Perhaps out of all the pies in all the world, the one that can break your heart the most is Apple Pie.
In theory, Apple Pie sounds so basic and approachable. Crust and apples…what could go wrong? In my experience, a lot can go wrong with Apple Pie.
Besides the challenge of achieving the right balance of spice, sweetness, and acidity, the primary place of apple pie heartache is the shrinking fruit. You begin with an oven-ready pie, piled high with a mound of apples, covered in a glorious crust, ready to shine. And then two hours later, you open the oven and discover the fruit has baked down to nothing, leaving you with a cavern of space between the top crust and the fruit. Heartbreaking.
Even worse? Apples that started crisp and delicious have dissolved into mush in the oven yielding an applesauce pie that is soggy and spoon-worthy. Not my idea of pie. Not my idea of fun.
Enter today’s recipe for Apple Pie, ready to save the day! This is the Apple Pie of my holiday dreams. The fruit in the baked pie maintains its structural integrity (thanks to Pink Lady apples), the flavor works year-round but is well-suited for holiday gatherings, and there is not a cavern of space between crust and filling. This pie slices beautifully, requiring a fork (and a scoop of ice cream).
Before you dive in and make this pie, I would encourage you to watch the video tutorial below. The filling is thickened by gathering the juice from the macerated apples and cooking it with a bit of cornstarch to create a slurry that is then poured back over the apples. It is the key to apple pie success, and the process is easy once you see how it is done.
for the filling…
- 4 pounds Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For the crust…
- You will need two ample disks of pie dough suitable for a deep dish pie. You can either make your own, or you can purchase pie dough from the refrigerated case at any grocery store. My one piece of advice is to go with the name brand version instead of the generic store brand. In my part of the country, this means Pillsbury. The difference in quality is very noticeable and worth the extra cost.
- 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water or half-and-half
- chunky sugar for sprinkling on top
- To make the filling, combine the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, allspice, ground cardamon, Kosher salt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
- Stir to combine and coat the apples evenly with the spices and sugar.Let the apple mixture sit at room temperature (you can cover it if you like) until the apples release their juices.
- Depending on your apples, this may take as little as one hour, but up to three hours. Alternatively, you can stash this mixture in the fridge overnight and come back to it the next day.
- Once there is juice collected in the bottom of the apple mixture bowl , you need to collect all the juice into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. You will need 3/4 cup of juice. If you collect more than 3/4 cup, pour off any extra. If you collect less than 3/4 cup, add a bit of water to make up for it.
- Add the cornstarch to the 3/4 cup of juice, and stir to combine.In a small skillet or pot, over medium heat, very gently heat the cornstarch mixture until it begins to thicken. It might come to a boil, but it might not. This slurry mixture may get very thick very quickly, and that is okay.
- Remove from the heat, stir to combine until there are no lumps, and then pour the thickened mixture over the apples. Toss well to coat the apples in the thickened juice.
- Once you are ready to assemble the pie, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. I suggest placing your pie plate on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any drips.
- Roll out one of the pie dough disks (or unwrap from the packaging) and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. I like to use glass pie plates so that I can clearly see the bottom of the pie and judge when the crust is sufficiently browned underneath before removing it from the oven, but a foil or ceramic pie plate will work fine too.
- Mound the apple mixture on top of the pie dough in the bottom of the pie plate. Dot the apples with the bits of unsalted butter.
- Place the second piece of rolled out pie dough on top of the apples in one piece. Make sure you cut several slices into the top dough to allow the steam to escape. Pinch the edges of the two crusts together all around the edge and crimp close.
- Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with chunky sugar.Chill the pie in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Bake for two hours (it really does take this long!), or until the bottom crust is fully cooked, the fruit filling is bubbling, and the top is a very toasty shade of brown. Allow the pie to cool for at least four hours before serving.Slice and serve!