Scrumptious Apple Pies From Scratch

Setting out to make a pie can be a “very scary thing,” writes Deb Perelman in her cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen. As an “obsessive home cook” who suffered FOP (fear of pie), she was determined to master the art of piecrust making. It took several “pie seasons” of experimental distractions until she successfully arrived on top with the perfect piecrust, which as it turns out, is pretty basic and simple!

Below are three recipes, one from Deb Perelman’s described as a “buttery flakey crust” and two recipes that include the crust and filling. Two of the crust recipes use butter and the other from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook uses Crisco shortening, making it a more old-fashioned, but tried and true crust recipe nonetheless.

Easy Apple Pie Recipe

Pie Crust (taken from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. table salt
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, VERY cold
1/2 cup ice-cold water

Instructions:
In a large, widish bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into medium-sized pieces and scatter the pieces over the flour. Using your finger tips (or pastry blender) work the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas.

If the butter has warmed up a bit, place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes to quickly cool it down again. Drizzle the water over the flour-butter mixture and use a flexible spatula to gently stir it together until a craggy, uneven mass forms. Knead the dough and any loose bits together, working quickly so as to warm it as little as possible. For a traditional 2-crust pie, divide the dough and wrap it in two separate pieces. Chill it in the fridge at least 1 hour for a halved dough and 2 hours for a full one before rolling it out.

When ready to roll out the dough, place large size wax paper on counter and dust generously with flour and begin to roll out (perfecting the art of rolling out pie dough does take some patience and practice).  The key is to roll out before it becomes too warm and begins to stick and break up into tiny pieces.  Place back in freezer if this begins to happen and try again. When dough has successfully been rolled out gently fold into quarters and transfer to pie pan and gently unfold positioning it perfectly in the pie plate, letting it drape over the edges which you will trim.

Double-Crusted Apple Pie (taken from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook)

Ingredients for the crust:
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
18 tbsp. (2 & 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
6-8 tbsp. ice water
Milk for brushing over crust

Ingredients for the filling:
3 large firm-tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges*
3 large firm-sweet apples cut the same as above*
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 & 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:
In large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.  Roll out dough as described in Smitten Kitchen recipe above.  Place pie filling in pie pan and place rolled out top crust on top of filling and bake at 400-425 degree oven for 10 minutes and then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes.

homemade pie crust recipe

Basic Pie Crust for 9-inch Two-crust Pie (taken from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

Ingredients for crust:
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup shortening (Crisco)
6-7 tbsp. ice cold water

Instructions for crust:

Combine the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or by hand using a fork to scrape bits of butter into the flour/salt mixture. Combine lightly only until the mixture resembles coarse meal or very tiny peas: its texture will not be uniform but will contain crumbs and small bit and pieces. Sprinkle ice-cold water over the flour mixture, a tablespoon at a time, and mix lightly with a fork, using only enough water so that the pastry will hold together when pressed gently into a ball.

Divide the dough into two balls. Roll the bottom crust out 2 inches larger than the pie pan. Ease it into the pan, fitting it loosely but firmly. Roll out the top crust. Fill the pie generously, then put on the top crust and prick in several place with a fork or cut vents in it. Crimp or flute the edges. Bake as incited in the filling recipe.

Ingredients for the filling:
3/4-1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 & 1/2 tbsp. flour
6 large, firm mix of tart and sweet apples*
2 tbsp. butter

Instructions for filling:
Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a large bowl.  Peel, core, and slice apples and toss them in the sugar mixture, coating them well. Pile them into the crust- lined pie pan and dot with the butter.  Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie.  Crimp edges and cut several vents in the top.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400-425 degree oven and then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes more or until crust is nicely browned.

*There are many combinations of apples that are perfect for a pie and everyone has their favorites. My personal favorite for over 30 years of baking are Baldwin, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Macintosh and Gala (I always use a combination of at least two or three different apple varieties).

Below are some of the more common and easy to find apples:

The best apples for Firm-Tart are:

  • best apples for apple pieNorthern Spy
  • Granny Smith
  • Idared
  • Newtown Pippin
  • Rome Beauty

The best apples for Firm-Sweet are:

  • Baldwin
  • Winter Banana
  • Pink Lady
  • Jonagold
  • Jazz
  • Golden Delicious
  • Honeycrisp

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