He will deny that I have turned him into a Democrat, but I totally have. Mostly anyway.
Anyway, he didn’t used to really care for pie, but he likes my pie, so I like that of course. In what has seemed like the birthday week that will never end, this weekend we celebrated his birthday for the four-hundredth time (sorry, honey) with his family up at the vacation cabin, and for his birthday dessert, he wanted warm apple pie, vanilla ice cream. No cake this year.
This is my Dad’s recipe, one that I have never really bothered to write down until now. My Dad taught me how to make pies, frustrating, delicious pies. I say frustrating, because it doesn’t matter how many pies you’ve made- ten or ten thousand- every once in a while the pie crust you are working with will make you want to tear all your hair out and have a temper tantrum in your kitchen like a toddler.
Pie crust is just like that. Sometimes it turns out perfect, easy as pie (haha) and sometimes it won’t roll out without breaking, it falls apart when you pick it up, and you spend lots of time piecing it back together to get something somewhat resembling a pie. That is what happened to me when I was making this pie. Oh, frustrating pie making, it’s been a while. I tell you that I struggled with this pie crust today because I didn’t give up, and look- a beautiful and completely delicious, flaky pie crust.
Anyway, back to my Dad’s recipe. You must, I repeat MUST use Granny smith tart apples for this. Nothing else will do. You MUST make your pie crust from scratch, using Crisco, and you MUST take the leftover crust scraps, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and bake them up and eat them.
I hope you enjoy this pie, and I wish you many relaxing and frustration free pie crust making returns.
For the pie crust:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup well chilled Crisco vegetable shortening
6 to 10 tablespoons of ice cold water
For the pie filling
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon corn starch or flour (I prefer corn starch)
Preheat your oven to 375°.
Peel and slice your apples. Place them into a large skillet over medium high heat along with sugar and cinnamon and cook for about 5 minutes until apples are starting to get tender. Sprinkle cornstarch over the top and cook for one more minute until the water from the apples has started to thicken up a little bit. Set aside while you make your crust.
Place your flour, shortening, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter, or old-school like me, with a fork, cut the flour into the shortening until it is completely combined and has lumps about the size of peas. (For detailed photo instructions on crust, click here.)
Don’t believe anybody who tells you that you have to have a pastry cutter for this step. A fork works just fine.
Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with your hands, and kneading the dough to turn it over until it is a nice, solid ball. Do not over-work the dough- this is the number one mistake people make that will cause your pie crust to fall apart. Touch it as little as possible- your hands are warm, and you want it to stay cold.
Once you have a solid ball, divide it into two equal parts and tape a piece of wax or parchment paper onto your counter (thank you to my friend Tracy for this tip.)
Lightly flour the parchment paper, and roll one ball of your dough out into a large circle that is bigger than your pie pan.
Place your pie pan upside down in the center. Flip it over and press it down around the sides. Trim the edges, but leave about an inch of excess dough for pinching together later.
Roll out your next dough ball in the same way on the same piece of parchment paper. Pour your apple filling into the prepared crust (leaving about half of the liquid in the pan), and then pick up the parchment paper and slide the top crust over the top. Trim again, leaving about an inch of dough to crimp with.
Pinch the bottom crust and the upper crust together with your fingers, sort of pulling the lower crust over the upper crust and then pinching together to completely seal. This video has a good demonstration. Use a knife to slit 3 openings in the top of the crust for steam to escape.
Incidentally, you should probably line the bottom of your oven with foil. There is a good chance that your pie filling will bubble over a bit.
Brush the entire thing with egg wash (1 egg + 2 tablespoons of water) (the egg wash is optional, but will give you a more shiny, golden looking crust) and place it in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Check about halfway through the baking, and if the edges are getting too brown, crimp foil over the edges or place a pie crust shield (best invention EVER) over the top.
Remove from oven and serve warm or cold. It will be delicious either way.