As I've said before, Cook's Illustrated has the best pie crust recipe. It really does turn out soft yet flaky, absolutely perfect. Cook's Illustrated's Classic Apple Pie can't do you wrong - and in need of some warm sweetness, I made an apple pie the other night, which got better each day as I worked my way through it (with help from a few of my friends). Can you tell I've been craving my sweets lately?
Classic Apple Pie from Cook's Illustrated
Pie Dough: 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 11 tablespoons unsalted butter (8 T per stick, 1 stick = 1/2 cup...), cut into 1/4 inch cubes, 7 tablespoons chilled shortening, 1/3 cup water, chilled with ice, use more if needed.
(Hint: The key to a good crust is the chilled shortening and cold cold water! Don't skip this step to save time. Also, the mixture of shortening and butter is great, as each lend their own improvements to pie crust.)
Pie Filling: 2 T flour, 3 large granny smith apples, 4 large McIntosh apples, 1 T juice and 1 t grated zest from 1 lemon, 3/4 cup plus 1 T sugar, 1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg, 1/4 t ground cinnamon, 1/8 t ground all-spice, 1/4 t salt, 1 large egg white, beaten lightly.
Directions: Mix flour, salt and sugar, sprinkle cubed butter and toss with flour mixture. Cut butter into flour, add shortening and continue to cut into flour until mixture resembles course cornmeal. Butter bits should be no larger than small peas. Sprinkle all but 1 T of ice water over mixture. Using the blade of a rubber spatula, fold to mix. Press down dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, add water as necessary. Divide dough into 2 balls, with one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into 4 inch wide disks, dust with flour, wrap in plastic and regfrigerate for at least 30 minutes. When ready to assemble pie, heat oven to 500 degrees and remove larger piece of dough from fridge (shouldn't be out for more than about 10 minutes). Roll the dough out and place in the bottom of the pie plate and return to the fridge.
Peel, core and quarter the apples; cut the quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with the lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix the 3/4 cup sugar, flour, spices and salt. Toss the dry ingredients with the apples. Turn the fruit mixture, including the including the juices, into the chilled pie shell and mound it slightly in the center.
Roll the 2nd piece of dough to a 12-inch circle and place it over the filling. Trip the edges of the top and bottom dough alters to 1/2 inch beyond the pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that he folded edge is flush with the pan lip. Plt the edge and cut 4 slits in the dough top. If rolling the crust has taken time and the dough is soft, return to the freezer for 10 minutes. Brush the egg white onto the crust and sprinkle the sugar over it.
Place the pie on a baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake the pie until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pie from front to back and reduce the oven temp to 375 degrees. Continue baking until the juices bubble and the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer.
Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature,at least 4 hours, if you can wait that long. :)