Apple Pie 101
In an effort to assist those looking for tips and techniques on making a double crusted apple pie from scratch, I have prepared this slideshow. (Sometimes it is easier to just see how something should be rather than read, read, read.)
I was EXTREMELY fortunate to convince my mother in law (a/k/a Grandma) to let me take pictures of her as she made an apple pie! She is the best pie baker I know. Her bluberry pie which she makes from blueberries from her garden would make the angels swoon.
Grandma pre-cooks the apples for pie. But to show that it doesn't matter if you precook the apples or not, I also made a pie using raw apples (you can view that on the second slideshow).
Bottomline: Both pies were delicious! Both had fully cooked fillings and perfectly flaky crusts. This proves my new motto: "There is more than one way to skin an apple."
Grandma’s Apple Pie
Overview: Grandma uses a 9- inch glass Pyrex pie dish for this pie.
-The pie crust crumbs should be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to make the pie.
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
-Make the pie filling, microwave and set aside.
-Make one batch of pie crust. Roll out half and line pan.
-Place apples, juice and all, in the crust.
-Dot with butter. Roll out other half of crust and cover pie and crimp edges. Cut a few slits on top.
-Bake pie on center rack at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until apples are juicy and bubbling and ooze out of the crust.
Grandma’s Pie Crust Recipe:*
6 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
2 and 1/3 cups shortening (she uses half regular Crisco, half butter flavored Crisco, with 0 trans fats
1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut in half of the shortening with a pastry blender, to make coarse crumbs. (They will NOT be uniform in size and shape, nor fine like coarse meal.)
3. Cut in the remaining shortening. Place in airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. (Will keep up to 3 months no problem). You will get enough crust mixture for several pies.
For Grandma’s 9-inch Double Crust Apple Pie:
Measure out 2 cups of the cold crumb mixture.
Add 4 Tablespoons of ice cold water. Stir gently and quickly.
Dough should be soft and not dry. Add a little more flour if too wet, or a little more water if dry.
Take half the dough, form a circle and roll out immediately on a floured board.
For a 10-inch Double Crust Deep Dish Apple Pie:
Double the amounts above. (Four cups crumb mixture, eight tablespoons ice water.)
For an 8 or 9-inch Single Crust Pie:
Use 1 and 1/4 cups of the crumb mixture
2 Tablesoons ice cold water
Grandma’s Apple Pie Filling for 9-inch pie:
6 cups peeled and sliced apples (She uses Cortlands, her standby is McIntosh. Use what tastes good to you.)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon butter
1. Peel and slice the apples. Grandma then cuts hers in half. Put in a medium-sized microwave safe bowl.
2. Add sugar, spices, flour, stir gently.
3. Microwave, covered lightly with parchment paper, for 4 minutes.
4. Set mixture aside and let cool while making the crust.
Trish’s 10-inch Deep Dish Apple Pie
(Using raw apples, not pre-cooked)
Same crust as above, only using 4 cups of the crumb mixture rather than 2 cups.
Trish’s Pie Filling:
8 cups apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca
1 Tablespoon butter
3/4 cup sugar
1. Peel and slice the apples as thin as possible.
2. Place in a large bowl and add sugar, spices, lemon juice and tapioca. Stir gently.
3. Let the apples stand for 15 minutes to draw out the juices. In the meantime make the crust.
4. In a crust lined pan add the apples. Dot with butter. Cover with second crust. Press edges with fork. Cut a few air slits on top.
5. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 50 minutes or until pie “sings” and filling is gently bubbling and oozing.
*About this pie crust recipe... My mother in law found it more than 30 years ago in the local newspaper. It seemed very novel at the time to keep a mixture of flour, salt and shortening in the refrigerator, and only using a few cups at a time as needed. But the results were good, and by having all the crumbs on hand, you could virtually make a pie at the drop of hat, so grandma, being a good Yankee, adopted the recipe. A couple years ago, I shared this recipe with others and they mocked me and said it was ridiculous to keep flour and shortening chilled. Then one day I was watching TV and there was Alton Brown proposing the very same thing that we were doing...and voila, I guess the concept is vindicated.
The benefits to this method are: Convenience of course, because you mix the crumbs with the water, and there is no waiting. Roll out the crust immediately! But also, I think you get a very flaky crust because the dough is not combined very long. It's all the little lumps and the light handling that make this crust so flaky.
I should add.... I did not know until I had the photoshoot with grandma that she used half butter-flavored Crisco in this recipe. I always knew her crust tasted a little better than mine and now I know why... This is not a product I usually use, so I was rather surprised.
I hope this will encourage good folks like DutchDot to give pie baking another chance,
This recipe lets you make the crust crumbs in advance. Then just add the water and roll when you are ready to make the pie.
The filling - You can either precook or not....you still get a delicious pie.
We kept it simple with our spicing and apple filling. But you can add whatever you like. Throw some cherries in the mix.... add a crumb topping instead of a top crust.... so many fun things to do.
Thanks so much for taking photos and putting the slideshow together; I know it can be time-consuming. Thanks to Grandma too! What a great tutorial on two slightly different techniques. I've never heard about making the "crumbs" as you call them ahead of time and then adding water when you're ready to make the dough. I usually make my dough all at once and then refrigerate. I'll try to take photos and post when I make my next attempt at apple pie. Thanks again!
1. Did you notice any difference in taste or consistency of the filling using tapioca starch vs. flour?
2. Is it really true that Grandma can keep the crumbs refrigerated for up to 3 months? That seems like a long time, but perhaps Crisco allows it to keep well. I'm just wondering if it's better to make the finished dough and freeze the disks or use Grandma's technique. With Grandma's, you can make pie on a whim and not have to defrost anything which is nice. I prefer using mostly (or sometimes all) butter and just a little shortening.
And here's a link to that recent apple pie thread that discusses pre-cooking among other techniques: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/466892
re: Carb Lover
Thanks for the questions CL.
It is a different pie crust method to keep a mixture of just the flour, salt and shortening refrigerated, without the water. Then measuring the "crumbs," adding water and just rolling.
But I really think this is a great way (though certainly not the only one) of getting a flaky crust. The dough is not overhandled, and I think overworking the dough is one reason crusts fail.
The crust made with this recipe rolls out so easily. It really is a dream to work with.
Until my mother in law passed on her crust recipe to me, I had never heard of anything like this before. And it is not the only crust in my repertoire. But I have to admit, it works great.
To answer your questions:
1. Yes, I did notice a difference in taste and consistency between the tapioca v. flour fillings. But surprisingly, they weren't huge or negative differences.
I did not know that my mother in law microwaved the apples, flour and spices all together. I thought she just microwaved the apples. I also had no idea she did so for 4 minutes! When I precook the apples I only do the apples only for about a minute. This was all new to me. (Keep in mind, she usually bakes pies at 6 in the morning...I had never seen her make one before!)
Her pie filling with the flour, had a soft texture but the apples were not mushy.
My filling looked different because you can see the tapioca if you look carefully in the cooked photo the little clear dots at the bottom.... And I think the apples were a bit firmer but they were still soft and not undercooked. But her filling was softer overall.
Also, she only had to cook her pie for 30 minutes. Mine had to cook for 50 minutes. After 30 mine was still raw.
That's why I say there is more than one way to skin an apple. Two different techniques, and both worked. What it comes down to is personal preference. My in-laws, being in their late 70s, are gong to want a slightly more softer pie than than maybe others would.
I personally prefer a well-cooked pie, but don't mind if my apples have more texture.
My husband though said the pies tasted almost identical to him.
It's interesting that she and I both like Cortlands the best for pies, that is just a coincidence. Her second favorite choice is McIntosh, and my second fave is Granny Smith...very different.
2. Re: the Crisco, we used the Crisco sticks with No Trans Fats. Easier to measure this way rather than dirtying a cup. I usually use just plain Crisco. I had no idea until the demo that she used half butter-flavored Crisco. In fact I winced when she pulled it out. It's not a product I held in high regard. I also must say, I don't use Crisco at all except for pie crust, which is why I buy the sticks and try to use it quickly.
Indeed the flour, salt, Crisco mixture keeps in a tightly-sealed container, refrigerated for up to three months. Don't use a ziplock bag...use something like tupperware or rubbermaid container. And keep it in the back of fridge. When you want a pie, measure the crumb amount you want, add the ice water, and roll. It's that easy.
If you want to just make pie crust and freeze it, this recipe would probably work, but it was not designed for that purpose. There may be better recipes out there. I know another recipe I use with egg and vinegar freezes beautifully.
Thanks for the answer to Diana's question re the Crisco. I, too, dislike it, although I'd probably use it now and then, now that it comes in a non-transfat version. Anyway, I've always wanted to know what the problem with all-butter crusts was, but nobody I asked ever knew the answer.
Even with Crisco, I've always had not such good luck with homemade shortening/butter crusts (despite a couple of first-hand lessons from really talented pie makers), so most of the time I rely on a single-crust version using a pate sucree, tons of layers of thinly sliced apples, and crumb-type toppings. My favorite pate sucree recipe is no-fail for me, makes a generous amount, and I roll, slice and bake the extra as yummy simple cookies, which are great for dunking.
But hubby loves, loves, LOVES apple pie, and hope springs eternal in my heart that one day, for him, I'll be able to master (or at least not desecrate) a traditional American crust. So I really appreciate your generosity in making all this effort to post this for us. I'm going to take your tutorial and give it another try! Thanks so much, Trish.
I hope you will give Apple Pie another chance. I have made all-butter crusts using other recipes, and they are good for apple pastries, but they just don't have a traditional apple pie taste or texture in my opinion. I would be very interested in your no-fail pate sucree recipe.
We use the 0 Trans fats Crisco and it works well. The sticks measure cleanly so I like them.
I once made an apple pie crust using lard, and it actually tasted like meat. So I haven't made one using that fat product since.
TrishUntrapped, I used your exact recipe for the crust and it was delicious, I used a combination of your pie filling and Bittner's in How to Cook Almost Everything (they were very similar except he uses 1/2 c sugar (1/4 brown and 1/4 regular). In any event, thanks, it was delicious and looked beautiful.
Bakerboyz, I am glad to hear your pie was a success! Any tips or other things you would pass on?
I like the idea of using part brown sugar in the pie filling. I am now wondering why I never thought of that as it is a natural match...and I use brown sugar in Baked Apples, Baked Apple Pancake, and Crumb Toppings....
Bittman used pretty much the same ingredients but in different proportions; he only uses 1/2 c. sugar, brown and white; I think that maybe 3/4 is a little too much; he also suggests just before baking to lightly brush dough with milk and spread some white sugar on top of crust (the sugar is a nice touch); he also starts pie, I believe at 450 for 10 minutes and then finishes at 350 rather than cooking at 425 for entire time.
By any chance...did you take any pix...?
Brushing the crust with milk (or combination of egg and milk) and sprinkling with sugar before baking is a great idea. My mother-in-law always does that with her berry pies.
I admit to being a big fan of lattice crusts on berry pies. I like making the criss cross strips.
Thanks for all the details!
I too keep a pie crust mix in the freezer. Lynne Rosetto Kaspar says she mixes pie crust ingredients in ziploc bags and keeps in the freezer so they are cold & ready to go. It's a great idea; makes pie making fast and keeps the stuff COLD. As soon as I use up the mix from one bag, I put new flour/fat in the same bag to save myself work.
Loved the slide shows! They are fantastic learning tools for those who have never attemped a scratch pie. I'm always looking for good pie recipes, so I'll be giving the crust and filling recipes a try this weekend. Since she is the best pie baker you know, would your mother-in-law be willing to share any of her other wonderful pie recipes?
Using fresh or frozen blueberries? This recipe is also what she uses for Blackberry, Loganberry, or Boysenberry.
For a 9-inch pie
Piecrust for a 2-crust pie (See first post in thread)
4 cups berries
2/3 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons minute tapioca or 2 Tablespoons flour
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter (cut to dot on top)
A little sugar to sprinkle on top of crust
1, Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Prepare crust, line 9-inch piepan with bottom crust
3. Combine all ingredients except for the butter ina bowl and microwave for three minutes.
4. Pour filling into crust, dot with the butter and place top crust on. Cut slits into crust and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
5. Bake 30 minutes at 425 degrees or until filling bubbles.
I hate to be redundant here and hope you don't get tired of reading pretty much the same as others have written. I thank you for going through all this trouble and effort for all of us and please thank your grandma too for us. You should be patted on the back as this helped me so much. I don't have my grammie around any longer to watch, to feel the pressure of her hands on the dough or how hard to [or not to] roll the dough out. Where I live, I've not heard of Courtland apples so I hope fuji or gala are all right. My MIL used Rome beauties but I never liked them, they were very soft apples to me without much flavor. I have to go to the store tomorrow for the dual flavors of Crisco. Thanks for doing this again, it gets me all excited about the prospects of tomorrow. Ah heck, it just gives me another reason to get into the kitchen again.
re: iL Divo
Hi Il Divo,
I just read this thread again after several months. I hope you made your apple pie, and wonder how it came out!
I think any apple can make a good pie. If an apple is really sweet a little lemon juice will give it a lift.
The point is: Baking apple pies is a VERY good thing to do!
It was so good to see some activity on this thread as I made 2 apple pies this week and was not successful re: the gap. I followed the slide show for raw apples, but my apples cooked down after cooling and voila - there was the dreaded gap. I did not use your crust recipe. Might that have been the problem? I made my dough with transfat free shortening (Whole Foods brand, not Crisco), Earth Balance buttery stick, a litte salt, and ice water. Used the food processor, patted dough into 2 disks, then refrigerated for 30 minutes. I gave dough about 20 minutes outside fridge before rolling. The apples I used were galas, braeburn, pink lady, ambrosia, and granny smith. I haven't seen Cortlands or Macouns in the market lately. I did not use any MacIntosh. I pushed down the top crust to "hug" the apples before I put the pie into the oven, used an apple corer to make steam vents, and pricked the crust with the tines of a fork for additional ventilation. I sliced the apples very thinly and stacked them into the bottom crust, dotted with some Earth Balance spread. I followed the slide show closely, but I must be doing something wrong. If you have any thoughts, please share. I think my next step is to precook the apples. Does your MIL zap her apples on high for 4 minutes or on another setting? I'd like to try again.
Thank you very much for your wonderful slide show and all your great information. I printed it out for my pie file.
How did the pie taste? Was the crust flaky? If you liked the crust's texture and flavor....keep it...
Tips on reducing "the gap" (a/k/a the air pocket between the top crust and the apples....
1. Use a lot of apples. Whether you precook the apples, like my mother in law does, or use raw ones like I do, mound them up. They shrink as they cook down. Also, for my raw version, I actually press the apples down a little with my hands before putting the top crust on, to remove some of the air gaps.
2. Pre-cooking the apples shrinks them down a bit so they tend not to have as much shrinkage when cooked, thus eliminating the gap.
3. Likewise, in my raw version which sits for some time in tapioca and lemon juice - the juices start to exude fromt he apples and the apples are a bit shrunk before they go into the pie shell.
4. I think when you put raw apples in a crust, without pre-cooking or without drawing the juices out from tapioca.... that you are more likely to get an air gap....so press those apples down, then put the top crust over them. Just lay the crust so it rests on the apples. The crust should never be placed above the apples with a space.
5. One more thing - use the right amount of apples for the size pan. There is a great difference between the amount of apples used in a 9-inch regular-sized pie, and a 10 inch deep dish.
Good luck with things.
Thank you Trish for your quick reply. I will follow all your advice for my next pie. To answer some of your questions, I was not happy with the crust's texture. My crusts tend to be hit or miss and I think that's because I try different shortenings and don't write down what I've used and whether it was good. Some of my crusts have been delicious, others, just eh. The apples were delicious, so I scooped them out and ate them with very little crust. I used 8 medium sized apples for a 9 inch pie and let the apples stand for about 45 minutes in seasonings and tapioca. I guess I didn't mound them well into the bottom crust. I'll try pressing them down with my hands and laying the crust on top so that it looks more like your pictures.
Does grandma zap apples on HIGH for 4 minutes?
Thank you again for your help. If I don't get it right next time with raw apples (eliminating the gap), I'll try grandma's technique. I love the slideshow. It's great!
You will want 6 cups of apples for a 9 inch regular, non-deep dish pie. I suspect you may have been coming up short on that amount and there weren't enough apples in the pie - hence the gap.
One thing about successful pie crust is measurement is really important. Try my mother-in-law's recipe. See if it works for you.
And yes she microwaves her apples mixed with flour, sugar and spices, on high for four minutes. You may not need as much as four minutes, as each microwave varies on intensity. When I nuke my apples, I do it for about 3 minutes.
And good luck!!!
I may be the only one thinking this and am surprised no one mentioned it. but it's early still and I may have missed it.
"Earth Balance" spread.
just read the ingredients and it contains filtered water.
most spreads that I've read ingredients on do contain water.
so instead of fat it includes more liquid moisture in the recipe that original recipe isn't calling for if that makes sense.
I could be wrong here but having used spreads in the past where butter or good quality <(if there is such a thing) margarine is called for, the spreads don't work or produce an end result I'm looking for. my margarine choice back in the day (because I think it's not as good as it used to be) was Imperial.
I do realize you're speaking of Earth Balance not margarine.
Gorgeous pies. Pie makers make me so jealous!
Thanks for posting the recipe, photos and instructions, I am one of those that has tried darn near my entire life trying to bake a pie without luck. Thanks!
My mother used to make what she called a French Apple Pie, it was delicious and unfortunately my sister, brother nor I wrote down the recipe. But she made a different topping, more like a crumble for the top. Oh well. Thanks again, beautiful work!
I use the same recipe for my Apple Pie Filling and I also use Cortland Apples. I wanted to see your video's but I couldn't see them. Are they still available for viewing. I want to see how your grandmother makes her pies. I want to perfect my pie. I hope your videos will still be abailable. Thank you,
Hi, Trish! I followed your crust recipe and it worked out great. Thank you! I felt that 2 c of crumbs wasn't enough for both top and bottom crust, but other than that, no issues! I precooked my apples on the stove (adding a braised quince) and the pie was not juicy per se, but we all liked it that way.
hey Trish, I'd love to view the link above on original topic thread again but it's gone.
is there another link where we can view same thing over?
this has been years now since OT and some of us need extra help with remembering special techniques on how to achieve the specialness of a perfect apple pie.
gad that's a lot of words................haahahahah
please advise TIA
re: iL Divo
Thanks for the feedback fromtxtoca! I use about three cups of crumbs now for a 10-inch two crusted pie. I like the idea of the quince!
Il Divo, good luck with making pie. In a nutshell this is the dealio: Make a batch of crumb mixture ahead of time and keep it cold until needed (You can even free the crumbs if you like.) measure the amount of crumbs you want and add enough ice cold water to make a soft dough - and roll it out on a heavily floured board right then and there.
I precook the apples a little bit with the sugar, spices and thickening agent of choice, not too much, to warm them up and get their juices flowing. This prevents a soupy undercooked filling.
Here is a recent pic of a Chocolate Cream Pie I made for Thanksgiving using 1 and 1/2 cups of crumbs for a 10-inch deep dish pie.