I did not think there was a way to improve upon apple pie. That is, until a coworker brought in loads of fresh-picked Honeycrisp apples. My apple pie recipe was good, but with Honeycrisp apples, it’s great.
The only way to treat apples fresh off the tree with respect is to ensure they are tucked into nothing but a homemade pie crust. I believe that so many people resort to the box because of the quest for the appearance of perfection. A pre-made dough seasoned with chemicals will ensure that you don’t have to patch and repair your dough when rolling, but that’s not the point.
Pie is meant to smell perfect and taste perfect, but not look perfect.
If you’re scared, ease into it with my mini apple pie. You will need a 6-7″ pie dish and just 2 apples. I use my grandmother’s glass mini pie pan, but metal is fine. The only way you can mess up this recipe is to put too much water into the dough, or slice the apples too thick. Take your time; enjoy the process. When the pie comes out of the oven, you’ll agree there’s no better way to spend a Fall day than baking.
I believe in making a seasonal to-do list, and making as many pies from scratch with fruit picked by me (or a coworker) is at the top of my Fall list. Scribble ‘make a homemade apple pie’ on your Fall to-do list. You won’t regret it.
Another thing you won’t regret?: accepting that pie is a suitable breakfast option. The Pioneers and American settlers did it, so in an effort to go all-out vintage, I’m bringing back pie for breakfast. Settlers eating pie for breakfast might just be the only thing I learned in history class. This is me putting my education to work, one slice at a time.
- FOR THE CRUST:
- 5 ounces (1 cup) unbleached flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced
- ¼ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3-4 tablespoons cold water
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 2 medium Honeycrisp apples
- ¾ teaspoon orange zest
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons milk, for brushing on crust
- coarse sugar for sprinkling on crust (optional)
- First, make the crust: Stir together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.
- Add the cold, diced butter and blend it using a pastry cutter or two knives. When the butter is the size of peas, use your hands to squeeze the dough in your hands. The warmth of your hands will help the dough come together in a few minutes. When the dough holds together in a clump when squeezed in your hands, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the flour mixture from the fridge and add the apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of ice water. Stir this mixture together with a fork until it comes together. Add more water as needed. Don’t add more than 5 tablespoons of water.
- Shape the dough into a flat disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- Have ready a 6-7” metal pie tin and preheat the oven to 425°.
- Peel and thinly slice the apples. Cut the slices in half so that you have apple slices about 2” long. Place the apples into a bowl and toss with the orange zest, cinnamon, allspice and sugar. Allow to set while you roll out the crust.
- On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, but allow slightly more dough for the bottom crust. Roll out the bottom crust into a circle 1” larger than the diameter of the pie pan. Drape the crust over the pie tin and gently fit it up the sides—do not stretch the dough.
- Now, roll out the top into a 7” circle. Have ready on the side. Pour the apple filling into the bottom crust, pressing the mixture down firmly to eliminate air gaps. Lay the top crust gently over the apples. Pinch the seams together prettily and cut two slits in the center of the crust for ventilation. Brush the pie lightly with milk and sprinkle extra sugar on top.
- Bake on the lowest oven rack for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350° and move the pie to the middle rack to continue baking another 15-20 minutes, until filling is bubbling. Let cool at least 2 hours before serving.