Baked Sunday Mornings: Classic Apple Pie

I'm a detail-oriented, risk-averse person. I generally follow recipes exactly as written, especially the first time I make them. But when I saw that this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe was a Classic Apple Pie, I knew I had to take some liberties with the recipe. Pies are just not my thing. And the Baked pie crust in particular has never worked out for me. I've made five pies with this crust (a lemon shaker pie, sawdust pie, peaches and dream pie, buttermilk pie, and blackberry pie) and each one had a severely undercooked bottom crust.

So I decided to depart from the recipe and use Stella Parks' Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough instead (it also appears in her cookbook Bravetart as the "No-Stress All-Butter Pastry Crust"). I've used it to make lots of wonderful single-crust pies with super flaky crusts, and a nice cherry slab pie a few months ago. I made the pie crust, divided it into two equal pieces, rolled them out and lined a Pyrex pie plate with one piece, and put both crusts in the fridge to chill for about 4 hours.

Making the pie filling was easy. The recipe calls for seven medium Granny Smith apples and I used a mix of four Stayman apples (total trimmed weight 500 grams) and three Smokehouse apples (total trimmed weight 470 grams). I browned butter, cooked half of the apples in the butter until softened, and then added the remaining apples and a mixture of brown sugar and Instant ClearJel. The recipe calls for only 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch as a thickener but I was having flashbacks to my soupy blackberry pie, so I used two tablespoons of Instant ClearJel instead. I cooked the mixture until the sugar melted; added whiskey, vanilla, and cinnamon; and cooked the filling until it was thick.

I poured the apple filling in the bottom crust (it was still warm because the recipe doesn't tell you to let it cool off first); laid over the top crust; crimped the crusts together; brushed the top with egg wash; sprinkled on coarse sugar; and cut a few vents. I set the pie pan directly on top of a baking stone on a low rack in the oven. 
While I hadn't bothered to decorate the top of the pie with any decorative cutouts, I still thought this was a terrific looking pie. When I accidentally stuck the thumb of a baking mitt into the top of the pie while I was trying to put it on a cooling rack my first reaction was distress that I had dented my pristine pie -- but then when I saw how wonderfully flaky the crust was where I had broken through it, I felt much better. I let the pie cool and stuck it in the fridge overnight.
When I cut into the pie the following morning the first thing I noticed was the huge gap between the top of fruit filling and the top crust. I know that pre-cooking the apples is supposed to address this issue, so I'm not sure why I still ended up with this problem -- although in retrospect, I probably should have cut larger vents as well (I was going by the photo of the pie in the cookbook, which only has three tiny vents). Still, I was able to remove intact slices of pie. And the bottom crust was cooked!

I thought I could detect a slight whiff of whisky in my first bite of pie, but I might have been imagining it. My co-workers devoured this pie and my husband couldn't stop raving about it and has kept asking me to make more pie. So I'm calling this pie a huge success all round. I don't think I'm ever going to become a pie person, but if I have to make a pie, I would be happy if it's this one.

Recipes: "Classic Apple Pie" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings; "Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Crust" by Stella Parks (aka "No-Stress All-Butter Pastry Crust" in Bravetart).

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Louise said…
I'm not familiar with Smokehouse apples. Looking at the internet shows me that they were developed here in Pennsylvania, so now I'll be on a hunt for Smokehouse.
Pies are so not my thing either! I didn't have any luck with the pie dough recipe. Yours looks nice and flaky. Might just have to try that recipe. If I can work up the nerve to try a pie again. 😐
I had never noticed smokehouse apples either before this year -- but they were the first apples of the season offered by a farm on the MD-PA border that sells at the farmer's market by my office. So far, I'm very happy with their performance in baked goods!
I usually try to avoid pie at all costs! :) But the BraveTart recipe really is so easy to roll out, it's a refreshing change of pace -- I hope you do get the chance to try it!