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 pie 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 pie crust remains crisp.–The Editors at America’s Test Kitchen
LC Peeling Prowess Note
Surely we’re not the only ones whose moms were able to peel large apples in a single, long, dangly curlicue of red apple skin? Wow, that was some serious peeling prowess, and without any fancy pants peeling contraptions bought on late-night TV. A nicked paring knife was all that was needed. Gotcha feeling a little nostalgic—not to mention inadequate in the peeling department? Just breathe and remind yourself to practice, practice, practice. Preferably on this classic apple pie.
Classic Apple Pie
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 2 H
- Serves 8
- For the pie crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) 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 granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- Make the pie 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 ice water over the pie crust 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 2 even portions and flatten each into a disk about 4 inches in diameter. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature. (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. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 portion pie crust dough into a 12-inch circle. Fold the dough into quarters, then place the dough’s pointy tip in the center of a 9-inch regular or deep dish glass pie plate. Gently unfold the dough and press it into the sides of the pan, leaving the portion that hangs over the edge of pie plate intact. Refrigerate while preparing the apple pie filling.
- 5. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack.
- 6. Toss the apples with the 3/4 cup sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and spices. Set aside at room temperature.
- 7. Roll out the remaining portion pie crust to a 12-inch circle. Spread the apples in the pie plate, mounding them slightly in the middle. Loosely roll the top crust around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the apples. Using scissors, trim all but 1/2 inch dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate. Seal the edge by pressing the top and bottom crusts together with your fingertips, then tuck the edges underneath. Crimp the edges, and cut 4 or so vent holes in the top crust. Brush the crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
- 8. 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 more. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 2 days.
Recipe Testers Reviews
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 in the comment below to add more flour (1 extra tablespoon) so the pie wouldn’t end up too 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 recipe.