Grandpa’s Apple Pie
You know when you want to really make someone smile, you’d do almost anything? Well, Ben’s grandpa is one of those people I always want to see smile. And one of his most favorite, sure-to-make-him-smile desserts is apple pie.
I had never made an apple pie prior to this one. I was excited for this excuse to try, but, full disclosure: I am a bit of a perfectionist. I’m not sure that first-time apple pie making, an A-type personality, and a blog can go together. And, I was half right.
I made my very first apple pie far too early one morning, when the snow (yes, it’s March, but it’s still snowing here) was falling softly outside. I was humming along, looking at the crust, thinking, “Oh, my, doesn’t this look rather sticky!” But I thought nothing of it, put it in the fridge to come together a bit, and got to work peeling and slicing the apples. I took out the crust, only to realize that (gasp!) it was still far to wet. I read the instructions once, and then another time, only to realize that I had forgotten something fairly important: flour. Yes, I had added flour, but somewhere amidst the humming and scowling at the weather, I had neglected a cup (yes, an entire cup) of this essential ingredient. So, I did my best to add it and make it into some sort of semblance of a crust, and continued on my quest.
I added the filling and then the topping, which never looked like “course sand.” It looked like very find sand in an hourglass. But, I added it over the apples anyway, and prayed for the best.
When this sad looking apple pie came out of the oven, I was wrought with distress. So, I did what any perfectionist would do while waiting for this ugly looking pie to cool.
I found another recipe and started all over again (did I mention I was a perfectionist?) and popped it right into the oven, feeling much more confident about myself. The funny thing is, pie #1 actually tasted quite good. It just looks a bit like…well…let’s just say that the above picture is better than what it looked like in person. Pie #2, however, was a success, and is currently being enjoyed by a very smiley, very happy grandpa.
Below is my new, foolproof, apple pie recipe adapted from the very standard, very fantastic, Joy of Cooking.
It looks like a TON of steps, but all of them are really quite easy. You can have this pie baking away in less than 30 minutes, I promise! Just be sure to add in cooling time, as this pie should cool and harden for 3-4 hours once it’s bubbled away in the oven.
- 1/2 recipe Basic Pie Crust Dough, below:
Line a 9-inch pie pan with the dough, place in the fridge while you are working on the filling and the topping.
- 1 recipe Crumb Topping, below:
Prepare crumb topping, place in fridge when you are working on the filling
- 1 recipe Apple-Pie Filling, below:
1. Basic Pie Dough: One 9- double crust
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup chilled vegetable shortening
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into one inch cubes)
- 6 tablespoons ice water
- Sift first two ingredients, then cut ½ of the shortening into the flour mixture until it has the consistency of cornmeal
- Cut the remaining half of the shortening and the full amount of butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender/fork/fingers until it is pea sized
- Sprinkle the dough with ice water until it just holds together; add more water slowly if needed
2. Apple Pie Streusel Topping (makes about ¾ cup)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose or all-rice flour (I would also add oats next time)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Blend all ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the dough and bake as directed.
3. Apple-Pie Filling:
- 3 pounds apples (6-8 medium-large): I used Granny Smith and Gala
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sugar (I used much less)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used more)
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Peel, core, and slice a little thicker than 1⁄4 inch
- Heat butter in a very wide skillet
- Add the apples and toss until glazed with butter. Reduce the heat to medium, cover tightly, and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened on the outside but still slightly crunchy, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir in sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt
- Increase the heat to high and cook the apples at a rapid boil until the juices become thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Immediately spread the apples in a thin layer on a baking sheet, and let them cool to room temperature
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Once your oven is warm and your apple mixture is room temperature, pour the apple mixture into the bottom crust.
- Cover with crumb topping
- Bake until the crust is richly browned and the filling has begun to bubble, 30 to 40 minutes. If the crumb topping browns too quickly, place foil over it.
- Let cool completely on a rack, 3 to 4 hours.
Note: If you wish to serve the pie warm, place it in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes. The pie is best if eaten promptly, but it can be kept at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.