The World's Best Double Crust Apple Pie
I originally shared this recipe in 2007 (a million years ago in internet time) on my old (now defunct) blog complete with terrible photos taken in my apartment with horrible lighting. I still end up referring people to it every fall so I figured it was time for an upgrade and with better photos this time.
This is a double crust apple pie I grew up watching my mom make every year and now, as an adult, every autumn, when the air turns chilly I feel compelled to make it several times. The very smell speaks to me of fall and sweaters and the joy of changing seasons. My mom really learned to bake from a friend's mom who lived down the street from her as a kid and I believe that's where the recipe came from. The flakey crust is simple, requires no chilling, and turns out perfectly every time. It's not nearly as scary as many anticipate pie crust to be. The apple filling is cooked before getting poured into the crust. In my opinion, this is the only way to go. I detest apple pie where the apples are still crisp. I prefer softened apples that don't splay and dismantle my whole slice when I use my fork to cut a bite.
Here's how I make The World's Best Apple Pie. The simply written recipe follows.
Preheat the oven to 400*. For the crust, combine 1 1/2 cups shortening, 3 cups flour, and 1 tsp salt in a medium-large mixing bowl. I always use butter when making pate brisee or pate sucre but for this crust, it's all shortening. It can be cut together with a pastry cutter or knives but I prefer to use my hands. Ina Garten frequently says, "Clean hands are a cook's best tools" and I must agree. At this point don't be afraid of overworking the dough. Just make sure the shortening is worked into the flour well. Set aside.
Crack an egg into a small glass measuring cup and add a tablespoon of white vinegar. Whip them together with a fork so they yolk breaks. Add enough ice cold water (the water from my fridge's water dispenser is cold enough) to the mix to make the whole lot measure 1/2 cup. Whip with fork to combine. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture.
This is where it's important to watch your mixing so the crust isn't tough. Use as few strokes as possible to combine. It may look a bit mottled. That's okay. This recipe makes three divisions. Two are use for my apple pie. The third can be frozen for future use.
Roll one division out and place it in a pie plate. Set aside. Roll out another division and set it aside, too.
For the filling, peel, core, and slice 6-8 granny smith apples. I've used a variety of tart baking apples for this recipe and they're good but granny smiths are my favorite but feel free to use whatever firm, tart apple sounds good to you.
Place apple slices and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until they boil. Simmer and stir occasionally for a few minutes until the apples are slightly tender.
Add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, and any spices you prefer. When I first started making this I used whatever I had on hand, usually cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, clove, and allspice. Several years ago Stephmodo shared a spice mix recipe she got from Romina, a local baker here in Salt Lake City, and I've been using it ever since for this pie as well as in almost anything calling for cinnamon. It's a mix of cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. I make a bunch at a time so I always have some ready to go. Continue to simmer and occasionally stir the apples until the syrup thickens a bit.
Place the prepared pie plate on a foil lined baking sheet and pour the apple filling into it. The foil lined baking sheet will catch any leaks so the oven stays clean.
Place the second prepared crust over the top of the pie and crimp the edges to seal. I use my thumbs to press the layers together and make a ruffled pattern. Trim the edges with a paring knife and cut a few slits in the top for venting.
I like to add a few embellishments with leftover bits of crust cut with cookie cutters. Brush the top of the pie with milk.
Slide the whole thing, still on the baking sheet, into the oven. Bake at 400* for 30-40 minutes. The crust will become the most gorgeous golden brown.
Remove the pie from the oven. There's usually some sticky overflow from the pie on the foil so I like to remove the pie from the foil and place it on a serving platter before it cools otherwise the foil is there to stay until the whole thing is washed with hot soapy water. Allow to cool a bit before serving. My husband likes to eat it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but I'm happy eating it alone, savoring the spiced apple and flakey crust. It keeps for several days, covered, on the counter but it never lasts terribly long at my house. In fact, I usually eat a slice for breakfast if I have any in the house. Breakfast of champions, my friends. Enjoy!
World's Best Apple Pie
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp white vinegar
6-8 granny smith apples
2 cups sugar, divided
3 Tbsp cornstarch
spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice, etc. I use Romina's Spice Mix - a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom I saw on Stephmodo's blog ages ago)
Preheat the oven to 400*. Place shortening in a medium-large mixing bowl and add flour and salt. Cut in using a pastry cutter, forks, knives, or hands, until crumbly. I prefer to use my hands. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup combine egg and vinegar. Whip with a fork. Add just enough ice cold water to make 1/2 cup. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture and combine lightly. Don't over-mix. Makes 3 divisions. Roll out one division and lay it into a pie plate. Set aside. Roll out a second division and set aside. The third division can be frozen for future use.
Peel, core, and slice apples. Place them in a large pot with 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cook over medium heat until they boil. Simmer and stir occasionally, about 5-10 minutes. Add cornstarch, spices, and the rest of the sugar. Simmer and stir occasionally until the apples have softened and the syrup has thickened a bit. Place the prepared pie crust on a foil lined baking sheet. Pour filling into the crust. Lay the second prepared crust over the top. Crimp the edges of the pie crust to seal. Cut excess pastry from the edges. Cut a few slits on the top of the pie for steam vents. Add any desired embellishments with leftover crust trimmings. Brush the top crust with milk. Keeping the pie on the foil lined baking sheet, bake at 400* for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool a bit before serving. Enjoy!