This pie includes a new trick from baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum. To keep from having a runny filling and soggy bottom crust, just mix the filling, let it drain in a strainer, boil down its juices and add them back to the apples; it makes them even more delicious. Take the recipe a step at a time and you'll have an outstanding pie.
Three things to remember about tender pie crust: One, keep all the ingredients very cold. Two, don't over-mix; just toss everything into a rough, lumpy dough. Three, every time you work the crust, either mixing or rolling, give it a 30-minute rest in the refrigerator. Keeping the butter in big flakes makes for a flaky pie crust.
Make the pie crust first. As it chills, prepare the apples and set them aside. Then roll out the crust, give it a rest, fill and bake.
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (measure by dipping cup into the flour sack and then sweeping off any excess with a flat knife blade)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, each cut into 4 or 5 pieces
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
- 5 to 7 tablespoons ice water or iced apple juice
- 6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced about 1/2-inch thick (don't use Golden Delicious - they will ruin the pie)
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 1/2 to 2/3 tightly packed cup dark brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons sugar
1. To make the pie crust take a large plastic bag and have the children measure in all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, and salt) and toss them together. Add the butter to the bag and seal it. Put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
2. Turn the contents into a big bowl. Ask the young ones to make sure their hands are clean. Then show them how to blend the flour with the butter by rubbing them together with fingertips. Don't use palms because the heat will melt the butter. The butter should be in big flakes (about 2 inches long).
3. Now have them sprinkle the vinegar and 5 tablespoons ice water over the dough. With a fork toss everything until it's barely moistened. Try to gather the dough into a ball. If too dry, sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons water, toss lightly, and then gather the dough into a ball.
4. Divide the dough into 2 balls (one slightly larger than the other), wrap up, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
5. Toss together the apples and lemon juice. Add the other ingredients for the filling, tasting for sweetness. Turn into a sieve and set over a bowl. Leave for 30 minutes.
6. Grease a 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Roll out the bigger piece of dough on a well-floured board into a big circle that's about 1/8-inch thick. Lightly flour the top of the dough to keep it from sticking. Fit it into the pie pan, leaving about a 2-inch overhang. (Save scrapes for decorating the pie) Chill 30 minutes
7. Spread a piece of foil over a cookie sheet. Roll out remaining dough to a circle that's about 16 inches in diameter. Set on the foil and chill 30 minutes.
8. Turn the drained juices from the filling into a saucepan and boil them into a thick syrup. Scrape back into the apples.
9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
10. Fill the bottom of the pie shell with apples, mounding them high and pressing out air pockets. Cover with the big round of pastry. Seal edges together by rolling the overhang over the top crust and pinching them together. There should be a high ridge of crust on the pie plate rim.
11. Brush beaten egg over the top of the pie. Cut out a few steam holes. Cut out stars or leaves from the dough scrapes. Arrange on the crust, brush with more egg and sprinkle with sugar.
12. Bake on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes to an hour, or until apples are tender when you pierce them through one of the steam holes. Cool the pie on a rack while you start dinner. Serve warm or at room temperature