There is nothing more American than homemade apple pie…. We were all raised on this delicious treat, and there are wonderful memories that come flooding back when you taste that first bite of still warm flaky crust and sugary apple filling. I’m taken back to memories of squeezing that last slice of pie into my stomach on Thanksgiving day or the smell of cinnamon and sugar melting in the oven as the pie is cooking – peeking through the oven glass while I wait in eager anticipation for the timer to buzz. Taking that first bite of a still warm pie reminds me of the scene in Ratatouille when the chef tastes our protagonist mouse’s dish and is suddenly swept back to his childhood.
Well, if apple pie transports you back to childhood too, then you should not wait to give this recipe a try… It’s apple pie the Cajun-Spiced Texan way, with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg – allspice and cloves that perfectly compliment the tasty tart Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples that are in season now.
Oh wait – there’s more! That’s right, there is also nothing more American than family recipes that are passed down from generation to generation. My family’s secret desert recipe is my Grandmother’s pie crust. When my Mother talks about this crust, you can see the change in her demeanor, and it’s as if she can taste its flaky butteryness melting in her mouth that very moment.
And, like most family dishes, it was no easy feat to elicit this recipe out of my Grandmother. In fact, for years my Mom was baffled by her so-called ‘recipe’. Grandma would say, “You just put a few cups of flour in a bowl with some butter - maybe a dash of salt – mix it up real good without touching it too much and you have pie crust! Maybe add a little water to make it stick together…” I mean, really Grandma? That’s all, just mix – but don’t touch it – then voila! You have pie crust?!?
After years of battling such instructions, my Mother finally laid down the line and told Grandma she was coming to our house for Thanksgiving, and she wasn’t allowed to leave until she taught my Mom her pie crust recipe. This recipe has now been passed down to me (in much the same way), and below is my attempt to share this wonder with the world.
All American Spiced Apple Pie
Makes 16 spices, 3pts/slice
Grandma’s Pie Crust:
Makes 2 pies or 4 crusts (a top and bottom crust per pie)
Pie Crust Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter (8 oz or 2 sticks), softened*
1/2 teaspoon salt (approximately)
Cold water (see directions below)
*To soften, I usually just microwave a whole stick for 30-45 seconds. Just be sure to watch the butter closely so it doesn’t get too soft (or even melt!).
Pie Crust Directions:
Mix flour and salt. Then mix in butter (using a pastry blender or fork). Slowly add ice water until, as Grandma used to say, “it’s the just the right consistency, like playdough.” Grandma also used to say that when adding the water, “just don’t touch it too much, and it will have the perfect consistency!” To this day, I’m not sure I totally understand how to not touch the dough while mixing in the water. That being said, when doing the mixing, you should attempt to lightly fold the water in avoiding any hard pressure on the dough. Definitely don’t knead or press it together with a full fist. (see pictures below)
Divide dough into 4 parts. I like to make two slightly larger and two slightly smaller balls of dough so the bottom pieces are bigger than the tops. This really just allows for having a thicker bottom crust and a light flaky thin top crust.
Sprinkle flour on counter or large surface, then roll out the dough. If the dough is falling apart, then add just a small bit more water until it firms back up. Roll into ¼ inch thick bottom crust and an 1/8-1/4 inch thick top crust. Place bottom crust directly in pie pan and set to aside until you have added pie filling. Dough should be pliable enough that when you add the top crust, you can just press it into the bottom and mold it into a pretty edge.
8 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples (about 4 of each)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
4-5 tablespoons all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
*Use enough flour to thicken the apple mixture so that there is not much liquid apple juice left at the bottom of your mixing bowl.
**Note: This recipe is inspired from both a Cooking Light and Epicurious apply pie recipe.
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
Full Pie Preparation:
Preheat oven to 450°.
Peel and core all apples. Slice into thin ¼ inch pieces. Then combine the apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Stir in sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt to the apples. Toss well to ensure the sugar and spices coat the apples evenly.
While apples are sitting in mixing bowl, make pie crust and place in pie pan. Then pour apple mixture into pie crust, pushing the apples toward center of the pan so they create a sort of mountain. Carefully lay top crust across the apples, then mold edges so they are thoroughly sealed. Using a very sharp knife, slowly cut 4 slits in the top of the crust (see pictures for example) to for a sort of cross across the pie. Using your fingers (or a pastry brush if you have one) brush egg whites across top of the pie, ensuring that no thick clumps of egg whites congregate in one area on the curst. (I always find this part difficult, but if you have too big of an egg white glob, it can burn the crust).
Cut 4 (1-inch) slits into top of pastry using a sharp knife. Brush top and edges of pie with egg white; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Place pie on a baking sheet; bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove pie from oven), and bake an additional 40 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack and serve with a healthy (read: large) scoop of vanilla ice cream.