It’s Apple Pie Season!

Fall in upstate New York means apple picking, which, in turn, means having a giant sack of apples that I have to do something with. My mom made fantastic apple pie when I was a kid, so I decided to try my hand at her recipe, which is from an older edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook (a very slightly different version can be found on their website). I used to help her make the pies when I was a teen (and have the mandoline scars to prove it), but had never made one by myself. Fortunately, it turned out to be delicious!

Double 8″ Pie Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling the dough
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening, such as Crisco (the website says 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons; I think this might have worked better)
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold water

Sift together the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender if you have one, or using two knives pulled in opposite directions (or, um, mix it with a fork if you’re too uncoordinated to master the knife action). Add one tablespoon of water at a time and mix with a fork until all the flour is moistened and can be squeezed into a ball without crumbling.

Bowl of very crumbly pie crust dough
This is about the time I started to despair that pie-crust-making ability skips a generation, but this is actually pretty much what it’s supposed to look like. I think.

Divide the dough into two equal balls. The website recommends wrapping the dough in plastic and letting it sit in the refrigerator for 45 minutes; I accidentally skipped this for the bottom crust but let the top crust cool while I prepped the apples. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Flour your baking mat and rolling pin to prevent sticking, and roll out one dough ball into a circle roughly 2″ larger than your pie. Add more flour as needed if it sticks to the pin, and when the dough inevitably cracks, just pinch it back together with slightly moistened fingers and re-flour. Remember, if you want a flaky crust, the dough is gonna be flaky too. It’s annoying to work with, but winds up tasting delicious.

roughly round pie crust with rolling pin
Roll, baby, roll.

Lift one edge of the mat to flip the dough onto the rolling pin, then carefully pull it off the mat onto the pin and center it in the pie pan.

dough flipped over the rolling pin to lift it off the mat
This is when you start hoping you used enough flour on the mat. Otherwise, it’s gonna tear and you’re gonna be pissed. Ask me how I know.

Pinch together any tears that form in transit, using excess crust from the edge if necessary (hopefully the crust will hang over the edges all around so you can make it pretty later). You can roll out and set aside the top crust now if you want; since I was letting the second ball of dough chill, I went on to the filling and rolled it out when I needed it.

pie crust in pan, not hanging over the edge like it's supposed to, and patched in a couple places
Well, it’s supposed to hang over the edge. I couldn’t get it to roll out quite far enough. Note the spots where I had to patch it.

Apple Pie Filling

  • 5-8 cups thinly sliced tart apples, peeled and cored (about 5-8 apples; I used 4 and it wasn’t quite enough) Mom usually used Granny Smith apples; I think I used Golden Supremes and Lady Jeans, but a couple might have been Empires or Macouns. They got all mixed together in the bag.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • a dash of salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 425º. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then toss the apple slices in small batches to coat them. The thinner you cut the apples, the more surface area you get, and the more sugar mix they’ll use up. If you run out of sugar mix before apples (not that this happened to me, noooo), make a bit more! Layer the apples in the pie crust, heaping somewhat over the top of the pan since the apples will settle as they cook. Slice the butter into thin pats and scatter over the top of the apples.

Pie crust filled with sliced, sugared apples, with pats of butter scattered around the top.
Pile up those apples!

If you haven’t already rolled out the top dough, do so now and then center it carefully over the pan. Go around the edge of the pan and pinch the two layers of crust together with your thumb and forefinger to make a pretty pattern, setting aside any leftovers. If you feel really ambitious, you can roll this out and cut out decorative shapes with cookie cutters and place these on top of the crust. Or, you know. Just eat it raw.

pie with top crust on and vent holes poked with a fork, and an attempt at pinching the edges in a decorative fashion
Yeah, it cracked a bit. Oops.

Poke vent holes in the top crust with a fork, then use 2-3 thin strips of foil to cover the edge of the crust so it doesn’t burn (or put the entire pan on top of a big piece of foil and wrap it up over the edges).

pie with edge wrapped in a thin sheet of foil
Protect the crust, yo.

Cook for 40-50 minutes, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes. Let cool, then dig in!

Baked apple pie, with nicely browned top crust
It worked! I made a pie!

Ideally, serve with ice cream and/or whipped cream. Or, just stuff it in your face. I won’t tell. The crust turned out to be as flakey as I’d hoped, and the filling was slightly tart but delicious. It maybe could have used a bit more cinnamon, otherwise, it was perfect.

Slice of apple pie on a pottery plate

Of course, I still have a ridiculous number of apples to use up. What are your favorite apple recipes?

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

10 replies on “It’s Apple Pie Season!”

This apple season has been rather sad for me. The early thaw followed by the late frost this spring killed off something like 96% of Michigan’s apple crop. The cider mills are charging $10 a gallon for the fresh cider, and all the apples are coming from foreign environs.

For transporting pie crust I typically roll it between two layers of parchment paper (with lots of flour) then you can lift the sheets and get them over to the pan then peel free one side of your crust, then once it’s in the pan peel free the other side.

Also I don’t think I’ve ever put anything in the filling but a mix of apples, brown and white sugar, and a bit of cinnamon.

The orchard I go to said there was a shortage of cider apples, though everything else seems ok so far. I have friends who live even more upstate than I do whose local orchards didn’t get any crop this year. It sucks.

The parchment paper trick sounds awesome! And would have been much cheaper than buying a freaking baking mat. (Is it made of gold?? Pie-making supplies are freaking expensive, and my brand new sift broke before I’d even sifted half the flour. I should have just used my mother-in-law’s ancient one; weird ancient crumbs be damned. And I will definitely add brown sugar next time; yum!

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