steam to escape, then bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 – 1 hour and 15 minutes.
It’s possible that my pie takes longer than yours as I am notorious for opening the oven frequently at the end to sneak a glimpse of the golden crust and the bubbles the slowly rise and pop on the crusts surface. It’s best to look for the signs that the pie is done rather than trust the time.
You’ll know the pie is done when the edges are deep golden and the juices bubble in a graceful and methodical way. The juices should look a bit syrupy.
Let the pie cool for several hours before serving and ALWAYS save a slice for breakfast.
* Don’t be afraid to use flour when rolling out the dough. Dust the surface with flour in a swift motion with your hand at an angle coming from the side to get an even layer of flour. You don’t want large clumps of flour worked into the dough.
* Work quickly and with cold ingredients. Large flecks of cold butter mean flakes are in your future.
* Use a bench scraper to gently lift up the dough.
* Keep the dough moving. Give the dough a few rolls with the pin then give it a gentle wiggle to make sure it’s not stuck. If it feels tacky add a bit more flour. If the butter is getting too soft just put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
* Bottom crusts are notorious for being a bit soggy. I do my best to offset this by rolling out the bottom crust quite thin. The top crust then has more of a chance to shine in all its thick, sugar crusted glory.
* Glass pie pans are my favorite.
You might also enjoy learning how to make a peach pie here.