Classic Apple Pie
Apple pie is probably the most popular American pie in history. There are two main types of pie dough: flaky pie dough and mealy (more crumbly and compact) pie dough. They both use the same recipe, but the difference is the way the fat is cut into the flour. Mealy pie dough recipes blend the butter into the flour until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal or bread crumbs, resulting in a tender yet more crumbly/compact crust, which is better for a liquid or custard filling. Flaky pie dough recipes, which we’re using here, blend the butter into the flour until it’s the size of hazelnuts. Once rolled, the dough becomes a sheet, layering flakes of dough and pockets of butter (a good choice for cooked fillings or fillings with less liquid). Ali’s favorite way to “cut” the butter into the dough is a stand mixer. She learned this technique from Sherry Yard and it makes a perfectly flaky dough every time. If you choose to use a food processor instead, just be cautious about how far you blend the butter—you may end up with a mealy pie dough instead.
Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) pie
Flaky Pie Dough
- ½ cup (120 ml) cold water
- 2 tsp (10 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 2½ cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp (15 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (225 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” (1.3-cm) pieces
- 2½ lb (1.1 kg) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 10 wedges each
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (112 g) packed brown sugar
- 4 tbsp (35 g) cornstarch
- 3 tbsp (45 g) unsalted butter, cut into
- ½” (1.3-cm) pieces
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) milk
- ½ cup (100 g) demerara, turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
To make the dough, mix the water and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside in your refrigerator to chill (the colder, the better!). Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the cold butter and mix on low speed (so the flour doesn’t fly up into your face and ruin your hair) until the butter pieces are about the size of hazelnuts, about 30 seconds. If any larger pieces of butter remain, mix in 15-second increments until the size of hazelnuts. Add the water and apple cider vinegar mixture while mixing on low speed just until the dough comes together into a ball. The dough should not be dry or crumbly, but just slightly sticky. If it still seems dry, add more water 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time. Gather the dough on your work surface, divide it into 2 equal parts and form them into disks. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Have a cup of coffee, drink some wine or check your emails.
On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one disk of the dough into a 12-inch (30.5-cm) round. Run your hand over the dough to make sure it’s even in thickness. Gather the dough by rolling it up and over the rolling pin or by folding it into quarters and place it in a 9-inch (23-cm) pie tin. Trim the edges flush with the outer edge of the pie tin. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes while you make the filling.
To make the filling, combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, both sugars and cornstarch in a large bowl and toss so the apples are fully coated. Remove the pie tin from the refrigerator and fill it with the apple mixture. You want to really pile the apples as high and evenly as possible. Pour any remaining juices and sugar from the bowl on top of the apples. Distribute the butter pieces on top of the apples.
Grab the second half of the dough from the refrigerator and roll it into another 12-inch (30.5-cm) round. Cover the pie with it and then trim the dough, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) hanging over the outer edge of the pie. Gently fold this under the edge of the bottom pie crust. Crimp the edges decoratively. Cut 3 steam vents in the top of the pie. Get creative here. Use some small cookie cutters with the shape of your choice to cut the vents. Or cut shapes from leftover pieces of dough and use them to decorate the pie. If you really feel inspired, try a lattice top.
Beat the egg in a small bowl and add the milk to make an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the outside of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle it with the demerara sugar. Refrigerate the pie for 15 minutes, but do not allow the apple mixture to sit in the unbaked pie for more than 30 minutes. Otherwise, you may end up with a soggy crust.
Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) with a sheet pan in the middle of the oven.
Carefully place a piece of parchment paper on the hot sheet pan from the oven. Place the pie on the sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 375°F (190°C) and bake until the pie is golden and the filling is bubbling about 40 more minutes. Check the browning on the pie periodically. If it is browning too quickly, tent the pie with a piece of foil to prevent the top from burning. Don’t forget to cut me a slice!
Chef Tips: Remember that crust is not just a vessel for a filling but also an opportunity for flavor. Consider creating greater complexity of flavors in your crust by substituting part or all of the liquid in your dough with liquids that are complementary to your filling. For example, use Applejack or bourbon in your apple pie dough.
Keep in mind that the egg creates a shiny surface on a pastry while the milk creates the browning effect. You can always substitute water for the milk if your pastries tend to brown too much or too quickly.