Fall is here. But if you live in DC you would think it was July-- it's 86°F and humid right now! I always look forward to this time of year and the cliché elements it brings...chunky sweaters, cool crisp air, pumpkin-themed baked goods, crunchy leaves and Halloween festivities. This fall, I might pay homage to the season by partaking in a day trip to Maryland for some good ol' fashioned apple and pumpkin picking.
Speaking of apples, which is synonymous with "autumn" in my mind, I wanted to kick off the season by baking them in a delicious pie. Thus I teamed up with my friend and fellow blogger, Bucky Mitchell, to bake a couple of classic American apple pies. I learned from Bucky (who learned first-hand from the near-mythical Ina Garten) that one should use two varieties of apples for the best results. We used a combination of sweet gala and acidic Granny Smith apples and the results were great!
We loosely based this recipe off my family's pie recipe. After mixing together the ingredients for the pie filling, we tasted several apple slices and decided to add another 1/3 cup of brown sugar and more cinnamon. I encourage you do to the same; feel free to add more sugar and spices to achieve the flavor you desire. Note that in lieu of making the crust (I am learning that one doesn't have to make everything from scratch!), we used pre-made frozen pie crusts from Trader Joe's. My apartment was filled with the fragrance of buttery pastry dough and cinnamon and sugary apples. The essence of autumn.
for the pie crust:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 cup chilled vegetable shortening
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 5 tbsp ice cold water
for the pie filling:
- 5-6 cups mix apples (see note above)
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Mix together the flour, salt and sugar.
- Cut in the vegetable shortening and continue mixing until the dough forms pea-sized clumps.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg and then add the ice water and vinegar. Mix to combine. Add to the dry ingredients.
- Mix the dough lightly with a fork to combine the dry and wet ingredients.
- Turn out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead the dough a couple of times. Divide into four equal parts.
- Smush down each of the four portions into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up the butter. You can refrigerate the dough for up to two days. Proceed with step 7 when ready to make the pie.
- Preheat the oven to 450°.
- Prepare the apples. Peel, core, cut them in half, and slice each one crosswise into thin slices.
- Place the apples in a large bowl. Sift the ingredients for the pie filling over the apples and gently mix together using your hands.
- Roll out one disk of pie dough into a circle about 1 1/2 inches larger than the diameter of the pie tin. Drape the dough over the pie tin, pushing the dough against the sides and bottom of the tin.
- Pour in the apple slice mixture. Dot with the butter. Sprinkle on a large pinch of brown sugar.
- Roll out the second disk and drape it over the pie. Remove excess dough and use a fork or your fingers to create a decorative trim. Use a knife to carve a decorative pattern or shape on top of the pie.
- Bake the pie in a 450° oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top has achieved a golden brown and the apples are tender.
If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!