I’m sure there are more complicated ways to make an apple pie. I’ve seen recipes involving nuts and cranberries, vanilla and allspice, and delicate lattice crusts. I’m sure those are very nice, but I like to keep it much more simple.
The apples: there have been physical altercations over the types of apples that are “supposed” to be used in an apple pie. There are very aggressive Granny Smith and Golden Delicious contingents. Northern Spy is often praised as a pie apple, but I’ve never seen one in the flesh, so I’ve never tasted one. One of these days I will have to spend a day making a dozen apple pies with different apple varieties so I can see what all the fuss is about. As for my pies, I’ve always used McIntosh apples when I can find them, and Spartan or Empire as a backup plan. The internet will tell you that McIntosh apples get too mushy when cooked, but it’s not like you get an applesauce pie at the end. I don’t like my apple pie to have a crunch – the filling should be pretty soft.
The crust: I have tried making my own pie crust, and I find that the effort put into the process isn’t worth it when the quality of pre-made refrigerated crusts has gotten so much better. Homemade is better, but not better enough for my pie needs. I used the store-brand stuff, because it’s really close to the right texture.
The spices: Cinnamon and sugar. The end. I use about 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon for a pie, but the measurements are flexible. I scoop out some sugar into a bowl, sprinkle cinnamon over it, and mix it up. It’s ready for the pie.
The pie: I lay out my bottom crust in the pie plate, then I peel my apples and put them, whole, in a pot of water with a dash of lemon juice to keep them from browning as I go. Once they’re all peeled, I dry them off one at a time and cut them into big wedges, tossing them into the waiting pie plate. Once I get a full layer, I sprinkle a mix of sugar and cinnamon over it using a big spoon. I aim for near-full coverage, and it’s okay if some of the sugar falls through the gaps and gets to the bottom. I keep adding apples and sugar until I have a nice big mountain of apples.
Notice how big I keep the apple pieces? If I cut them much smaller than that, then they may get too soft once they’re cooked. That is probably because I insist upon using the wrong apples for pie.
The top crust goes on to cover the apple sugar mountain, and holes are poked to let steam out. I covered the edges of the crust with foil to keep them from getting too dark, and only realized at the end that I should have tried that with the top part, too. I got a brown pie.
I also may have left it in a tiny bit too long, so the filling got a little closer to applesauce than I like, but it was tasty anyway.
Yes, that is a dirty plate. That’s because it was my second helping and I was so eager to eat my first piece that I didn’t bother finding my camera.
HOORAY FOR PIE!!