After you get the recipe for this amazing apple pie, don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the post so you can enter the Giveaway for a $650 Amazon Gift Card!
Pie is the first experience I had in the kitchen where I thought a recipe was impossible, and I shocked myself by being able to make it!
I was in high school, and it was the holiday season. I’d always been amazed by people who made pie crust from scratch! To me, for some reason, I thought it was soooooo hard and too complicated to even attempt. It took me a while, but I finally got up the courage to try it. I found a pretty standard, all butter recipe in one of my mom’s cookbooks and gave it a whirl. I was nervous, and there were several moments during the attempt in which I thought all was lost, but the pie that ended up coming out of the oven was actually halfway decent looking, (and it tasted delicious!) I was shocked.
Just like the recipe said, I allowed the dough to stay shaggy, and didn’t mix the butter in too much with the flour, but that meant that when I was rolling it out, little pieces of buttery dough were breaking apart and sailing off in opposite directions! PANIC! I ended up just rolling out the individual, small pieces and squishing them together in the pie pan. It certainly wasn’t gorgeous, but it worked!
I started experimenting with all types of fillings and ways to decorate, and became my family’s resident pie baker. Last year, I was in Houston for Thanksgiving and Christmas and wasn’t able to help my mom bake pies for the first time in almost 10 years (*sniff*), but this year I’m back in Cali, only 40 minutes away from my parents :).
Fortunately, it’s been quite a while since rolling out all butter pie crust caused me to feel panicky, and I’m hoping these tips will help you if you decide to wrestle with it for the first time.
- Cold cold cold. The butter should be cold, the water should be cold, everything should be cold! It helps to keep the crust flaky. If you’re working in a really hot kitchen, it might be worth it to even refrigerate the bowl, flour, vinegar, anything to buy you time until that butter starts melting!
- Don’t worry about using too much flour to roll out the dough. It shouldn’t affect the texture much, especially since it prevents the butter from touching your hands and melting. Just be sure to brush it off the top of the crust before you bake it, so it doesn’t look messy or burn.
- If you have trouble with individual small pieces breaking off of the crust when you roll it out, lay down a sheet of plastic wrap, sprinkle a generous amount of flour, lay the pie dough on the plastic wrap, sprinkle again with a lot of flour, and lay another sheet of plastic wrap on top of that. Slowly roll it out in-between the sheets, and when it starts to break, gently press the pieces back together by touching the outside of the plastic wrap. Keep repeating this until it’s holds together in the size you need. The easiest way to get it in the pie dish is to peel off the top sheet, turn a plate upside down on top of the crust, hold the plate in one hand, and slide your other hand under the first sheet of plastic wrap. quickly flip the plate right side up with the pie crust on it. Peel off the last sheet, and then slide the pie crust right into the pan.
- Roll out both crusts, put one in the bottom of the pie pan and the top crust on a plate, and then put them both back in the fridge so that they stay cold until the filling is ready. That way, you don’t have hot filling sitting in an unbaked pie crust while you wrestle with rolling out that top crust. The same goes for any extra decorations you want to make. Roll and cut them out ahead of time, and have a rough plan of what you want to do, so the crust spends as much time either in the cold fridge or the hot oven as possible.
- Most importantly, don’t worry about things looking perfect! A pie with a few cracks in the crust or a leaf decoration that broke off is going to taste just as good, and make as many memories as one that looks like it could be on the cover of a magazine! It just reinforces the fact that the people who get to enjoy it are being treated to tasty, homemade pie!
The recipe for this browned butter crust is one that I posted in February (see that post here), and I felt that it might be useful to bring it up again since pie baking is everywhere right now! Browned butter is about as good as butter flavor can get. You heat the melted butter until the milk solids caramelize, and it turns into liquid gold! It’s nutty and sweet, and somehow improves on the flavor of regular butter, which is pretty impressive, if you think about it.
Now, to make a pie crust out of browned butter, obviously, you can’t just pour the melted butter into the flour. I just said that the butter has to be super cold for flaky crust, right? This is where it gets fun. You make butter cubes in an ice tray out of your browned butter, and freeze or refrigerate them to chill! If you have enough time it’s fine to stick them in the fridge, but if you need them cold fast, the freezer works great! On the post I referenced earlier, I posted pictures of the browned butter cubes, which look oddly similar to gouda cheese!
Now, this apple filling is my absolute favorite way to make apple pie. You mix the apple slices with sugar and spices, let them sit for an hour till they release a bunch of juice, and boil that juice down with (more) butter, and pour it over the apples in the pie! It really intensifies the flavor, and helps the pie to set up since there isn’t a bunch of extra liquid!
The sweet and tart flavors of the apple filling pairs so nicely with the flaky, nutty browned butter crust. I promise you won’t be disappointed by the combination!
- FOR THE CRUST:
- 14 tbl unsalted butter
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour + more for rolling out crust
- ½ tsp salt
- 7 tbl ice water
- 1 tbl white vinegar
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 6-8 granny smith apples (8-9 cups slices)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 4 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tbl butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- FOR THE CRUST:
- In a medium saucepan over a medium flame, melt butter and swirl occasionally until it is browned. Don't stir with any kind of utensil. Just pick up the saucepan and swirl to keep the milk solids from sticking and burning. This should take about 10 minutes. You want to remove the butter as soon as it gets golden brown. If you don't pay attention, it will burn very quickly.
- Let butter cool slightly, then pour into ice cube mold. Once butter has cooled down to almost room temperature, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. Chill for at least one hour.
- Once butter has chilled thoroughly, cut into smaller pieces, about the size of blueberries, and put in refrigerator until you use them. (If you are preparing the butter a day ahead, you can just put it straight in the refrigerator)
- Add flour and salt to food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times to combine.
- Add butter and pulse about 10-15 times, or until the biggest butter pieces are about the size of peas.
- While food processor is running, add water and vinegar to butter flour mixture and stop as soon as the liquid is incorporated.
- Separate dough into two parts and wrap each in separate sheets of plastic wrap. Shape each wrapped dough ball into a disc and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- FOR THE FILLING:
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Peel and core apples. Cut them into ¼” slices. Transfer to bowl, and add sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to one hour, stirringr mixture once or twice. Set up a colander in a bowl and transfer apples to it to catch all the macerated juices. Pour reserved juices into a small, non-stick saucepan, and add butter. Heat over medium flame until juices are simmering. Don’t stir mixture, but swirl the pan so the juices don’t stick too badly. Once the juices have reduced by about half, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, transfer apples back to a bowl, and mix with cornstarch.
- Take both discs of pie crust out of the refrigerator, and roll each to roughly 11” in diameter between two sheets of plastic wrap. You want them between ⅛” and ¼” thick. Sprinkle the plastic wrap and dough with lots of flour before you start rolling it out. Transfer one crust to pie dish and press in place. Transfer both prepared pie dish and extra crust to refrigerator. Use dough scraps to make decorations if desired. Transfer those to fridge too.
- Transfer apples to prepared pie dish. Pour reduced juices over the apples, and top with remaining crust and decorations.
- Brush the top of the crust with beaten egg (this will help decorations to stick and make the pie golden brown) and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling, and the crust is golden brown. At 20 minutes, start checking edge, and over with foil if it gets too brown. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. Will keep at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.
And now for the giveaway! This is just about the best time of year to get some Amazon cash, am I right? My fellow bloggers over at Food Blogger Pro and I teamed up to make it possible. I’m so blessed to be a part of this great community of food loving people!
Check them out below, after you enter for your chance to win the gift card! There are multiple ways to enter, and some entries can be done more than once, so check back tomorrow!