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Best Apples for Pie

Beyond organic, there are other considerations when it comes to apples for apple pie. A too juicy apple will make for an overly wet pie, a mealy apple doesn’t taste great, and some apples cook up way too mushy.  Granny Smith, Bramley, Jonagold, Rome,  Honeycrisp, Cameo, Jonathon, Pink Lady are popular apple pie apples. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Galas, McIntosh and Cortland are much less popular pie apples. However, serious pie makers have been debating the apple issue for decades. When it comes down to it, choose the freshest and most local apples possible.  You can experiment to see which apples you like best. For this particular pie, I used organic apples I had on hand, some juicer than others, so I did take steps to combat an overly wet pie, as I’ll point out below.

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Best Crust for Apple Pie

I think the best crust for apple pie is organic butter crust. The butter flavor works well with apples and because it’s a softer crust, it soaks up any excess apple juice nicely. However, while in this recipe I’ll be making butter crust, you can go with a crust made with organic shortening. There are pros and cons of each type of crust, most of which come down to personal preference. To learn more read organic pie crust 101.

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Make Your Butter Crust First

You need to make your crust first, as it will need to chill. This will make enough dough for a top and bottom pie crust. Fill a large glass measuring cup with water and ice cubes and place it in the fridge. Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) of cold organic butter into small chunks. Place butter chunks in a small bowl, in your fridge to chill. 

While your water and butter chills, combine 2 and 1/2 cups organic flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon organic sugar in a large mixing bowl. Grab your chilled butter and cut it into your dry mixture with a basic pastry cutter quickly, until the mix resembles little peas or little shreds of butter-coated flour. This won’t take long and it will look a bit uneven, which is in your favor. The longer you work dough, the tougher it’ll be. If you can see some butter, that’s fine.

Drizzle about 5 tablespoons of your icy cold water over your dough (avoid ice cubes). Use a silicone spatula to quickly incorporate the water into the flour mixture. Add about 5 to 7 more tablespoons of ice water, as needed, to create a dough that barely sticks together. Once your dough is barely holding together immediately stop incorporating water. Remember, you don’t want to touch your dough too much – over-touching makes your dough tough, dry and not at all flaky.

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Chill Your Pie Crust

Using your hands, gather half the dough into a ball and place it on a piece of non-bleached parchment paper. Gather the other half of the dough and do the same. Wrap your dough and place it in the fridge to chill. It’s best to chill your dough for at least an hour before rolling it out.

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Slice Your Apples

As your dough chills, get your apple pie filling started. Wash and peel about six cups worth of organic apples. Cut into slices or small chunks.

Get Apple Sugar & Spice Ready

In a small bowl combine 1 cup organic sugar, 2 tablespoons organic flour, 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon and a decent dash of organic nutmeg.
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Coat Apples

Toss your sugar and spices in with your apple pieces to coat. Now, if you used all non-juicy apples, like Granny Smith, you’re done. If you used any sort of juicy apples, such as Golden Delicious, place your apples in a colander, over a bowl and allow some of the juices to drain for a bit. This will help combat an overly juicy pie.

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Get Your Bottom Crust Ready

Get one ball of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle some organic flour on a piece of parchment paper, place the ball of dough down, then sprinkle a little more flour on top.

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Rolling Your Dough

Rolling on parchment is important because one, it’ll help keep your dough from sticking to your table and two, it’ll make transferring your rolled dough easier. Once your dough is rolled out, simply pick up the piece of parchment and flip it over into your pie plate of choice. Carefully peel back the parchment and situate your dough in the pie plate.

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A Nice Round Pie

Using a slotted spoon to avoid juice at the bottom of the bowl, transfer your apples into the bottom crust, then place the pie plate back in the fridge. Whenever you’re not messing with butter crust, it’s got to be kept cold or it’ll start melting all over your hands and everywhere else. Using six cups of organic apples will give your pie that nice mound look common to apple pie. Less will make for a flat pie while too many apple pieces means your pie filling will be harder to contain under the top crust.

Get Your Top Crust Ready

Decide how you want to handle the top crust. You can do a basic covered pie, (be sure to add steam vents) or a fancy lattice top. In any case, follow the steps noted above for rolling your dough – i.e. using the parchment paper.

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How to Make a Fancy Top Pie Crust

I’m notoriously bad at making pretty pies. Taste-wise my pies are excellent. Look-wise, well, I won’t win any pie awards. For this pie I did decide to go a little fancy and make a lattice top, but I’m far from the best teacher. Most of the time, I simply smoosh my bottom and top crusts together and call it a day. That said, if pretty matters to you, visit the links below to learn how to make a fancy pie crust top.

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Chill & Bake Your Pie

After you get your top crust on your pie, be sure to press the edges of the top and bottom together, so apple juice doesn’t leak out. Then sprinkle a little organic sugar on top for sparkle. If you made butter crust, place your pie in the fridge for a little bit to chill it. With butter crusts, any touching induces melting, so by now, your crust should be getting a little gooey and messy. Chilling the pie before baking helps avoid pools of butter in your oven (that leak from the crust).

After chilling your pie, cover the edges of your pie with recycled foil or a silicone reusable pie crust shield. Either foil or a shield will help prevent your pie edges from burning, because edges cook faster than the rest of the pie. Bake for 25 minutes in a 375 degrees oven. After 25 minutes, remove foil or shield from pie edge and bake another 25 minutes at the same temperature.

Take your pie out of the oven and allow it to cool, so that the juices can set, before you cut or eat it.