“In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” -Carl Sagan, American Astronomer, Author, and Personal Hero
NOTE: This was one of my first posts, but it may have been a hasty one, and never got the photography it deserved. I’m re-posting it now that, well, it does have the photo it deserves. Thanks Mom, for this awesome recipe. :)
Everyone thinks their Mom makes the best apple pie, and everyone is probably right. But seriously, my Mom makes the best apple pie. With its perfect balance of tartness and sweetness, and its buttery, flaky crust, I’d say this fundamental American classic is a great place to begin the RadioGastronomy Recipe Box. My boyfriend and I made this last night to the delight of both our tummies. I can’t tell you how good my apartment smelled. It wasn’t as good as my Mommy’s (it never is…), but I’d say it was a solid attempt, and it tasted great. Thanks Mom! I love you.
Pie Crust Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 1/2 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
6-8 tablespoons ice water
3/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup if you prefer even less sweet), plus a little extra for dusting
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4-6 Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon (freshly grated on a zester, if possible)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated on a zester, if possible)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 stick butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 egg white
1. First, let’s tackle the crust. You’ll want to make sure that you are working with very cold butter and shortening, (as this is a way to ensure flaky, yummy crust) so start by placing those 2 items in the refrigerator. Pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Sprinkle the chilled shortening pieces over the mixture and pulse quickly until the mixture starts to look like coarse sand. This should only take a few seconds. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces over this mixture and use short pulses until the mixture is about the size of peas.
2. Add 6 tablespoons of ice water to the mixture, and combine with your hands until incorporated. Dough should stick together nicely, and should be pliable, but not too wet. If the mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of ice water at a time until the consistency is correct.
3. Divide dough into 2 even mounds and work each into a 1″ thick disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
4. While the dough rests and chills in the refrigerator, let’s work on the filling. In a large bowl, mix sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice together with a rubber spatula. This creates a lemon sugar which, when mixed with the apples, will prevent them from turning brown.
5. Next you’ll want to peel (this is optional, and Mom doesn’t think it’s necessary), core, and halve the apples, and slice into 1/8″-1/4″ thick slices. As you work, try to add the apple slices in with the lemon sugar and get them nice and coated.
6. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and flour to the apple and lemon sugar mixture and mix until evenly distributed. Place filling mixture in the refrigerator while you wait for dough to be ready.
7. When ready, remove dough from refrigerator. Flour the countertop and your rolling pin (you want just enough flour to prevent dough from sticking to anything, and roll one of the disks out until about 1/8″ thick. Try to roll into as even a circle as possible. Roll dough up onto rolling pin, and then un-roll it into 9-10″ pie pan (I used a ceramic one, but Pyrex ones work great too!), gently pressing dough into the pan to cover all surfaces. Allow the excess dough to hang off the sides.
8. Fill pie shell with filling mixture and spread out until evenly distributed in the pie pan. Dot the filling evenly with the chilled butter pieces. Repeat rolling-out process with the other disk, and un-roll over pie, covering all of the filling and again allowing the excess dough to hang over the sides. At this point you’ll want to press the 2 crusts together at the edges of the pan and trim away the excess dough, leaving about 1/2″ extra around the circumference of the pie. Next comes the pretty crimped edges. This is hard to describe without photos, so I’ve found a great visual aid here.
9. Last but not least, cut vents into the top pie crust with a paring knife. You can get all sorts of jazzy and creative here with vents and make little shapes and patterns. (I made a star pattern because, you know, we like space around here.) Whisk the egg white together with a little bit of water using a fork, and brush over the top of the pie in a thin, even layer. Sprinkle crust with a light, even dusting of sugar.
10. Bake pie on middle rack for about 30 minutes and check. If crust looks like it’s browning too quickly and is in danger of burning, adjust to higher rack and continue to bake for about 20 more minutes, checking at the 10 minute mark. Remove pie from oven after about 50 minutes total, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving. Voila!
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