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Perfecting Apple Pie

Learn to make a classic apple pie with a wonderfully flaky crust

Fine Cooking Issue 81
Photos: Scott Phillips
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It’s not Thanksgiving without apple pie, and this classic version is my absolute favorite. The filling is lovely: a blend of sweet Cortlands and tangy Granny Smiths, laced with just enough sugar and spice to make the apples’ flavors sing. But as you’ll discover when you try the recipe, it’s the crust that makes this pie so special. Delicate, light, and exceptionally flaky, it’s everything a pie crust should be.

I truly believe that the most delicious pies are the ones you make yourself, so it’s unfortunate that making pie from scratch tends to inspire so much fear. Throughout my years of teaching baking classes, I’ve watched countless students— many of them excellent, self-assured cooks—grip their rolling pins so tightly that their knuckles turn white when it’s time to roll out the dough. So my first word of advice is simply this: Relax. With a bit of practice and the step-by-step recipe on the facing page, you’ll soon be mixing and rolling out dough with confidence. The pie recipe may look time-consuming, but it really isn’t. It’s long because I’ve covered all the little details, so you won’t be left guessing what to do.

Tips for assembling the pie

1. Cortland and Granny Smith apples have different textures. To help them cook evenly and retain their shape, cut the Cortlands into 3/4-inch-thick chunks and the Granny Smiths into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
2. Use a pastry cloth and pin stocking to roll the dough into a circle. Roll from the center out and avoid rolling the pin off the edge of the dough until the final stages of shaping.
3. Use the pin to move the dough. Allow for about a 1-inch overhang when you unroll the dough on top of the apples.
4. Make aluminum-foil bands to prevent the edge from burning. Cut two 2- to 3-inchwide strips of 18-inch heavyduty foil and carefully cover the edge of the pie with the strips. Fasten the strips together with masking tape to keep them from falling off the pie.

Be a pro at rolling dough

Cool pie dough rolls best. Dough that’s too cold will crack when it’s rolled; if too warm, it will stick to the rolling surface. Test your dough’s firmness by pressing the disk with your fingers; they should leave a slight imprint.

• Roll from the center out. Set the pin in the middle of the dough and roll away from you; return to the center and roll toward you. Rolling back and forth repeatedly will toughen the dough. For the same reason, don’t flip the dough over.

• Give the dough a quarter turn frequently, to help ensure even thickness.

• To prevent sticking, lightly reflour the rolling surface and pin, if necessary, but don’t sprinkle flour on the dough, or you risk toughening it.

• Ease up on the rolling pin as you approach the edge of the dough; otherwise, the edges will get too thin.

• Roll pastry into a circle at least 4 inches larger than the diameter of the pie plate.


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