It’s definitely fall! I have baked 4 apple pies already this week (don’t worry, I only kept one), and have two more to go. I’ve been experimenting with various recipes and the following is my favorite – I’d call it a classic version, not too sweet, not too spicy. The apple flavors really shine through in this one. I should warn you, however, that if you are a ‘stick to the recipe, precision-timing’ type baker, you may be frustrated with my directions. While the ingredients themselves are fairly precise, my explanations and the baking times/temps are slightly less so. This drives my mom nuts – when she asks me how long to bake something, I always respond with, “until it’s done”. I prefer to turn baking into an adventure. :)
3 C flour
1 1/3 C shortening
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
4 Tbsp. ice-water
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In large bowl, cut shortening in to flour/salt with a pastry blender or fork (sometimes I even use a wooden spoon), until crumbly. If you’re not familiar with making pie crust from scratch, you don’t want to over-mix your dough. Blend just until you see no big chunks of shortening.
- Add egg, vinegar, cold water and stir dough until the egg is well-incorporated and the liquid starts to ‘settle’ in (what I mean by this is: sometimes the dough will seem too wet and you wonder what went wrong – keep stirring and it will begin to firm up… stop right once it begins to firm up; again, you don’t want to over-mix).
- Generously flour a flat surface on which you’ll roll your crust. Place a slightly flattened ball of dough onto floured surface, and sprinkle a bit more flour over the top. Place waxed paper or parchment paper over the top of your dough. Roll (if you don’t have a rolling pin, a wine or other bottle will work just fine) your crust to approximately 1/4 inch thick, or whatever you prefer. Roll in all different directions to keep your crust round.
- Peel paper off top of crust. Using a knife, cut around the jagged crust edges, creating a more accurate circle than what you may have rolled (a good rule of thumb is to hold your plate over the crust and allow an inch or two beyond the outer edge of the plate).
- Placing crust in the pie plate can sometimes be tough. I like to roll the crust about halfway onto the rolling pin, lift the rest straight up into the air, and then drape it down on top of the plate. Hopefully my photo helps explain this a bit better.
- Now that your crust is draped over the pie plate, you’ll want to trim the edges using a knife (cut just outside the edge of the plate).
- You may choose to pinch, fork, zigzag…etc. the edge of your crust. I simply pinch around the edge, using my thumb to form the inside of the ruffles.
- Next, you’ll need to place several fork holes in the bottom of your crust so that it doesn’t bubble up when baking.
- Prebake your pie crust for about 10 min.
- Remove from oven and set aside until you are ready to add your filling (I have refrigerated pre-baked shells for up to 2 days, and they bake just fine – simply bring them to room temp. before baking).
*To make the pie crust leaves, I used an Ateco Leaf plunger cutter (see my autumn leaf cupcakes posting for more info), and then sprinkled ‘Sugar in the Raw’ on them before baking. Bake at a lower temp (350F or so) until just starting to turn golden.
Apple Pie Filling:
3 Large Granny Smith apples
3 Large Cortland apples (I was given Cortlands by someone; I regularly use McIntosh or Cameo)
–You may with to add 1-2 more apples depending on the size of your pie plate.
3/4 C white sugar (you may choose to use more if you prefer added sweetness in a pie)
1 (heaping) tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp flour
1/4 C flour
1/4 C brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
- In large oven-proof bowl/pan, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Peel/cut apples into 1 inch pieces (or whatever size you prefer).
- Add apples to large bowl/pan and stir so that they become evenly coated with sugar mix.
- Cover bowl/pan with foil.
- Bake at 425 for 30 minutes (more or less, depending on how soft you prefer your apples – I prefer mine very tender! The depth of your bowl will also make a difference – you can test how tender they’ve become by poking a fork in them.
**Note: I like to prebake my apples so that I don’t have to worry about how done they are once they’re in the pie shell – that way all I have to be concerned with is watching the crust and topping.
- In the meantime, make your crumb topping. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until crumbly.
- Remove apples from oven and stir well.
- Stir in vanilla extract.
- Let cool for a few minutes and then place into your slightly pre-baked pie crust.
- Sprinkle a generous layer of crumb topping onto your pie.
- Bake at 425 (lower is fine as well) until crust and topping are a bit golden (shouldn’t take too long – likely 15-20 minutes, but keep a close watch).
- Remove from oven and place on cooling rack until ready to enjoy. If you’ve made pie crust leaves, press them gently onto the pie while still hot.