I have been on a life-long search for the perfect apple pie recipe. You see, I was spoiled as a child by Miss Alene. Miss Alene made the--hands down--BEST apple pie you've ever eaten. Her crust was flaky, buttery, and melt in your mouth. Her apples were slightly tart/slightly sweet, with just the right amount of cinnamon. Miss Alene's apple pies were pure perfection.
Sadly, I never got Miss Alene's recipe before she died. But, ever since, I have been trying to recreate it.
Just recently, I believe I stumbled onto just the right recipes. And because I love ya--and because I believe everyone should have the JOY of a Miss Alene apple pie, I'm sharing ALL my secrets here. (I don't seem to keep very many secrets...) I'll show lots of pictures, and share my own modifications. However, I wanted to let you know I used these 3 sources to come up with this best-you've-ever-eaten apple pie:
The recipe for the crust here (This is the BEST pie-making tutorial I have seen!)
The basic recipe for the apple filling here. I'll did make a few modifications, based on the Reviews...
The video tutorial on making the crust in a food processor here. This is a GREAT tutorial!
All right, let's get started!!
What kind of apples should you buy?
First, you need really good pie-worthy apples. You want ones that hold their shape in baking, are slightly tart, slightly sweet. To get this tart/sweet combination, use TWO KINDS of apples. Granny Smith + Gala is a great combination. Or Granny Smith + Golden Delicious. Other great pie apples are Cortland, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Pippin, Rome Beauty, Winesap. (Pictured below are from my uncle and aunt's orchard--Haroldson and Sweet Sixteen--perfect for pie!)
Before you start cutting apples, let's make the melt-in-your-mouth crust!
How to make the piecrust
If you're new at making crust, this is a GREAT video tutorial. Also, if you've never made crust in a food processor, TRY IT.
Also, my BIGGEST SECRET for making the BEST piecrust is this--lard. Yes, I said lard. You can purchase it next to the Crisco sticks...but it is NOT Crisco. It is lard. (It is also called Manateca, and is used in flour tortilla-making.)
Here is the recipe for melt-in-your-mouth piecrust:
For a nine inch, two crust pie
2 cups all purpose or pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar (for a fruit pie. Omit sugar for a savory pie.)
¾ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup cold lard, cut into chunks
¼ cup cold water
Put into food processor: Flour, salt, sugar, cold butter chunks, and cold lard chunks. Pulse food processor until mixture looks crumbly--no big chunks left. Slowly, while pulsing, add 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough forms into a ball.
The flakiest piecrust is the LEAST-HANDLED one!! Do not over-process the dough, and once you pull it out, the LESS you handle it and the LESS you let your hands warm it up, the BETTER.
Divide dough into 2 discs, place onto 2 pieces of parchment paper and chill in fridge. (I usually begin slicing apples while I wait for it to chill. The slicing of the apples is the slowest part of the process.)
Once dough is chilled, you're ready to start rolling it out. Roll the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper.
When you roll out your piecrust, make sure it is at least 1"-1 1/2" wider than your pie pan. Remember--the less you handle it, the BETTER.
NOTE: Keep your rolled-out piecrust chilled between the parchment paper sheets until your apples are READY to go. THEN, put your crust into your pie pan. (You don't want to chill your pie pan because putting cold glass into a hot oven will break it.)
Now, for the tart and sweet apple filling!
This is a good time to pull out your apple peeler/corer/slicer. They are not very expensive, and make the job of peeling and slicing apples MUCH FASTER. However, because I am WEIRD, I like to hand-peel my apples, and cut them myself. (I like thicker apples in my pie than the peeler is able to make.)
6 cups thinly-cut apples
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons flour
Pour the ingredients over the apples, and toss it all together to coat the apples.
NOW is the time to put your chilled crust into your pie pan, then fill it with your apple mixture. Move your apples around to fit neatly into the crust, so that the apples are mounded in the middle. (I usually have to cut more apples--I never cut enough the first try!) DON'T FORGET to dot the apples with your butter!
For the bottom piecrust, fold it under, making a "wall" all the way around the pan. Once you put on your top crust (or top strips), you'll want to fold that top crust over the bottom crust, pressing slightly together to join the 2 crusts. Once again, you're making a sort of a "wall."
Now you're ready to "flute" your edges and make them pretty!
What kind of a top crust do you prefer? My favorite is the strips overlapping crust. Why is that my favorite? Because that's the way Miss Alene made hers! It's easy--and I think is every bit as pretty as the complicated lattice-top pie.
Make sure you cut slits into the whole top/smooth top crust! Otherwise, your crust will explode to release the steam...and nobody wants an exploding pie crust.
Now you're ready for one of my favorite parts--sugaring the top! Brush the top of your pie with an egg wash (whisk 1 egg with 1 Tablespoon of water, and brush this over pie crust). Now, lightly dust it with cinnamon and sprinkle lots and lots of sugar all over the top!
Now, let's bake that pie!
Bake your pie on a lower rack of your oven at 425 degrees for the first 30 minutes, and then lower your oven to 375 degrees, and continue baking until the juices in your pie start bubbling, and the crust is a beautiful golden brown.
NOTE: If your crust starts browning too much, slide a piece of foil over the top of it.
That's it! Now you're ready to ENJOY your beautiful, warm, flaky, comforting, tart, sweet, delicious pie.
I'm sorry--this pie really IS that good!
Now, invite somebody over to share this pie! And remember--we have Miss Alene to thank. This pie is in her honor...
And as she would say...
"Hon-NEY, I'm tel-LIN' YOU!"
Now, WHO is making this pie for Thanksgiving?
Or, what pie is your favorite?