If you frown upon the consumption of raw pie dough (no eggs, don’t worry), close this page now.
Honestly, I didn’t even know I was a fan. My sister used to nibble on it when she would make pies years ago, but I always thought it was kind of gross. Butter and flour, with a pinch of salt and sugar mixed in? Sorry, I’ll wait for the cookie dough. I didn’t even know I could make a pie crust with any competence until last week, when I, well, did. And then ate half of it. Sigh.
The uneaten sections of dough went into a pretty successful apple pie. A lot of people seem to be intimidated by pie, and while I shared the feeling for the bulk of my baking “career,” it’s nowhere near as difficult as it seems. Apple is one of the easiest kinds – if you can peel and slice, you’re good to go. And, may I say, there’s little as delicious as apples tossed with a bit of sugar, flour (stay with me), cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, and water.
As for the crust, take it from a former doubter: there’s nothing to fear here. The most common mistake is over-processing; just remember that the little clumps of butter and/or shortening are what will make your crust flaky and tender. The dough won’t be uniform until you press it all into a disc to chill. That’s another thing: Be stingy with the water you add, and make sure it’s ice-cold. Only add enough to make the dough stick to itself when you press a few bits together.
One last note: You can certainly use a food processor to make this, but honestly, I prefer to just do it by hand – a knife or two will work just fine. It gives you more control, and more importantly, it’s less to clean. Cleaning a food processor sucks.
I hope that didn’t sound too arduous or complex! I promise pie dough is much easier than you think. Next time I’ll get pictures of the dough in its various stages. I’ve included the recipe for the dough and filling, with my changes. Just give it a shot! It’s got butter and sugar – there’s no way you can go wrong.
American Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie (Non-Lattice Directions in Parentheses)
Adapted from – where else – Smitten Kitchen
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 cups, non-lattice)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons all-vegetable shortening, chilled (8 tablespoons, non-lattice)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (12 tablespoons, non-lattice)
10 tablespoons ice water (6 to 8 tablespoons, non-lattice)
1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with steel bald until combined. Add shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; cut butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl. Alternately, in a medium bowl, scatter butter and shortening pieces over flour, salt, and sugar. With two knives (I was fine with one), cut butter and shortening into flour mixture until mixture has the texture of coarse sand.
2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. (If possible, weigh pieces. They should register 16 ounces and 14 ounces.) Flatten larger piece into a rough 5-inch square and smaller piece into a 4-inch disk; (If for a non-lattice, double crust pie, these pieces should be even in weight and both round) wrap separately in plastic and refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.
[Alli’s note: See instructions for lattice construction here.]
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
[Alli’s note: I used all Fuji, with great results]
1 tablespoon juice
3/4 cups (5.25 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice [Alli’s note: I used only cinnamon, purely out of laziness]
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).
2. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.
3. Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.
4. Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
5. Place pie on baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.
6. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.