I remember when I first learned how to make a pie. I was probably about 7 years old, and my family had a huge rhubarb plant in our garden. I always loved to bake things in the kitchen, and my mom showed me how to make a rhubarb pie using this crust recipe. Well, I was only 7 years old, and it was my first pie, so you can imagine that the first crust didn’t turn out quite as beautifully as my mom’s. But with a little practice, I mastered the techniques.
With so many good apples available right now, I wanted to share this pie recipe recipe with you. I wrote the directions based on a unique technique my mom made up – grating the butter using a hand-held cheese grater. It seems to work great every time, so if you’ve had trouble making flaky pies before, give this recipe a chance. You can also watch a video of me making the crust if you want a visual of what I’m talking about in this recipe. Click here to see the video.
about 6 medium-sized apples – 6 cups total or as much as you need to make a nice, full pie (We like the tartness of Rome, Ida Red, Granny Smith, and Jonathan, but any apple you have on hand will be fine. Just don’t use Red Delicious.)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup rapadura (or sugar)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the crust:
2 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup cold, salted butter
very cold water
For the Apple Filling
Peel, core, and slice the apples. In a large bowl, toss them together with the flour, sugar and cinnamon.
For the Crust:
Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Take the butter directly out of the refrigerator and carefully grate it into the flour using a cheese grater (use a hand-held grater for this, NOT an electric grater). Each time you grate the stick of butter, roll it in the flour so it is always coated with flour. When all the butter is grated, mix it into the flour slightly. DURING THIS STEP, YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVER-MIX. IF YOU OVER-MIX THE CRUST, IT WILL BECOME TOUGH.
Fill a small pitcher with water, and add an ice cube to make it extra cold. The cold water will help the butter to stay cold during this step, resulting in a nice, flaky crust. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the water into the flour/butter mixture. Stir the water in with two or three strokes. Again, make sure you don’t over-mix, or you’ll have tough crust. Keep adding water until you have a dough that sticks together nicely but is not so wet that it sticks to your hands. Don’t knead it; press it together gently, adding more water if needed.
Break the dough into two equal sections. Set one half aside while you roll the first one out for the bottom crust. Flour the counter well, or the crust will stick. To be sure that the crust is the right size, place the pie plate you plan on using over the circle you have rolled out. The crust should be about 1 1/2 inches bigger than your pie plate on all sides. If your crust is a little bigger, don’t worry – you’ll just trim it down a little when you have it in the pie plate.
Place the rolled out crust into the bottom of your pie plate. This can be a tricky step, because… well, how do you pick up a large circle of delicate crust and put it into your pie pan without breaking it? So I found a way to make it easier. Fold the crust in half – make sure it’s dusted with flour on the top – then fold it in half again, so your crust is just 1/4 the size of a circle, and then place it in the pie plate. Unfold it, and… you have a beautiful pie crust that’s NOT torn!
Pour the apple mixture into your crust. Roll out the top crust and place it over the pie. (You can use the same method of getting it onto the pie as you did with the bottom crust.) You should have about 1/2 to 3/4 inches of crust hanging over the edge of your pie. If you have more than this, just cut it off with a scissors or a sharp knife. Tuck the overhanging crust under the edge of the bottom crust, and crimp the pie with your fingers. Cut a few vents in the top. Then bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
The last step: ENJOY! This pie is best served hot.
Wow! Check out all of those beautiful flakes! They were all formed by the really cold little flakes of grated butter, and they were preserved by mixing the dough as little as possible.
How do you make pie crust? Do you have any techniques that result in a really flaky crust? Has anyone ever made a pie in a brown paper bag? (That’s Mom’s next pie project.)