A basic apple pie is delicious and really very easy to make. But for several reasons, itâ€™s one of those dishes we have nationally bastardized almost beyond recognition. How did this happen? Reason # 1: apples donâ€™t grow here, so the best alternative was canned Comstock apples in syrup courtesy of the U.S. bases. Reason #2: Filipinos seem to have a super sweet tooth, so over the years, recipes for apple pie have piled on more and more sugar (partially to hide crappy underlying apples). Reason #3: The emphasis on a flaky crust was lost in translation (and made more difficult by watery local butter and hot and humid weather)â€¦ so the end product is often a super gooey sweet mush filling covered with a soggy pastry dough. In the past two decades, I have probably baked over 200 apple pies and I donâ€™t really keep a recipe except for the proportions of ingredients for the crust. My sister taught me how to make this dessert and it is one of my favorites. It is totally simple to make, and always a hit with guests. Her recipe was actually once published in the New York Times, I have to find it and post it in the future with her permission…
In Marketmanâ€™s opinion, a good apple pie has the following characteristics: a flaky crust that has risen above the fruit filling due to the steam generated within the pie, a filling that is tart and sweet at the same time and tastes distinctly like apple with a hint of spice. The apples must be soft and moist but individual slices of apple still recognizable. If it is done right and has the right level of tartness, it pairs remarkably well with good vanilla ice cream (Haagen Daz) or with a rich whipped cream. Your pie will only be as good as your base ingredients, your technique and your sense of indignation when you see an apple pie of less worthy provenanceâ€¦ Use the freshest, crispest, and greenest Granny Smith apples you can find (in other countries, there are lots of nice tart apples you can use as well), good unsalted butter, and remember not to overwork the dough. Here is the recipe:
Crust: 3 cups all purpose flour, 1 Â½ teaspoons salt, Â¾ cup unsalted chilled butter, 2/3 cup or slightly less Crisco or vegetable shortening also chilled, 5-7 tablespoons ice cold water.
Filling: 8-10 Granny Smith Apples, about 1 cup granulated white sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch, Â¼ teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg (fresher is better) a tablespoon or two of butter.
Make the dough first. Do not be in a foul mood as your body temperature could ruin the doughâ€¦ In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Cut butter and Crisco into cubes and put in the flour mixture. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut up the butter/shortening into the flour until the size of peas or smaller. Do this quickly and do not have the butter melt as it affect crust quality. When it seems right, quickly add 4-5 tablespoons of ice water, use a fork and mix it all in. If necessary, add another 2 tablespoons of water and mix. When the dough is just together, pick it up with your hands and form a big ball. Cut the ball in half and wrap each half with plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Do not skip this last step.
Next, the filling. Peel, core and slice the apples into about 12-16 equally thick slices per apple. Place them in a pan on the top of the stove and add the sugar, salt, cinnamon, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Turn heat to medium low and stir. Heat for 5-10 minutes until the sugar has just melted and the apples coated and glistening. Turn off the heat.
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees (hot). Take your dough out of the fridge and let it warm a little and roll out into a pizza like round disk with the help of a rolling pin. Place this disk in a 9 inch or similar pie pan. Roll out the second disk (for the top of the pie). Put filling in the pan and even it out. Cover with the second disk of dough and crimp the edges of the pie to seal it. Puncture the dough with a fork to help steam escape. Brush the top of the pie with an egg wash of one beaten egg with some milk. You may also sprinkle some sugar on the pie if you want some sweetness and shine. Place in the hot oven and after 10 minutes lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 25-35 minutes until the crust turns golden. Remove the pie and let it rest. It is best to serve about two hours later. Too soon and it is blisteringly hot and watery as the apples havenâ€™t had time to compose themselves (i.e., pectin work its wonders). Serve with a good vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I had roommates in college who could eat a whole pie in one sitting. They are less voracious now but every time I see them they still ask for pie. Enjoy!