Sweet Stuff

A Proper Pie

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, I’m currently in possession of around 20 pounds of apples. It would be wrong of me to not try to make a homemade apple pie from these. Seeing as pie (apple pie in particular) was one of my favorite treats growing up, I was pumped to pull out my mom’s recipe book that she made for me after I graduated from college and follow her pie crust recipe. This is what I found:

Thanks for the advice Mom.

Thanks for the advice Mom.

Now let me say that I’ve tried pie crusts before and have had minimal success. My Mom knew the facts. It is hard to get it right. I have had many failed attempts prior to this one, but trust me it is worth trying. And if you get it wrong – it’s cool – you still have pie.

One problem with pie crust recipes (and almost all baking recipes) is that there are a freakin’ million versions. How do I know which one to use without making all of them?! The short answer is that you won’t know. There are just so many factors. What might work for me in my sea level swamp-like climate in DC that would never work for someone in Denver. My recommendation is to think of the recipe as a guide. I used the recipe here as my guide as Elise is very consistent with her success and awesomeness. I did change one thing though which was the amount of water I had to add. This was my version:

Homemade Apple Pie

Just a moment please...

Yield
1 pie
Prep Time
Total Time

Ingredients

The Crust

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
6-8 Tablespoons ice water

Filling:

6 cups (more or less) sliced apples
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons flour
Any dried fruits or nuts (optional)
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Helpful Equipment

pie dish

Directions

1) For crust, cut up the butter into little cubes and stick it in the freezer for at least an hour. You want it frozen. The key to good dough, I learned this time around, is keeping everything very cold. That keeps the butter in chunks and therefore creates an awesome flaky crust.

2) Take out the butter after an hour and put it in a food processor with the dry ingredients and pulse. I don’t have a large food processor so I had to work in two batches. If you don’t have a food processor you will have to wait a bit for the butter to melt before you can blend it with the other ingredients. Or you could maybe chop it up with a knife.

3) Add your water next, one tablespoon at a time. I have no idea how much it will take but you don’t want to add too much. When your dough is holding together, split it into two balls, wrap them in saran wrap, and back in the freezer. You want that butter to re-solidify. You can leave them in the freezer for infinity or at least one hour.

4) For filling, peel apples and slice. Toss apples with other ingredients in a colander. Let drain for a few minutes.

5) Remove dough from fridge and roll out into a 10-inch circle. Transfer dough to pie pan and fill with drained apple filling. Top with second pie crust. Crimp edges of crust so it’s sealed around the edges.

6) Bake the pie at 375 degrees F. for about an hour. If the crust is getting too brown, feel free to wrap some foil around the outer part so it doesn’t burn.

7) Let pie cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Cut up the butter into little cubes and stick it in the freezer for at least an hour. You want it frozen. The key to good dough, I learned this time around, is keeping everything very cold. That keeps the butter in chunks and therefore creates an awesome flaky crust.

Take out the butter after an hour and put it in a food processor with the dry ingredients and pulse. I don’t have a large food processor so I had to work in two batches. If you don’t have a food processor you will have to wait a bit for the butter to melt before you can blend it with the other ingredients. Or you could maybe chop it up with a knife. Get creative. You will end up with this.

The key is in the coldness.

The key is in the coldness. The chunks are butter.

Add your water next, one tablespoon at a time. I have no idea how much it will take but you don’t want to add too much. So go slow, Dude. If you can pick up a handful and squish it and it stays in a ball you are done. You do not need a lot of water to get to that point. When your dough is at that point, split it into two balls, wrap them in saran wrap, and back in the freezer. You want that butter to re-solidify. You can leave them in the freezer for infinity or at least one hour.

Next grab your apples. You will want 6 or 7 if they are smaller. I like to peel them with a knife or peeler like:

Do this six or seven times.

Do this six or seven times.

Then quarter them:

Quarter these bad boys.

Quarter these bad boys.

Then slice out the seeds and slice them in to four or five slices per quarter.

Cut out the seeds and slice them thin.

Cut out the seeds and slice them thin.

So for The Filling!

This is a solid filling. Maybe needs some nuts.

This is a solid filling. Could add some nuts/fruit.

Back to the dough! Look in the freezer, you have two frozen rocks of butter and flour.

Frozen dough.

Frozen dough.

And welcome to the hardest part of our dough journey. It is getting this frozen rock to flatten out thinly and evenly into a 9” pie pan. I’m not going to lie. It requires patience. Start slow and work from the center out. The dough will crack around the edges. If it doesn’t then you messed up and it is too wet. Try to go slow though and pinch the cracks together. They shouldn’t get too bad. This is the start.

This part is hard work.

This part is hard work.

I like to use my hands at first to press it out, but eventually you are going to want to roll it. Again roll slowly with even pressure. You are going to get some cracking again. That is character and it is fine.

Its slow going, but worth it.

It’s slow going, but worth it.

Eventually you will get it to the right size which is probably 13-15 inches in diameter. Gently lift it and place it in your pie dish. Fill with the awesome filling and top with squares of butter. More butter you ask? Yes more butter. At this point you might as well. Notice the cracks around the bottom of my pie dough. Notice how my pie was still amazing. Don’t worry about it if you have some cracks around the edges.

Notice the butter. You want that.

Notice the butter. You want that.

Did I mention that you have to do this painful rolling situation twice? Well, you do. When you are done with the second layer pile it on carefully and roll over the edges. Pinch them together using either your fingers or a fork or something.

You could try a lattice top if you are not tired yet. I was.

You could try a lattice top if you are not tired yet. I was.

You want to bake this at 375 for an hour total. This is important. I didn’t take a photo of it because I forgot. You want to put aluminum foil around the edges so they don’t burn. You don’t have to cover the whole pie, just around the outsides. After 40 minutes of baking take off the foil for an even browning. After one hour cool it on a rack of some sort and there ya go!

Oh my god!

A slice of pie.

A slice of pie.

There is something about apple pie that is so soothing. It is rich and sweet and the crust is a bit salty and flaky. When you have that first slice you will forget the bit of work that went into it. It isn’t really that bad and seriously half the fun is making it. Have a beer and just relax. You will end up with a great pie.

For once, I’m going to disagree with my Mom. Don’t go buy a pie crust. It isn’t that hard. Give it a shot and you will be happily rewarded.

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2 comments on “A Proper Pie

  1. I make pie crust using Crisco. I have had the best results with it. My mother also said pie crust was too difficult. One of the advantages to making pie crust from scratch is that you can control the thickness of the crust. I like very thin pie crust and most store-bought crusts are too thick. So I roll mine out very thin.

  2. I highly recommend that you buy an apple peeler/corer/slicer from Williams Sonoma for $28. I just bought one because I love baking with apples but don't want to peel and core all day. My fiancee loved it too. He was luckily there to set it all up for me, and for fun we took turns using it. No other brand will do because Williams Sonoma's has a pivoting head, which is VERY IMPORTANT for this thing to work well. Thinking about giving some of these as gifts too.
    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/old-fashi

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