I love homemade apple pie, and I have been using this recipe for over 10 years. Back then the idea of a free-form pie was new to me, and seemed much easier than the usual two crust number in a glass pie plate I was used to seeing.
I had always heard that pie crust was really difficult, so I waited a long time before I gave it a whirl. Then one day I read somewhere that the only thing that happens when you make pie dough “wrong” is that it is just less flaky, but still tastes as good – c’mon – how wrong can you get it when you mix butter with flour? That statement took the fear out of pie crust for me, and I’ve never had a bad experience. The trick is to keep things cool. I’ve had good luck by placing the stainless steel bowl in the freezer for a few minutes, placing the cut up cubes of butter back in the fridge to get really cold again, and using the iciest water possible.
After you’ve had this, you’ll turn your nose up at all but the fanciest store-bought pie.
Basic pie dough (recipe follows) or 1 refrigerated (not frozen) piecrust
Flour for dusting
Apple Pie filling (recipe follows)
½ tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
Let dough (homemade or purchased) sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a circle about 13-inches in diameter. Fold dough into quarters, then unfold it onto a baking sheet or a 10-inch pie plate. Refrigerate dough while you prepare fruit filling.
Heat oven to 400°F. Remove dough from refrigerator. Arrange fruit filling evenly in the centre of dough, leaving a two-inch border fruit-free. Fold edges of dough up around fruit to form sides of pie. Pinch folds of dough to secure sides. Dot fruit with butter.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until crust is lightly golden and fruit filling is bubbling. Cool pie 10 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
Basic Pie Dough
1¼ cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add butter and shortening and, using your fingertips or a pastry blender, blend butter and shortening into flour until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. (Or place all ingredients except water in a food processor and pulse 30 seconds.) Sprinkle water over dough and stir with a fork to incorporate. (If using a food processor, sprinkle water over dough and pulse 10 seconds. Dough should still look like coarse crumbs.) Turn out dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands, gather dough into a rough ball, adding a few more drops of water if needed to make dough hold together. Press dough into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3o minutes. Makes enough dough for one 9-inch pie.
Apple Pie Filling
1½ pounds apples, such as Northern Spy or Spartan
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Peel and core apples and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place in a bowl with other ingredients and toss.
Source: Gourmet on the Run by Susan Quick, July 1996, Glamour
Notes: As good as this pie is on its own, I’ve always placed a large scoop of premium vanilla ice cream on top.