Apple Pie Bakealong: Challenge #4

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Tick… tick… tick… That’s the timer ticking down to Thanksgiving, and you know what that means: pie. How are your pie crust skills? Are you roll, roll, rolling your own — or unrolling one from the supermarket? If the latter, our November Apple Pie Bakealong will give you the confidence (and step-by-step instructions) you need to make homemade pie start to finish — including the crust.

Pumpkin and apple vie for top spots on the pie chart at Americans’ Thanksgiving tables. And while pumpkin pie can be pretty formulaic, apple pie is a great opportunity to express your creativity.

Which apples do you use? What spices? Is vanilla extract your secret filling ingredient, or do you add a couple of slugs of heavy cream (or boiled cider)?

And then there’s the top crust. Do you cover your filling with an artistically slashed solid crust, or weave a lattice? Maybe you’ve developed a special crimping technique, or you decorate your pie’s top with intricately fashioned pastry apples and leaves.

Whatever your skill level, apple pie is a super opportunity to get imaginative. And our Apple Pie Bakealong encourages you to share your pie with the world! Take a photo, tag it with #bakealong, and post.

This apple pie is a show-stopper, from flaky crust to flavorful filling. #Bakealong! Click To Tweet

Let’s begin with the crust.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

There are lots of techniques for making tender, flaky pie crust — and I’ll bet I’ve tried most of them! Over the years, my crusts have ranged from hard as shoe leather, to wonderfully tender but impossible to roll out, to just this side of perfect.

I’ve tried crusts with vinegar and lemon juice, supposedly to tenderize the gluten but, in reality: bogus. I’ve made crust with vodka; it was easy to roll out, but I saw no difference in the final product.

I’ve made no-roll vegetable oil crust (not flaky, but tender and tasty); whole-grain crust; and all-butter crust (YUM, but doesn’t hold a crimp very well).

The crust I’m making here is a simple but effective combination of all-purpose flour, salt, butter, shortening, and water. The key technique is knowing how much water to add: too little and your crust won’t hold together. But too much and it’ll be hard and tough. Experience is your best teacher here; make enough pie crusts and you’ll know by look and feel when you’ve added just enough water.

If you’re not quite there yet, though, follow along with me here. And for more great tips, be sure to read our complete guide to perfect pie crust.

Mix flour and salt with shortening

Combine the following:

2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening

Work the shortening into the flour and salt until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Add butter

Dice 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter into 1/2″ or so pieces.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflourWork the butter into the flour mixture until you have fat flakes of butter the size of a dime. Do this by hand, using a pastry blender, or check out our post, How to make pie crust in your stand mixer.

Add ice water

Next, you’re going to add 7 to 10 tablespoons ice water. Use the greater amount in winter, the lesser in summer, and something in between during the fall and spring.

Why the flexible water amounts? Because flour is like a sponge. It absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and thus is “wetter” (and requires less liquid) on humid summer days, and drier when it’s cold and dry out.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Do the squeeze test

When the flour mixture starts to clump but hasn’t yet come together, stop adding water and assess the situation.

When you grab a handful, does it hold together easily, or does it fall apart and crumble in your hands?

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

If it holds together easily, the dough is ready.

Note: Check out how to use a spray bottle to add just the right amount of water to pie dough, outlined in our apple pie recipe online.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Divide the dough

Divide the dough in two pieces; one should be about twice as large as the other. The larger piece will be the bottom crust; the smaller piece, the top crust. Pat each piece of dough into a disk about 3/4″ thick.

Roll each disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges. This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, with fewer cracks and splits at the edges later. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling out.

While the dough is in the fridge, make the filling.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Choose your apples

So many apples to choose from! I love baking with these Golden Russets, often in combination with Northern Spies. For more advice, see our post, The very best pie apples.

Here’s what you’ll need for your pie filling:

8 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples, from about 3 1/4 pounds whole apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup bottled boiled cider or undiluted apple juice concentrate
2 tablespoons butter, diced in small pieces, to sprinkle atop filling once it’s in the crust

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Peel, core, and slice

An apple peeler/corer/slicer makes short work of apple prep — like 15 seconds from whole apple to peeled slices!

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Complete the filling

Put the apple slices in a bowl, and toss them with the lemon juice.

Next, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, and spices.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Easiest way? In a lidded canning jar. Shake ’em up, baby!

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Sprinkle the mixture over the apples, and stir to coat them. Stir in the boiled cider or apple juice concentrate.

Lightly grease a 9″ pie pan that’s at least 1 1/2″ deep. Greasing the pan will make it easier to dig out that awkward first serving.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Roll and fill the bottom crust

OK, back to the crust. Remove it from the fridge. Roll the larger piece of pastry into a 13″ circle. I’m using a silicone rolling mat here: easy rolling, hassle-free cleanup!

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Transfer the crust to the prepared pan, and trim the edges so they overlap the rim of the pan by an inch all the way around.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Spoon the apple filling into the pan. Dot the top with the 2 tablespoons diced butter.

Top crust: plain or lattice

Roll out the remaining pastry to an 11″ circle. If you’d like a plain top, transfer the dough to the top of the pie, sealing it to the bottom crust. Crimp the edges, and cut a few vent holes to release steam as the pie bakes.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

If you choose to make a lattice crust, cut the rolled-out pastry in 3/4″ strips.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Use the strips to weave a lattice, which is easier seen than explained; please watch our video, How to weave a lattice pie crust.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Believe it or not, in all the decades I’ve been baking, I’d never made a lattice crust. Pretty nice, huh?

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Add some final touches

Brush the crust with water, milk, or cream; milk or cream will give the crust a darker finish.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Sprinkle the crust with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired; this will give it a pretty, glittery finish. Put the pie in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F while your pie is in the fridge. If you have a baking stone, put the stone on the floor of the oven, or on the lowest shelf.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Bake until bubbling

Put the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any drips. Then put the pan on the baking stone (or on the lowest rack of the oven).

Bake the pie for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 40 minutes more, until you see the filling bubbling inside the pie. Let the filling bubble for a good 10 minutes; this will ensure it thickens properly.

If the edge of the crust appears to be browning too quickly, shield it with aluminum foil, or a pie crust shield.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Remove the pie from the oven. Don’t be dismayed by the syrup pooled around the edges; that’s exactly what your pie should look like, evidence of sufficient baking to thicken the filling.

Apple Pie Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Let the apple pie cool

Wait until the pie cools completely before cutting and serving. If you cut into the hot pie immediately, the juices will seep from the filling into the bottom of the pan; some of the apples may slump out, too.

If you want to serve warm pie, let it cool, then reheat individual slices in the microwave; or reheat the entire pie in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes or so. The apples will have reabsorbed their juice, and a short reheat in the oven won’t result in any further filling floods.

There! Are you ready to bake an apple pie? Give it your best, then share via #bakealong. To get you started, here’s a printable copy of our Apple Pie recipe. We can’t wait to see your stellar creation!

Interested in more? See our complete collection of Bakealong recipes.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Margaret

    What a gorgeous, finished pie crust. I will try this version; I’m still trying to perfect my crust. I blend cold lard, butter and flour, salt. etc. in a food processor to start; and after I add water so the mix barely holds together, I add more water and pulse my machine until the mix begins to clump. I then dump out the clumps/crumbs on a big piece of parchment paper and press the mix together; then form discs and chill for 30 minutes. My crust for my last pumpkin pie tasted very good; the bottom held up well, but the fluted top part of all my crusts always gets bulky and too crisp. I want something more tender, if possible. Here’s my recipe: I use 2 1/2 c. King Arthur all-purpose flour, 1 T. sugar, 1 T vinegar, 1 T Pwd. buttermilk powder, 1 1/4 t. salt. 12 T cold butter, 4 T cold lard, and 1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water. I like the taste; but after baking, the crust isn’t as tender as I’d like. What adjustments should I make? Maybe I’m not leaving the butter in large enough pieces?

    Question 2: What effect would adding an egg to the mix (and reducing the water) do? Also; I noticed that before you crimped the top crust on your pie, the edge was ragged and uneven and not deep enough to turn under and crimp both layers together. But the finished crimping was even and beautiful. How did you do this?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello, Margaret! We recommend checking out our Flaky, tender pie crust blog article, it sounds like the amount of water in your dough is what might be causing the toughness in your finished crust. Also, you may want to cover the edges of your pie with tinfoil towards the end of the bake to prevent the edges from getting too crispy. You could certainly experiment with reducing the water (we suggest by about a 1/4 cup) in your dough and adding an egg, but our thought with this is that it will be closer to a tart crust and not quite as sturdy. We do have a recipe for pie dough that has a small amount of egg in it that you could use as a reference for your experiment, it is our Nothing in the House Pie Crust recipe. As for the crimping in the photos featured in the article, the bottom crust was crimped along the edges and the ends of the lattice pieces were smoothed and pressed into the bottom crust along the inside of the pie. Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  2. Nancy Walker

    For many years, my grandma, my mom, and I bake our friut pies in a large brown paper grocery bag for no mess, perfectly browned pie crust. I never see anyone famous do this on a cooking she, nor do I ever see it as a great hint for no fool crust on pies. Simply open the bag, place it on a half pan cookie sheet, place the pie inside, pulling out the sides so the pie isn’t touching the bag, fold the opening and staple it closed. Place pie, bag and pan on lowest rack of the oven and bake at 400 degrees F. for one hour and fifteen minutes. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack and carefully open the bag from the top with kitchen sheers. I always take the pie out of the bag and put it on a cooling rack until cool. Sometimes I make a pie that is too full, so the bag catches anything that boils over. That’s a good thing!

    Reply
    1. Jennifer

      Near where I live in Wisconsin there is a place that is famous for pies baked a paper bag. I’ve never baked one in a bag myself but having tried the pie from a paper bag I can attest that they turn out amazing! Thank you for posting instructions.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      The Paper Bag Apple Pie trend is definitely a culinary adventure worth trying once, Jennifer! If you decide to give it a go, we hope you’ll share your baking experience with us. Happy pie baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Mary, you’re welcome to use lard if that’s an ingredient you enjoy using in your baking. Just note that you may be able to detect the slightly savory flavor in the final pie crust depending on what kind of lard you use. You can also use more butter in place of the shortening if that’s the ingredient you’re trying to avoid. No other adjustments need to be made; just make a 1:1 swap. Good luck and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. James Pepper

    Your link is wrong a printable copy of our Apple Pie recipe. It does not go to a PDF file, it goes to a page on your SIFT webpage.

    Reply
  4. Efrain Vargas-Hernandez

    Great pie crust recipe. Turned out fabulous. Pie was scrumptious. Thank King Arthur for the recipe I will post on instagram.

    Reply

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