Amazing Apples: The Secrets to Apple Pie

Apple Pie | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

The Secrets to Apple Pie

Apple Pie.  Just hearing those two words spoken together makes us rub our hands together with happy anticipation.  It’s a standard dessert option on our Thanksgiving menu.  Just imagine: A flaky crunchy crust… giving way to tender sweet buttery apples spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg… if we’re lucky, there’s a cool hit of silky vanilla ice cream in the mix…  But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The secret to a deliciously sweet-tart apple pie is all in the apples. Apples are amazingly diverse in flavor with some super sweet and others so tart they make your mouth pucker!  We use a combination of tart Granny Smith and sweeter Braeburn for our pies. They taste great and retain their texture when they bake so they don’t turn into a gloppy mush. Also delicious are Pink Lady and Honey Crisp.  These are also our favorite out of hand and salad apples these days…. The perfect balance of sweet-tart-tangy and crisp not mealy apples. So really, as long as you use a combination of your favorite apples, you’ve got it made.

Our favorite pie apples

To make our 9-inch double crust apple pie, you need about 8 to 9 medium apples.  If just the thought of peeling, coring, and slicing all of those apples makes you reluctant to make a pie, here’s a quick tip to speed up the process.

The old-fashioned hand crank! turn the handle and the machine peels, cores and slices the apple simultaneously.  Preparing the apples has never been easier.  We’ve pressed this into service in our pie-making classes and the students (adults) actually fight over who gets to use the crank!  “My grandmother had one of these… but I never got to actually use it!” Folks would exclaim, clutching it close to them keeping it away from grabbing hands.  Great for  pie-making, salad-making and any time you need sliced apples. Can be used on firm pears and potatoes too.

Double-Crust Apple Pie

Makes One 9-inch double-crust pie

Nonstick cooking spray

2 pounds Braeburn or Fuji apples (about 4 medium-sized)

2 pounds Granny Smith (about 4 medium-sized)

Juice of ½  a lemon

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

1 recipe Basic Pie Dough

1 large egg

1 tablespoon whole milk

Special Equipment 

9-inch deep-dish pie pan

rolling pin

pastry brush

cooling rack

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Spray a deep-dish pie pan with nonstick spray.

Peel and core apples, and cut into ¼-inch slices.  Toss apples as you go with lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour.  Toss apple slices with the sugar spice mixture.

Roll out half the pie dough on a lightly floured work surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.  Brush off excess flour; roll dough around rolling pin, and place it over your prepared pie pan.  Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges so that the dough hangs over the pie pan by about 1-inch.  Roll out remaining dough to a 13-inch diameter circle.  Cut a couple of small vent holes with a paring knife or cookie cutter.

Mound prepared apples in the center of the pie shell.  Dot with butter. 

In a small bowl whisk the whole egg and milk together to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash on the edge of the dough (this will act as your glue).  Center the remaining rolled out dough over the apples.  Tuck edges of the top crust between the pie pan and bottom crust.  Using your fingers, gently press crusts together along the edge, and crimp.  Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes.  Brush pie a second time with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes at 400°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake approximately 45 to 50 minutes more until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles.  Remove pie from the oven and cool COMPLETELY before serving.

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Creative Additions:

Add one or more of the following

½ teaspoon anise seeds

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup diced crystallized ginger