Two apple pies are under my belt for the season (many more for the year). I’ve tried store bought crusts and several homemade recipes to find a great crust. Nothing has ever turned out as flaky and tasty as the one I found via Ina Garten on the Cooking Channel site. Even Sadie Sue Shagbottom, who stole about a quarter of the last pie, approves. She never! NEVER! Steals food. Ever. So that must have been some serious temptation.
You can use this pie crust for any type of pie you want to make, whether it’s fruit, nut, pudding or savory quiches. It adapts well to any of them. It’s also fool proof if you follow the steps, which are straight forward and easy. Each batch will yield two crusts (one covered/lattice fruit pie, or two topless pies). Check out the pies I’ve made in recent months. The First two were created with store shells, and the last three with Ina’s recipe:
Don’t waste time questioning my recommendation, or insisting that you have the best pie crust because grandma passed yours down to you, and it’s what you’re used to. You can always modify any recipe. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? You find out it is Grandma’s recipe! Pie crust is simple, and there’s not too much room for fooling around. This recipe is basic and that’s exactly how pie crust should be.
In the past, my crusts had a leathery feel to them–probably too much shortening and too much handling. You should always handle the crust as little as possible. Use a hand pastry blender or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, the Kitchen Aid Mixer hook. Don’t process it our hand kneed it for long. You want it to be blended but not until it’s like leather. Ina recommends keeping your water, butter and shortening ice cold. Some prep time is necessary to do this. put the shortening in the freezer while you wash the apples and gather the rest of the ingredients and tools. Put several cubes of ice in the cup of water you’ll draw your water from. Use frozen butter, chopped up. Put it back into the freezer while you sift the flour and other ingredients together (don’t forget to hold back that percentage of flour she says, you need it for rolling). The shortening should be nice and cold at this point. Mix the butter and shortening with the blender (hand or Kitchen Aid). And, make sure you roll it into a ball and put it in the fridge as she says. It’s very necessary.
At that point, you can start peeling and coring your fruit, or prepping the heart of the pie (chocolate pudding, banana creme, coconut, leeks and goat cheese). Preheat the oven when you’re ready to roll out your dough.
For the fruit of an apple pie:
I recommend Honey Crisp apples with a couple macs (about 4 large and 2 small). Mix with a tablespoon of cinnamon, a pinch of cloves, a slice of lemon squeezed over the apples, 2 tablespoons of vanilla. Cut four pats of butter and set aside. Mix the apples with the spices, lemon and vanilla. Carefully arrange in the bottom pie shell so they all fit. DO NOT just throw it in. This creates trapped air, and makes the roof of the pie lofty with no reinforcement. It will be very hard to cut, and break up all over making a mess of each slice.
Once done, put the 4 pats of butter around the pie. Cover with the top shell, pinching the edges together to seal it. Cut vents in the top or fork poke holes into it. If you have extra crust left from cutting down the top or bottom crust, you can hand design some leaves or apples to decorate the top. If you’re not good at designing freehand, pick up cookie cutters to do it for you on the cheap at any department store.
Baking your apple pie:
Set the oven for 425° when you preheat. Bake at that temperature for 15 minutes with the edges of the crust covered. The silicone pie edge protector from King Arthur is great for this! Turn the oven down to 350° and continue baking for 45 minutes. This is very important for making a crispy, finished crust, as well as cooking those firm Honey Crisp slices.
What kind of pies do you like? Let me know in the comments below.
Have fun baking this fall!