So the weather has cooled and autumn is well underway. The lake out front has chilled and dramatically quieted down with just a sprinkling of boaters trying to squeak out the last remaining days of limited warmth. This time of year marks the beginning of baking season and comfort food to many. One of the first things I think of when the season arrives, is that it’s time to make my apple pie. The recipe I use is sort of an end result of the many different apple pie recipes I’ve tried and experimented with in the past. This end-result pie reminds me of my mother’s apple pie which to me was simply perfection. This is as close as it gets in both taste and texture of my mother’s and once I got this down, I have and will never make my apple pies any other way. Hint: The secret lies in both the macintosh apples and the brown sugar. Trust me here, there’s a difference.
I have such warm autumn memories of when I was a little girl and my mother would be baking her apple pie in the kitchen. She’d always hand me one of those small round aluminum pie tins with the extra pieces of dough she’d cut from her crust. I was encouraged and allowed to use the tin to make my very own pie. I’d proceed to fill it haphazardly with crust and apple filling and though I’d always worry and fret that it didn’t look quite like her’s… she’d make glowing comments about the beautiful job I’d done and she’d take it and put it in the oven to bake, right smack dab next to hers! Ohhh that kitchen would fill with the most senses-stirring aroma… apples, cinnamon and freshly baking dough… it was incredible. And when I got that little pie back, warm, browned and bubbling from the oven… and dug in for that first forkful…. wow. Just wow. I’m not sure either, what I filled up on faster in that moment… apple pie or pride!
Here’s as close as I can get to that….
My Apple Pie
The key to excellent pie crust is to keep all ingredients as cold as possible.
I use all Macintosh apples when I make my apple pies. I like the taste of them best and of course that’s what I’ve determined my mother used. You may like yours with some of the different apple varieties. Mix them up and experiment…any way you do it, you’ll have a great pie… it just won’t be as good! 😉
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, plus more for pie plate
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4-5 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
1/2 to 1 cup all-purpose flour
6 to 7 apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices (McIntosh, Jonagold, Empire, Macoun, Cortland)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs butter
Blend together flour, butter, salt and sugar in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.
Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork, or pastry will be tough.
Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper. Divide dough with one half slightly larger, then form each piece into a ball and flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Place the chilled dough in the center of the work surface, and dust the dough as well as the rolling-pin with flour. If you can, let rest a few minutes before proceeding. Position the rolling-pin on the center of the disk, and begin rolling the dough away from you. Give the disk a quarter turn, and roll again. Continue turning and rolling until you have an even surface. Lightly butter the pie plate. To minimize stretching when moving the dough, roll it around the pin, lift up, and unroll over the buttered pie plate. Using your fingers, gently pat the dough into place. Trim any excess dough with a paring knife or kitchen shears, leaving a 1-inch overhang; then fold dough under to reinforce the edge.
Yield: 2 (8 to 10-inch) crusts
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, combine the apples with the white and brown sugars. Add flour, cinnamon and continue mixing until the apples are well coated.
Add the apple filling into the pastry lined pie plate. Make sure they are lying somewhat flat. Cut butter into small pieces and dot it evenly over the top of the filling. Roll the remaining dough into a 12-inch circle. Place on top of the filling. Trim off 1-inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Fold top edge of top crust over bottom edge and crimp together as desired. Cut slits to allow steam to escape when baking. Using a pastry brush, brush top of crust lightly with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Put assembled pie onto small round pie sheet or baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for roughly 20 minutes, then cover edge of pie either with foil or one of those pie edge forms you can buy at the store. (They’re wonderful and so much easier.) Continue baking for 30 minutes or until pie is hot and bubbly. Just remember to watch carefully. Because of variances in oven temperatures, pie may get done sooner.