It’s that time of year again… time for pie! With my pie in the oven, I’ve spent all day watching Superstore on Hulu, shopping online for Christmas gifts, and taking out the holiday decorations. Roy promised he’d let me put them up the day after Thanksgiving. There are few things I love more than enjoying a kitchen filled with the smell of apple pie.
I took a note from last year and split the process into a few days, which is perfect for busy cooks or if you have an entire Thanksgiving meal to prep and want one less thing to worry about. Day one, I made the pie crust, portioned it out, and wrapped it up to rest in the fridge. Day two, I prepped the filling and left it to sit overnight in the fridge so all the apple slices could release their juices. These two steps could easily be combined into one day. The next day, I cooked down the liquid from the apples, assembled, and baked the pie with hours to spare. By this point, I’ve made enough pies to feel comfortable enough with the process. But I promise splitting your pie into two stages helps so much with avoiding any holiday baking stress.
Every year I worry that I’ll run out of things to adjust with my pie recipe. But again, every year it’s somehow so easy to find new tips and tricks that always result in a better pie than the year before. This year, I changed this recipe up quite a bit and am quite sure I’ll be keeping them for next year’s pie too.
1. Use a variety of apples. Like chocolate chip cookies, everyone has their own preference for apple pie. Some love their apple pies tarter or the slices less cooked. But generally, using several different types of apples gives the pie a much better flavor and depth of texture. But make sure you’re picking baking apples! Look for ones like granny smith, honeycrisp, braeburn, pink lady, jonagold, winesap, and mutsu. I can usually find granny smith and honeycrisp apples all year long, so if you can’t find any other apples those are probably your best bet. But the fall season gives us so many apples to choose from, why not take advantage of them when you can.
2. Pre-cooking the liquid, not the apples. In past years, I’ve always pre-cooked the apples and the filling on the stove to prevent a soggy pie crust. This year, I took a note from Pies ‘n’ Thighs and let the apples sit with the rest of the filling ingredients overnight. The sugar draws out the liquid from the apples, which is later reduced. This way, you can prevent a soggy pie crust without cooking the apples too much.
3. Back to all butter. This year, I went back to the all butter pie crust from Four & Twenty Blackbirds. I’d had some trouble with it in the past (probably from the dough being too warm when rolling out). But after rereading this post on Food52, I decided to give it another go and loved the results.
4. Turn up the heat! Baking initially at 450°F is what really sears the top of the crust. Turning the heat down to 350°F evens out the browning on the crust and cooks the pie all the way through. Additionally, if the pie could use a darker crust or looks slightly underbaked, you can turn the heat back up to 450°F and bake for another 10 minutes to really ensure a crispy crust.
5. Saying goodbye to the caramel. The caramel sauce is a step I found tedious at times, especially when having to reheat in the microwave every time it needed to be used. I left out the caramel sauce this year and went for the OG American apple pie instead. Next year I might go back to the caramel sauce, but for now this pie was just as delicious without it.
6. Dark pans over ceramic. Dark pans are always best for getting a crispy crunchy texture. Pairing this step with the three-stage bake is sure to kill any possibility of a soggy crust.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday, long weekend, and designated fat pants day! If there’s one thing to be thankful for, it’s getting a day to push aside any problems or worries and spend your time focusing on all the things you’ve been blessed with instead. I am thankful for my family, my friends, and feeling safe, healthy, and happy today. Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!
Apple Pie #04
Pie crust from Four & Twenty Blackbirds. Recipe makes one double crusted 9-inch pie.
all butter pie crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp white granulated sugar
2 sticks (16 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Add the butter to the bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until the mixture looks like cornmeal with a few larger pieces.
3. In a large cup, mix together the water, cider vinegar, and ice. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the liquid mixture on top of the flour mixture and combine with a spatula. Continue to add liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds its shape when pressed together with your hand. I used about 6 tablespoons in total.
4. Dump the dough out onto a work surface and knead very gently and briefly into a short log. Cut the log in half and shape each portion into a disc. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. The dough can be left for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or frozen for 1 month.
9-10 assorted apples (I used braeburn, grannysmith, honeycrisp, and pink lady)
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
5. Peel and core each apple. Cut in to uniform slices and place in a large bowl. Add the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice to the bowl. Fold with the apples and let sit for a few minutes until the sugar extracts some of the liquid from the apples. Add the flour and fold with the apples until it has dissolved into the liquid as well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight or at least for an hour.
6. Remove the filling from the fridge and separate the liquid from the apples. Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan. Add the butter and reduce over medium heat. The liquid will thicken up quite a bit. Once it has thickened, remove from the heat and let cool slightly before adding it back to the apples.
egg wash (1 egg, beaten well)
demerara sugar for sprinkling
7. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
8. Roll out one disc of dough to about 1/8 inch thickness and wide enough to cover the bottom of the pie dish. Line the pie dish with the crust. Trip excess dough leaving a 1/2 inch overhand.
9. Transfer the apples into the pie dish, making sure they fit snuggly and there are no large gaps or holes.
10. Roll out the second disc of dough and cut into about 3-inch strips. Place the strips over the apples in a lattice pattern. Trim any excess dough again. Press the edges of the two layers of dough together and fold them over to seal. Use your thumb and forefingers to crimp the edge of the crust.
11. Brush the pie generously with egg wash and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.
12. Bake for 15 minutes at 450°F. Turn down the oven to 350°F and bake for another 40-50 minutes until golden brown all over. Make sure to place a baking sheet below the pie just in case of drips.