One of the great pleasures of pie eating, my aunt Becky and cousin Carrie will tell you, is having the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. Apparently my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew agree: The day after Thanksgiving, what was left of the apple pie I had made quickly disappeared. Every time I went into the kitchen another slice was gone.
Making pie dough seems to make many people nervous, and rightly so. “Easy as pie” is a saying I don’t quite understand. Pie making takes practice. Practice, patience, and cool hands.
Let me say just a few things about pie dough: I prefer an all-butter crust to one that uses shortening, simply because it tastes better. But if perfectly shaped edges are important to you, look for a recipe that uses shortening, which has a higher melting point than butter. Some recipes have a very small amount of sugar. You can add more but know that the dough will be more difficult to handle. Apple pie is best with a double crust. Make the dough at least an hour ahead of time so that it has time to chill and rest. I like to roll out the two crusts and store them, wrapped, on a cookie sheet in the fridge while I prepare the fruit.
This filling recipe is from my friend Heather, and she and I have made it many times to fill pies and turnovers. You can cut back on the flour and it will work for crisps and cobblers too. I like it because it’s not too sweet, though ultimately how sweet it is depends on the apples you use. On Thanksgiving I used a mix of Gravenstein and Granny Smith. I also like Suncrisp, Macoun, and Winesap.
Your favorite pie dough recipe, enough for a double-crust pie
1 c plus 2 T sugar
1/3 c all purpose flour
3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 t cinnamon
Big pinch of salt
10 c sliced apples (Peel and core them first. You’ll need 10-12 whole apples, depending on their size)
2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
About 2 T heavy cream and a little bit of sugar for the top crust
1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
2. Cut the dough in half and put one piece in the fridge while you roll the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into as much of a circle as you can, to a thickness of about 3/8″. The diameter should be at least an inch more than that of your pie pan.
3. Place the rolled dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or plastic, with another sheet of parchment or plastic between the two pieces of dough to prevent them from sticking together. Cover with plastic and store in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
4. In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the sugar, flour, spices and salt. Place the apples in a large bowl with the lemon juice and toss to combine, then add the dry ingredients and gently toss until all of the fruit is coated.
7. Fit one sheet of the rolled dough into your pie pan. Do not trim the overhang yet.
8. Pile the apple filling into the shell. It will look like too much, but it’s not!
9. Using a pastry brush or your finger dipped in a little cold water, moisten the edge of the bottom crust where it will join the the top crust. Place the remaining piece of dough over the fruit (don’t stretch it!) and press firmly around the edged to seal it to the bottom crust.
10. Trim the excess dough with a knife or kitchen scissors and crimp the edge with a fork or by hand, then use a sharp paring knife to cut slits in the top crust. Put the prepared pie in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes to firm everything up.
11. Just before baking, carefully brush the top and edge of the pie with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
12. Place the pie in the oven and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. This will take about 1 hour, but start checking it after 40 minutes. If the edge of the crust starts getting too dark before the pie is done, carefully wrap strips of aluminum foil around the edge (not the top!) of the pie.
13. Cool the pie thoroughly before serving. Store any leftovers loosely covered with foil at room temperature.