The perfect apple pie

Dawn Viola

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36 million Americans call apple their favorite pie flavor. This award-winning apple pie recipe, with its flaky, buttery short-crust and chunky, caramelized apples, will soon become one of your favorite desserts, too. I was honored to have the best apple pie in America in 2009, as voted during the Crisco National Pie Championships and Food Network Challenge. This apple pie recipe takes a bit longer to make, but it's well worth the wait.

Vanilla apple pie

Vanilla-vanilla bean roasted apple pie

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 2- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting/rolling
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla powder
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 20 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted European style butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, chilled
  • 6 - 8 tablespoons ice water (plus more if needed)

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons European style butter
  • 12 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced in large chunks
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 4 tablespoons organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of cream
  • Coarse sugar

Directions

Measure out all ingredients and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Place the food processor blade and bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Make the dough:

  1. Place the food processor bowl back on the motor with the blade, as directed by the manufacturer. Combine flour, salt, vanilla powder, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in the food processor; pulse to mix.
  2. Add butter cubes and pulse 10 times or until the mixture begins to resemble coarse meal with varying sizes of fat - pea-sized + some larger and some smaller.
  3. Add the vinegar and pulse to mix. Add one tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing to incorporate, until the mixture begins to clump together. Pinch some of the dough in your hand. If it sticks together, the dough is ready. If the dough does not stick to itself, add another tablespoon of water, pulse and pinch the dough together again. Repeat until the dough holds together without being overly wet. Dough should be slightly crumbly, but hold together when pinched.
  4. Remove dough from the food processor and transfer to a work surface. Divide the dough into two equal parts and gently shape into two flat round discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (allowing to rest overnight is best).

Prepare the apples:

  1. Preheat the broiler. Add apples, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to a roasting pan; toss apples to coat. Broil until the tops of the apples begin to brown. Apples can burn easily under the broiler, so don't walk too far away. Toss apples as soon as you notice browning. Once apples are caramelized (but not cooked through), remove from heat and add the remaining sugar, flour, vanilla extract and salt.
  2. Add the apple cider and cream, stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning – depending on how sweet or tart the apples are, you may need to add additional salt, sugar, vanilla or cinnamon to taste.

Finish the pie:

  1. Place a 9" pie plate in the freezer. Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 - 10 minutes, or just long enough for it to become easy to roll, but still chilled. Lightly flour your work surface and roll dough out to a 12" circle, between 1/8 - 1/4" thick. Place in the bottom of the chilled 9" pie plate. Return to the refrigerator to chill. Remove after 5 minutes and add apples. Dot the top of the apples with remaining butter.
  2. Remove second dough disc and roll out to a 12" circle on a lightly floured surface. Place on top of the apples and pinch the top and bottom dough edges together to enclose the apples. Add decorative edge if desired and slice 1" air vents around the top of the pie.

Make the egg wash:

  1. Beat the egg in a small dish and mix in cream. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of the pie and along the edges. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  2. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Cover edges with aluminum foil if browning too quickly. Turn the pie in the oven, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Continue to cook in 7 minute intervals, as needed, until the crust is golden brown and flaky.

Cool:

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least two hours before cutting and serving.

Chef's Notes

Because it's impossible to determine how much juice an apple will give up after being salted and sugared, it's always best to mix the apples with seasonings in a separate bowl, as explained above, instead of adding the apples to the pie and then sprinkling the seasoning over the apples (as most recipes will suggest). This will allow you to control the amount of liquid you add to the pie. Use a slotted spoon to add the fruit to your bottom pie crust, which will allow you to see just how much juice is left in the bottom of the bowl. You'll need about 1/4 cup of the juice. If you have more in the bottom of the bowl after removing the fruit, take only 1/4 cup and pour over the apples. Cover with the top crust and bake.

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