It feels like I have been working on Apple Pie for ages. I have made apple pies before and I am sure I will make lots of different ones in the future but I wanted to finally figure out THE apple pie recipe. The apple pie I will make for the rest of my life. The one my kids will refer to when they ask for an apple pie 20 years from now. It took a few months of playing around and trying different crusts but I am finally happy with the result.
With a last name like McIntosh apples are bound to be a priority. I didn’t have a Granny Mac. I did have a Grammy Mac but she passed when I was young. I also don’t know if she made apple pie (I like to think she did!) I remember visiting her as a child and sneaking to her front porch where she kept a dish filled with those pink Canadian Mints. I would shovel as many into my mouth as possible before an adult would catch me. To this day if I see Canadian Mints somewhere I will stuff my cheeks full, eyes darting from side to side to make sure I don’t get caught.
I called this recipe Granny Mac because I used a combination of Granny Smith and McIntosh apples. The internet once told me you should use tart apples like Granny Smith to make apple pie but I couldn’t in good conscious turn my back on McIntosh apples. I compromised and used half of each. Of course before we start dealing with apples we have to address the crust…
Homemade crust is really easy and far superior. It is completely worth the little extra effort. To make the crusts I mix 2.5 cups flour with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.
Next up is butter and lard. Most directions call for dicing chilled butter to work into flour. I thought it would just be easier to grate the already cold from the fridge butter and lard directly into the bowl.
I use 1 stick or 1/2 cup grated butter. Then using a super precise trick I like to call the “grate about the same amount of lard into the bowl technique,” I end up with about a cup of butter and lard total.
Then using my hands (I am far to impatient to use a pastry cutter) I mix that all together until it is well incorporated and looks like little flour crumbles. Finally add around quarter cup of ice cold water and mix. It will quickly turn into an easily workable dough that can be split in half to make 2 equal portions of dough. We will be using one for the top crust and one for the bottom.
These two pieces of dough are now getting wrapped in plastic wrap and going into the fridge to chill for a couple hours.
Now onto the filling and one of my least favorite kitchen jobs of all time- peeling apples. Peeling apples I dislike more then chopping fresh garlic. I find both tasks tedious and I dread them to the extent that I search out alternatives. I actually tried to make an apple pie without peeling the apples. It was awful- don’t try it.
After mentally preparing for the terror that is peeling and coring 8 apples, I plan to slice them as thin as I possibly can. I am using 4 Granny Smith apples, and 4 McIntosh apples. The goal will be for the apples to mound over the top of the pie pan.
Into the bowl goes 8 apples worth of slices. Then I add 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg, and a 1/4 cup flour. This gets mixed up and allowed to sit while I roll out the dough. The apple slices combined with sugar will draw out some of the water from apples but I still pour it all into the pie. I added enough flour to thicken it and I will allow it to cool before slicing to avoid soup-y pie.
I like to roll out the dough on a piece of parchment. That way you can slide your hand under the parchment and flip it into pie pan (and on top of with the second crust) and peel off the paper.
The bottom crust gets pricked with a fork to prevent any bubbling. Then the filling goes in.
It should mound in the center, slightly higher then the pan. The apples will cook down a little in the oven.
Then the top piece goes on and I cut away the extra dough around the sides (don’t throw it away I used the extra and made a little apple hand pie). Then I try in vain to crimp the sides to make it look professional. After failing at that I move on to slicing some steam vents in the top of pie.
The last step before baking is to crack and whisk an egg yolk and brush the top with the egg wash. Then sprinkle a nice dusting of white sugar on top of the egg wash and you will be rewarded with a nicely browned, crispy, and sugary top crust.
This is going into a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. After a few tries I learned to loosely cover with tin foil after 30 minutes. That way the pie keeps cooking but the top won’t brown anymore (or burn). I don’t take the pie out of oven I just open the oven after 30 minutes and if I like how the crust looks I slide a couple pieces of tin foil slightly tented over the top of pie and this seems to work great.
The final result was glorious. I let it cool completely overnight before slicing into it. It was one of those few times I know I blew Em away with how good it was. That always feels nice when cooking for a family.
Next I had to make sure this was the recipe that would stick with the kids. Again, I wasn’t looking to make an apple pie. I was looking to make the legacy apple pie. The one that someday my kids children will ask for. It had to be perfect.
Maniac #3 is growing up fast and quickly earning maniac status like her brother and sister. She was alone for a moment in the living room and we came back to find this….
That is a pretty high “coffee table” it is actually an old school desk- like the kind they had in kindergarten classes. Had this been Norah (our first maniac 8 years ago) I probably would have let out the scream of a teenage girl and ran to grab her. By our third maniac we paused to take a picture and have a chuckle before getting her down. She was certainly impressed with herself.
We call maniac #3 Pie. Her name is actually Alice. When she was just born we would call her Alice Apple Pie and I quickly just shortened her nickname to Pie. It might not have been my best idea. Sometimes when I say “Alice…Alice…Alice,” she looks all around her and then back at me with an expression that says “Who’s Alice!” Then I say ”Pie,” and she smiles and replies “Dada!”
Cutesy nicknames aside, I knew I would need her to approve of any apple pie recipe. I couldn’t be making pie and have our little Pie not like it. So the taste tests begun. It was about 8:30 am on a Sunday morning when we started taste tasting. I don’t know why but apple pie tastes even better before 9 am and kids will love you for feeding apple pie for breakfast.
The taste test trials were a success and I was finally completely happy with a recipe for apple pie. I like to think this will be the recipe I make for the rest of my life. The apple pie that someday will kids will cherish and make them think about childhood when they make it themselves for their children. High expectations for an apple pie recipe but we are McIntosh’s after all.
For other apple recipes including another apple pie on this site check out these links…
- 2 pie crusts (homemade crust recipe above)
- 8 apples (4 Granny Smith, 4 McIntosh preferably) peeled, cored, and sliced thin
- 1/3 cup white sugar plus extra for dusting
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg yolk whisked
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place one pie crust in bottom of pie pan and prick with fork.
- Place apple slices in large bowl and mix in sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour.
- Pour apple mixture into pie pan so the apples are mounded slightly over the top of the plate.
- Add the top crust. Flute edges and slice vents in the center.
- Brush top with egg yolk and sprinkle with white sugar.
- Bake 30 minutes and then cover with loose tin foil tent (to prevent excessive browning) and continue to bake another 15 minutes.