There's nothing in the world quite like fresh apple pie, and this is one of the best ones I've ever eaten. It doesn't hurt that it's my husbands favorite dessert, either. Dessert, snack, breakfast, lunch, hot, cold... there just isn't a bad way to eat apple pie.
Step 1: Starting From Scratch
To begin, you will need:
Pie crust -
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cubed
- 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
- 5-10 tablespoons ice water
- 5-7 large apples, or about 10 small apples (You can use whatever apples you prefer. I tend to prefer Honey Crisps, but in this instance used a mixture of Gala, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- coarse sugar for dusting
- 1 egg
- mixing bowls
- wooden spoon
- 9" deep-dish pie dish
- parchment paper
- rolling pin
- apple peeler and corer
- pastry cutter (if you have one) or two knives will suffice
- cookie cutters or other items to use for decorating the pie, if using
Step 2: Great Crust Is the Foundation to a Great Pie
A few important things to note before beginning your crust - the shortening and butter must be chilled, before beginning. If they begin to warm and melt while being worked with, pop the pastry into the freezer for a few minutes to chill and solidify before working with it again.
Butter a 9-inch pie plate or skillet and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. For a tutorial on how to cut fats into the flour, this video from allrecipes.com demonstrates a few different methods: http://allrecipes.com/video/70/how-to-cut-in-butter/
Gradually add enough ice water to the mixture while mixing with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough is formed.
Divide the dough in half, and working one half at a time, turn onto a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Lightly flour the top of the pie dough and place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. Rolling from the center, roll until the dough is about a ⅛-inch thickness. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap, fold the dough over and lay across the pie plate and remove the bottom piece of plastic wrap. Press the pie dough lightly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Cover the pie plate with a piece of the plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
Perform a similar procedure for the top crust, but instead of laying into the pie dish, keep it flat in the freezer to chill.
Step 3: Fill It Up
Prepping the filling is as easy as... well, pie.
Begin by taking all of your apples and peeling and coring them, using either a knife, or a corer and peeler. Once peeled and cored, chop them up to make the filling. You can slice them into chunks or slices, it is up to personal preference. In this instance, I opted for slices.
Once all the apples are cut up, mix them with the remaining filling ingredients until they are thoroughly coated. After they are coated, they are ready to be placed into the prepared pie dish. When filled, top the filling with a few pats of butter, and prepare to place the top crust on.
You can be as simple or creative as you want with the top crust. I chose to take small cookie cutters and cut designs into the crust, before placing it on top. You can use a more solid topped crust (I like this version, the more crust the better) or you can opt to do the traditional lattice top.
(For a tutorial for a lattice top, here is a video demonstrating how to do that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKPbLXhAHbc )
When you have your crust prepared to your liking, transfer it off the paper carefully and place on top of the pie. Proceed to pinch the edge closed and create your edging. Again, this can be as simple or as creative as you like.
These are a few video tutorials demonstrating different ways to design your edges, but you can feel free to experiment and combine things until you find a design you like.
Step 4: Ready, Set, BAKE!
Now that your pie is assembled, it is time for the finishing touches before baking.
Preheat your oven to 425o F and place your pie onto a baking sheet.
Brush the top of the crust with 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Place your pie in the oven, and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325o F and continue baking for another 40 minutes. If the crust browns too quickly, you can cover the edges with foil and continue baking until the apples have become tender.
Remove from oven, cool and serve... possibly with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel.