Some of my favorite memories growing up are of me and my Grandma Jeanne making apple pies.
She always made these tiny pies–single servings–to give to Mrs. Fecky, the next door neighbor, when she baked.
It was always my job to take a pie to Mrs. Fecky. Mrs. Fecky would invite me to sit down, have some candy from her candy dish, and pick a special pin off her curtains to keep for myself. She collected brooches and pins and had all types of animals and designs, gold-plated with faux jewels. I loved these pins. There was a poodle pin with faux diamond eyes that I remember very well.
Eventually I’d go back to Grandma’s house, by then my own little pie was cool enough for me to eat.
Grandma didn’t make apple pies often; it was mostly for Thanksgiving, Christmas or because I’d begged her to. Grandma’s apple pie recipe is, to this day, still the best one I’ve ever had.
When I grew up and got a house and kitchen of my own, I knew I wanted to make apple pies. Lots of apple pies. Apple pies for no reason, at all. Apple pies in single-serving sizes, turnovers, tarts and deep dish. I have now amassed a pie dish collection as diverse as Mrs. Fecky’s pin collection…but I’m not planning on giving the dishes away for a long, long time. Perhaps some day, when I’m too old to bake and a neighbor’s grand-daughter comes over to bring me a treat, I will let her take a pie plate of her picking.
This recipe is not my Grandma’s. Grandma would likely be happy to give her recipe to anyone who asked, unlike me. I held this recipe very close to my heart–top secret–because I was afraid if I gave it out to anyone, they’d stop inviting me over for dinner because they’d know how to make my signature dish. I’d be useless.
But that is nuts.
So, here it is, my favorite Deep Dish Apple Pie Recipe.
But first, a few words on apples…
Being from Washington State, I’m kind of a snob when it comes to four things: espresso, salmon, umbrellas (only wusses need them) and apples.
No two bites of the an apple pie should taste the same. To accomplish this you need a mix of apples in the pie. I try to always use some Johnathans, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Fuji or Braeburn…I also like Cameo, Empire and Honey Crisp and Gala. I prefer to have at least five different types, or have every apple in the pie be different, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. No matter what, though, stay the heck away from Red Delicious. *Shudder*
FYI: Granny Smith apples–and other tart apples–bake up mushy. Which is fine if you have one or two in the pie–for a little texture variety–but probably not OK for an entire pie.
The recipe is very easy; it comes from a pie making class I took many years ago at Rudy’s, A Cook’s Paradise in Twin Falls, Idaho, taught by the fantastic Dr. Laura Fall-Sutton. I use an Emile Henry pie plate (as described in my post of My Favorite Things)
Here’s the recipe…
Ingredients for Deep Dish Apple Pie filling:
1.5 c sugar
3tbsp tapioca starch (or corn starch…but you will get far better results with tapioca starch)
.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp nutmeg
dash mace (20-30 shakes)
.25 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
pastry for two crust pie (see below)
*.25 c milk
*.25 c w. sugar
*for top of crust
Ingredients for double crust pastry:
2 c flour
.5 tsp salt
2/3 c butter flavored Crisco
6-7 tbsp ice water
Bareburn, Fuji, Gala, Honey Crisp, Empire, Cortland and Granny Smith apples
Start with a large variety of apples.
Then bribe your husband in to peeling them all.
Then get to work cutting the apples up. The most efficient way to cut apples is to cut around the core like a square–just four cuts. This one has two cuts left to go (incase you’re bad at math).
But then you have to chop the apples up even smaller–slices are fine, but I prefer to chop to the size of canned pineapple tidbits–it allows for more depth of taste and texture in each bite. Set aside while you prepare the crust.
Combine the flour and salt and mix them well (who wants a bit bite ‘o salt?) then cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like this– a bunch of peas. Then add ice water, 3 Tbsp at a time, still cutting. Don’t use just cold water; you want water with honest-to-goodness ice cubes in it. Once all 6-7TBSP of ice water has been cut in to the crust, remove the dough, touching as little as possible, and create two balls–one slightly larger than the other. Wrap the balls in parchment paper and place in the fridge until ready to use– at least 20 minutes. If you’re planning to make a lattice top, place dough in FREEZER for at least 20minutes.
If possible, put pastry board and rolling pin in the fridge the night before so they are cool enough for working the dough when ready.
Use smaller dough ball for bottom crust; keep larger one in the fridge until ready to top the pie.
Roll out on a floured piece of parchment paper. I like to keep my rolling pin in the fridge so it is cold–it works better that way. I also use a marble rolling pin because it holds the cool temperature better than a wooden one.
To avoid breaking or ripping the crust, place the pie plate upside down on top of the rolled out crust. Then hold on to the crust as you flip it over. This way you only have to peel off the parchment paper and never have to handle the crust directly.
Set the pie plate aside and prep the seasonings.
In a gallon-sized bag, combine the dry ingredients–spices, starch, salt and sugar. Close bag and shake it up. Set aside.
In a prepared pie plate, place about two to three cups worth of the sliced apples in to prepared lower crust. Don’t do all the apples, just some of them. Then dot those apples with the pieces of butter–but not all the butter.
Pour some of the dry ingredients on top of the apples–be sure to get it all over them and not just in one spot.
Then put more apples on top.
Then dot with more butter.
Hit it with more of the stuff in the bag.
…guess what! MORE APPLES! More butter! More spice mix! Keep up this pattern until you either run out of apples or the pie becomes structurally unsound.
Then, and only then, you can put the upper crust on top.
If you want to add shapes and cut outs, I am a big fan of the pastry cutters from Williams-Sonoma (the colored plastic ones, above) and from Pampered Chef (The less-detailed metal ones).
The pastry cutters work well for making holes in the top crust for the steam to escape, and for decorating. If you want to put the shapes on the top crust, just dip your finger in some water and wipe the water on the back side of the cut out, then place on the top crust. The water works like glue; don’t put water on both the top crust and the shape, though, or it will not stick.
When you are done decorating, get your six-year-old son to apply the milk wash (half and half or regular milk). Tell him to “paint” the pie with the silicone brush. Logan has been doing this since he was 2.5, so he’s a pro.
When your helper is finished “painting” the pie, sprinkle about 1/4 cup of white sugar on top.
Place the pie on top of a cookie sheet with edges so if it runneth over it doesn’t set off the smoke alarm–or catch on fire. Even better, put parchment paper on top of that cookie sheet so if it does run over, the sugar-cement doesn’t become a permanent fixture on your pan.
Bake at 450* for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350* and bake for 45 minutes longer. Cool at least two hours before serving; ideally overnight or a full day.
Still with me? Good. Let’s take a walk down apple-pie memory lane, then…This is Logan, 2, and me in our Idaho kitchen after making our first-ever apple pie. I just noticed that I seem to favor that red pie dish for my apple pies…hu.
Here’s a close up of that ugly, yet delicious, creation. I was so proud.
Here is Logan in our Virginia kitchen, age 4, “painting” the pie. I know he was 4 because this pie is in a purple pie plate–and that was a pie plate I bought to tide me over until our stuff (and my favorite red pie plate) arrived from Idaho.
And finally, today. In Kentucky. Logan is 6 and my pies aren’t so ugly anymore. And while some people wear aprons in the kitchen, my son wears his ninja costume (without the head gear). I think he sort of looks like a 1960s artist…but he assures me that he is actually a ninja and therefore my pie is in good hands.