With only three weeks until Thanksgiving, it’s time to start thinking about pies. Pecan, pumpkin, and apple pie are the holy trinity of my dessert world and each year it’s a struggle to decide which one to make. Last year, unable to come to a decision, I ended up making one of each. I know…I’m crazy.
But to be honest it was worth it. I enjoyed every bite of gooey pecan pie filling, scraped my plate clean of pumpkin pie with its dollop of whipped cream, and still managed to enjoy the flaky crust of the apple pie. In short, I was in pie heaven. And while I think that three pies should be mandatory for any Thanksgiving feast, I also realize that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So if there is only time to make one pie, than which one should it be?
While pumpkin and pecan pies are sublime, it’s apple pie that really sends me over the moon. I love its lumpy crust and the way it fills your home with the most comforting aromas while it bakes. You can eat it hot or cold, with cheddar cheese or ice cream, and for breakfast or a midnight snack. Apple pie is just plain good. So how do you take your own apple pie recipe, or the recipe below, and turn it into something that your Thanksgiving guests will never forget?
To begin, you need to use several different types of apples in your pie. Basically, the more varieties you use the more complex flavor your pie will have. Just remember to pick apples that are good for baking. Fuji, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious are common varieties that work well in pies and there are many more baking varieties available. Most grocery stores have charts that show which apples work well for baking, so look for them around the apples in your produce section.
Then, make your own pie crust. You may have noticed, but the recipe for pastrydough is the same recipe as the one used for my chicken pot pie recipe. It is just doubled. Homemade pastry dough is good, it’s easy to make, and it’s far and away better than any store-bought dough you can find. If you’ve been holding out on making your own pastry dough, now is the time to try it out. Believe me, it will change your life.
And finally, jazz it up. Just like with the chicken pot pie, use a cookie cutter to cut out a decorative shape to place on the top of your pie. Sure it’s an extra step, but it takes only a minute or two and really adds some pizzazz to your creation. The only other advice I’ll give is to buy extra apples. I promise you that your pie will go fast and you won’t want to wait another year to indulge in Thanksgiving bliss!
Homemade Apple Pie
Makes 1 9-inch double crust pie
1 recipe of pastry dough (see recipe)
2 1/2 pounds apples, preferably of different varieties
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling the crust
1 tablespoon lemon juice (zest lemon, if desired)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with a little water)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel and core apples and cut them into 1”-thick slices. Place in a large bowl and toss with flour, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Set bowl aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough for the bottom crust. Using your rolling pin, transfer the dough from the counter to the 9” pie pan. Trim around edges as needed and patch up any holes.
Pour the apples and the sugar mixture on top of the pastry dough in the pie plate. Trim excess dough and brush the edge with the egg wash.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough for the top crust. Using the rolling pin, transfer the dough from the counter and lay it over the apples. Gently seal the edges together by pressing down. Trim any excess dough and decorate edge if desired.
Brush the top crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Cut three vent holes in the center of the top crust. Bake for twenty minutes then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes more or until top crust is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.
Makes one 9” double pie crust
For pictures on how to make pastry dough, check out my post on Rhubarb pie from this summer.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
10 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Using a fork or pastry blender cut butter into the flour mixture until the fat is in small lumps. Sprinkle with ice water and using a fork pull mixture together. If mixture is not holding together, add up to 2 more tablespoons of water.
Turn dough out on to the counter and, working quickly, mold into a large ball. Divide the dough in half and then press each half into a 5” disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes and up to one day. Use as directed above.