This is the most delicious apple pie I have ever eaten. It won the best apple pie contest in New England many years ago and was featured on Martha Stewart. I make this pie every Thanksgiving and we all look forward to eating a slice or two. We make room even after a huge turkey dinner.
You do not need to add the egg on top or in the dough. In fact most recipes do not call for egg in the pie crust. It is better with the egg for this recipe but we have to eliminate the egg due to our son’s egg allergy. He would have a melt down if he could not have any pie after tasting this last year.
America’s Test Kitchen conducted a survey and they found the best tasting apples are Empire and Macoun. I have never seen a Macoun but like Empire. For baking purposes, Granny Smith holds its shape well and Macintosh has great flavor but cooks down to almost applesauce. Personally my favorite is the Honey Crisp.
The French usually add two or three different apples for their pies. Mixing the Granny Smith and Macintosh would make a good pie because the Granny Smith has the malic acid and the Macintosh contains fructose for the sweetness. Gala apples are also good for pie. If I can find organic Macintosh, I will use 5 of them with 5 Granny Smith. Otherwise, using all Grannies again.
I recently read apple pie tastes best at room temperature and even better the next day. We usually serve it hot with ice cream. This year I hope to make it ahead of time and relax on Thanksgiving. This pie does take some time but is so worth it.
Here are some tricks for making the crust.
2 to 1 ratio of flour to fat is a good rule for pie crusts. It is best to use a food processor so your hands do not melt the butter. Use unsalted butter and the butter will be pea sizes after processing. The dough will be sticky. You do not want a dry dough or it may be tough or flat.
Refrigerate the dough and then let sit for 10 minutes before you roll it. Place parchment paper on the cutting board and lay out plastic on top of the dough to roll the crust flat. The parchment makes it easy to move around and the plastic does not stick to your rolling pin. After rolling out the crust, chill it again until you are ready to add the filling and bake to ensure the butter does not melt.
Directions from Martha Stewart’s Site
1) Make the crust- In a large bowl, sift together flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and mace. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or use a food processor and pulse until pea-size clumps form. In a small bowl, whisk together brandy, vanilla, and whole egg or 1/2 cup milk if not using an egg. Pour into flour mixture and blend with a fork until mixture is moist and holds together. The dough will be sticky. Place the dough out onto a work surface. Divide the ball into two. Sprinkle with just enough flour and sugar to coat. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten and form two disks. Wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.
2) Make the filling- In a large bowl, sift together sugars, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and mace; set aside the filling mixture. In another large bowl, mix together brandy and vanilla. Peel and core the apples and slice into thin pieces. Toss the apple pieces in the brandy as you slice them to prevent browning. Stir in 3/4 of the filling mixture to the apples and toss to combine.
(My Note: For the filling, the apples should be peeled, cored and halved and then cut into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle more brandy or lemon juice on the apples to prevent browning if needed. I bought this contraption at the Cook’s Warehouse to help peel and core the apples. It is a must if you make this pie every year!)
3) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
4) Roll out the Bottom Crust- Butter and flour a 12-inch pie plate; set aside. Flour the work surface well and roll out the first pie crust and place in buttered pie plate.
Note- This dough is sticky. If you are new to rolling out pie crusts and worried about it sticking to the working surface, you may lay out a piece of plastic wrap and sprinkle with flour and sugar, then add the dough and cover it with another piece of plastic. Then roll the dough out in between the two pieces of plastic wrap into a 14 inch circle. Peel off the top layer of plastic. Place the pie plate on the flattened dough and flip over dough and plate with the plastic side up. Gently peel off the plastic and press the pie crust into the plate. Use scissors or a sharp paring knife to trim the edges to 1 inch past the pie plate. Reserve trimmings.
5) Make the Pie- Sprinkle reserved filling mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. Fill with apple mixture, mounding in the center; dot with butter. Roll out second disk of dough between plastic wrap following the same process as above. Lay over apples. Cut vents into top crust. Trim edges to 1 inch and seal crimping edges with thumb and forefinger. Gather reserved pastry trimmings together and roll 1/8 inch thick. Cut out into leaf shapes or a turkey.
6) Brush the Crust- Beat an egg yolk. Brush top of pie with egg yolk and attach decorative shapes. Sprinkle with sugar. Note- If not using an egg, melt butter and brush on top.
7) Bake- Place pie on a baking sheet. This will catch any juices that may overflow during baking. Loosely cover pie with parchment-lined aluminum foil. Transfer pie to oven and bake for about 1 hour at 400 degrees. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking for another hour. During the last 10 minutes of baking, remove foil so that the pie has a nice golden color. Serve pie warm with some ice cream.