Get ready for the best fall dessert ever!! Apple pie. But is it the best? There are so many fall desserts to choose from.
If it’s not the best, it might be one of the more difficult desserts. I don’t agree with the phrase “easy as pie”. It took me years to master the crust, and once I did, it took me even longer to figure out how to get a perfect filling.
Apple pie is only as good as the apples you use. I recommend using apples that you picked yourself from an orchard or local farm stand. You’re supporting local businesses and you’re guaranteed to get great apples! I recommend making a weekend out of it. Prepare the crust Friday night, pick your own apples on Saturday and finish making the pie, then it’s ready to enjoy on Sunday!
What kind of apples should I use for apple pie?
Use apples that are suitable for baking. Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Jonagolds are some good ones. I once used all Macintosh and it made the pie more like an applesauce pie. Macintoshes have way too much moisture, and if you’re going to use them I would only include 1 or 2.
But my absolute favorite baking apple is the Idared. I got them in Ohio all the time from this one farm stand at the farmer’s market. I would tell the guy running the stand that I wanted to make an apple pie and he portioned out the correct amount of apples I would need every. single. time. This went on for 3 years. Now that I’m in Massachusetts, I haven’t seen any Idareds.
A note on pie pans sizes
I’ve written before about my confusion on pie pan sizes in recipes. Many would say to use a standard 9″ pie pan. But the amount of filling the recipe yielded was ALWAYS overflowing the pan. For this recipe, I am using a deep dish pan. Here and Here are examples of these pans.
Let me just say this now: you will fail the first time you make crust. You actually might fail the first 10 times you make crust. Or get it perfect the first or second time but the third and fourth are a disaster. It’s OK. Crust (and any type of dough) take a lot of practice and patience to master.
The first thing you need to do is cut your butter into the flour. I use a pastry cutter for this, but you can just a fork or a food processor. I don’t recommend using your hands unless you have naturally cold hands. You want the butter to be cold so it stays in nice little chunks. How large your butter chunks are will affect the crust texture. As a default, cut your butter until the largest chunks are the size of small peas. Right when it starts to get to this point I like to put my pastry cutter aside and use my fingers to quickly sift through for some larger pieces that aren’t quite small enough yet and flatten them out with my fingers.
The next tricky part is adding in the water. The best way to tackle it is to add in water one tablespoon at a time. Mix the dough in a food processor or with a fork. When the dough starts to come together, grab a small palmful and gently squeeze. If it stays in a ball, it’s ready. If it crumbles, it needs some more water. It’s ok if some pieces of your dough seem a little crumbly while other spots seems perfectly hyrdrated. As the dough rests, the moisture will be absorbed throughout the dough.
And lastly, keep all of your ingredients cold. Stick the bowl of flour in the freezer while you’re cutting the butter. After you cut in the butter stick it in the freezer again. Use ice cold water. Cold cold cold.
I am coming out with a full pie crust post soon including pictures and videos, so stay tuned!
Press the apples together to pack them in helps eliminate air gaps. Less gaps mean there’s a lesser chance that yoru apples will sink down. This is bad because it can cause the dreaded crust gap.
I read in Pie Academy that the juices must be bubbling for at least 5 minutes in order for the thickening agents to activate. Make sure to watch for a bubbly filling!
Looking for other pie recipes?
- Cherry berry pie
- Blueberry pie
For the crust
- 3 1/2 cups (437 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized chunks
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, cut into tablespoon sized chunks
- 11 tablespoons ice water
For the filling
- 3 1/2 lbs apples, about 11-12 cups sliced or 7-8 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
Make the crust
- In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Stick the bowl and a pastry cutter*/fork in the freezer.
- Cut the butter and shortening into chunks. Take the bowl from the freezer and add the butter and shortening. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. The biggest chunks of fat should be pea sized and all fat chunks should be coated in flour. Alternatively you can pulse in a food processor to get the same result.
- Place the bowl in the freezer again. Prepare the ice water. Remove the bowl from the freezer. Keep adding ice water 1 tablespoon* at a time, gently tossing the mixture with a fork. Fully combine the water before adding more. When squeezing a small amount of dough in your fist forms a ball, it’s ready. If the dough still crumbles and doesn’t stick together, continue adding water one tablespoon at a time.
- Gently knead the dough together in the bowl so it forms a cohesive ball. Split the dough in two pieces, with one piece about 60% of the dough and the other about 40%. Gently flatten each ball into a disc about 1 1/2″ tall. Wrap both discs in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to rest for 2 hours.
- Remove the larger disc. Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the disc, flouring over and under the dough as you go to prevent sticking. Roll the dough to 14.5″ in diameter. Fold the dough in half, and then in half again. Gently place it in the pie pan and unfold. Ease the dough into the pan rather than stretching it to get it in the edges. Then gently press the dough to the sides of the pan. Trim the edge of the dough so that it overhangs the pan by 1/2″. Add the scraps to your other dough disc. Place pie pan in the fridge.
Prepare the filling
- Combine the apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Strain the apples from the juices. Add the juices to a small sauce pan on medium heat and bring to a simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Mix the reduced juices with the apples. Toss in the flour and cornstarch.
- Pour the filling into your prepared pie dish. Use the bottom of a serving spoon or spatula to gently press the apples together. Place in fridge.
- Roll out your other disc of dough on a light floured surface to 10” in diameter. Lay it on top of the apples. Trim the edges so there is just a 1/2” overhang.
- Fold the dough (you should have two layers now) underneath itself to create a thick edge. Create scallops by pinching with your fingers, or crimp the edges using a fork.
- Combine the egg and heavy cream and brush over the crust. Cut a few slits in the top for ventilation.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 35 to 40, or until filling has been bubbling for at least 5 minutes. If pie is browning too quickly, lay a piece of aluminum foil over top.
- Let sit on a wiring cooling rack for 3 hours before serving.
- Pastry Cutter: This is commonly used to cut butter into flour. You can also use a food processor instead. (I don’t recommend putting the food processor in the freezer, it’s not necessary).
- Ice Water: The amount of ice water needed varies greatly depending on the ambient temperature and relative humidity. To see if you’ve added enough water, grab a clump of dough and gently form a fist to squeeze it. If it stays together once you open your hand, it’s ready. If it breaks apart, drizzle another tablespoon of water.
- Freezing: Cut into slices, wrap individually, and freeze. To reheat, bake pie at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.