Apple Pie

Apple pie is a specialty of mine. I make it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, sometimes even 4th of July (even though apples are technically out of season in the American summer). I’m not an enormous fan of baked fruit, but apple pie is just so tasty. Especially nice and hot with a big scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.

baked

I’m pretty neurotic about my pie-making, as you’ll see below. The first time anyone not directly related to me saw me slicing up apples for pie, they expressed sincere concern for my sanity. Which is fair enough because (as, again, you’ll see below) I slice my apples in a completely insane and very time-consuming fashion. But they taste best this way. But if you chop yours a bit more coarsely, I’m sure they’ll be fine.

Flaky, all-butter pie crust:
(From Smitten Kitchen.)

2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

1. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with water and couple of ice cubes. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.

3. Dice the cold butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle over the flour and work them in with a pastry blender as evenly as possible. Make sure you’re bringing up the flour mixture from the bottom as you go so the butter gets everywhere. Work until the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas. If you are working without a pastry blender:  use two knives, cutting through your ingredients in opposite directions. If you do this, I recommend cutting your butter into slightly smaller pieces. Alternatively, you can put everything in the food processor, and pulse, checking constantly, until the butter is the size of tiny peas. Then remove the mixture from the food processor and return to your mixing bowl.

butter

Diced butter

tiny peas

Flour and butter mixture

4. Drizzle about 1/2 of your cold water over the mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gather the dough together. You basically want the water to work as a glue here, without getting the dough too wet. I always end up using at least 1/4 cup more water after that first bit (a total of 3/4 cup), but just add the extra a tablespoon at a time. When it starts to form large clumps, set the spatula aside and use your hands to gently knead them into one ball.

ball of dough

See that? The butter is supposed to be uneven!

5. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour, preferably two.

Apple Pie:
(Adapted from Betty Crocker.)

1/3-1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup, but it depends on how sweet your apples are)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt
8 cups peeled and thinly sliced apples, preferably Granny Smiths (I used 5 1/2 apples – see note below)
2 tablespoons butter

A note about slicing apples: if you have the time and the patience for it, this is how I cut up my apples. First I slice off what I think of as “the small half” of the apple: just to the side of one core. I cut this piece in half vertically, then slice each half horizontally into 1/8- to 1/4- inch pieces. Then I cut the other half like this:

slicing

Then each of those gets cut in half vertically and sliced horizontally. And you get a ton of tiny apple slices like this:

slices

Okay? Or you can just slice them like you’d slice them to eat. Whatever makes you happy.

1. Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit (about 220 Celsius).

2. Mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Toss with the apple slices – you will probably need to get your hands in there to get everything evenly distributed.

3. On a clean, floured surface, roll out the first half of your pie dough into a circle a couple inches larger than your pie tin. (I’ve been told you want a 12-inch crust for a 9-inch pie tin, which sounds about right, thought I always eyeball it.) My advice is to roll from the middle out, and just keep rotating the ball of dough. This ensures that it will be relatively even, and also prevents sticking. Press into the tin, applying extra pressure at the edge of the base. There will be extra hanging over the side; leave it there for now.

4. Pour the prepared filling in. Top with a few thin slices of butter, like this:

5. Roll out the other half of your pie dough and place over top. Crimp the overhanging dough together and tuck under – the fold should line up with the edge of the pie tin. I always crimp with a fork, pressing down and pulling away for a pretty and well-sealed edge (see below). Slice five or six narrow openings in the top for juice and steam to escape.

prebaked

6. Wrap the edges of the pie in aluminum foil –  you want the outer two-ish inches covered. Bake like this for about 25 minutes, then remove foil and lower your oven temperature to 375 Fahrenheit (190 Celsius) and bake until edges brown and juices bubble up. The total bake time should be 45 minutes to an hour. Let your pie cool for at least 10-15 minutes. Serve warm, ideally with ice cream.

 

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