Apple Pie

Apple pies are one of those classic pies that make a lot more appearances on the table come fall and during the holiday season. There's just something comforting about homemade apple pies and I don't think I can get tired of them. I would be making apple pies more often if it wasn't because the husband T isn't very much a dessert person (unless the dessert is amazing). Baking a 9-inch pie for a two-person household can be tricky. This Christmas however we had two friends over for dinner and what great reason to make an apple pie.

I believe I've possibly found the best apple pie recipe, or at least the best apple pie recipe which I've come across. There may be other better recipes out there, but at this point, Dorie Greenspan's recipe is a winner for me. I love her recipes and this one worked out terrific. The husband took a bite of it and said, "Wow I would eat this everyday". Maybe now it is not such a bad idea for me to bake 9-inch pies just for the both of us at home, as long as it tastes good. Our friend at dinner commented that the crust was so good he could eat it on it's own.

We have a bottle of apple pie liqueur at home that has been sitting among the rest of our whiskey and wine bottles at home. It was one of those purchases where I knew I wanted to have it when I saw it at the store although I hadn't quite decided yet how I would use it. I added some of the liqueur to the apple chunks and they were lovely. What a great way to bring the pie up a notch.

Preparing the Double crust

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 oz) very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening, frozen preferred and cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Alternately, put in a mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed just to combine the ingredients.

Drop butter and shortening pieces into the mixing bowl and mix until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour mixture. The dough will become like some pieces the size of big peas ans others a little smaller.

Still on low speed, gradually add 8 tablespoons of the ice water. Continue adding the water bit by bit until the dough becomes moistened and stick together. The dough will come away from the sides of the mixing bowl. If the dough is still not moist enough, add more ice water gradually by the tablespoon.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and put onto a work surface. Divide the dough into half and gather each half into a ball. Flatten each ball into a disk and wrap each half with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preparing the Pie

6 very large apples, variety of sweet, tart, and crisp
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons apple pie liqueur (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons bread crumbs or panko
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Generously butter a 9-inch pie plate.

On a floured surface or on wax paper, roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Transfer the dough onto the buttered pie plate and trim the dough edges until it just overhangs from the plate. Roll the other piece of dough into a thickness of 1/8 inch and slip it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover both dough pieces on the baking sheet and in pie plate with plastic and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel, core, and cut the apples into bite size chunks. Put the apple pieces into a large bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, liqueur, and salt. Toss everything together and well combined. Let sit for 5 minutes until juice starts to accumulate in the bottom of the bowl.

Assembling the Pie

Remove the pie plate and top crust from refrigerator. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom crust (this prevents the bottom crust from being too soggy from the juice the apple mixture). Add the apple pieces together with the juice in the bottom of the bowl over the bottom crust. Drop bits of cold butter over the apples.

Center the top crust over the apples and press the top crust against the bottom crust on the edge of the pie plate. Trim the overhang from both crusts so that the crusts are even with the rim of the pie plate. Use a fork to press down the edges of the crusts.

Use a sharp knife to make 6 slits on the top crust. Brush the top crust with a little milk and sprinkle it with sugar.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for another 50 to 60 minutes, with the total baking time between 65 to 75 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the juices bubble up through the top crust. After 40 minutes in the oven, if the top crust is browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with foil.

Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool until warm or room temperature before serving.

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