I’m not much of a stereotypical person, but when it comes to the change of seasons, nothing gets me more excited than making fall apple pie. Once I make one, I know it’s officially fall. I am a purist when it comes to baked good, apple pie included. I firmly believe that the very best ingredients, not the addition of various complements, make any pastry its best.
A proper apple pies also embodies the very reason I enjoy baking – detailed precision, which, in small doses, I thoroughly enjoy. Baking can also be very artistic, more so than cooking, I personally find. In this case, I really enjoy making a lattice crust more than any other because of the cutting and weaving process. It also eliminates all chances of your pie exploding and/or dripping all over your oven. Trust me, you DO NOT want that; it is a horror to clean up, not to mention all the juices will burn and it will smell horrible.
When you take this pie out of the oven, don’t be shy to call it a piece of art, because it is.
Without further ado, here’s my recipe, which is mainly based on this one from Simply Recipes, with a few modifications I made: having a more advanced spice mix and using a wider variety of apples. I really like the dough in this recipe because the addition of sour cream makes it extra flaky and buttery. This also doesn’t call for a food processor since you can make the dough completely by hand.
*Tip – Making pie dough is quite scary if you’ve never done it before because up until the end, it all seems like one big mess that will come together into anything cohesive. The trick here is to keep mixing and kneading until finally, everything will come together and you will have a smooth and perfect ball of dough.
My Best Apple Pie
- 2 1/2 cups (285 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 10-ounces (1 1/4 cups, 285 g) unsalted butter (room temperature), cut into small cubes
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsps. sugar
- 1/2 cup (115 ml) sour cream (use full-fat sour cream for best results)
- 5 or 6 apples (for a 9-inch pie dish) that are tart and have a firm texture, such as Granny Smith, Fuji, Empire, Macoun, Braeburn, or Golden Delicious. The wider variety you use, the better, because it just adds to the texture of the pie.
- 1 tbsp. of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tbsps. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 2 tbsps. brandy
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tbsp cream or milk (any kind will work)
For the Crust
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the cubed butter and use your clean dry hands to toss to coat with the flour. Using your hands to work the butter into the flour, pressing the cubes of butter between your thumb and fingers. Continue to work the flour until the mixture is shaggy and the largest pieces of butter are no larger than a kernel of corn. Make a well in the center and add the sour cream to it. Use your hands to work the buttered flour and the sour cream into each other until the dough begins to clump. Separate the dough mixture into 2 equal sized piles and work each one first into a ball, and then into a disk. Sprinkle with flour and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out.
For the Filling
- While the dough is chilling, peel, core and slice the apples into 1/4-inch slices. While you cut your apple slices, add them to a large bowl and sprinkle them with the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help keep them from turning brown.
- Combine sugar, flour and spices in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the apple slices and use your hands to distribute the flour through the apples so they are well coated. Then add the brandy and the vanilla extract and toss with your hands (your best utensil) to coat all the apples.
- Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
Assembling the Pie
- Remove the dough disks from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Place one disk on a lightly floured, clean, flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pie dough to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check to make sure it isn’t sticking. If it starts to stick, gently lift it up and sprinkle a little more flour on the table surface or on the pie dough to keep the dough from sticking. Gently place the rolled out dough onto a 9-inch pie plate. Press down to line the pie dish with the dough. A good t
- *Tip: here is to loosely roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and unroll it unto the pie dish. This is the safest method of transferring the dough from the surface to the dish without breaking it.
- Arrange the apple slices in the dough-lined pie plate to your preference. If you’d like to be creative, make a pattern.
- Roll out the second disk of dough, again to 12-inches. Cut out your lattice strips, making sure they are even in width. Once you have them all cut out, begin making the lattice top. Here’s how:
4. Trim excess dough with a knife. Press the lattice edges with the bottom round together and seal with a fork. I also cut out 1-inch circles from the leftover dough and overlapped them around the edge of my seal. If you choose to do this, make sure you wet the edges of the pie with some water, so that the small dough circles stick well.
5. Place egg yolk and cream/milk in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until well combined. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash over the top and and edges of the pie.
6. Place pie in the oven and bake at 375°F until crust begins to lightly brown, about 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, for about 45 minutes, depending on your oven. (About halfway through baking check to make sure the pie isn’t browning too much. If you see that it is, tent the pie with a large piece of aluminum foil to keep the pie from browning further.
7. Transfer the apple pie to a rack to cool. I find that 30 minutes about does it because I like my pie to be warm when I eat it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (soy in my case, to minimize the effects of dairy on my body). You can also serve it slightly warm or at room temperature.
Make this for your next big gathering or holiday and I promise you, you will get ooh’s and aah’s.