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My wonderful young cousin Erika Sue got in touch late last week, asking if I might have a recipe for making an apple pie. Matter of fact, I did, and I decided to make one and take pictures, so that I could pass along the closest thing to going over and sharing the pleasures of making an apple pie with her in her kitchen. (Only distance and time kept me from doing that right now, and I hope to be cooking with her and all my dear cousins out in beautiful Oregon some time in 2013.) Here’s what I did in words, and in pictures after the words are done.

Please note that the pie crusts, the sheets of pastry I’m using here, came not from my hands but from the grocery store refrigerator case. I know how to make piecrust, and I can make them using butter, shortening, lard, canola oil, or combinations of these. I learned how to do so over many repetitions, and I agree with people who say it is easy and that anyone can do it. I also agree with people who say that it is difficult, challenging, frustrating, and impossible. To me, both those statements are true. I love making piecrust from scratch, and I love setting out a prepared crust and jumping right in with the part that matters most to me: what goes inside and makes a pie a pie.

The question to ask is: What is your goal? If you want to learn how to make piecrust, here are three excellent places to learn how, the third one being a gluten-free piecrust.

If your goal is to make a wonderful pie, and making piecrust seems difficult, scary, or time consuming in terms of this particular pie-making endeavor, you have my blessing to go get ahold of some piecrust from the grocery store fridge or freezer, or your pastry-making friend or relative, and then get started on making a wonderful pie.

This post is about making a wonderful, homemade, you-can-do-this apple pie. If you would like to do a most satisfying and rewarding baking project with young helpers, apple pie making is one of the very best. I love making apple pies, alone and with helpers, skilled and unskilled, my age, younger and older. I love eating them, and I hope you will, too. Here we go!

Nancie’s Old-School Everyday Apple Pie

I started out with 6 – 8 tart apples, which around here are usually granny smiths. I peeled them, and set out the ingredients and tools I needed in addition to apples and piecrust. Sugar, cinnamon, flour, salt, measuring spoons, and knives. About pie pans: They’re all good. If you have the option to be choosy: Ovenproof glass pie pans, are my favorite, since you can see whether the crust is browned and done on the bottom, and because they cook evenly. But any regular pie pan/pie plate will work fine.) Here’s the recipe in words. Photos follow in order. Happy baking, and let me know how your pie comes out!

2 sheets of pie crust, homemade or storebought

6 to 8 apples (green ones such as Granny smith), about 3 pounds, yielding 6 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples)

¾ cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold butter  (plus more butter to rub on the crust after baking)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Drape the bottom piecrust sheet into a pie plate and fit it evenly, so that the top edge is even and there are no air bubbles. Lift and position it – try not to stretch it to fit.

Peel the apples. Cut out the cores and slice them medium-to-thinly. Measure out a generous 6 cups of apples. Place them in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir with a fork to mix everything together evenly and well. Cut the cold butter into small  bits.

Pour the sugar mixture over the apples, and use your hands or two big spoons to toss them and coat them evenly with the spiced sugar mixture. Scoop the apples into the piecrust. Place the bits of butter all over the apples.  Mound the apples up high in the center and low on the sides, so that the crust is exposed on the sides.

Gently place the top crust over the apples and arrange it evenly. Tuck it in and press the two crust layers together well. Trim the edges so that the edges are fairly even all the way around. Tuck the crust under and press to seal it well. Use a fork or your fingers to press and pinch together the edges of the pie crust so that it is sealed.

Using a sharp knife, cut steam vents evenly around the top crust. Place the pie in the 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is evenly browned on top, browned on the bottom (try to check but don’t burn yourself doing this; carefully!), fragrant, and bubbling with syrup through the vents on top.

Remove gently rub cold butter over the top crust to enrich it a bit. Then let the pie cool a little. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes one pie.

The crust tends to brown quickly around the edges. I make a collar out of foil. Make 4 strips of foil, about 3 inches wide. Fold them together, end to end, to make one very long strip. Before baking, Fit this strip around the edges of the pie, curving and pressing so that it covers or tents the crust all around the edges, but leaves the top center exposed. Pinch to fit, loosely. Then set aside.

When you lower the temperature to 350, remove the pie and place it on the stove. Very carefully, with a potholder or dry kitchen towel handy, place it around the top edges of the pie and press the loose edges together. Return the pie with its loose foil collar to the oven and continue baking until done.

Apple Pie, fragrant and delicious, made from apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, butter, and two sheets of piecrust. Ice cream and or whipped cream are never required, but only add to the pleasures, should you be so inclined. I am so glad that my wonderful cousin Erika Sue asked me this question this particular week. I loved making this pie, and I will love it even more if you end up making one, too!

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. BabyBoomerBakes Reply

    What a lovely apple pie! I really like Granny Smith apples for baking apple pies too.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Me, too. Everything else seems…insipid! Not apple-y enough. I LOVE your blog title, as a fellow baker and baby boomer. Happy holiday kitchen fun to you and yours…

  2. sippitysup Reply

    I am so pleased to hear these words from you. A pie master! I too included a section in my boon on “store bought” crusts. I just knew there would be folks that would not try my recipes for Savory Pie because the crust scared the butter from their butt! Ahhh, I breath a sigh of relief. GREG

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thank you, Greg. I love to see people get in there and cook and you are so right. Translation: you agree, you agree, my favorite! But, hey, we’re correct. Within our wonderful world of food-focused folk, it can get snobby and should-y REAL fast, and that makes me sad and mad. If people don’t cook a dish after reading my recipe, nothing is lost. But if they were going to, wanting to, and my Thou Shalt Not’s scares them off, that is a loss. There are thou shalt not’s: people need to know about substitutions (cornmeal won’t work in place of cornstarch, and unsweetened chocolate probably won’t work for bittersweet), but I like it when we invite people in and say “I like THIS!” and not “Shame on you if you don’t make your own ricotta and roast your own coffee beans at home.

  3. sippitysup Reply

    boon=book! XOGREG

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