Can there be anything more special than a warm apple pie with a flaky pastry and a sweet cinnamony apple filling? The apple pie is an American institution, part of the nation’s collective memory of holidays, Thanksgivings and Christmases. But whether it’s a holiday or not, an apple pie always makes a great dessert. It can be just as perfect by itself. Add a dollop of ice-cream and you have a recipe that deserves to be in the hall of dessert fame.
How to Make an Apple Pie?
Although you can easily buy it, there is always something special about a homemade apple pie. Apart from the pleasure of cutting into a just-out-of-oven warm slice, it’s the irresistible aroma of a freshly baked pie that makes it so special. The spicy scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and warm apple wafting from the oven is everything that makes a special Christmas.
Despite our love for the pie, most people are too scared to tackle it. The main reason is the pastry. Generations ago, countless women may have rolled out pastries for pies and shortcakes, but we have demonized this simple recipe to the extent that it has become a true baker’s test. But, a flaky pastry is simple. Like any baking recipe, you have to follow some simple rules. This pastry recipe can also come in handy for any other sweet pie you want to make, from peach to pecan.
Easy Apple Pie Recipe
For Pie Crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 230 grams cold butter cubed
- 6-8 tbsp chilled water
- 1 egg beaten
For the Filling
- 7-8 apples
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Zest of half a lemon
For the Pastry
- Add the flour, salt, and sugar to the food processor and pulse 2-3 times till it is combined.
- Scatter the butter pieces in the flour and pulse 3-4 times till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the chilled water one tablespoon till the mixture just starts to clump together.
- Take out the dough and bring it together without working it too much. Let it chill for at least 20-30 minutes.
For the Filling
- You can pick any apples for this recipe. We recommend a combination of granny smith and Honeycrisp apples for a sweet-tangy taste. You can slice or cube the apples. Make sure that the slices are at least an inch and a half thick. Thin slices will turn into mush when cooked.
- Toss the apple pieces with lemon juice, lemon zest, and the spices.
- To cook the apples, put the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan to warm and just as it melts, add the apple pieces with the sugar. Cover the pan and let the apples cook slightly at a gentle heat.
- Strain out the apples as soon as they are just slightly softened. You don't want them cooked through.
- Let the butter, sugar, and apple juices reduce down till you have a light caramelly liquid. Let this cooldown. Add the cooled liquid to the now cooled apples. This is your filling.
Making the Pie
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll out one part till it's 1/8 inch thick. Then using the rolling pin, lift the dough sheet and drape it over the pie dish. Now tuck it around the pie dish so that it is all covered.
- Fill this pie bottom with the apple pieces, smoothing out the top. Make sure there is not too much liquid.
- Roll out the other part and cover the pie. You can make a traditional lattice top or just make three to four 1-inch long incisions with a sharp knife to let out the steam. Brush the top with the beaten egg.
- Place the pie dish in the middle rack of the till the top gets golden and you can see the liquid inside bubbling.
- The pastry for the pie must be buttery, flaky and light. For that, you must ensure that the butter remains cold. The best way to do that is to use very cold butter and add chilled water when bringing the dough together.
- Some people prefer using the food processor for working the dough. This minimizes heat transfer from our hands and reduces gluten formation. To keep your touch to the minimum, take out the clumped dough on a cling film sheet and use it to bring the dough together. Then wrap it up in the same sheet and let it chill for some time.
- Doing it the traditional manual way is perfectly fine, but keeping your touch to the minimum is important. Cut the butter cubes into the flour with a knife and then use a fork to work it through the flour.
- Purists will insist on keeping everything cold: the butter, water, working surface, and the room. Just make sure that the room is not very warm. When kneading the dough, you have to work fast so that the butter does not get a chance to melt. Chilling the dough again helps to ensure that it stays cold when you roll it out.
- The latest radical thought in pastry making is using equal parts water and vodka. We use 80 proof vodka which is 40 percent water and 60 percent alcohol. The alcohol is the magic ingredient here because it does not add to the formation of gluten. If you do use vodka, adjust the overall amount of liquid accordingly.
- Do not knead the flour. You just need to bring it together so that it is a cohesive mass.
- Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough. You can put the dough between two sheets of clingfilm before you start rolling. Once you are done, simply peel off the top sheet. The plastic sheet also makes transferring pie crust easy.
Above all, don’t be intimidated by the pie. Even if your pie is not flaky as you want, it’s your first lesson in pie greatness. After all, the sweet caramelly apples are a treat all by themselves!
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