I want to be one of those people who turns out a perfect looking home made apple pie at the drop of the hat, whilst wearing high heels and not messing up my manicure. Oh and I’m sure my daughter is either practicing for her Carnegie Hall debut or working on coding the robot she’s built from scratch while my husband is rebuilding the shelving in the closet of my dreams.
But life’s not like that.
And at the end of the day, my slightly challenged looking crust is so god damned flaky and delicious, that no one in their right mind would complain.
The secret is the half shortening half butter recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, which she adopted from the gurus at America’s Test Kitchen. Shortening makes the crust flakey. Butter gives it flavor. But I like to go as un-processed as I possibly can, so I substituted lard for the Crisco and OH. MY. GOD. does it improve the flavor. It’s no longer purely vegetarian, but as long as I’m not cooking for my super strict friends, I stand behind my modification. As would our grandparents, I’m sure.
Here’s the recipe. If you can handle lard, I strongly advise you use it. Otherwise, Crisco or some other shortening will do you just fine.
American Pie Dough
(This is pretty much verbatim from America’s Test Kitchen via Smitten Kitchen, except for the lard part, which comes via yours truly)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons lard ( or use all-vegetable shortening if you can’t deal), chilled
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with steel blade until combined. Add lard/shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; cut butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces, these pieces should be even in weight and both round. Wrap separately in plastic and refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.
(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cups (5.25 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).
2. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.
3. Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.
4. Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
5. Place pie on baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.
6. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.