Classic Apple Pie with a flaky crust, perfectly set filling, and a just a hint of cinnamon—does anything shout Autumn more than this?
For a recipe that hits the mark while at the same time is simple to make, perfecting The Apple Pie has been irritatingly difficult.
I’m married to an incredibly discriminating apple pie connoisseur. Overpowering spice, an annoying hint of lemon, crust too soggy, “curdled” filling, overcooked, undercooked—I’ve battled every possible variation. I can confirm that this is The One. This is the recipe that makes all my husband’s Apple Pie dreams come true.
Here’s what you need for the foolproof, perfect pie crust:
- all-purpose flour
- solid vegetable shortening
- cold butter
- ice-cold water
This recipe (see below) makes a perfectly flaky pie crust that can be sweet or savory (for savory simply omit the sugar). And I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: Why vodka?
Here’s why vodka belongs in your pie crust: The vodka makes the crust flakier and lighter. It stops the gluten in the flour from developing, making the crust tender and super flaky. It will cook out, so no worries when it comes to serving this to your entire family! Just make sure you follow exactly including the “par-bake” step to make sure you avoid the heartbreak of a soggy bottom.
The number of ingredients may come as a big surprise. What? No allspice, nutmeg, or cloves?! No tapioca or corn starch? No lemon? Right!
This filling is all about the apples with no distractions. And it comes out perfectly set—not thick or lumpy. Just the clear, pure, uncluttered taste of apples.
- Granny Smith apples (or your choice)
That’s it! So pure, so right! And it’s important that you follow the steps exactly. Adding the sugar to the apples too soon will cause the apples to macerate making them too “saucy” and, you guessed it, soggy bottom!
The Pie Pan
This Apple Pie calls for a 9-inch pie pan. My favorite is quite deep, which takes 7 apples to abundantly fill, which is the way we like it. Quite often, I will use this recipe for two 6-inch cast-iron skillets, one pictured below. It works really well!
- One 9-inch pie pan OR a 10-inch cast iron skillet OR two 6-inch cast iron skillets.
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening NOTE 2
- 1/2 cup butter, salted cold, and cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp white granulated sugar (omit for a savory crust)
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 1 tbsp vodka NOTE 1
- 1/4 cup cold water
- coarse sugar for top garnish optional
- 6 - 7 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut up thinly or other tart variety of apples
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tspn ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp butter, cut into slices
- Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Cut in shortening and butter using a pastry blender or fork, until it looks evenly lumpy, with lumps the size of a small pea.
- In a separate bowl, mix egg, water, and vodka together until combined. Pour into flour all at once and blend with a fork until dough forms a ball.
- Evenly divide into two pieces, form them into disks, wrap and seal in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least an hour, if not overnight.
- Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 450F.
- Roll out one disk and press it into a pie pan (traditional glass, ceramic or cast iron skillet(s). Do not prick the bottom with a fork! You do not want to make holes in it. Place it into the 450F oven for just 5 - 7 minutes, or until the bottom just begins to puff up and form "bubbles" and hints at turning brown. Do not take your eyes off of it! This will happen quickly. Remove from oven and fill with apple filling (see below). NOTE 3.
- Roll out the second disk, lay over top of the apples. Cut holes into the top crust to allow steam to escape. Fold edge to fit and press down gently. Don't worry if it does not fully seal, since the bottom crust has been par-baked. It will meld slightly as the pie bakes. Sprinkle the top with sugar, if desired.
- Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375F and bake for another 35 minutes or until beautifully browned. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Yum!
- Peel, core and cut apples into medium-thin pieces
- Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl or cup
- Pile prepared apples into par-baked pie shell, distributing evenly.
- Pour the sugar cinnamon mixture evenly over apples.
- Lay butter slices over the top of the apples and sugar mixture.
- Proceed to finish pie with the top crust (see above)
Here's why vodka belongs in your pie crust: The vodka makes the crust flakier and lighter. It stops the gluten in the flour from developing, making the crust tender and super flaky. It will cook out, so no worries when it comes to serving this to your entire family! Just make sure you follow exactly including the "par-bake" step to make sure you avoid the heartbreak of a soggy bottom. You can substitute plain white vinegar for vodka, but with a slightly less tender outcome. NOTE 2:
You can use all shortening (in place of half shortening, half butter) or conversely, all butter. NOTE 3:
When making this pie in a cast-iron skillet, instead of par-baking in the oven, I set the skillet on a stovetop burner set to Low to Med-Low. Seriously! And I stand over it like a hovering mother bear. I wait until the pastry starts to turn white-ish and begins to puff. Also, my experience is that the bottom crust will not become “browner” or burnt during the baking process, even during the 15 mins. at 450F. That bottom pie crust is stubborn that way. Just make sure you don’t overdo it on the stovetop—but don't "under-do" it, either. You want to give it a really nice headstart.