Sometimes a gal just needs more crust.
I very loosely follow the recipe in this 2003 cookbook. Here is a similar recipe Williams Sonomas’ Apple Pie, but I use more apples, more brown sugar and less or no white sugar, triple the cinnamon, a little ginger and nutmeg. I don’t measure the filling ingredients. For the past 35 years, I’ve always used an assortment of apples in pies for better flavor, usually a couple Granny Smith for tartness, a couple Macintosh for extra apple-i-ness, and Rome or Gala for structure.
I discovered King Arthur Flour’s thickener – Pie Filling Enhancer, so now my pies aren’t soup-in-a-crust. The Emile Henry ruffled pie dishes are gorgeous and make any pie look extra delicious. The dishes also bake a better crispy crust than normal glass dishes.
But the crust… oh the crust! The recipe is probably in some cookbook somewhere because there are only so many ways to make a pie crust with few ingredients. It started out as a Good Housekeeping recipe and slowly morphed into a WS recipe with a couple tweaks.
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour (I always use King Arthur flour – it has the best flavor and is always consistent)
About 1/4 tsp salt
About 1 tsp sugar
Using a pastry blender, cut in:
2/3 shortening (NOT butter flavor stuff, just the regular white shortening)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
Cut in the shortening and butter at the same time till dough is craggy. If you cut the fats in too little, there will be too much flour when you stir in the water, making a glutenous, stretchy tough mess. If you cut the fats in too much, the fats will coat all the flour, basically greasing it, so you can’t add the water. At that point, your pastry will fall apart when you bake it. So the right amount of cutting-in has some small baby pea-size pieces of butter at the most but mostly looks like a lumpy powder.
Stir in with a fork:
About 6 tablespoons cold water. Sometimes you’ll need more if your house is extra dry, which drys out the flour too. But usually 6 or 7 tablespoons is enough. As you stir with the fork, the dough will almost lump together in one big mass. Press it together the rest of the way. There will still be little bits of yellow butter. That’s good because those bits mean a flaky pastry! Never knead the dough or it will get tough.
At this point, you can chill the dough to use later. I’m usually in a hurry and just roll the dough out between two pieces of floured plastic wrap for pie crust as usual.
Today my back was hurting wicked fierce and I had completely run out of decorative-edging patience. I didn’t do my usual pretty scalloped edging. I didn’t neatly trim the excess pastry from around the pie. I didn’t make cute cutouts for the top. With zero finesse I flopped the excess pastry on top of the vanilla-sugar-sprinkled pie and had one of the boys heft them into the oven.
This suits me fine. I’ve been known to make a pie crust, roll it out flat on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake. Eaten as is. So this pie, with it’s splendid mass of buttery pastry, meets my crust lovin’ appetite today. And the scrumptious apple filling is a bonus!