If summer is about berry and peach sangrias, then autumn is about pie and enjoying hot chai on the couch. The warm days of summer were fleeting at best– (damn you San Francisco), but has brought a bounty of delicious fruits and vegetables. It’ll be another 9 months until I see get to eat another melon or nectarine. This always gets me feelin’ some type of way. Grilled corn and barbecues, you were great, but I am ready to bid the season adieu with a good ‘ol apple pie.
Every September I turn into a pie-making machine. I think I have a solid enough foundation this year to start expanding my pie-rizons, yeah? Before I get too crazy with this stuff, there are some tidbits of knowledge I would like to share with you all. There are many pitfalls to baking a good apple pie: the first involves choosing the right apples. We can get started after we get past that hurdle.
Double Butter Pie Crust
To make a single-crusted pie, just halve the recipe.
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (375 grams)
1/2 ts kosher salt
1 Tb caster sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (225 grams)
1/2 cup or more ice-cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tb butter, melted
1/4 ts kosher salt
The Apple Pie
Dough for a double-crust, 9-inch pie
2.5 – 3 lb baking apples (1.2 – 1.4 kg) *
1 Tb lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 cup granulated sugar (depending on tartness of apples and taste preference)
1/4 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts allspice
1/8 ts nutmeg
2 Tb all-purpose flour
1 small egg, beaten with 1 ts water
Demerara sugar for garnish (optional)
Madron salt for garnish (optional)
Note: Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Northern Spy, or Pippin are all good choices for baking. A popular choice is the combination of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith, due to their wide availability.
To make the dough, combine flour, salt, sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut small cubes of butter and toss into the flour mixture. Put the mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes. (Trust me)
Using a pastry cutter, knife & fork, or food processor, cut the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. You may crumble with your hands, but not too much as to avoid melting the butter.
To form the dough, add tablespoonfuls of ice-cold water into the flour, mixing thoroughly with each addition. Use just enough water to form into a ball. It usually takes me 8 to 10 tablespoons of water. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Meanwhile, start the filling: peel and core your apples. Slice into 1/4-inch or 1/2-cm thick wedges and toss into a medium-sized mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of sugar. Let macerate for 1-2 hours. This will soften the apples and release some liquid. You may discard the liquid or use in the caramel sauce later. Grease your pie dish while you wait.
Combine your spices and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Mix into the drained apples. The flour will help absorb some liquid during the baking process.
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Move rack to the lowest level. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and divide in half. Dust the work surface and dough with flour. Roll into 12 – 13 inch disk. You want to leave 1 1/2-inches of overhang to form the edge. Transfer to the pie dish and chill in the freezer for 2-3 minutes while you roll out your top crust.
Assemble the pie: Transfer apple to the pie dish carefully, as to leave as few gaps as possible. Assemble the top crust and trim off excess. Any top crust is fine, as long as there are enough gaps to provide ventilation. Hold the edge of the bottom crust in between your thumb and index finger and roll inwards. Repeat in a counter-clockwise motion, every inch or so. To form the fluted edges, hold your left thumb and index finger an inch apart, against the outer rim of the crust. Push against the dough with your right thumb to form a flute. Repeat until the entire pie is fluted. Freeze for 5 minutes.
Using a pastry brush, apply a light coating of egg wash to your pie. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar and bake at 400-degrees F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350-degrees F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until the apples are softened and the crust is nicely browned.
Let cool for at least 4 hours before serving.
To make the caramel sauce, add sugar to a small saucier. Heat to medium. Sugar will slowly begin to dissolve. As soon as it begins to turn medium-brown, turn off heat and add cream. Be careful, as the mixture will bubble and steam violently. Next, incorporate the butter and salt. Transfer into a container and refrigerate until needed.