Wherein I Share My Super Secret Apple Pie Recipe
That title might be a little misleading. There is nothing secret about this recipe whatsoever. I got it from an ancient Betty Crocker cookbook that used to be my mom’s (I think I stole it from her) and now it lives on my bookshelf all year long except when I make pie. The pages of this book are yellowed, frayed and ripped, and turning them requires delicacy and grace. This is where, once a year, I seek and find The Mystery of the Pie.
But then, pie isn’t much, is it? Just crust, fruit, and sugar. The only mystery to pie is making it yourself and the big secret is that making a pie is ridiculously easy. The hardest ingredient to find is the time, which, of course, is ridiculously difficult for most moms these days.
You can always do what I did this year: make your pie at 2 in the morning.
OK, on to the making part. The best part of making pie is making the crust. Many people think I am nutso for making homemade crust when there are perfectly nice ones to be had at the grocery store. But I prefer the homemade kind; they are flakier and yummier. Plus, if I didn’t make my own crust, the whole project would seem a bit too… simple. By simple, I mean plain rather than easy. I don’t make pie often, but when I do, I like it to be something of an event, and store bought crust does not an event make.
So. The Crust. I always make a double crust, a bottom and a top, as opposed to a woven lattice top. This recipe is for one 9-10 inch double crust pie.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
5 to 7 tablespoons of cold water
Sift together the flour and the salt. I do this by mixing it for a few minutes with a fork, fancy sifter that I am. My mom had a real sifter when I was a kid and I really liked turning the crank. I don’t have one, so I use a fork.
Add the shortening. I plop it all in the center and then use two forks to “cut” it into the dry flour/salt mixture. When it’s pretty well mixed, I use my hands to really mix and mush and smash and smush until I’ve got a bowl filled with stuff that looks kind of like large dough-colored peas. Lots of little pieces of crumbly dough.
Add the water, one tablespoon at a time. Add the first tablespoon to the edge of the dough and mix it in to that area with a fork. Move the damp dough a little to the side. Add the second tablespoon and do the same thing. I almost always use 7 tablespoons, sometimes even 8, before all of the dough is mixed with water. Once all the water has been added, use your hands to shape the dough into one big ball. Then divide that in half and create two smaller balls.
Spread tons of flour on your rolling surface and your rolling pin, and roll out the first ball of dough for the bottom of the pie pan. How big should you make it? Well, you gotta sorta judge the size of your pie plate. I used to roll it out and then set the pie plate on top. If the dough was about an inch or so bigger than the plate, I called it done. Little tip: use the rolling pin to pick up the flattened dough: drape the dough over the pin to lift it up. Lift it up, drape it into your pie dish and press it down flat all the way around the dish; don’t worry about the extra dough hanging over the sides. Roll out your second ball of dough and leave it on your rolling surface until your pie is filled with yummy goodness.
A word about the apples you use. You have to make sure they are good pie apples, the kind that will not get too mushy when they cook. I used Fuji for my pie this year. If you are like me, then you’ll google “good apples for pies” every single time you make this pie, because you will forget what kind you used last time. In fact, Google should probably be one of the steps in this recipe. Also, I always add pears; they taste great and are the perfect consistency. Here are the ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg
1 dash of salt (optional – I used to put it in, now I mostly leave it out.)
2 tablespoons of butter
Slice the apples and pears thinly. If they are too thick, they don’t fit as nicely in your pie plate. If ya’ wanna get really detailed, here’s what I do: I use an apple slicer to core the fruit and get 8 big slices from it. Then I slice each of those into three smaller slices. Then I cut those into three thirds each. That’s OCD level detail; chopping them willy-nilly will also do the trick. Oh, and I don’t bother peeling them. I like the peels in my pie.
Combine the sugar, flour and spices; mix with your fruit. Fill your waiting pie plate with this delish mixture. Chop up the butter and dot the top of the fruit with it. Go get your rolled-out crust from your rolling surface and put it over the entire pie. Take a knife and cut off the excess crust from both the bottom and top crusts.
Making it look pretty: I take a fork and press the tines all the way around the edge of the pie to make a nice lil’ pattern and seal the edges at the same time. Then I use a knife to make little air slots in the pie; you can make pretty designs and stuff at this point. Google it. I tried describing what I do, but it sounded ridiculous, so use your imagination or google it.
Last thing: sprinkle sugar on the top. Your pie will sparkle; how fun is that?
This is a good time to remember that you were supposed to preheat the oven. I usually curse here. Basically, you want to bake this puppy at 400 degrees for around 45-50 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine runs HOT, so I end up setting it at 350 degrees and baking it for about 35-40 minutes, and I still burn about a quarter of the edge of the pie. A little roughage along part of the edge is a small price to pay for pie perfection everywhere else. Hopefully your oven is more cooperative than mine and you won’t be paying that price at all.
EAT THE DARN THING ALREADY, WILL YA? After you let it cool for as long as your patience and your taste buds will wait. We eat this pie with vanilla ice cream, of course.
And that, my friends, is my pie.
And now, my friends, excuse me while I enjoy a little rush of domesticity.
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