Best Apple Pie
It’s that time of year again. The only time of the year I make apple pie – after a day of apple picking, of course. I typically use Cortland apples, which are popular as one of the best types for pie making. They cook soft enough for pie but still hold their shape , unlike Macintosh apples which turn to mush. The apple orchard I went to this year did not yet have Cortland apples so they suggested I use Mollie’s Delicious which cooked and tasted similar to Cortland.
The filling in this recipe is somewhat to taste. I prefer a pie filling that is slightly sweet allowing for the tartness and flavor of the apples to really come through. The excessively sugary apple pie fillings, especially ones that use brown sugar, completely mask everything that is good about apples! You can adjust the sugar by one more, or one less, tablespoon but I wouldn’t adjust it any further than that. For a flaky crust it’s important to handle the dough only as much as necessary and to keep it chilled in the fridge until you are ready to use it. While making the dough use cold butter and ice cold water.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks cold salted butter
5-6 tablespoons ice cold water
1 – 9″ pie plate
Mix the flour, salt and sugar together and add the mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Cut the cold butter into tabs and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the butter is somewhat incorporated into the flour. You should still have some bits of butter that are a little larger than a small pebble, but most of the butter/flour mixture should look like grainy sand.
Take the mixture out of the food processor and while moving the mixture around with a fork slowly drizzle in the ice cold water until the dough begins to form a ball. Use your hands to gather the mixture into a ball of dough that is not too dry but not really wet. Add more water or flour as needed. Do not knead the dough at all, just form it into a somewhat smooth ball by pressing it together. Wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill (this step is important for making a flaky crust). Meanwhile prepare the apples for the filling.
Approximately 9-10 medium apples (depending how high you want to stack the pie)
Approximately 3/4 cup sugar
Approximately 4 tablespoons white flour
Peel and cut the apples into 1/4 inch thick slices. You can drizzle a little lemon juice over them as you go along to keep them from browning.
Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it into two parts, one being slight larger than the other. Wrap up the larger piece and put it back in the fridge. Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface. Shape the dough into a ball and slightly flatten it into a disc. Sprinkle both sides of the dough with flour and place it on the floured surface. Roll it out into a circle large enough to fit into the pie plate – it should come up the sides and hang over the edge a little bit. Turn the dough as you roll it to make sure it is not sticking to the surface. After fitting the dough into the pie plate trim the overhanging edges so that they hang over by a little less than 1/4 inch.
To fill the crust you will work in layers with the filling ingredients. Place the slices one at a time to create a single layer with as little space as possible between the slices. Repeat that one more time. First sprinkle the slices with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, then dust them with cinnamon, then sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour over them and dot them with about 1/2 tablespoon of diced butter. Repeat this process 4-5 times. The apples should be mounding about 1 1/2 – 2 inches above the rim of the pie plate.
Preheat the oven to 375. Take out the other piece of dough and roll it out the same way you did the bottom piece. If it sticks to the rolling pin sprinkle a little flour on the surface. The easiest way to picked up the rolled out dough and place it on top of the apples is to loosely fold it into quarters, place it on top of the pie and carefully unfold it. Trim the extra overhanging dough until it is just a little longer than the edge of the pie plate and go all the way around tucking it under the bottom pie crust and pressing together. Then go around creating the fluted edge by pinching the dough between thumb and forefinger and then pushing your thumb and forefinger away from one another. Cut four steam slits in the top of the crust and put the pie in the oven on the middle rack. Put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack to catch the drippings as the pie cooks. Otherwise you have sugary apple juice burning on the bottom of your oven and next thing you know the fire department is responding to your smoke alarm.
Cook at 375 until the crust starts to look dry and then reduce the temperature to 350. The pie should cook for at least an hour, maybe an hour and 20 minutes. The crust should start to turn golden and you can carefully insert a small knife into one of the steam slits to see if the apples are soft.
When the pie is done let it cool on a cooling rack for a couple of hours. If you cut into it while it’s still hot it will be very soupy. It thickens and solidifies as it cools. Enjoy!