Nothing fancy, just straight up apples with cinnamon, sugar, and a little butter. I guess it’s all what you’re used to, but I could never warm up to an apple pie with fillers or other spices in it. I have, however, changed my crust over the years. I don’t remember who gave me this one (or where I found it), but it’s laughably easy and turns out great every time. People always give me grief when it comes up for not telling them about it sooner. All you do is throw everything in a covered bowl and shake the crap out of it until it all comes together. Today was the first time I bothered with the stand mixer, and that’s only because all of our covered bowls are already filled with other goodies, so I had no choice.
My apples of choice for apple pie (or crisp) are McIntosh and Cortland, with one Delicious and one Granny Smith. I like the extra sweet from the Delicious and the tart from the Granny mixed in with the others. Something else I do that seems to be different from other people is slice my apples. I guess most people do them chunkier. I always wondered if that’s why so many people’s pies have HUGE peaks and valleys or end up with a huge gap between the crust and the filling when it’s done. I think with thinner slices, there isn’t as much settling.
2 c flour
3/4 c Crisco Shortening
2 T melted butter
6 T cold water
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 t sugar
Like I said, you can just toss everything in a bowl, cover it and shake until it comes together. This was the first time I did it in a mixer, and it took about 10 seconds. I won’t be cutting into it until Christmas, so I don’t know if it made a difference in the texture, but I’m guessing not. Wrap it in plastic and let it chill while you work on your apples …
I peel and quarter them, then just pop out the core with the tip of my knife and slice them – not TOO thin. You don’t want them to turn to mush. Even though I’m peeling them, I like to give them a quick bath first.
When all of your apples are sliced, toss them with cinnamon and sugar. I think today, for a 9″ pie, I used 8 apples, a little more than 1/4 c of sugar, and just shy of 1T of cinnamon.
I like to let the apples sit for a little while to draw out some of the liquid – nobody likes a soggy pie! Whatever is left in the bottom of the bowl can go in a cup of tea if you don’t want to waste it. While they’re hanging out, you can go dig out your favorite rolling pin. My weapon of choice for today was marble. I usually reach for my grandmother’s old phyllo pin for some reason – very long and skinny. You can also dig out a pie plate – I used a glass 9″ today. You can also set up a few sheets of waxed paper to roll your dough between.
Is it time yet?
OK, cut your ball of dough in half and roll out one ball between the two sheets of waxed paper. If you’ve never made a crust before, right about now you’re wondering … how the heck am I supposed to get the dough off the paper and into the plate?!? No biggie – just peel off the top sheet and pick the whole thing up by the edge farthest away from you. Hang it behind your pie plate so you have a little overhang, then lay it right over the plate and gently peel the waxed paper away. Now just lift the edge and let the dough’s own weight sort of settle itself down into the plate so you don’t have a gap at the bottom. Do that all the way around. Don’t worry if you rolled your dough out too big and you have a wrinkle – just press it out with your finger. If you have any spots with a HUGE amount of overhang (see below), you can trim it back a little.
Now that your crust is nicely settled into the plate, it’s time to fill-er-up. Try to avoid a huge lump in the middle. You want to get it more dome shaped if possible, and try not to have huge gaps so the filling doesn’t collapse on itself when it starts to cook down. Once all of your apples are in place, dot the top with a few slivers of butter.
Roll out and place your top crust the same way you did the bottom crust – using the waxed paper to transfer it and then gently peeling away. Pinch or roll the overhang from the top and bottom crusts together to seal, then edge however you like. I usually press the tines of a serving fork all around the edge, but today I decided to go with a scalloped edge and pinched it all the way around between my thumb and index finger.
Brush the top with a beaten egg then cut a steam vent in the top – or you could have used a seasonal aspic cutter to cut out a shape before topping the pie.
Bake at 375 for about an hour until the crust is golden and you see the juice from the apples bubbling in the steam vent. It might be a good idea to place a sheet of foil on the rack below to catch any drips if it bubbles over.
I always hear people talk about pie shields or edging their crust with foil so it doesn’t burn. The only time I have ever had a crust come anywhere close to burning is when I used a regular dinner fork to edge it. It always comes out extra crispy that way for some reason. I switched to a serving fork and never that that problem again.