Monday, October 25, 2010

Easy as Pie Homemade Apple Pie

Fall.  Apples.  A blustery Saturday.  Some free time.  I had all of these things going for me this weekend, so I made pie.
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Pie making really isn’t that hard, but it is an acquired skill-maybe some would even consider it an art.  I started making apple pies in high school  Back then I had a friend who would regularly show up at my door with a bag of apples, a Pillsbury pie crust and a giant but hopeful smile.  I could never refuse, I loved to make pies. 
I still do.  But I’ve moved up from premade crusts to making my own.  It’s really not too difficult and the beauty of an apple pie is that imperfection is totally acceptable-I’d even go as far as saying imperfection is necessary.
So here’s how I do it.  I start with a good pie crust recipe.  For years I used Pillsbury, and that’s fine.  But one day I didn’t want to run to the store just for pie crust.  So I pulled of The Joy of Cooking and used a recipe from there, the Deluxe Flakey Pastry Crust.  It was good, actually very good.  But sometimes tricky and difficult to work with.
Then I got this month’s issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  There is an entire article on pie.  I was in pie heaven just reading it.  The recipe for pie crust was intriguing to me, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I’m so, so, so glad I did.  It was not only amazing, but it was also pretty easy.  The dough itself was much easier to work with, more than other dough I’ve used. 
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So, in a large bowl combine 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I actually used half whole wheat pastry flour), 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tbsp salt,  and 1/2 tsp baking powder.  With a pastry blender cut in 1 3/4 cups cold unsalted butter, leaving chunks the size of peas.  I always cut up my butter first.
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Combine 2/3 cups ice-cold water (I usually measure out my water and pop it in the freezer while I get everything else ready) with 2 tbsp sour cream and 1 tsp vinegar.  Add the liquid all at once to the flour mixture and combine with a silicone spatula-try not to use your hands at all for this.  The heat from your hands will melt the butter, taking away all the lumpy buttery goodness.  The trick for any good pie crust is to handle the dough as little as possible. The dough will be slightly crumbly when you’ve combined it all.  Cover with plastic and let it rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Don’t skip this-it really does make a difference.  Cold dough=good pie.  Trust me.
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After your dough is sufficiently chilled, divide it into three equal parts.  The finished dough should break, not stretch.  It will be crumbly, that’s okay.  Stick one in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for later (or freeze it).  Now you’re ready to get rolling.  On a floured surface roll out your dough until it’s about 14 inches in diameter.  It might be somewhat round, or squarish ovalish.  Remember, you aren’t aiming for perfection here.  You’ll probably notice big lumps of butter here and there, that’s good!  I usually just keep the dough in one place and move myself around to roll in different directions.  Once it’s big enough use an offset spatula to scrape the dough, carefully, off your rolling surface.  It might tear, just pinch it back together.  It’s not rocket science, it’s just pie and it will get eaten with a smile regardless of how the crust looks.
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Now pop your crust in a greased pie plate.  Now, before you pile in your apples do one more thing.  Add to the crust equal handfuls of plain breadcrumbs and brown sugar.  Mix it around and make it level.  Then add those apples, lots of them.  I usually use 8-10 Golden Delicious, sometimes I’ll throw in a few different ones if they’ve been languishing in the fruit bowl for a while.  It’s pretty normal for us to gather a collection of bruised apples with one or two kid bites taken out of them.  These are perfect pie candidates.  I use my handy apple slicer, corer and peeler for this.  If you don’t have one, you should get one.  If for nothing else, it’ll get your kids to eat apples because they love to turn the crank on the thing.  Chop those apples into pretty equal pieces and toss them around with about 3/4 cup of sugar, a heaping tbsp of cinnamon, a few dashes of cloves and about a tablespoon of flour.  I never measure these amounts, if things don’t smell cinnamony enough I add more.  Just go by how sweet or cinnamony you like your pie.  I usually mix up the apples and let them sit while I prep the crust.  Once the apples are piled, lay your top crust over the top of the apples.  Don’t just plop in on there, mold it on there.  Make some hills and valleys, it really makes for a pretty pie when it’s all said and done.  Trim the crust to about two inches around the edge and fold them together, crimp it however you want.  Cut four small steam vents in the top and then brush it with once beaten egg mixed with a little bit of milk.  I actually used almond milk for this and that worked out fine.  Once I’ve brushed it I sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar.  We always have a cinnamon toast shaker, and I use this for the pie.  Now, slip it on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in your preheated oven (450 degrees) for half an hour, then cover the crust with some foil so it doesn’t burn and turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake it for about a half an hour more.  The apples will be tender and apple juice will be oozing out everywhere and you will have a very hard time waiting for it to cool down.  Be patient!  Let it sit a few hours and then dive in.
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Try not to eat it out of the pan for breakfast the next morning, I dare you!
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What’s not lovely about homemade apple pie?  I’m sharing with Blessed Little Nest’s Life Made Lovely today.


  1. Oh yummy! I don't ever make pies but this is rather inspiring.

  2. I hope there are two pieces in the freezer for dad and I!!!!

  3. pie is very lovely, especially when it's homemade. yum! i love the tips you included for making the crust. so helpful for us first timers.
    so glad you linked up, gina! have a happy day!

  4. Ohhh...I've always wanted to make my own pie crust, but I've just been too intimidated! This post makes me want to try. It looks amazing. Thanks so much for sharing!

    I hope you'll stop by my Life Made Lovely post when you get a moment:

  5. i love this! today i made my first peach cobbler and tomorrow i am gong to make my first peach pie...crust and all : ) that is one good lookin' pie and thanks for sharing...i am hanging onto this because baking an apple pie is on my autumn list of things to do.

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