Alrighty then…just what is it about this pie that places it right up there on every short list of The Things That Define America? Apples are not indigenous; we have knowledge of their cultivation in Egypt going back 4000 years. The pie itself is not indigenous; English cooks were bakin’ it long before the Pilgrims landed here. But the Pilgrims did bring the first apple seeds to North America…and, almost 400 years later, America is the world’s largest producer of apples. Moreover, after the spread of apples across America in the early 19th century (by such pioneers as John Chapman, or Johnny Appleseed), pies became the signature American way of cooking them. So, though we are originally responsible for neither fruit nor pie–no country in the world has as much enthusiasm for the apple pie as ours does. The following recipe, I hope, will show you why. Made from Golden Delicious apples (sometimes disrepected, but always my favorite pie choice), and with a tender, flaky, buttery crust, this pie is guaranteed to make it feel like a combination of Mother’s Day and the 4th of July whenever you bake it.
Makes 8 servings
The two flat rounds of dough from one recipe Super-Flaky Pie Crust (below)
3 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/8″ thick
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for glaze
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. On a floured surface, roll out larger piece of dough into an 11″ circle. Gently lift and place in a 9″ pie plate. Trim edges to hang about 1/2″ over the edge of the plate. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
3. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, tossing to coat all of the apples well. Dump mixture into prepared crust. Pat down apples with your hands to make sure there are no air pockets. Dot top with butter. Brush edges of crust with a little of the egg glaze.
3. Roll out remaining flat round of dough ninto an 11″ circle. Gently lift and place over filling. Trim so crust is even with the bottom crust. Fold crust under the rim to form a lip, then crimp all around using the index finger of one hand and the index and middle finger of the other hand. Cut three 2″ slashes at noon, 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock.
4. Bake pie on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes. It is a good idea to put a large piece of foil, or a sheetpan, under the pie to catch the bubbling juices. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, move pie to the middle rack and bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove pie from oven, brush liberally with egg glaze and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake another 10 minutes, or until crust is golden and you can see the juices bubbling trough the slashes in the pie. Cool at least 1 hour before slicing.
Super-Flaky Pie Crust
This is my favorite crust of all: buttery, with the kind of flaking and layering that begins to suggest puff pastry. It could work with light fillings, or hearty fillings–but it’s the kind of crust that draws attention to itself, and therefore might not be the best choice for the kinds of pies (i.e. Key Lime Pie) in which the focus is never on the crust.
Makes one 9 1/2″ double-crusted pie
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch squares
3 tablespoons cold shortening
1/3 cup ice water mixed with 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (have an extra 1 or 2 tablespoons ice water in reserve, you may need a bit more)
1. In a medium bowl, combine flours, salt and butter. Place in the freezer until butter is hard, about 5 minutes. Dump mixture onto the counter and roll over quickly with a rolling pin, scraping off whatever adheres to the pin and repeat 2 or 3 times until the butter forms flat flakes, Scrape mixture back into bowl and add shortening in chick-pea size lumps. Freeze another 5 minutes.
2. Dump on the counter and roll and scrape 2 more times to incorporate shortening. Return to bowl, freeze 5 minutes more. Add water/vinegar mixture to bowl; toss with a fork. Press a few tablespoons of the mixture in your hand. If it clumps, you are OK, if it crumbles add water a teaspoon at a time until mixture clumps. Dump onto the counter and bring together with your hands. Knead only once or twice, just to form a mass that sticks together. Divided into 2 flat rounds, one just slightly larger than the other. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours before rolling.