This apple pie recipe comes from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen, a cookbook of cakes, cookies, pies and other desserts. It is an unusual cookbook in that the recipes don’t start until page 371, following her dissertation on ingredients and techniques for baking. I’ve made other apple pies, but this one is better–really. Three pounds of apples, sliced thinly, are mounded up in the pie with just enough sugar and spices. Daly suggests Northern Spy apples, and sure enough, I find these to be the very best apples for apple pie. I bought Northern Spies ahead of Thanksgiving, just to be sure that I would have them for baking this pie for our Thanksgiving dinner. If you can’t find Northern Spy apples (their season of availability is short), use another tart cooking apple.
Daly writes very detailed instructions her recipes, anticipating any question the reader might have. I have simplified the instructions for making this pie, but if you want to learn more about baking, her book is an excellent resource. The only change to the ingredients that I have made is to use slightly less ground ginger than she does.
Damn Fine Apple Pie, from In the Sweet Kitchen, by Regan Daley
Pie pastry for 2-crust pie
3 pounds Northern Spy apples, or other tart cooking apples
freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
scant ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
additional sugar for sprinkling on crust
Preheat the oven to 400°. Roll out the bottom crust for the pie, and line a 9 ½”pie plate with it. Put the pie plate with the dough into the refrigerator. Roll out the top crust between two sheets of parchment paper, and put this into the refrigerator as well.
Peel the apples, core them, and thinly slice. Sprinkle the apple slices with lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, spices, and cornstarch and mix together with a fork or a whisk until well blended. Add this mixture to the apples and combine. Spoon the apples into the prepared pie plate, pressing on the apples to pack them down, and mounding the filling in the center of the pie dish.
Brush the edges of the pie crust with the beaten egg. Remove the top crust from the refrigerator, peel off one sheet of parchment, and invert the crust over the pie. Peel off the other parchment paper and press the top pastry onto the filling and press around the edges to seal. Crimp the edges and cut a few slashes in the top crust with a sharp knife to create vents for the steam to escape. Mix the milk with the remaining beaten egg and brush over the top crust of the pie. Sprinkle with ½ tablespoon sugar.
Put the pie on a baking sheet (for catching dripping juices– I use a pizza pan) and put the pie in the oven. Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. If the edges of the pie crust brown too quickly, cover with strips of aluminum foil or a pie shield.
When the pie is finished baking, remove it to a wire rack and let cool at least 20 minutes before cutting. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. It may be reheated in a 300° oven for 15 minutes if made ahead. Serve this apple pie by itself or with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
There is also a good recipe for pie pastry in this cookbook. If you don’t have a favorite pie crust, this one works well:
Flaky Pie Pastry, from In the Sweet Kitchen, by Regan Daley
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening, cold, cut into small pieces
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
¼ cup ice water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Combine the flour and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut the shortening and butter into the flour, until they are pea-sized or smaller. Combine the ice water and egg, and add about half of it to the flour mixture, mixing with a fork or your fingers. Gradually mix in a little more of the water-egg mixture until the dough just holds together when pressed. When the dough comes together easily, divide it into two portions and press into disk shapes. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours before rolling out. The dough may be made up to three days ahead.