Sunday, October 24, 2010

Apple Pie (with Fooproof Pie Crust)

In life, there are good wives and there are great wives.

I'm happy to report that I'm actually neither of these, as my status exceeds far beyond great.

In fact, I may even in the running for Wife of the Year.  Let me tell you (just one of the many reasons) why.

After we picked apples and I made my applesauce, I asked Mr. Vittles what type of apple dish he would like me to make with our spoils.

Without hesitation, he replied, "Apple pie.

And without hesitation, I thought, CRAP!

"Like apple crumb pie?" I suggested (fingers crossed) but nooooo.  Not my husband.

He insisted on the elusive double-crust apple pie.

Awesome to eat and dreadful to make.

Even his Nana, who probably makes more of her amazing apple pies in one year than I've made in my entire life, seems to dread this daunting process.

If the peeling and chopping of the apples wasn't bad enough, then you have to make not one, but two, fickle pastry crusts.


I despise pie crust.  It's like rolling out one giant, dry, crackly sugar cookie that you then have to transport across a few inches that may as well be the Atlantic Ocean.

I don't know about you, but my pie crust formation always goes something like this :  after cracking in at least 3 of the most inconvenient places during transfer from counter to pie plate, the crust barely fits the circumference of the plate and I must haphazardly piece it back together into some mortifying, Frankenstein-like abomination.

Why would I voluntarily put myself through such torture?

Luckily, I was able to find a pie crust recipe in a Cook's Illustrated publication with a 'secret ingredient' that supposedly helps to keep the crust from cracking - vodka.

(FYI- vodka also helps to keep the baker from cracking under the tremendous pressures of crafting a double crusted pie, so feel free to pour yourself a cocktail while you have the bottle out.)

But the vodka in the crust did help fix some of my usual problems. It also helps to use shortening, which is an ingredient I virtually never use, but it's consistency is arguably necessary to achieve the perfect crust.

And I must say that, despite the unavoidable tedium of apple pie assembly, things did go much smoother for me this time than they have in the past.

Most importantly, the result was pretty phenomenal.  Finally, a 100% homemade pie that had a delicious, flaky crust and I was NOT embarrassed to show it off!  Mr. Vittles suggested that I make one on the first of the month, "like paying the rent."

That won't be happening.

But if you're feeling bold or perhaps just hoping to overtake me in the race for Wife of the Year, I encourage you to get in on this double-crust action.  It's a lot of work, but if you have the time you won't be sorry!

Apple Pie (with Foolproof Pie Crust)
Make Crust & refrigerate:
  • 2 1/2 C. flour (plus extra for rolling out dough)
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 12 T. cold unsalted butter, in 1/4" slices
  • 1/2 C. cold vegetable shortening, in 4 pieces
  • 1/4 C. cold vodka, combined with 1/4 C. cold water
Process 1 1/2 C. flour, salt, and sugar in food processor til combined (about 2 1-second pulses).  Add butter & shortening, and process until homogenous dough starts to collect in uneven clumps (about 15 seconds) - dough will resemble cottage cheese curds & there should be no uncoated flour.

Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.  Add remaining cup flour & pulse until mixture evenly distributed around bowl & mass of dough has been broken up (4-6 quick pulses).

Empty mixture into medium bowl & sprinkle with some of vodka mixture.  With rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until slightly tacky & sticks together.  Use more of the vodka mixture as needed. 

Divide into 2 even balls & flatten each into 4" disk  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate 45 mini, or up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven 400 degrees and place a rimmed baking sheet on rack on lowest rack in oven.  Spray 9" pie plate with nonstick spray.

Remove one disk of dough from fridge & roll out on a generously floured surface to 12" circle, about 1/8" thick.  Roll loosely around rolling pin and unroll onto pie plate, leaving at least 1" overhand on each side.

Working around circumference, ease dough onto plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand.  Leave dough that overhangs in place, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Prepare Filling:
2 1/2 lbs apples, peeled, cored & cut into 10 wedges (about 5 medium-large apples)
1 t. lemon zest
3 T. flour
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. salt
2/3 C. sugar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten & mixed with 1 t. water (for egg wash)

In large bowl, whisk flour, zest, spices, salt & sugar together.  Gently toss with apples and lemon juice, and fill shell when finished chilling in refrigerator.  Set aside.

Roll out second disk on floured surface to 11" circle, 1/8 " thick.  Roll loosely around rolling pin & unroll over pie, leaving at least 1/2 " overhang on each side. Using kitchen shears, trim the bottom crust's overhanging dough leaving 1/2" overhang.

Fold both pieces of overhanging dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate.  Flute edges using thumb & forefinger, or press with tines of fork to seal top crust to bottom.  Brush top & edges with egg mixture. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer 10 minutes.

With small sharp knife, cut 5 steam vents in top of crust.  (Optional - sprinkle with 1 T. sugar and/or use a metal pie crust shield to prevent edges from burning*).  Place pie on baking sheet & bake 30 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown (30-40 minutes longer).  Transfer pie to wire rack & cool to room temperature, 2-3 hours.

*If you don't have a pie crust shield:  Use an 8" bowl or other round circle to cut a hole in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil.  Place over pie and secure over edges to prevent from burning.  Take off during last 20-30 minutes of baking.

Filling recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook; Pie Crust recipe from Cooks Illustrated


  1. Geez're making me look really bad. Maybe the omission of Vodka is what my problem has been all along!!!! It certainly looks wonderful........I'm sure Devon wishes she lived around the corner to pop over for a slice. Keep up the good work.

  2. It has been a long time since I made some apple pies. Thanks for the reminder. Looks delicious!

  3. Love your style!
    A good sense of humor makes everything taste better no matter what the outcome I've learned :) Your recipe sounds yummy and I will have to give it a try!


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