The Recipe: How to make a classic homemade American Apple Pie with a double flaky, tender crust, brimming with just-sweet apples. A good one (and this "is" a good one) is a thing of beauty.
The Conversation: Pi Day is on March 14th. Let's practice our pie and pastry skills between now and then, then share our best pie recipes and our best tips for producing tender, flaky crusts.
Need help with your crust? Readers rave about their pie crusts after studying my step-by-step photo tutorial, How to Make Flaky Tender Pie Crust. I (re) learned to make pastry from our friend Ann, we call her the "pastry whisperer".
A perfect French tart is a thing of beauty. An American pie is homely, and rustic-looking. But done well, pie is so delicious that we’re happy to eat pie without ice cream; so comforting that a double crust is worth the calories; so tempting, we break off ‘mouse bites’ of crust from the edges to eat on the spot.
‘Pi Day’ is Friday, March 14th. (Get it, 3.14?!) Between now and then, I challenge us to practice our pie and pastry skills. A month before, I’ll invite home cooks to participate in the Great American Pie Bake, sharing our best pie recipes and our best tips for producing tender, flaky crusts.
AMERICAN APPLE PIE
Time to table: 2-1/2 hours
- 1 batch chilled Flaky Tender Pie Crust or dough for a double-crust 9”-10” pie
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Baking apples (see TIPS), peeled and sliced (5 - 6 cups of sliced apples)
- 1/2 cup – 1 cup white or brown sugar (see TIPS)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (see TIPS)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch (see TIPS)
- Egg wash of 1 egg yolk & 1 tablespoon water, whisked
- Raw (turbinado) sugar, optional (see TIPS)
Set oven to 375F/190C.
CRUST Make pie crust dough.
APPLES Squeeze juice into a large bowl. Add apples as they’re sliced, tossing to coat with juice to prevent browning. Toss sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch into apples.
CRUST Roll bottom crust and arrange in pie pan, patching if needed, letting rough edge hang over the side. Refrigerate while continuing. Roll top crust.
FILL Fill bottom crust with apple mixture (see TIPS). Gently smooth the fruit, tucking in any slices that stick out.
TOP CRUST Arrange top crust over filling. With a knife, slice off excess crust, leaving about a half-inch beyond the pan’s edge. To form the crust, tuck the outer edge under itself and gently press to seal, then gently crimp between thumb and forefinger to form a decorative edge.
TO FINISH Brush top (but not the edge) with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
BAKE Bake for about 45 minutes (see TIPS) or until top crust is golden brown and juices inside are bubbling.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
A Great Pie Starts with a Great Pie Crust
Playing Around with American Apple Pie
My favorite variation of this simple apple pie recipe is to substitute homemade butterscotch for the brown sugar (for sweetness) and the cornstarch (for thickening). I make it while peeling the apples, watching carefully. If you're new to butterscotch, Simply Recipes has a great photo tutorial on how to make butterscotch.
Granny Smith apples work beautifully, too, just be sure to use the higher amount of sugar to contrast with the sourness.
For many years, Elsah Landing was one of the famous places for pie here in St. Louis. It was a tiny country place, right alongside the Mississippi River in Elsah, Illinois. It's closed now but in 2015, our "gourmet group" cooked a dozen or more recipes from the Elsah's Landing cookbook to sample. I was assigned the double-crust "Grape and Green Apple Pie" (pictured above). Harumph, as an apple-pie purist, just didn't see the point of mixing green grapes with apple for apple pie. Turns out, those folks from Elsah Landing are brilliant! Use 5 - 6 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (that's four large apples) and 1 cup green grapes, 1-1/2 cups sugar (yeah, way more than I usually use), 3 tablespoons cornstarch or instant tapioca, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon table salt. Before adding the top crust, dot the pie with 1 tablespoon butter, then sprinkle with top crust with raw sugar. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350F and bake for another 35 - 45 minutes. Let the pie cool and firm up for several hours before serving. We loved this pie, a kind of sweet 'n' sour, I definitely want to remember the recipe!
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