tutorial tuesday: apple pie

Your apple pie will never be the same because Jenny is sharing her apple pie secrets with us today. She is brilliant and witty and very good at making delicious apple pie. Jenny and I first met on a study abroad to New Zealand while I was in college. Later, my husband and I lived down the street from her parents (my art professors). So, as you can see, we go way back. I’m thrilled she is here today! Oh, and her very talented friend, Kylie Nixon, documented the process. Thank you Jenny and Kylie!

[PLEASE NOTE: you are going to want apple pie if you read this. And you will want it bad. I'm just saying. Be prepared to drool.]

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About two years ago I set out to make the perfect apple pie. I think this recipe comes pretty close.

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Pie Dough
2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 tsp salt
2 T. sugar
½ c. vegetable shortening, chilled
12 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼ -inch pieces
6-8 T. ice water

I usually make my crust in a food processor, but I used a mixer this day, both work well. Just remember that an overworked crust is a yucky crust. The first step in making this crust is to combine the flour, salt and sugar in the food processor. Add the shortening and process it until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Scatter the butter pieces into the mixture and mix in until you have the texture of coarse crumbs (keep the butter bits about pea size). After this you can add the ice cold water a couple of tablespoons at a time until the mixture sticks together. Divide the dough into two parts and flatten them each into small disks, then wrap each one in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour (you can use it for up to two days after you make it). Not only is it easier to work with dough when it’s cool, but it also makes for a flakier crust.

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Apple Pie Filling
2 T. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
6 or 7 large apples (choose three varieties, such as Fuji, Honey Crisp, Granny Smith etc)
1 T. juice and 1 tsp grated zest from 1 lemon
¾ c. plus 1 T. sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg white, beaten lightly

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position in the oven, place a rimmed baking sheet on it, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out (I usually roll out my dough between two pieces of plastic wrap so it doesn’t slide around, and so it’s easier to move to the pan.). Transfer the dough to a 9 inch pie plate, let the dough overhang a little so you have room to seal the edge. Refigerate the dough-lined pie plate.

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Peel, core and slice the apples and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a smaller bowl combine the flour, sugar and spices and then add it to the apples. Turn the apples (and the juices) into  the chilled pie shell and mound it slightly in the center (I personally think apple pie should highlight the apples so I tend to use a lot of apples in my pies, but I won’t be offended if you use less).

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Roll out the second piece of pie dough and place it over the filling. Tuck the folds of dough underneath itself and then flute the edges or press with the tines of a fork to seal it. Cut 4 slits on the top of the pie to let out steam. Brush egg white over the top and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

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Place the pie on the baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake the pie until the top crust is golden, about 20 minutes. Rotate the pie from front to back and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue baking until the juices bubble and the crust is deep golden brown, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from the oven (and don’t drop it on the floor like I did recently) and let it cool (I’m always impatient about this and never last long, although this pie tastes especially good the day after it’s made). ENJOY!

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Ummm… YUM!! Pretty sure I’m going to go try that right. about. now.

ps – you can find more of Jenny on her blog and website

[images by kylie nixon]


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