Yes, you heard it here first. Never mind waiting for those restaurant exit polls. Forget the culinary pundits.
Pie prognosticators, take a hike.
The bakers here at King Arthur Flour predict the winner of this year’s popular pie vote will be a long-time incumbent, a veteran campaigner who’ll once again beat out perennial runners-up pumpkin, chocolate cream, and cherry.
America, meet 2008’s presumptive pie champion: apple.
Yes, apple. While Georgia peach and pecan carry the South, Key Lime tops the polls in Florida, and blueberry is New England’s favorite, apple pie tops the overall charts.
And for good reason: who can resist the scent of bubbling apples laced with cinnamon, touched with butter and a hint of vanilla? The sharp-nutty aroma of baking crust? How can you cut into a slice of warm apple pie, vanilla ice cream running in rivulets into its aromatic center, and not send your eyes heavenward in praise of Johnny Appleseed? To say nothing of the first housewife who figured out that piling apples into a crust and sliding it into the woodstove would yield a little slice of paradise.
What, you don’t bake apple pie? And the reason is… can’t make pie crust? Follow our recipe (and the photos that follow) to pie crust perfection. Or maybe you don’t like peeling all those apples. It takes me 10 seconds to peel, core, and slice an apple. Really. You’ll find my secret weapon of mass deconstruction below.
Or maybe you don’t LIKE apple pie. As an American citizen, that’s your right. Just as it’s your right to dislike baseball, and hotdogs, and your mom. But with rights come responsibilities. And I believe it’s your responsibility to read this post and seriously consider baking an apple pie.
To paraphrase a famous TV ad from the Presidential election of ’64: In your heart, you know I’m right.
Let’s start with the crust. Whisk together the flour and salt, then add the shortening. An adjustable measuring cup makes this sometimes-sticky job easy.
Mix till unevenly crumbly; some lumps of butter (up to about 1/2”) can remain. These larger lumps add not only butter flavor, but help contribute to the crust’s flaky texture. Butter that’s totally incorporated won’t add any flakiness.
Divide the dough in two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. If you’ve got a scale, one piece will weigh about 11ounces, one about 9 ounces. The larger piece will be your bottom crust; the smaller, your top crust.
Turn the dough 90°, and roll to make the dough into a circle. Always roll from the center outwards; don’t roll back and forth across the dough. It confuses the gluten in the flour, which consequently tightens up and and toughens the crust. The less rolling, the better!
I LOVE my apple peeler/corer/slicer! It peels, cores, and slices an apple in less than 10 seconds. When you’ve been to the orchard and have a few big bags of apples to take care of, this is an invaluable tool. It also cores apples without peeling (for baked apples or apple dumplings). Or peels smooth (not gnarly) potatoes, with the peel-only function.
If the apple peeler is my favorite tool, boiled cider is my secret ingredient. This thick, intensely “apple-y” syrup comes from Willis and Tina Wood’s orchard in Springfield, Vermont. It’s simply boiled-down cider. Can you boil your own cider? You can; it’s tricky. It goes from almost perfect, to too thick, to burned and inedible in a flash. If you want to treat yourself to a really cool ingredient this fall, one that’s perfect for all of your apple desserts, try boiled cider. Drizzle a few tablespoons atop your cake, or into pie, crisp, baked apples, dumplings… you’ll taste the difference.
Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It’s probably going to boil over a bit, and the parchment is a savior when it’s time to do the dishes. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, tent it lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 90 minutes.
Looooonnnnng bake time, huh? Well, the crust insulates the filling, and the filling insulates the crust. The result: filling with deep, rich, almost caramelized flavor; and crust that’s golden brown, both top and bottom. Notice the “S”-shaped slash on top of this pie.
And there you have it: America’s favorite pie, start to finish. Have we relieved your pie angst? C’mon, give it a try. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself… and running out of parchment paper, best friend of the cleanup-averse pie baker.
Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Apple Pie with a Twist.
Buy vs. Bake
Buy: Supermarket bakery 8” apple pie, 20¢/ounce.
Ingredients: Apples, Enriched Wheat Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Fructose, Sugar, Modified Cornstarch, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Salt, Artificial Flavor, Cinnamon, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid.
Buy: Homemade 9” apple pie, 15¢/ounce.
Ingredients: Apples, King Arthur Flour, salt, trans-fat-free vegetable shortening, butter, water, sugar, boiled cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, fresh lemon juice.