These days, we’re fast approaching the end of Ontario’s apple season, and for our neighbours (or should I say ‘neighbors’?) down south, it’s about to be Thanksgiving. This can only mean one thing, my darlings: apple pie.
This recipe’s been tweaked a number of times over the years, and works best with Macintosh, Cortland, Northern Spy, or Ida Red apples if you’re looking to go with Canadian varieties, and also works well with Granny Smith or Braeburn if you’re apple-shopping down in the US.
As the apples soften in your oven, they permeate your house with their gorgeous scent – a beautiful last declaration of fall’s bounty. And eventually the butter of the crust will mingle with the earthy vanilla and the brightness of the lemon, leaving your house smelling nothing shy of perfection.
Now, if you’ve never baked a pie from scratch before, I know the prospect can be a little intimidating. However, I really believe that the flavour and texture of homemade crusts unconditionally surpass those of the pre-made monstrosities you can buy at the grocery store. Not only is pie crust actually quite easy to make, once you get into the habit of it, but the more you practise and experiment over time, the better you’ll get and the easier it’ll become, until at long last you stop wondering why the expression was “easy as pie.” However, if you want to do a little research beforehand, I’ve got you covered in my Pie Crust 101 Tutorial, which will teach you everything you’ve ever needed to know about making kick-ass, flaky pastry.
A gorgeous homemade apple pie with a flaky all-butter pie dough.
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, then shoved right back into the fridge
1 Tablespoon sugar, plus more for dusting
1 scant teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold buttermilk + 1/4 cup cold water mixed together, with a few ice cubes
1 egg for washing the crust (later step)
1 Tbs coarse sugar for sprinkling
For the filling:
3 lbs of apples (about 7-8 medium ones), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar (or less, to taste, if your apples are a little sweeter)
2 Tbs tapioca starch (or minute tapioca, or cornstarch, or even flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbs bourbon or vanilla extract
For the crust:
(A more detailed step-by-step can be found here)
In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, and salt, or quickly pulse them together in a food processor. Add your cubes of butter and cut them in (or pulse in the processor) until the butter chunks are the size of small peas, and you have what looks like a very coarse meal. At this point, if you’re using a food processor, scrape contents out from the food processor and into a large bowl. People doing this in a bowl already, just keep using the same one.
Add half of the ice water-buttermilk mixture, and mix it in. Continue adding the liquid mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is slightly shaggy, but holds together when squeezed. Try not to overmix.
Shape dough into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap/parchment paper and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour. This resting period allows the glutens to relax, the liquid to distribute evenly, and the dough to become firm enough to roll out — all good things for a tender crust!
For the filling:
While the pie dough chills, mix all of the ingredients for your filling together in a large bowl and allow to macerate for 15 minutes.
Rolling, Assembling, & Baking:
Remove one of your doughs from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 5 minutes before rolling. Set aside a small bowl of flour for dusting. Lightly dust your rolling surface, and roll out your dough into roughly a 12-inch circle, then gently transfer to your pie plate. Fill with fruit pie filling, and transfer to the fridge.
Roll out the second dough the same way, then transfer to the top of your pie. Trim any excess, fold the top crust over the bottom and tuck it under, then crimp as desired. Cut slits or holes in the top to allow the steam to escape.
Transfer the whole thing to the freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F, and set out a large rimmed baking sheet.
When the pie is frozen quite solid, set the pie plate on the baking sheet. Break an egg into a bowl and mix with a splash of water to make an egg wash, then brush that all over the crust. Sprinkle with the Tablespoon of coarse sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes at 425F. Reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. (Keep an eye on the crust towards the end of the time for over browning. If the crust seems to be getting too dark tent a large piece of foil over it – just put it on loosely.)