Apple pie is an old North American tradition. Made with pastry, fresh apples, and a combination of spices, it makes an excellent dessert. Originally, it came from England and evolved from desserts such as English pudding.
Having seen many apple pies, I sometimes notice a large gap or airspace between the filling and the crust. This is caused by the apples releasing water while they are baking. This can be eliminated by using a process called macerating. This concept was first introduced by Levy Beranbaum in her book “The Pie and Pastry Bible.” Stephanie Jaworski also does an excellent job of discussing the process, as well. It is a simple concept which calls for leaving the apples to sit in their spices at room temperature for 30 minutes up until 3 hours to extract the juices. The juices are then used to make a delicious caramelized syrup. The entire process works remarkably well.
Any kinds of apples can be used when making apple pie, and some are better than others. Personally, I prefer Granny Smith. Others prefer a combination of apples for more a complex flavor.
For a side dish, vanilla ice cream is always a great idea. A slice of cheese, especially cheddar, also provides a unique combination. Whatever the occasion, you and your family will love this recipe.
- 5 – 6 apples slice thinly – I prefer Granny Smith apples.
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
- pinch 1/4 tsp. of salt
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. of butter (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 tbsp. of cornstarch
For pie crust:
- 3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup of ice water
- 2 beaten eggs yolks
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- In a food processor, combine flour, butter, salt and shortening. Pulse 5 to 6 times. If you are doing this by hand, use two spoons or knives to cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture. Mix until it resembles a course dough or is pea-like.
- In a separate bowl, combine the ice water, egg yolks, and vinegar. Whisk until they are well combined.
- Using about 1/3 of the wet mixture, add it to the dry mixture. Pulse until the dough stays together. If mixing by hand, start mixing with a spoon or fork and then use your fingertips. Add in the next third and continue to mix. Lastly, add the final third. Your mixture should stay together nicely. In other words, you should be able to make a shape with it, and the the shape should keep its form. If it’s too wet, you can add a little more flour; if it’s too dry, you can add a little more ice water.
- Lightly flour a surface. Place the dough onto the surface and form it into disk or log. Cut it in half. One half will be the top shell, and the other half will be the bottom shell. You might want slightly more dough for the top. Wrap each disk or log with plastic wrapper. Allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
To Make the Filling:
- Cut the apples into quarters. Peel them using a peeler or paring knife. Cut out the cores. Cut them into about 1/4 inch slices, and place them in a mixing bowl.
- Add the lemon juice to the apples (this will prevent any browning). Next, add the sugars, Cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix and toss using your hands until well incorporated. Leave them sit out at room temperature for about 1 hour. This will begin the macerating process
- After an hour, place a strainer on top of another bowl and put the apples into the strainer. Allow them to sit in the strainer for 15 to 30 minutes. The will continue to extract juices during this time.
- Remove the strainer from the bowl and pour the juices from the apples into a smaller bowl or heat proof measuring cup. Add in the butter at room temperature. Boil the juice and butter in the microwave for 5 to 7 minutes until they are syrupy and nicely caramelized. Alternatively, you can do this using a small pot over medium temperature on the stove.
- Place the cornstarch into the apples and toss well. Pour the caramelized juices over the apples and mix well using a spoon or spatula.
Making the Pie Shell:
Remove the dough from the fridge and place it onto a flat, floured covered surface. Roll out with a rolling pin (always roll from the center out) into a 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Place into a 9 inch pie plate and arrange carefully. Gently press the crust down into the plate, but do not stretch it. Trim the excess dough around the surface using a sharp knife.
Add the filling to the bottom shell ensuring you get a nice even distribution. Lightly press down on the apples to slightly compact them in the bottom shell. Place the pie in the fridge while you make the top crust.
- Next, roll out the top crust similar to the bottom.
- Gently place the top crust over the apples. Cut off the excess pastry and tuck in both edges. Crimp all boarders to secure the pie. Make four 2 inch slits in the top; this makes the air pockets. Brush the pie, with egg wash (simply made by using one egg and about 1 tbsp of milk) evenly on all sides.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 45 minutes until nicely browned and a sharp inserted knife or toothpick will easily pierce the apples.
- Allow the pie to cool for 3 to 4 hours. Slice and serve.
- Enjoy your apple pie.