Classic Apple Pie

We tasted a wide variety of apples and learned that a combination of two distinct types — tart Granny Smith and sweet Mclntosh — yields the richest apple flavor in the pie filling. They also cook at different speeds, which makes for a multi-textured filling: The Granny Smiths soften a bit but stay pretty firm and the Mclntoshes break down to become mushy. For the crispest crust, we found that it’s important to first bake the pie at a very high temperature, then reduce the temperature so that the filling cooks completely. Baking the pie on the lowest rack of the oven, on a heated baking sheet, ensures that the bottom crust remains crisp.–The Editors at America’s Test Kitchen

LC Potential for Peeling Prowess Note

Are we the only ones whose moms used to be the mavericks of apple peeling, able to peel large apples in a single, long, dangly curlicue of red apple skin? Wow, there was some serious apple peeling prowess happening in our kitchens when we were growing up, and without any fancy pants peeling contraptions bought on late-night TV. A nicked paring knife is all that was needed. If you’re feeling a little nostalgic–not to mention inadequate in the peeling department–just breathe and remind yourself practice, practice, practice.

Classic Apple Pie Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • For the crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces nd chilled
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
  • For the pie
  • 2 pounds (4 to 6) McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and slice 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 to 4) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough, bottom crust fit into pie plate
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Directions

  • Make the crust
  • 1. Process the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the shortening over the top and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and, using short pulses, process the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to a bowl.
  • 2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, stir in the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.
  • 3. Divide the dough into two even pieces and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling it out and fitting one of the pieces into the bottom of a pie plate.

    To make ahead: The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Let the frozen dough thaw on the countertop until malleable before rolling.
  • Make the pie
  • 4. Roll one dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of 9-inch Pyrex regular or deep dish pie pan. Unfold dough. Gently press dough into sides of pan leaving portion that overhangs lip of pie plate in place. Refrigerate while preparing fruit.
  • 5. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Toss the apples with cup of the sugar, the flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and spices, and set aside.
  • 6. Roll out the top crust to a 12-inch circle. Spread the apples in the unbaked pie crust bottom, mounding them slightly in the middle. Loosely roll the top crust around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the apples. Trim all but 1/2-inch of the dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate with scissors. Seal the edge by pressing the top and bottom crusts together, then tuck the edges underneath. Crimp the edges, and cut four vent holes in the top. Brush the crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  • 7. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature again to 375°F (190°C), and continue to bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

    To make ahead : The pie can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 2 days.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Cynthia Furey] I’m in love with this recipe, mostly because it tells you why you’re using the variety of apples you’re using. A lot of the time I’ll come across an apple pie recipe that just lists the apples, but there’s no accompanying note explaining the flavors or results. The combination of McIntosh and Granny Smith produced a result exactly as the recipe states: Tart and sweet. I did take David’s advice to add more flour (1 extra tablespoon) so the pie wouldn’t end up juicy. I also didn’t have that air gap between the pie crust and the apple mixture. The lemon juice wakes up the apples’ flavor, though next time I might add a tad bit less, as I could actually taste the lemon instead of the effects of it. Overall, this is a wonderful, solid back-pocket recipe.

  2. susan says:

    I made this pie with a Pillsbury frozen crust, and used 6 granny smith apples. Otherwise, it was spot on following the recipe. There was a lot of liquid when i cut it, even though i cooked it fully. I LOVE the flavor, but the texture was a little more over done than i would have liked. My husband loved it though and I will make it again.

    More flour maybe?

    • David Leite says:

      Susan, I love this pie. More flour will definitely thicken the filling. I sometimes use a bit of tapioca powder, which is a powerful thickener. Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.

  3. Steven says:

    This pie is delicious! I’ve never baked a pie from scratch before, but this one came out flawless twice in a row. Susan, thanks to your comment, I did add a bit more flour in with the apple mixture, and it was perfect. Thank you! Also, instead of vegetable shortening, I just used butter (at a one to one ratio). Great recipe—I’ll make this again, surely more than once.

  4. Chris Brooks says:

    I’ve made this pie a few times and people really love it. I seem to remember a small amount of allspice was in this recipe, perhaps an 1/8 tsp? I’ve made it both with and without and it is great either way.

    • David Leite says:

      Chris, as you say it works with or without the allspice, but it lends a slight hint of warmth to the pie.

  5. Tom says:

    Made this today but with Jonagold apples. I cut the sugar a bit to make up for the slightly sweeter (though still tart & pectin-filled) variety. Turned out great, though the crust baked into a dome that the apples cooked down beneath, leaving a cavity. Partly this was my fault for overfilling the pie. Not a real problem, but next time I might cut the apples a bit thicker in the hopes that they don’t cook down quite as much. Important thing is that it was delicious.

  6. Mya says:

    Hi! I would like to make this pie tonight but was wondering…does this recipe make 2 pie crusts? Also, do I have to pre bake the bottom half of the crust first? I watch ATK and they always end up pre-baking so the crust doesn’t shrink! Help!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Hi, Mya. This recipe makes just the right amount of pie crust for this double-crust pie recipe–you need a bottom and a top crust, hence the dividing of the dough into two pieces. And no, you do not need to pre-bake the bottom crust, it will be just fine without this step. Let us know how it goes!

      • mya says:

        Thank you sooo much! I ended up making the pie last night and it was amazing! I was a bit nervous since it was my first time making a pie, but everything turned out perfect! Thanks again!!

        • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

          So lovely to hear, mya! And I’m not surprised to hear it turned out well, ATK knows what it’s doing…

  7. Marilyn says:

    I’m making this pie today but am going to freeze it unbaked. When I do decide to take it out and bake it, should it go directly into the oven – no thawing required? And how much longer should I bake it? We have an orchard behind our house and when the pickers come by we give them beverages and they give us bags of apples – it’s sooooo nice.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Marilyn, I do exactly as you’re planning to do all the time. I transfer the pies to the preheated oven straight from the freezer, because any thawing will compromise the integrity of the crust. (The flakiness of the crust is due to the blast of hot air hitting butter that is cold as can be. This causes the moisture in the butter to puff, which then lifts up the layers of flour, or so I’ve been told.) Anyways, I do it with mini pies that I make in very small ceramic dishes so that the frozen apple portion is smaller than in an entire pie and hence takes longer to bake through. I’d love to give you an exact amount of additional time you’ll need, but I can’t, as it depends on so many variables—the type of apple, how high you mounded the filling, etc. Suffice it to say, keep an eye on the pie and be ready with a large sheet of aluminum foil to drape loosely over the pie should the crust start to look like it may brown a little too much. The pie is done when the filling is bubbling. As always, bake the pie on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil to catch any juices that bubble over, as I find that thawing creates a slightly more watery consistency. Let us know how it goes…

  8. Chris Chung says:

    How can I avoid the big air gap that happens when the pie cooks? The top and bottom crusts are fine but the apples cook down and leave a huge gap of emptiness in between the apples and the top crust

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Chris, your culprit may be one of two things: the apples that you use and too much steam inside your pie. Be sure that you use baking apples as some varieties may cook down too much, and try cutting a couple of vent holes in the top crust to allow the steam to release. Hope this helps!

      • Chris Chung says:

        Thanks Beth. I am using Granny Smith apples, which have been evenly sliced 1/4″ thick. I lay them in the pie very closely packed, and carefully like a tart, to keep as much air out of the pie. I also press down carefully before I lay the crust on top, and I try to take as many air pockets out before I seal the pie edges. I use a pie bird so there is a steam vent in the center of the top crust, as well as 4 more 1″ slits that I cut in the upper crust for more ventilation. After all that, I still get the big air gap—it’s like the pie crust bakes in the
        shape that I put it into the oven at, but the apples below it shrink, and the top pie crust doesn’t “lower” to meet the shape of the cooked apples.

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Chris, I make apple pie all the time for my husband, using all Granny Smith apples just like you, and I encounter the exact same trickiness. One thing I’ve tried which seems to help is not just tossing the apples with sugar and spice and turning them into the pie crust, but letting the apples really macerate in this mixture until all the juices exude. This can be several hours or even overnight. Because the apples have already given up almost all their moisture, I find they collapse much less during baking. Be warned, however, the spice mixture is more noticeable being as it’s sorta steeped the apples through and through. I hope this helps….

  9. M. says:

    What size pie pan should I use?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Excellent question, M. As with most pie recipes, you have a little latitude regarding the exact size of the pie plate. A 9- or 10-inch pie plate will be just dandy. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • M. says:

        Thank you for such a prompt reply! Happy Thanksgiving!

        • David Leite says:

          M. Our pleasure. Happy Turkey Day!

          • M. says:

            The pie was just devoured from its 10-inch pan with an extra half tablespoon of flour mixed in with the apples to keep things together. The consistency of the filling was perfect, the upper crust was flaky, and the bottom crust was soft but not soggy. After reading a few tips on how to get rid of the air gap between the top crust and the apples that had affected my previous apple pie attempts, I let the apples sit in the fridge for a while to release their juices before putting them in the shell, sliced them thin (as this recipe indicates) and packed them tightly. Then I poured the apple juices over them, and baked as directed. The best part was the lemon flavor. Perfect!

            • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

              Wonderful, M.! I am dancing my happy pie jig for you! Can’t wait to hear what recipe from the site you try next…

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