A piece of homemade pie is such a simple thing when you break it down; a few ingredients that come together in perfect agreement. Butter, flour, sugar, water, apples… as if pie were what they were made to be, happily ever after.
Yes, it’s easy as pie to think about and eat, but I admit to having an avoidance with making pie crust. If I think too long about the actual labor involved in pie making I tend to move on to something else a bit less scary – chocolate cake, maybe. At least the outcome of chocolate cake isn’t so contingent on a list of fussy factors that can affect pastry, like the temperature of the air, butter, water and even your hands.
Warm hands might work while mixing up a cake batter or rubbing a pork loin with olive oil, but with pastry – not so much.
So, to challenge myself I’ve put pie-making on my list of skills to master. And with the promise of a piece of pie as a reward, it’s not really so hard to do. I remind myself that pie is just a list of ingredients that need a confident hand with a rolling pin to guide them along.
It helps to have a lesson in pie-crust making from an excellent teacher. This video of pastry chef Cindy Salvato demonstrating her method was very instructive for me. Notice how comfortable she is getting her hands in the dough, rolling and smacking it. You can see who’s in charge, and it’s not the pie dough.
I liked Cindy’s style, and it encouraged me to get in there and make some pie.
I used Honeycrisps since they are just now arriving in markets, and they worked perfectly, their taste is nicely sweet-tart, and they keep their shape and texture after baking – I cannot stand mushy apples. I also left the peel on out of sheer laziness and that turned out just fine in the finished pie.
Here a few keys to making a perfect pie I picked up from Cindy:
- Use cool, not cold or softened butter. Cindy recommends butter not be “stone cold”, but at 55 degrees. I took the temperature of my butter with an instant thermometer directly out of the fridge and it was right there.
- Don’t be afraid to add more water if the dough seems dry. Add a little at time and use your hands.
- Use a glass pie dish for even heat distribution.
- Add lemon zest. Lemon makes everything better.
- Big chunks of butter in the dough are desirable. They create those flaky air pockets as the pie bakes.
- Don’t be intimidated by pie dough. Remember you are the master of the kitchen!Homemade Apple Pie with Lemon Butter Crust
For best results, let the pie cool completely - preferably overnight - to allow the natural pectin in the apples to work. Cutting directly into a freshly baked, warm pie is tempting, but it won't be set properly.
Adapted from Cindy Salvato
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons), cut into chunks
1/2 cup ice water plus more if needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
for the filling:
3 pounds firm apples such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp (about 6 or 7 apples)
1 tablespoon rice flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and zest. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or a fork until the butter is pieces about the size of large peas. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the water and lemon juice.
- Blend with a fork until the dough starts to come together. If there's flour on the bottom of the bowl, add more water a teaspoon at a time until you can gather the dough into a ball. Divide into two pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten slightly to form a disc. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour and up to 24 hours.
- When you're ready to assemble and bake the pie, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the pie dough out of the refrigerator to soften slightly while you prepare the apples. If it takes more than 15 minutes to deal with the apples, then put the dough back in the fridge until you're ready to fill the pie.
- Peel the apples if you want to: core and slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Put the slices in a bowl and toss with the flour.
- Mix together the sugar, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Smack one package of dough with a rolling pin to flatten. Unwrap and put the dough on a large floured piece of wax or parchment paper. Sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour and roll the dough firmly away from you, turning the paper after each roll to create a circle about 2 inches larger than your pie dish. Sprinkle lightly with more flour if you notice the dough starting to stick.
- Fold the dough in half gently and place in a pie dish, pressing into the bottom of the dish. Be sure you have an overhang of about an inch all around. Trim off any excess.
- Put a layer of apples on top of the dough in a concentric circle, starting at the outer edge. Sprinkle with sugar. Repeat the layering and sugaring 2 or 3 more times, until the apples are generously heaped to the top of the dish.
- Take the second piece of dough and repeat the rolling. Put the dough on top of the apples; pull the edge of the top dough over the bottom and pinch together all around the pie.
- Use a sharp knife to make 4 vents in the center of the pie.
- Put the pie in the oven and turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Bake the pie about 30 minutes, until the crust is deep golden and the juices are bubbling.
- Cool the pie before slicing to allow the juices to settle. Yum.2.2http://familystylefood.com/2011/09/homemade-apple-pie-with-lemon-butter-crust/