I went into apple picking this past weekend with the mindset that I'd buy an already-made pie there—I knew I wanted to eat pie but didn't really want to bother with learning how to make one! But Matt and Margot picked us quite a hefty amount of apples that I thought I needed to put them to good use and make us something tasty.
I'd never made a pie before, but an apple pie seemed simple enough to try, so off to the kitchen I went. A simple dessert, yes, but it was actually a lot of work! From cooling to peeling to cutting to baking...this pie took me all day. But it was definitely worth the hard work. It turned out beautifully and was delicious! I referenced two different recipes—the pastry was perfectly flaky and the filling was just the right amounts of sweet and spice. And though it did take some time, attempting all of the cool little details was so fun. My first pie's got me officially hooked on making them and I'm excited to try my hand at all different kinds.
for the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp table salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
for the apple filling:
2 1/2 lbs Cortland apples (about 7 medium), peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
Prepare your pie crust:
Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water and drop in a few ice cubes; set aside. In a large bowl—a wide one so you can get your hands in—whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Dice two sticks (1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces.
Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in using a pastry blender to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all butter pieces are the size of tiny peas, stop. It will look uneven and shaggy.
Start by drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (not the cubes, if any are left) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gather the dough together. Add in a tablespoon of more water at a time as needed—once you're pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in to gather the damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
Divide the dough in half and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap, using the sides to pull in the dough and shape it like a disc. Let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before rolling it out.
Prepare your filling and assemble your pie:
In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss to coat. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Once your dough is chilled, remove one disc from the fridge, flour your surface, unwrap the dough and put it in the middle. Lightly flour your disc.
Start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with a rolling pin and moving it from the center out. Roll it a few times in one direction, lift it up and rotate it a quarter-turn. Repeat the roll, lift and rotate technique, re-flouring your surface as needed, until you get a 12-inch circle.
Transfer your dough to your pie pan, pressing the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough hanging off of the edge. Cover your pie with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge while working with your second disc.
Flour your surface and roll your second disc into the same 12-inch circle. Using a pizza cutter, cut strips for the lattice top (widths are up to you), as well as any other details you'd like to add to your pie. Transfer all cutouts to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill in the fridge while you prepare your apple filling.
Strain the accumulated juice from the apples into a small saucepan. You should have about 1/2 cup of juice. Cook the juice with the butter over medium high heat until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.
Toss the apples with the cornstarch. Gently pour the syrup over the apples and toss.
Transfer the apple filling into your chilled pie crust.
Remove strips and cutouts from the fridge and weave into a lattice top. I found this tutorial super helpful. Add on any additional details as desired.
In a small bowl, prepare an egg wash buy whisking 1 egg and a tsp of water. Gently brush onto crust and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Ensure your oven is nice and hot—preheat at 425ºF for at least 20 minutes before baking your pie. Place pie on a foil-lined baking sheet and place on lowest rack. Bake for 25 minutes then reduce temperature to 375ºF and move pie and sheet to middle rack for 30 more minutes, or until juices are thickly bubbling. If your pie is browning too quickly, loosely cover with foil.
Cool on a rack for an hour before serving.
(Adapted from this pie crust recipe and apple pie filling recipe)