I posted this recipe on my old blog few years ago, back when I was scarred from an earlier pie crust-making experience. The very first time I ever attempted an apple pie was right before I found out I was pregnant with Elliott. I tried my hand at making pie dough because I heard it was easy, but I used a small food processor that was more for making hummus & chopping up onions than it was for pie dough, and I somehow broke the motor. For a while I used a store-bought crust, and it was fine! But after Adeline was born I tried again using a stronger food processor to make my dough (which I prefer over a pastry knife) and have never looked back. Store-bought crust no match for homemade.
The last few pies I have made have come out runny, and I realized that I had gotten lazy. It wasn't an issue with my recipe, it was an issue with my methods. This recipe has always been tried and true, but when you're baking, you must often take your cues from your pie, and act accordingly. This is why baking can be difficult I think. It doesn't take much to learn how to follow a recipe, but learning how to garner technique and listen to you pie takes a lot of practice and failure, much like learning how to play an instrument or paint with oils. I am no where near mastering how to bake, but I hope over the years I do.
I've perfected my apple pie process over the years to include a few extra steps. I swear they make the difference!
- Allow apples to rest & release juices, then drain. Coat your apples with a bit of sugar right after slicing. This removes the excess juices to prevent runny-ness. Don't let it rest for too long as you do need some of juice in your pie!
- Discarding the juices enhances the flavor. I have always added 3/4 cup white sugar, but with the resting step you end up discarding a portion of that sugar. This is good I think! The pie is still sweet enough, but you do end up tasting more of the apple with subtle hints of tartness without the overwhelming sugary sweetness.
-Add cornstarch & flour. Combining thickening agents prevents your pie from tasting either too flour-y or cornstarch-y, if you know what I mean.
-Bake longer and at a slightly lower temperature. I used to bake my pie at 425, but I realized that was causing the crust to be done before the filling. Baking about 15 minutes longer allows time for the filling to get hot enough for the thickening agents to do their job and lowering the temp ensures the crust doesn't burn in the meantime.
-Vent the pie, and do not remove until juices start to bubble out of the pie. I realized this was my biggest mistake, not waiting until this step. If the juices haven't bubbled out of the vent, the filling hasn't gotten hot enough to activate the thickening agent or fully cook the apples.
-Cover the crust with foil. To prevent the crust from burning, cover the edges and perimeter of the pie crust generously with foil, leave the center of the vent exposed. Remove the foil when the juices just start to bubble out.
-Allow pie to cool completely before serving. This allows the filling to complete the thickening process, which is incomplete while the pie is still hot.
A perfectly simple & delicious Apple Pie
6 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup shortening
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1 & 1/4 tablespoon salt
a few tablespoons ice water
3/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt
10 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced & peeled
2 tablespoons butter
Prepare the dough:
Mix salt & flour together in a large food processor, then add shortening & butter. Pulse several times until you have a course, crumbly meal. Slowly drizzle in the water and continue to pulse until you have a sticky clump. On a floured surface (with floured hands) fold the dough into itself with a bit more flour until it's a little less sticky, separate into two halves, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
Flour your surface again, then roll each half out into a large disc. Fit one into a 9 inch. Leave the other disc on a sheet of parchment paper with a cutting board under it. Chill both until ready to use.
Filling & pie assembly:
Preheat oven to 400. Stir 1/4 cup of the white sugar with the apples in a large bowl, making sure apples are coated. Let stand 15-20 minutes, and drain the juices, discarding. Stir together the rest of the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, & salt and mix with apple slices. Make sure all slices are coated. Dump the whole bowl into your pastry-lined pie plate and make sure it's evenly distributed in the plate. Cut butter into small cubes and dot over apples. Cover the apples with the other crust. Seal & flute, and cut slits into the top too vent. Cover the edges of the crust with strips of aluminum foil.
Bake about 50 minutes in the center of the oven, until juices begin to bubble through the slits.* Remove foil and bake another 10. If you'd like, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush on top of the crust, then sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar after removing the foil. Remove from oven once the crust has turned golden brown and allow to cool completely before cutting. Warm if you'd like in the microwave & top with homemade whipped cream. Yummmm.
* You may want to put a cookie sheet beneath the pie to catch the juices!