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Guest Blog: Homemade Apple Pie with a Homemade Crust

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I was really excited to get this recipe and from my friend, Sara!  If you are in need (or if you have one already, I bet this one is better!) of a delicious Apple Pie recipe, then look no further!!  Sara explains the basics of making a pie crust and the apple pie as well.  I told Sara that I have always been pretty reluctant to make pie, because it is somewhat intimidating!  She told me that, “no one should be intimidated by pie!”  After reading this great tutorial and recipe, I think I am up for the challenge!!  Lets get to it!

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Homemade Apple Pie with a Homemade Crust

When I was growing up, the night before Thanksgiving was always PIE NIGHT.  My mom and my sisters and I (and sometimes my grandmother or aunts) would converge in the kitchen and bake all the delicious pies for the next day’s feast.  We would talk and laugh well into the night (and as we got older, we added wine to the mix!) As a child I felt so warm and happy and comforted as we baked, and that feeling of togetherness is something that will always stay with me. Since I moved across the country, I don’t have the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my family as much anymore, but I still make sure the tradition remains.  Even if I am by myself in my kitchen, I make my pies and if I close my eyes, and smell the comforting scents of pecans and pumpkin filling my nose, I can convince myself that I am surrounded by my mother and sisters.  I think the memories of those pie nights every year were the driving force that pushed me into baking as a hobby. No matter what I am making it always brings me to a place of safety and love.

Despite the loving feelings that stem from our pie making sessions, we were not a group of Martha Stewarts. When I began baking in earnest, I really wanted to learn how to make a proper pie, with a homemade crust.  One of the first pies I perfected was a classic apple pie.  Almost everyone loves apple pie, and it is a beautiful and delicious treat to finish off a weekend meal or a larger holiday feast, or to bring as a dish to a potluck or party.  The recipe below comes from Martha Stewart herself (as a side note, if you’re looking for a go-to baking recipe, I almost always have success with hers.  Sometimes they’re a bit complicated, but they are very much worth the effort).

Pie making seems to daunt many people, and it really shouldn’t   Whenever I tell people that I make my own pie crust, they seem to think it is a long drawn out process, but it is probably one of the simplest things you can make.  It only has 4 ingredients, and one is water. And the difference between a homemade crust and a pre-made shell or roll out dough is so significant, once you make one, you’ll never go back!  If you’ve never made one, but were afraid, or not sure how it works, get in there and make it happen!  I’ve taken step by step photos to help you visualize what things should look like, but please don’t stress if it doesn’t look exactly the same.  Baking should be fun and tasty, and while it is a precise art, it’s okay to make a mistake.  I make a few mistakes (which I will highlight for you), and I still think it tasted great, so I guarantee you will still impress your family and friends with a scratch-made pie this Thanksgiving! Happy Baking!

Making the Crust
Print
Pâte Brisée (This is just a fancy way to say Pie Dough)
  1. 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  4. 1/4 cup ice water (plus extra tablespoons as needed)
  5. **Quick Note on ingredients - always use unsalted butter in baking recipes. Salted butter will affect the salt content of your recipe. Also pay attention to the egg size in the recipe. I also prefer to use unbleached flour when baking.
Instructions
  1. Making The Crust
  2. *Quick Note - try not to touch the dough too much or overmix it. It’s going to be flakier and tastier the less you handle and work it over. Also, try to keep your ingredients cold, especially if you have a hot kitchen. If your dough gets too warm, it won’t manipulate properly and you will be sad.
  3. 1. Combine flour and salt in the food processor
  4. 2. Add your butter to the dry ingredients and pulse until the dough looks like a bunch of crumbs
  5. 3. As the processor is running, add the ice water in a steady stream until dough starts to combine. If it is not combining, add more water a tablespoon at a time until it does. Once it forms, stop. This should take about 10-30 seconds (no longer than 30)
  6. 4. Split the dough in half, and transfer each clump to clean plastic wrap. Wrap the dough up, and press each into a disk and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least an hour or overnight.
Notes
  1. I highly recommend using a food processor for ease but if you don’t have one, you can follow these steps in a bowl using a pastry cutter, a fork, or even your fingers!
Domestic Superhero http://domesticsuperhero.com/

Making the Pie
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  2. 1 large egg yolk
  3. 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  4. 3 lbs assorted apples (eg, Granny Smith, Cortland, Empire, etc) (peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4” slices)
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  6. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  11. Sanding (or granulated) sugar for sprinkling
Assembling The Pie
  1. *Quick Note – Baking is easier and less stressful if all your ingredients are prepared and measured out beforehand. Sadly, however, I often forget that, and my kitchen will become a disaster area as the pie making goes on and I realize I forgot to grind nutmeg. If you want an easy assembly, do all your prep work in advance before you start to put the pie together. You and your kitchen will thank you.
  2. 1. Remove one disc from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface (I find parchment paper to be the best option). Gently roll the dough into a 12” (for a 9” pie shell). This is one of the scarier parts of pie making, even for me. It can take practice, and it’s ok if you don’t roll out a perfect circle. Try to keep an even pressure on the dough as you roll, and try to roll around the disk not in an up-down motion.
  3. 2. Gently roll the dough onto your rolling pin and carefully place in the pie pan. Lightly press the dough into the sides and edges. Trim excess dough to a 1/2” overhang and chill shell in the refrigerator until firm (about 30 minutes).
  4. 3. Remove the other disc and roll it out as you did with the bottom crust. Transfer the rolled out dough onto parchment paper on a baking sheet, and chill with the shell. This is where the parchment paper comes in handy – if you rolled it onto paper, you can just transfer the whole piece of paper with the rolled out dough on top to the baking sheet without disrupting the dough at all.
  5. 4. Whisk together egg yolk and heavy cream and set aside
  6. 5. If you haven’t already, peel and core, and slice your apples, and grind your nutmeg. Fresh ground nutmeg seems an extravagance but it only takes a minute, and the flavor is significantly better than pre-ground. You can use the leftover later to enhance all sorts of autumnal pies, notably Pumpkin.
  7. 6. Toss apples with flour, cinnamon, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. At this point, my kitchen usually looks like a bomb went off in it, and I tidy up a bit while I let the apples sit and the flavors meld.
  8. 7. Pull your chilled shell out and lay the apples inside. Pile them slightly in the middle. Dot the top with the small butter bits. About halfway through this step, you will say to yourself “there are so many apples, how on earth will I fit them all into one pie shell?” And the answer is, just keep piling them on. Fit them in crevices, pile them on top of each other, keep shoving them in there. They’ll fit, I promise.
  9. 8. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the edge of the crust with the egg/cream mix. Place the second piece of dough on top and lightly press the edges together. Trim the top piece to about a 1 inch overhang and tuck the dough under. Crimp the edges how you prefer (I just did a simple edge here, but you can get very creative if you are so inclined.)
  10. 9. Brush the entire surface with the egg wash. Sprinkle all over with sanding (or granulated) sugar. Cut air vents for steam to escape (I used the cutouts seen above), and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes (or until firm).
  11. 10. As the pie freezes, preheat the oven to 400ºF (put the rack in the lower 3rd part of the oven)
  12. 11. Place pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until the crust begins to turn golden (about 20 minutes).
  13. 12. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF, and continue baking (rotate the baking sheet halfway through) until the crust is a deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and thickened (approximately 40-45 minutes).
  14. 13. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Best served the day of, but can be kept wrapped in plastic for up to 2 days.
Domestic Superhero http://domesticsuperhero.com/

Assembling The Pie – Steps in detail (see above for printing)

*Quick Note – Baking is easier and less stressful if all your ingredients are prepared and measured out beforehand.  Sadly, however, I often forget that, and my kitchen will become a disaster area as the pie making goes on and I realize I forgot to grind nutmeg.  If you want an easy assembly, do all your prep work in advance before you start to put the pie together. You and your kitchen will thank you.

1. Remove one disc from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface (I find parchment paper to be the best option). Gently roll the dough into a 12” (for a 9” pie shell).  This is one of the scarier parts of pie making, even for me.  It can take practice, and it’s ok if you don’t roll out a perfect circle.  Try to keep an even pressure on the dough as you roll, and try to roll around the disk not in an up-down motion.

This pastry board is AMAZING.
I use it constantly

Roll dough to a 12” round I use a french rolling pin, which offers much more control than a traditional one.

2. Gently roll the dough onto your rolling pin and carefully place in the pie pan.  Lightly press the dough into the sides and edges.  Trim excess dough to a 1/2” overhang and chill shell in the refrigerator until firm (about 30 minutes).

Rolling the dough over the pin to transfer keeps your fingers off and makes for a smoother transition.

Press the dough into the pie plate, into the edges. Try not to break the dough, but if you do, gently press it back together.

3. Remove the other disc and roll it out as you did with the bottom crust.  Transfer the rolled out dough onto parchment paper on a baking sheet, and chill with the shell. This is where the parchment paper comes in handy – if you rolled it onto paper, you can just transfer the whole piece of paper with the rolled out dough on top to the baking sheet without disrupting the dough at all.

4. Whisk together egg yolk and heavy cream and set aside

The egg wash will give a golden brown color to the crust and prevent burning. Step #4

5. If you haven’t already, peel and core, and slice your apples, and grind your nutmeg. Fresh ground nutmeg seems an extravagance but it only takes a minute, and the flavor is significantly better than pre-ground.  You can use the leftover later to enhance all sorts of autumnal pies, notably Pumpkin.

6. Toss apples with flour, cinnamon, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. At this point, my kitchen usually looks like a bomb went off in it, and I tidy up a bit while I let the apples sit and the flavors meld.

7. Pull your chilled shell out and lay the apples inside.  Pile them slightly in the middle.  Dot the top with the small butter bits. About halfway through this step, you will say to yourself “there are so many apples, how on earth will I fit them all into one pie shell?” And the answer is, just keep piling them on.  Fit them in crevices, pile them on top of each other, keep shoving them in there.  They’ll fit, I promise.

8. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the edge of the crust with the egg/cream mix.  Place the second piece of dough on top and lightly press the edges together.  Trim the top piece to about a 1 inch overhang and tuck the dough under.  Crimp the edges how you prefer (I just did a simple edge here, but you can get very creative if you are so inclined.)

I cut decorative vents into the top crust before laying it over the apples. If you want to do this, do not do what I did and make the cuts too close to each other! But if you do want to use decorative mini cutters to create pretty patterns, I have found that making the cutouts before placing the top crust generally results in a better overall look.

Place the top crust, trim and crimp edges.

9. Brush the entire surface with the egg wash.  Sprinkle all over with sanding (or granulated) sugar.  Cut air vents for steam to escape (I used the cutouts seen above), and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes (or until firm).

Brush with wash and sprinkle generously with sugar

10. As the pie freezes, preheat the oven to 400ºF (put the rack in the lower 3rd part of the oven)

11. Place pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until the crust begins to turn golden (about 20 minutes).

After about 20 minutes, when crust looks like this, lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

12. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF, and continue baking (rotate the baking sheet halfway through) until the crust is a deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and thickened (approximately 40-45 minutes).

**TIP: This is why you should always place parchment paper and a baking sheet under the pie. Sticky mess!

13. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Best served the day of, but can be kept wrapped in plastic for up to 2 days.

The finished product. Let cool completely and enjoy your hard work!

 


When not making pies, Sara Dean works full time at Iconic Entertainment, an entertainment marketing and product placement agency that she runs with her longtime partner. They live in Culver City, California with their two beautiful daughters and one giant dog.  She hopes to be a regular pie and baking correspondent on Domestic Superhero, and hopes that her tips will give everyone the courage to try something new this holiday season.

 

BIG THANKS to Sara for this awesome tutorial on how to make a pie crust and apple pie.  We are hopeful that Sara will have several more pie posts for us in the near future!!  If you haven’t check out Domestic Superhero on Facebook, head over there and check it out!

 

Comments

  1. Looks delish!!!

  2. I can make anything but pie crust,I will be trying this pie crust recipe this weekend! Hopefully it comes out just fine :)

    • Cat, just make sure you keep your ingredients cold. If it starts to warm too much when rolling, put it back in the fridge for a while. If your kitchen is really hot, you could even put some of the ingredients in the freezer for a bit to maintain that cold temperature. You can do it!

    • I bet it will, Cat!! Let us know how it turns out! Good luck!

  3. Lakeshia E says:

    Sara is the bee’s knees and I want some pie now!

  4. oh my this looks delicious!!! definitely adding to my to do list!

  5. Susie Freeman says:

    Hi, your pie looks wonderful and the tutorial is very good, just one little thing. The amount of flour in the pie crust recipe is not correct. Sorry

    Regards, Susie

    • Thank you for letting me know! It was a typo and should be 2.5 cups of flour.

      • Susie Freeman says:

        Allyson:

        I am glad you were ok with me telling you. I was afraid you would get mad, I did not want a bunch of women making that beautiful pie and having the crust melt off and get mad at you lol, I am sorry I have done that. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving

        Susie

  6. Beautiful!! Looks YUMMY too!

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