The “Best” Apple Pie

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autumn is here again! yay!

leaves are changing…. apples are in season…

time for a pie.

i have baked my husband several apple pies (his favorite dessert) over the years, and each one has been “the best” one yet.

mmm… i am pretty sure that first one was not. i remember doubling the pie crust recipe for fear of it being too thin. i remember buying northern spy apples, because they were “the best” apples to use for pies.  the crust was thick.  the apples still had a crunchy texture.  the filling was a little runny. pretty sure it was not the best apple pie.

i have tried a variety of recipes over the years.  and there seems to be a few consistencies between them all.

pie crust recipes are pretty basic. flour, sugar, salt, cold shortening/butter… cold water. i tried a crust with shortening, one with butter. one with a mix of shortening and butter. one mixed in a food processor, one by fork, one with a pastry cutter and one by hand.  some recipes add white vinegar. ok, i tried that.

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the filling, again pretty basic. apples, sugar, flour or cornstarch for thickening, cinnamon, salt. the apples? i tried granny smith, rome beauty, jonathon, winesap, pink lady…some i had to search for and could never find. some recipes added honey, some walnuts.  some topped the filling with dots of butter. some added nutmeg, lemon juice.

and the arch de triumph, the top.  i tried a crumb topping, a crust with leaf cutouts along the edge, the basic crimped edge, small leaf/fall cut outs for the steam to escape and just basic knife cuts, some cuts with a little fanciness.

so here is my recipe for the Best Apple Pie, to date at least, according to apple pie critic, Eden K. (aka husband).


 

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img_1033-4  The (Current) Best Apple Pie

makes one 9 inch double crust apple pie

Warning: Not halved for two.  So run a mile or eight before consuming.

Tip One:  I made an apple pie the night before my husband’s birthday, and it took 4-5 hours. Yikes. So make the pie pastry the day before, divide in half, flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in frige until use. Or… you can freeze the disks for 3 months! Just wrap the disks in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag.  When ready, place them in the frige overnight to thaw. How neat is that?!

The Pastry

Tip Two:  If you buy the pastry already made, totally ok.  I won’t tell.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 heaping tsp sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 tbsp.) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 1/2 inch pieces
  • a glass of ice water

 

The Filling

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I used Braeburn, from a local orchard, for this pie.
  • 4 lbs of baking apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices: jonathon, granny smith, pink lady, honey crisp, rome beauty, winesap, golden delicious or gala (Whatever is available.  You can mix them up.)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 heaping cup of sugar
  • 1/2 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 heaping tsp nutmeg
  • 4 heaping tsp cornstarch
  • Couple dashes of lemon juice

 

The Finale

  • 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • egg wash – 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp water
  • 2 tsp sugar (I use course/raw sugar for fanciness.)

 

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In a food processor pulse the pastry dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) until combined, about 5 pulses.

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Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (tiny clumps), about 10 pulses.  You want bits of butter in your crust.

Note:  I have seen some recipes use grated cold butter.   I tried grating butter, not fun.

Add 3 tbsp of cold water and pulse 2 to 3 times.  The dough should hold together, when squeezed with your fingers, but not dry, crumbly or sticky.  if needed, add 1 tsp of cold water at a time, pulsing twice after each addition.

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Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half.  Shape each into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

 

Remove one pastry disk from frige.  Let sit at room temp for a couple of minutes.  Want dough to remain cold, but manageable when using the rolling pin.

On a lightly floured work surface (or a lightly floured pastry mat), roll the dough into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick (thin enough, but not too transparent).  You may need to throw a bit of flour on the rolling pin to prevent sticking.  When ready transfer dough to pie plate, wrap the dough around the rolling pin to ease transfer.  (If you used a pastry mat, just invert it onto the plate). Gently press the dough into bottom and sides of plate. Refrigerate.

Tip Three:  Don’t stress if it rips on transfer or does not overlap pie plate edge. Just piece ripped areas back together with your fingers.  And I always have enough of the rolled out top dough to make up for any bottom shortage. It will still be pretty after baking. 

On a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper (or a pastry mat), roll out the remaining dough  into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick.  Here is where you can use leaf pie cutters to cut out vents for the steam to escape or use a knife to create your own design. Place in frige until use.

Tip Four:  Your design will alter, when baking.  See examples below.  Don’t sweat it.  Just have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Tip Five:  While the prepared dough is chillin’ peel, core and slice the apples for the pie filling. Grab a helper. Music optional.

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Place the sliced apples in a dutch oven or a 5 quart pot.  Add the brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch. Stir until blended. Over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.  Uncover and cook until the liquid has thickened and becomes glossy, 5-7 minutes more.  Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and let cool to room temp.  About 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of oven, place a sheet of foil on the rack (to catch bubbly drips). Preheat oven to 400.

Whisk the egg wash (egg white and water) in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Transfer cooled filling to shell.  Scatter butter pieces on top.

Remove top dough from frige and place on top of the filled pie shell.  Tuck, trim, seal as needed.  Crimp edges.  Do your fanciness.

If using decorative cutouts, brush the underside with egg wash and press into pie top slightly.  If not and you haven’t cut into the top crust yet, use a knife to cut slits for venting.

Brush entire top with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet.  Bake until golden and bubbly, about 55 min to 1 hour.  Check pie crust in 3o minutes, if too dark cover edges with aluminum foil or use a pie crust shield (I use the shield).

Transfer pie to a wire rack and allow to cool for a couple hours.

Tip Six:  This is where my husband’s patience is tested. He likes to cut the pie warm, but the pie ends up being oozy.  Kind of like lasagna, needs a resting period.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, optional, but yummy.

 


 

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– f.

 

 

 

 

p.s. if you are ambitious, how about these decorative apple pies! or this for a blueberry pie!

p.s.s. so out of curiosity i checked the number of words in the lower right hand corner of my screen, while writing this post.  over 1200.  wow. a lot goes into making an apple pie from scratch.  like over 3 times the amount of words than some of my other “treat” posts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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