Milk Street Thanksgiving: Apple Pie

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Christopher Kimball’s Double-Crust Apple Pie
2 hours (1 hour active, plus cooling)
Makes one 9-inch double crust pie

This pie is “doubled” both inside and out. The tender, flaky double crust envelops a
filling made with a duo of apples. Granny Smiths add tartness and acidity, plus they retain a good amount of texture when cooked. McIntosh apples, on the other hand, are sweet and flavorful and they break down to an applesauce-like texture with cooking. Though this sounds like a fault, the Macs helps thicken the filling, obviating the need to use a lot of starch, which deadens the fruitiness of the apples. If Macs aren’t available, Cortland or Empire apples are good stand-ins. We like our apple pie to taste of the fruit, not of a mélange of spices, so we add only lemon zest and juice as flavor brighteners, and sometimes just a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Feel free to up the amount of spices to suit your taste. If your apples begin to release moisture the moment they’re combined with the sugar, it’s a good idea to toss in a tablespoon of our so the baked filling isn’t awash in watery juices. The pie is best served at room temperature, when the filling is set, which makes slicing easier and neater. As with all apple pies, this is delicious served a la mode. And it’s great even on the following day.

Don’t assemble the filling until both portions of dough have been rolled out and the pie plate has been lined. If the sugar-tossed apples are allowed to stand for more than just a few minutes, the juices will flow out of the fruit and the mixture will become soupy. This will affect the consistency of the filling as well as the how the bottom crust bakes and browns.

INGREDIENTS
For the crust:
113 grams (8 tablespoons) cold salted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
325 grams (21⁄2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
30 grams (2 tablespoons) white sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon table salt
68 grams (8 tablespoons) trans fat-free vegetable shortening
10-12 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
907 grams (2 pounds) Granny Smith apples
907 grams (2 pounds) McIntosh apples (see headnote)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 11⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice
71 grams (1⁄3 cup) white sugar
Pinch of table salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon, or to taste
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, if needed

For the finishing:
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon milk or water

DIRECTIONS
1. To make the crust, place the butter cubes on a small plate and freeze for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt; process until well combined, about 10 seconds.

2. When the butter has been in the freezer for 15 minutes, drop the shortening in 1 tablespoon-sized lumps into the flour mixture along with the frozen butter cubes. Pulse until the dough is pebbly in texture and the butter has been reduced to the size of tiny peas or slightly smaller, 8 to 12 pulses; check the mixture after only 5 pulses and be careful not to overprocess it. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Sprinkle about 5 tablespoons ice water over the flour mixture. Using a silicone spatula, fold and toss to combine, working slowly to make sure the moisture is evenly distributed. Press down on the mixture with the blade of the spatula to test if the dough sticks together; add 5 to 8 tablespoons more ice water as needed until the dough holds together. It is better to err on the side of slightly too much water than too little. The finished dough should be quite wet and sticky, and there should be no dry, floury bits at the bottom of the bowl.

4. Lightly flour the counter and turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Shape each portion into a ball, then flatten each into a 1-inch-thick disk. Dust the dough lightly with flour, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

5. Heat the oven to 425°F with the rack in the lower-middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. Remove both dough disks from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until malleable enough that pressing your finger into the center leaves an impression but the dough is still cool to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Unwrap the larger dough disk and set on a lightly floured counter. Using a rolling pin, roll into a 12-inch circle about 1⁄8 inch thick. Hang the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate. Gently ease the dough into the plate by lifting the edges while fitting the dough into the corners. Leave the overhanging dough in place and refrigerate uncovered.

7. Lightly flour the counter once again and roll out the second dough disk to an 11-inch circle. Transfer to another baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered until ready to use.

8. To make the filling, peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut each quarter into wedges about 1⁄2 inch thick and add them to a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and spices (if using); toss. If the apples immediately begin to release some moisture, sprinkle on the flour, then toss to combine.

9. Remove the dough-lined pie plate and the top crust from the refrigerator. Empty the filling, including any juices, into the pie plate, packing it tightly and mounding it at the center. Lay the top crust on the filling. Trim the edges of both the top and bottom crusts to about 1⁄2 inch beyond the rim of the pie plate. Fold the edge underneath itself so it is flush with the rim of the pie plate. Flute the dough with your fingers or press with fork tines to seal. Using a paring knife, cut a few spoke-like 1-inch slits in the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape.

10. To finish the pie for baking, set the pie on the prepared baking sheet. Brush top crust with the milk, then sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake until the juices are bubbling, and the top and bottom crusts are deep golden brown, another 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.


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PHOTO CREDITS: CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL’S MILK STREET