There are 100 ways to skin a cat, and there are 100 ways to make apple pie. Since I like cats, and I’m not in the habit of skinning them, let’s talk pie.
I’m of the school that pastry crust should not contain eggs. That’s right up there with, “Thou shalt not use nonfat dairy products.” Yeah. It’s that important to me. Some recipes call for egg in the crust. Mine doesn’t. Real talk: you can’t get flaky when you’re gooed up with egg.
I also prefer Granny Smith apples in my pie. Some call for Jonagold, Golden Delicious, whatever. I don’t like those apples. I think they get mealy. Granny Smiths are badass. They’re tart and firm, and they bake up really nicely.
Lastly, I cheat with store-bought. Yep. You read that right. I use pre-made frozen pie shells for the bottom crust. Two reasons: 1) they’re fast and easy, and 2) they’re foolproof. The bottom pie crust is the one that takes some skill to master. Most of the time they end up gooey, and they don’t hold up to slicing and serving. Using a pre-made crust solves this problem, does not affect taste, and cuts your prep and baking time way down because you don’t have to blind bake the crust.
I’m not a believer in a zero-sum game. Your success does not lessen mine, and I don’t keep secret ingredients or recipes under lock and key. This is the recipe that my family begs for, and I’m honored to share it with you.
Makes 2 pies.
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening
6 Tbsp. cold water
4-5 additional Tbsp. cold water as needed
2 frozen deep dish pie shells (1 pkg contains 2)
10-12 Granny Smith apples
1/2 c. white granulated sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
A few medium and large bowls
A very large plastic bowl*
*I like to use a large tupperware bowl with a lid for making the filling. Like, popcorn size. The big one. If yours doesn’t have a lid, you can use a cutting board or cookie sheet as a lid. It’s just temporary.
Combine flour and salt in a large glass bowl.
Cut the flour and shortening together with a pastry cutter, large fork, or your fingers until the pieces are the size of small peas.
Sprinkle the 6 Tbsp of cold water over mixture. Gently toss to combine.
Add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until dough is moist and workable. You don’t want it gooey or wet, and you don’t want it dry and crumbly. Think Goldilocks – just right.
Cut the dough in half and roll into balls.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
Juice the lemon into a small bowl, straining out seeds and pulp.
Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. How thin? Thin. Don’t cheat this step.
Put the slices into a large plastic bowl as you go.
Every time you finish one apple’s worth of slicing, sprinkle a bit of lemon juice onto them and toss the bowl gently to coat the apples with juice. This prevents browning.
In a glass bowl, combine flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Stir until mixed.
Pour the dry ingredient mixture over the apples.
Add vanilla to the apple mixture.
Put the lid on the large plastic bowl, or cover with a cutting board, and shake thoroughly to toss and coat the apples with the dry mix.
Take your package of frozen pie shells out of the freezer. Place them on cookie sheets. Usually you can fit both shells on a single sheet.
Put the apple mixture into the shells, dividing equally. You’ll notice some liquid in the bottom of the bowl. You don’t want a lot of that – too much will make your pie soggy. Just get the apples.
Cut the butter into small pieces or just tear with your fingers. Drop the tiny nuggets evenly over the apple mixture.
Take the balls of dough out of the fridge.
On a floured surface, roll out one ball until it’s about 1/4″ thick. It needs to be slightly larger than a standard dinner plate.
Speaking of dinner plate, go get one. It makes a great template for cutting the top crust.
Place the plate onto the rolled out dough and cut around it.
Cut a few little steam vents in the top crust before you try to pick it up. If you want to get creative you can cut letters or initials, your favorite team mascot, a holiday symbol, or whatever you want into the top crust as your steam vent. Just don’t make it too big.
Place the top crust over one of the pies.
Using your fingers, pinch and twist the dough edge around the circle to marry it with the pre-made pie shell. You want those babies glued together. The frozen shell will be defrosted enough at this point so you can work it a little.
Do the same for the other pie.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Beat the egg in a small bowl.
Brush egg over each top crust.
Sprinkle the eggy pie crusts with a bit of white granulated sugar.
Tear off long, thin sheets of aluminum foil and bend them around the outside edges of your pies. This prevents the edges from getting crunchy and burned.
Tear a large sheet of aluminum foil and tent it over your pies.
At this point, the pies will be mostly covered with loose foil, but don’t wrap it to the pan or cover them tightly.
Bake for 25 min covered.
Remove all the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 25 min or until golden but not browned.
Remove from oven and cool pies on a wire rack.
It’s important to cool them on a rack or other elevated surface to allow the bottom crust to cool and not get gooey.
Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream, or just plain. Nomnomnom