I have an announcement to make. Sunday night I made my first apple pie. From scratch. And it was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my whole life. I'm not kidding. And that's coming from a non-fruit-dessert-I-prefer-chocolate kind of gal. I was super nervous going into it because I really didn't want to screw it up and I'd heard pie crusts can be difficult, but the whole thing was actually not that hard at all! I find any recipe to be a little more stressful the very first time I make it because I haven't got a feel for the timing of things and this usually translates into me frantically tossing things about the kitchen and making a big mess - but after the first run-through I can see that this recipe will be fairly easy and relaxing the next time around. Not to mention it will impress the apple-bottom jeans off of anyone you happen to invite over. Seriously, it tastes INCREDIBLE.
First things first we are going to make the pie crust.
You will need:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled & diced
1/4 cup of ice water
This recipe is enough for one pie crust which would be great for a pumpkin or pecan or some other open-faced pie, but because we are making an apple pie it needs a top - so double it. I chose to make a lattice-top pie and found that even with doubling this recipe I was running out of dough by the end so when I make it again I will probably triple it. You may have some dough left over but it's better than not having enough.
If you have a food processor, use it. I used mine & it turned out great. If not, a large bowl will be fine along with a pastry blender to cut in the butter (if you don't have this apparently you can use two knives or a fork although I'm not sure exactly how this works. For some tips on "cutting in butter" check out this blog post).
In a large bowl (or food processor) combine flour & salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (If using food processor press "pulse" button until you reach the desired consistency). You want to make sure your butter is SUPER cold before this step. I chopped mine into small-ish pieces and put it in the freezer for a few minutes before adding it to the dry mixture. The key is to keep the butter from melting so that when you cut it in it stays in tiny hard pieces which will create that delicious flakiness in your pie crust.
Now stir in your ice water (again, keeping everything cold) a tablespoon at a time just until the mixture starts to come together. Test your dough - when you can form it into a ball without it falling apart it's done. You may not need all the water, you may need a little extra - this is one of those baking things where you just have to play it by ear. Now take your dough out and lightly form it into 2 separate balls (this is assuming you doubled the recipe - if not just form it into one & repeat the recipe) wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. A lot of pie crust recipes ask you to refrigerate the dough for 4 hours or overnight, but I just left mine in there while I prepared the pie filling and it turned out great. So make it in advance if you want - or just leave it in there until we finish the next part!
Apple Pie Filling
You will need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored & sliced
*Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F
First things first. You are only going to need 8 apples if your apples are the size of plums. I went ahead and chopped up 8 giant-sized apples and ended up with a TON left over. So I would say you are going to need about 5. I wanted to write the recipe as-is just in case you are one of those people working with mini-apples but, as you can see in the picture below, mine were big. (*note: I didn't use the red apples, they just looked cute in the picture).
Peel them, core them, and slice them into thin (but not paper thin) slices. Set aside in bowl.
Now at this point I would take my pie dough out of the fridge and prepare the crust, as the next step involves boiling butter and sugar and once it's done you want to be ready to pour it into your pie.
So take one lump of your dough out of the fridge and using a rolling pin roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it's large enough to fit your 9" pie dish. Place into pie dish and carefully press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides. Set aside.
Now melt your butter in a saucepan (low to medium heat to avoid burning). Stir in the flour to form a paste. Add the water, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla & cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature & let simmer.
While this is simmering (on low heat) take your pie crust & fill it with the sliced apples. The apples will shrink down a bit when cooked so use enough apples to create a bit of a mound.
Now take your butter/sugar mixture and carefully pour it over the apples. I saved about a third of my butter & sugar mixture and poured it over the finished top-crust so that when it baked it created this crispy, caramelized layer that was DELICIOUS! But it's up to you - you can use it all now if you like. (If you want to save some make sure you leave it on the stove on a super low heat so it doesn't harden).
Next you will be creating the top crust of your pie. There are several ways to do this, but I wanted to make a lattice crust for mine so I bought a pastry wheel which is how you get those cute little zig-zaggy edges on your dough strips. So basically you roll out your 2nd lump of dough (the one that's still waiting in the fridge) on a lightly floured surface until it's fairly thin. Then you using your pastry cutter you cut it into strips and lay them across the top of your pie. (I forgot to take a picture of this step so I borrowed one from the Williams Sonoma website).
There are a few ways you can lay the strips. I watched this YouTube video and followed their instructions.
When you're done, take the remainder of your butter & sugar mixture and gently pour or brush it over the crust.
Bake for 15 minutes in your preheated oven. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-45 minutes until the apples are soft.
Remove from oven, let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve & enjoy!