Whenever I make an apple pie, I always think of my grandmother. As I said before, I grew up in the middle of an apple orchard, and apples were a big part of my childhood.
They funny thing is, I do not actually remember my grandmother ever teaching me to make an apple pie. But I do remember my mother teaching me… the way my grandmother taught her.
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I have to admit, this is not exactly my grandmother’s apple pie recipe — or at least it is not the recipe that my mother taught me. I have made it a bit more real-food-friendly which, now that I think about it, probably makes it a bit more like the way my grandmother probably learned to make apple pie.
For Each Crust:
1 1/2 cups organic flour (see why I only use organic flour here); I usually substitute up to half of the white flour with spelt flour (like this); you can also substitute up to half of the white flour with sprouted flour (like this)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (I like Celtic Sea Salt) — use more if your butter is unsalted, or if you like your crust slightly salty
Grandma Tip: An hour or two before you are ready to make the crust, mix your flours and salt and stick them in the freezer. The key to a great pie crust is to keep everything COLD.
8 Tablespoons COLD butter (I like Kerrygold)
5 Tablespoons – 1/2 cup ice cold cider or water
Grandma Tip: Use apple cider instead of water when making an apple pie. It gives the crust a slightly sweeter flavor. Put the cider in the freezer for about 15 minutes before starting — don’t forget about it!
For the Filling:
6 cups of peeled, thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup local honey or sucanat (like this) — I like to use honey because it is local… but it can sometimes lead to a messy pie. If perfect slices are important to you, it’s best to stick with sucanat!
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (like this)
Dash salt (I like Celtic Sea Salt)
Prepare the filling. Core, peel, and thinly slice apples. And place in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mix the dry ingredients — include sucanat, if using — and sprinkle over apples. If using, honey, pour that over the dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate, and leave the bowl to sit out. This gives everything a chance to really combine nicely.
Prepare the crust. Make one crust at a time, leave the ingredients for the second crust in the refrigerator/freezer until you are ready for them.
Put the flour/salt mixture into a large bowl. Cut about half of the butter into tiny cubes; thinly slice the rest. Uniform is NOT best. Add the butter to the flour, and cut it in using a pastry blender. Do NOT over mix. Some butter lumps should be larger than others and only a few of the smallest should be “pea sized.”
Add about 5 tablespoons of the cider (or water) and mix. Use a wooden spoon to give it a quick stir, but there is really no getting around the fact that you have to get your hands in there to fully incorporate the liquid. Add more liquid, a tablespoonful at a time, until all the flour/butter form into a ball. It is better to use slightly more liquid than not enough. You can always add a bit more flour when you roll out the crust… but it is a huge pain in the neck to work with a crust that is too dry!
Ball up the dough and stick it in fridge for about a half-hour. Mix the dough for the other crust while you wait, and stick that in the fridge. Keep waiting.
Grandma Tip: Wait for the full half-hour. You’ll be sorry if you don’t. (Use the time to clean up the kitchen and make room to roll out the crust. You know you made a mess. Also, you have flour on your nose.)
Remove one crust from the fridge, and roll it out on a well-floured surface. Carefully place it in a pie plate. (I like this kind. I think I have a half-dozen of them.)
Carefully place the apples into the pie crust. Do NOT pour them in. Place them, one at a time, if necessary into the crust (it can be a bit like masonry work) until the whole pie is full. It takes a few minutes, but it makes all the difference!
When all the apples are in the pie, add about 2 tablespoons worth of butter “dots” on top. Roll out your second crust, and lay it over the pie. And trim, seal, and crimp the edges.
Be sure you add “vent holes” in the top crust. You can also use them to stick in the butter “dots” if you forgot the butter, which I usually do! Or make a lattice top crust because they are pretty.
Cover the edge of the crust with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 15 minutes.
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