Happy National Pie Day!
What’s a better way to celebrate than with the classic apple pie? I had every intention of turning out a couple of pies last night and taking them to work as a Monday treat for National Pie Day. Yeah, that didn’t exactly happen.
As it turns out, pie making isn’t exactly like riding a bike for me. Sure, any pie I make is tasty (if I do say so myself), but my top crust laying and crimping skills could use some (a lot) of practice. I promise that there’s nothing wrong with the pie crust recipe I’m sharing below– it’s just me and my inability to remember to use a spatula. I did still make two apple pies, but as a former 4-Her, there’s a fat chance of them leaving my apartment unless they’re blue-ribbon quality in both appearance and flavor.
Maybe you’ll have a bit more luck than I did. 🙂
Perfect Pie Crust
This will make just enough for two crusts (top and bottom) for a 9 or 10-inch pie, with plenty leftover to try out the cinnamon bites recipe I’ve included at the end of this post.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 6 to 9 tablespoons cold water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
- Small amount of sugar
- Mix flour and salt in a medium to large mixing bowl. Use a pastry blender or fork to cut the vegetable shortening into the flour mixture until the dough forms pea-sized pieces.
- Add the cold water to the dough one tablespoon at a time. Use a fork to incorporate the water into the dough (but don’t stir). Add water as needed to get the dough to stick together, but don’t over-do it. (This is the part that scares me the most about pie making.)
- Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. When time is up, shape the dough into a ball but handle the dough as little as possible to avoid melting the vegetable shortening. Put the ball of dough into the refrigerator to chill for 15 to 30 minutes (or longer if you’re busy doing something else- this is an excellent time to get the filling started).
- Split dough into two halves and roll one half out on a floured surface until it’s slightly larger than your pie pan, flipping and re-flouring your surface as needed (but not too many times). Use short strokes with the rolling pin and roll the dough to approximately 1/8-inch thickness before gently folding the dough in half and transferring it to the pan. Lift the edges of the dough in the pan and gently press into place to make sure it lays nicely in the pan. Don’t pull or stretch the dough since it’ll cause the crust to shrink in the oven. Trim dough edges so that they are flush with the pan edge. Set aside trimmings. This is also about the time that you’ll want to start pre-heating the oven. Check your filling recipe to determine what temperature you should be using.
- Roll out the second crust, making sure that it’s 1-2 inches larger than the pan to allow for enough dough to fold over and seal the pie. Add desired filling to the pie, making sure to not over-fill the pan. Gently fold the dough in half and transfer to cover the filling. Trim dough edges, leaving 1 to 1-1/2 inches of overhang. Set aside trimmings. Gently tuck edges of the upper crust between the pan and bottom crust edge. To seal, crimp the excess dough left around the edge using the index finger of your dominant hand to push the crust between the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Repeat until you have a nice, fluted edge.
- Using the tip of a knife, cut several 1/2-inch-long vent holes in the upper crust.
- Brush the top surface of the pie with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake pie according to the instructions in your filling recipe. Make sure to place a rimmed baking sheet underneath the pie pan to catch any drips just in case (you don’t want those sitting at the bottom of the oven while your pie bakes). Cool pie on a wire cooling rack when finished baking. The crust should be a nice, golden brown before you remove it from the oven.
Delicious Apple Pie Filling
I’ll admit, this was the first apple pie I’ve ever made by myself and, other than the crust, I think it turned out pretty great after I allowed the pie to cool and the filling to set properly. My preferred pie apple is a Jonathan, but I couldn’t find any at my local grocery store so I picked up a few Jonagolds and Granny Smiths and used a mix of the two. Using the right varieties of apples (like Jonathons and Granny Smiths, which stay firm even after being baked) is important so that your pie doesn’t turn out mushy. You’ll want to avoid apples with “delicious” in their variety name, as they don’t hold up very well for pie baking. I’ve heard that a good rule of thumb is to bake pies with the tart apples and use the sweeter apples for eating. 🙂
- Prepared unbaked pastry for two-crust pie
- 5 to 6 cups peeled, sliced apples (depending on size, this could be anywhere from 4 to 6 or more apples)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup sugar (more or less, depending on the sweetness of your apples)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- Prepare Perfect Pie Crust recipe (above) through step 3. Ideally, you’ll prepare the filling while the dough is in the refrigerator.
- Wash, peel, core apples. Slice apples (no thicker than 1/4 inches) into a medium to large mixing bowl. Toss apples with lemon juice to keep them from browning. (This won’t affect the flavor, but you’re welcome to skip this part if you want. Maybe we won’t need lemon juice in the future when the non-browning Arctic Apples come on the market!)
- In a small bowl, mix sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir this mixture into the apple slices (without making a giant mess like I managed to- I highly recommend the larger bowl option).
- Let the apple mixture sit until the bottom crust is rolled out and laid into the pie pan. Spoon filling into the bottom crust, making sure not to over-fill. Avoid pouring too much extra liquid into the pie pan. Cut butter or margarine into small pieces and sprinkle over the filling. Roll out and add upper pie crust. Be sure to add venting slits in the upper crust.
- When finished, bake pie for 15 minutes in a pre-heated 425 degree F. oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and bake for another 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack. Makes 8 servings.
So you’ve just made a beautiful pie and your stomach is growling as you smell it baking in the oven. You’ve also got a floury mess on the counter, a small pile of leftover dough that you’ve been nibbling, and a giant pile of dishes. Before you start cleaning up, you’d might as well make something delicious out of the leftover dough scraps rather than throw them away!
Leftover Perfect Pie Crust Cinnamon Bites
Probably the easiest pie treat you could make. And you’ll get some practice rolling out dough!
- Leftover pie crust
- 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Don’t worry about how big it is or the rough edges.
- Melt butter or margarine and brush over dough. Mix together a small amount of cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over dough.
- Using a knife, cut dough into strips no larger than 1-1/2 inches wide by 4 to 5 inches long. Transfer strips to an ungreased baking sheet. Don’t worry about the weird sizes and shapes of any of the strips. You can cut them smaller, if you’d like.
- When pie is finished baking, bake cinnamon bites at 425 degrees F for until golden brown (around 15 to 20 minutes). Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container or enjoying the deliciousness! (Sometimes, I think these are better than the pie.)
And there you have it- an easy-to-make pie crust, delicious apple filling, and a little something to snack on with the leftover dough. Here’s to blue-ribbon pies!