I adore apple pie! It just epitomizes fall in New England. It invokes memories of apple picking, foliage, and crisp Autumn air. Though pie crust can be daunting, I’ve included my foolproof method for making a sweet and tender pie crust in a food processor. Just in case you don’t have one, I’ve also included directions for making the crust by hand. The cider vinegar and cream cheese ensure that the crust is flaky and flavorful. Another helpful hint- I roll out the pie crust between two sheets of plastic wrap. On to the apples. I know I’m entering into a contentious debate here, but I must admit that I just don’t like Green Granny Smith apples for baking. They are too tart and they hold their shape too well. I prefer Gala apples, which are sweet and tender when baked. Because the apples are not sautéed before adding them to the pie crust, they maintain some of their texture while still baking down into a tender apple filling. Cinnamon and calvados (an apple brandy) season the apples, and sparkling sugar sprinkled on top prior to baking adds a sweet crunch to the crust.
Serves: 6-8 slices
Adapted from Sarah Leah Chase’s New England Open House Cookbook
Ingredients for pie crust:
- 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Ingredients for apple filling:
- 8 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup heavy cream, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing
- Sanding Sugar
- For the pie crust: Measure out the flour, cake flour, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse twice to combine. Add in cold, cubed butter and pulse 10 times. The butter should be in pea-sized pieces and coated with flour. Add the ice water and cider vinegar and pulse until the dough comes together. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling. Dough can be kept in the fridge up to 2 days.
- To make pie crust by hand, measure out flour, cake flour, salt, and baking powder in a large-mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Massage butter into flour mixture with your fingers until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces and coated in flour. Add the ice water and cider vinegar and stir together dough using a wooden spoon. Add an additional tablespoon of ice water if needed. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling. Dough can be kept in the fridge up to 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place your pie plate on top. Roll out 1 disk of pie crust between two pieces of plastic wrap until large enough to come up the sides of the pie plate, about a 12-inch round.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine apple slices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and heavy cream. Pour apple mixture into the pie plate. Roll out the second disk of pie crust and place on top of the apples.
- Slice several slits in the top pie crust to allow the steam to vent. Brush top of the pie with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 1 ½ hours until apples are tender, juices are bubbling, and crust is golden brown. Top with aluminum foil if the crust is browning too quickly.
- Allow to cool slightly before cutting into the pie. Leftover pie can be reheated in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes, if desired.