I’ve never made a pie before. And the only other time I made a pie crust was on accident. But to round out our Celebrate America dinner, I was determined to make apple pie.
Apple Pie Recipe:
1. Crust: I started out with this recipe from Simply Recipes and then I cut it in half. 1.25 C flour, 8T cubed butter, and a half teaspoon of brown sugar. Pulse it a whole bunch of times until everything gets crumbly. Then, add 3-4 T of water. Pulse some more. Then dump it out and mush it together into a fat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
2. Repeat step 1: you need to have a top and a bottom for the pie, so you need to do this twice. The normal way to do it is to make one big batch and then split it into two. But you can do it my way if you have a woefully small food processor.
3. Slice up apples: My wife really likes to buy apples. The problem is, she only moderately likes eating them. We happened to have five pink lady apples on hand, so I peeled, cored, and sliced them. I had no idea whether this would be enough or not. I don’t know why recipes always call for fruit in pounds. It’s completely useless. Spoiler alert: five apples was the perfect amount for this pie.
4. Sugar the apples: the original recipe called for all sorts of things I don’t have: nutmeg, allspice, brandy. So I skipped them. I did dump in what I did have: 2/3C sugar, 3T flour, 1t vanilla extract, and a half t of cinnamon. This step was awesome. It made the kitchen smell like kids cereal.
5. Roll out bottom dough: take one of the pucks of dough from the fridge, roll it out to a size that is slightly larger than your pie pan. Doing this was actually much harder than it sounds. I hate working with pie dough. Incidentally, this was the first time I used our pie pan where deep frying wasn’t involved.
6. Add the apples: just dump them in on top of the dough.
7. Roll out the top dough: take the other puck of dough. Roll that out too. Set it on top of the apples. I don’t know how people do this. This was a stressful fiasco for me. And the whole thing looked like crap.
8. Do annoying dough things: Pinch the top and the bottom parts of the dough together. Why you need to do this, I’m not sure. It probably has something to do with sealing or probably just aesthetics. Pastry can be annoying like that, I’ve found.
9. Do more annoying dough things: pierce the dough with a paring knife. This lets steam out, which is important, I suppose. I did mine in a pattern around the outer-ish perimeter and then in a similar-but-tighter pattern near the center. The symmetry of the piercings probably isn’t important from a physics perspective, but it makes me feel good.
10. Bake: 375 for 20 minutes. Then, 350 for 30 minutes.
When the pie was finished, I was astonished. Every step of the way, it just seemed like the pie wasn’t going to turn out right. But, it tasted good. It made me happy.
The apple pie filling tasted like apple pie filling. Since I just added some dry ingredients to the apples, I thought it would end up apple tart-y. But it was full of that goopy apple stuff that makes the pie worth eating.
I cut a slice, and the pie crust didn’t completely fall apart. It was a little on the crumbly side, but it held together long enough to eat. And then, as I ate my third slice of the night before going to bed, the crust was strong enough that I could pick up a slice and eat it like a sandwich.
Although it didn’t look all that great, the crust tasted good, and the parts that I pinched had a distinctive taste. It didn’t taste like a store-bought pie. It didn’t taste like a crust. It was more like a slightly savory and super flaky shortbread cookie. But I think that’s what real pie crusts are supposed to taste like.
It reminded me of the pies my mother in law makes. Sometimes, she makes chocolate pies. They’re whimsical and delicious. And I swear they’re real.