Years ago, my husband’s job took us to Chicago where we were all on our own without a single relative nearby. I’m 100% Italian, and I grew up with holiday celebrations filled with food and lots of visits to and from relatives—aunts, uncles and cousins. When my sisters and I left home, we still came back to my parents’ home bringing our own children to join in the celebration with the growing family. As with most large families, the adult kids would all bring a dish and pitch in with clean-up to make the big holiday dinner less burdensome on the host. It was actually a lot of fun to catch up with my assorted relatives in the kitchen as we cleaned up and put away leftovers.
Sadly, when we moved, my children were quite young—and not only couldn’t they help in the kitchen with big holiday meals, they still needed looking after themselves. Thankfully, my husband Roger pitched in and stood shoulder to shoulder with me to make the big meals we enjoyed at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
I became a master at organizing things to make it easy on myself by making desserts that could be frozen to get them out of the way and by making certain dishes the day before the big meal and then reheating. One thing I couldn’t give up, though, was having a warm apple pie right out of the oven and serving it with cinnamon ice cream. Or maybe I should rephrase that to say that my kids wouldn’t let me give that up! I found a way to crank out that apple pie on Thanksgiving Day by using (gasp!) a refrigerated pie crust. Now that my children are all young adults, I no longer buy refrigerated or frozen pie crusts because my own pie crusts made from scratch are far superior.
The silver lining, though, to using the aforementioned refrigerated pie crust (Pillsbury’s) is that an apple pie recipe was printed on the back of the package. Pillsbury called it “Perfect Apple Pie”—and it is! Well, except for the pie crust (sorry, Pillsbury). Through the years, I have tried a variety of apple pie recipes. Some called for zest or orange juice or raisins (ugh) or cream. The recipes would catch my eye with titles like “Mile High Apple Pie.” No matter how many I tried, they never were as good as the “Perfect Apple Pie” on the back of that Pillsbury pie crust package.
So, with my fabulous pie crust recipe (so easy to handle) which really needs a post of its own (note to self!) and the filling from the recipe on the back of the package, I am quite satisfied that I have the very best apple pie recipe to be found. I hereby declare it to be frantastic!
One year ago: Real Deal Southern Caramel Cake
Two years ago: Peppermint Cream Meltaway Bars
Three years ago: Eataly
Four years ago: Santa’s Whiskers
Five years ago: Chocolate Biscotti with Sliced Almonds
Classic Apple Pie, Simply the Best
Ingredients for Pie Crust
- 3 cups flour
- 2 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening (Crisco), cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbl. (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3 to 5 tbl. (about) ice water (I’ve found that usually 3 to 4 works for me)
- 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 tsp. water (for glaze)
Ingredients for Filling
- 6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples, Macintosh or Cortland preferred (about 6 to 8 large apples)*
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbl. flour
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4n tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tbl. fresh lemon juice
*Note: Don’t be afraid to pie the apples high because they will shrink down. Also I have used Granny Smith apples successfully.
Directions for Pie Crust
Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water a tablespoon at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)
Keep one dough disk refrigerated while you roll out the first dough disk on floured work surface to 13″ round. Transfer to 9″ diameter, greased glass pie dish. Trim any excess dough, leaving about a 3/4″ overhang. Spoon filling (recipe below) into crust.
Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13″ round and place over filling. Fold ends of both pie crusts under, pressing to seal. Flute or crimp edges decoratively. Cut a quarter-sized hole in the center of the pie and make small slits in several places around the pie. Brush glaze over crust. (Note that I will repeat the last couple of directions below so that they’re not forgotten. They need to be done just the once—not twice.)
Directions for Pie Filling
In large bowl, combine all filling ingredients; toss lightly.
Spoon apple mixture into a greased 9″ glass pie-crust-lined pan.
Place pie on cookie sheet and bake at 400o F for 20 minutes. At that point, if the edges are brown enough, I put a pie ring over the edges to prevent them from burning. If you don’t own a pie ring (can’t live without mine!), then you can cover the edges with aluminum foil. The easiest way to do that is to tear off a piece of foil large enough to cover the pie. Then, fold the foil in four (two folds gets you there). Next, cut a quarter circle from the foil—obviously, away from the folded edges! Unfold and place over the pie. Trim if needed so that only the edges are covered.
Now, lower the heat to 350o F and bake for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the top of the pie crust and loosely place some aluminum foil over it if the top is brown enough. I like the apples in my pie to be very tender, so I bake it for the full time listed above (first 20 minutes at 400o F followed by 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350o F). If you prefer your apples a bit firmer, I would keep the second baking at 350o F to 60 minutes.