September 20, 2011

Apple Pie

Dear Friend, Does making the perfect pie crust put you in the 'hardcore' category? A friend once told me that when you have finally made a pie crust worth writing home about, you are technically an all-star. This friend may have been full of themselves, no? When I was growing up, my mom used to make a lot of pies. Apple mostly, but I do remember the occasional pumpkin. As a kid, I remember being in love with that smell of baked apples and cinnamon. I wanted to take that smell and bottle it up so I could smell it forever. Turns out, they now have these things called scented candles, and now that I'm a grown-up, I can make pies whenever I want. I do love apple pie, because it reminds me of autumn, fall fairs, Halloween - and it also tastes amazing. Autumn is my favorite time of year.  I have fond memories of grade school, collecting colorful fallen leaves and making what I thought at the time was magnificent art. I also remember my mom raking up fallen leaves - meanwhile, I would sneakily follow her around ambushing any pile I could find. I would jump and destroy, crossing my fingers there wouldn't be any dog poop waiting inside.

When I was growing up, we had a large crab apple tree. I don't ever remember eating the apples, mostly throwing the rotten ones at my sisters. When I wasn't throwing them, I was collecting them for survival. We had a fort, and it was imperative that we collect the apples in case of an emergency. You know - war, famine, etc. This tree was also the perfect climbing tree.  It had nice, long, thick branches. I think the trunk was actually on my neighbors lawn, while the branches grew towards our house. Good thing it wasn't a money tree, or we could've had some problems. I wanted to share this new pie crust recipe with you. I normally use this pie crust recipe, which calls for butter, but today I didn't seem to have any - very unlike me, I know. Luckily I had 9 sticks of vegetable shortening on hand?!?!..!? To make this pie crust you need some flour, salt, shortening, and ice water. Mix the flour with the salt. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry cutter until it's nice and crumbly - like the picture below.

Slowly added the ice water and mix with a fork. Add enough water so that the dough starts to stick together - like the picture below. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten them into two disks, wrap them with Saran wrap, and place them in the freezer.

While the dough is chilling, cut up some apples. Add some lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes. You will now have apples and some apple juice.

Take the apple juice and boil it down with some butter. Add it back to the apples with some cornstarch. Toss them into the pie crust that you have ever so carefully rolled out. Top the apples with the other dough layer and then make it look pretty. Pinch some edges, cut some holes. Let the pie relax in the freezer. Once it's relaxed, bake it up.

Once it's done baking, let it cool for 2 hours, if you can wait that long, and then serve it with some cheddar cheese and vanilla ice cream. And..... don't eat a ginormous slice right before hot yoga.

[Print Recipe]

makes one 9"pie
recipe adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible and The Classic Crisco Pie Crust Recipe

Pie Crust Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegetable shortening, cubed
4 - 8 tbsp ice cold water

Pie Filling Ingredients
6 - 8 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/ 4 cup brown sugar1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch


1. Chill the vegetable shortening in the freezer for 30 minutes before making the pie.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. When the shortening has chilled, cut into cubes, and add it to the flour mixture. With a pastry cutter, cut the shortening into the flour until you have a crumbly mixture with pea size pieces of shortening. 

3. Add 4 tbsp of the ice water and mix with a fork. Continue to add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to stick together. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it into a ball. Divide the dough into two balls, one ball being smaller than the other. Flatten out the dough into two 1/4" thick discs. Wrap with Saran wrap and place in the freezer for one hour.

4. While the dough is chilling, peel, core, and slice the apples. Place them in a large bowl with lemon juice, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Toss the mixture and let sit for 30 minutes to one hour. The apples should produce roughly 1/2 cup of liquid.

5. Place the liquid and butter in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Boil down the liquid until you have 1/3 cup. It should be light brown in color and slightly sticky. Pour the liquid over the apples and combine. Next, add the cornstarch and stir until it has all mixed evenly and no lumps of cornstarch are present.

6. Remove the dough from the freezer and place the large piece between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll out the dough until it is roughly the same diameter as the pie pan. You want the dough to be hanging off the sides. Pace the apples on top and then repeat the same process with the other piece of dough.

7. Place the second rolled dough on top of the apples and pinch both layers of dough together with your fingers. Make 5 slits in the center of the pie so that steam can escape while baking. Place the pie back in the freezer for one hour to let the dough rest. This will allow the dough to become more flaky.

8. Twenty minutes before baking the pie, place a pizza stone on the bottom shelf, and preheat to 425 F. Place a piece of tin foil over the stone to catch any drippings.

9. Place the pie on the stone and bake for one hour. Thirty minutes into baking, place some tin foil around the pie edges to prevent burning the crust. Once the pie is done, let it cool on a wire wrack for 2 - 4 hours. Serve with some good aged cheddar cheese and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


  1. A favourite of mine in chilly autumn day...with a pot of freshly brewed tea...I am in heaven!

  2. I used to have a similar apple tree that I played on as a kid. This recipe looks great. Will have to try it some time.

  3. Frank - Let me know how it goes.

  4. Your recipe comes in the nick of time - Barbarella gave me a whole wack of apples from the farm and I need to do something else with them besides making a whole lot of baby food....

  5. I agree that nothing smells better than apples and cinnamon. This pie looks incredible!!!

  6. my goodness.. oh how much I love apple pie.. and as I have tree's brimming with them at the moment in our garden this comes at a perfect time.. I never make pies.. I'm normally a strudel and crumble gal so 'm going to make an effort this weekend! It's time I made some pastry..

    Also, as always, your photographs are beautiful.. love the rust colour with the blue.. you've made one perfect looking apple pie!