Well, I did it. A Year of Pie has officially begun and I’m officially obsessed. I want to make pies all day, every day. Despite being a little nervous since it was my first attempt at pie baking, I found the whole process very soothing and cathartic. You know … like the scene from Bridesmaids when Kristin Wiig’s character makes the cupcake. Something like that.
As you can tell from the title of this post, I decided to start with a pretty traditional pie – apple.
Surprisingly, apple pie isn’t among my favorites. However, a warm slice with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream is not something I would turn down.
I originally intended to make this a caramel apple pie. Basically, that would involve topping the apples with caramel sauce before adding the top crust. However, I got so excited when placing on the top crust that I completely forgot about the caramel. These things happen.
While my mom has a fabulous pie crust recipe, I have decided to try a few others before tackling the family favorite. To make this pie I ended up two different recipes. For the crust, I used the All-Butter Crust recipe from The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. For the pie filling, I used the recipe from Honeysuckle Catering. She recently did two YouTube videos with Margo True of Sunset Magazine showiing how to make pie dough and apple pie. After watching both of those videos, I was a little more confident about tackling this recipe. Be sure to check them out.
Throughout this year I plan to experiment with different pie dough recipes until I find the one I like best. However, I do realize that pie dough is kind of a personal thing and people have their favorites. Be it thin, thick, flaky, buttery, etc. – I recommend testing different recipes to find your own preferred variety. Kind of like what I’m doing.
And, since I am documenting this for my own reference, I will leave a few notes at the end of the post detailing my thoughts about flavors, etc. So if you are curious about my personal taste notes, you can find those there.
Apple Pie with All-Butter Crust
Here’s what you will need:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice
3 1/2 pounds apples (6 large or 7 medium), peeled and sliced (1/8th inch thick) I used a mix of Granny Smith and Honey Crisp
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup milk and sanding sugar for garnish
Let’s get baking:
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Then add the cold butter pieces. Use a spatula to coat the butter with the flour mixture. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Be careful not to over mix.
Then in a small bowl combine the water, ice, and cider vinegar. Sprinkle about 4 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour and butter mixture and incorporate with a spatula. Continue to add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the spatula and / or your hand until the dough comes together into a ball. If necessary, add small drops of the water mixture to any remaining dry bits.
Split the dough in half and shape each piece into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. (This dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.)
Next, we want to make our apple filling.
Place your peeled and sliced apples in a large bowl. In a medium-sized bow whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples and mix with your hands or a large spoon to combine. Add the lemon juice and mix again.
Remove your chilled dough from the fridge. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. (To make this process a bit easier, I rolled mine out between two sheets of waxed paper.) Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. The dough should be two inches wider in circumference than the size of your pie pan. Use the wax paper or your hands to transfer the dough to your pie pan. Trim the dough leaving about 1/2 inch overhang. Chill the bottom crust while you roll out the top.
Now, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Position your two oven racks on the two lowest levels. On the bottom rack, place a cooke sheet to catch any drips from your pie.
Next, pour your prepared apples into the pie shell. Then, scatter the thinly sliced butter on the top. Next, add the top crust to your pie. I decided to try a lattice top. Instead of explaining how to do that here, check out this awesome tutorial via YouTube.
For a standard top crust, carefully center it on your filled pie. Fold the edge of your top crust over the edge of the bottom crust so it’s flush with the pan. Crimp the edge to seal with your fingers or a fork.
Slash a few decorative steam vents in the top crust. Brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Set the pie onto the second to lowest rack in your oven. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Bake until the pie is a medium golden brown. You can test the doneness of your apples by sticking a knife into a vent hold. They should feel tender. Let the pie cool at least an hour before serving.
And that my friends is one awesomely delicious pie.
Served with a heaping scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, this really is perfection.
I’ve never knowingly had a crust with cider vinegar in it. It does add a really unique and tangy flavor. I liked it! However, I will cut back a bit on the amount next time I make this crust. Maybe 1/6th of a cup instead of 1/4th. With that being said though, this dough is bananas! (Bananas = super good). It’s flaky, flavorful, thick, and all around wonderful. I could have just eaten the dough with the ice cream.
My apples were still a little crisp, so I assume I didn’t cut them quite thin enough or didn’t bake it long enough. It wasn’t enough to bother me, but something I’ll keep in mind next time. My mom also suggested a different apple. She prefers Cortland.
My pie also had a fair amount of liquid. I did cut into it a little bitter sooner than I should have. (I was in a bit of a hurry as the sun was setting and I needed to photograph this bad boy. (You may be surprised to learn that I took most of the cut pie pictures in an almost completely dark kitchen. The magic of a good camera and a tripod!) As the pie continued to set, I noticed things thickened up. So, a lesson to you – patience is a virtue. Also, the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book talked a little bit about using apples in pies. Apparently, there is a way to release some the the liquid in the apples before baking. I may also give that a try next time around.
With all that being said though, the flavors of the pie were still wonderfully delicious and enjoyable. I’m calling this pie a winner!
For not being a big Apple Pie fan, I was really pleased with my first attempt at pie. Not only did it turn out beautifully, but it tasted equally delicious.
One down, many more to go! What type of pie would you like to see me tackle next?