There's nothing like the taste--or the smell--of homemade apple pie. And, though there are quite a few steps involved, there's nothing like the satisfaction of making something that so many people think is really complicated. Because lets face it: If you can smoosh stuff with a fork, you can make pie dough from scratch...it really is that simple.
This recipe is a slight twist on my grandmother's recipe. She always used Cortland apples in her pie, and so do I. She kept the spices in her filling simple--just a little bit of sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice--so that apples were the star of the show and tasted fresh and autumnal, not syrupy sweet and over-spiced. I follow grandma's lead here as well. The one place where we differ is with the fat. She used lard, and I use butter.
I know, I know...I'm sure there are some of you out there who swear by lard- or shortening-based pie dough. It's all a matter of taste and what you're used to. Personally, I think lard-based crust has wonderfully flaky texture but not much flavor, and I think shortening-based crust is bland and gummy (think store-bought pies). Butter gives you a crust that is light, flaky, and flavorful--a crust that is tasty enough to eat all on it's own, even without the apple filling.
Makes 1 10" pie. (To see this recipe in process, check out Picturing From-Scratch Apple Pie.) If you're pressed for time, you can spread the process over two days. On day one, make the dough and place it in the refrigerator. On day two, make the filling, roll out the dough, and assemble and bake the pie. It's easy as...well...pie.
2 cups flour
- Sift together 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Cut 1 stick of cold butter (1/2 cup) into 1/4" cubes and add to the flour.
- Using a fork, cut in the cubed butter. Squish the butter between the fork's tines and mash the butter pieces into the flour until you achieve the texture of cornmeal.
- Take another 1/2 stick of cold butter (1/4 cup) and cut it into 1/4" cubes. Add to the flour mixture and stir to evenly distribute the butter cubes.
- Take 1 egg yolk and add enough cold water to equal 1/2 cup. Scramble.
- Add the yolk-water mixture to the flour. Stir lightly until you form a loose dough ball. If the dough is very dry, add more water--1 tablespoon at a time--until the dough is silky.
- Use your hand to form a cohesive dough ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
10 Cortland apples
Peel, core, and cut 10 Cortland apples into eighths.
- To the apples, add 1 tablespoon flour, a dash of salt, 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Toss the apples and seasonings together until all the apples are coated evenly.
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Roll the chilled dough into bottom and top layers.
- Place bottom dough layer in the pie plate and add apples.
- Dot the apples with 1/2 tablespoon butter cut into 1/4" cubes.
- Add top dough layer and pinch together the edges.
- Cut several small vent holes in the top layer of dough.
2 tablespoons white sugar
- Add 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon water, and 2 tablespoons sugar to a small bowl.
- Microwave for 30 seconds, or until the butter melts.
- Use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the pie.
- Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325° and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until you can see juice bubbling out of the vents and the crust is golden brown.