Apple pie is one of my family’s favorites since I was a child. We would always pick up an apple pie from the local grocery store, pop it into the oven, and serve it with a big scoop of ice cream! Even if we’re incredibly full, we always had room for some apple pie. For me, it’s the mix of flavors and textures in one dessert that keeps it interesting bite after bite.
Something about a pie reminds me of the south. Maybe it’s because of the amazingly flaky and sweet pies from the Varsity. Or maybe it’s because it was common to bring foods to your neighbors and friends while I was growing up and our neighbors would bake pies. For whatever the reason, I thought this dessert would be perfect for a southern-comfort food dinner party. In Tokyo, there’s tons of unique and elaborate European dessert shops, but it’s rare to find a simple, classic pie. Plus there’s nothing more home-y and down to earth than a pie.
I made an apple pie last year, and although it was successful, the crust wasn’t flaky enough and absorbed too much liquid and the filling deflated more than I’d like. So this time, I played around with the apples and made the crust an entirely different way. This time around, the apple filling was a nice consistency so that the bottom crust didn’t absorb too much and was still nicely flaky and slightly chewy. The crust was so flaky, crispy, chewy, and buttery. This will definitely be my go-to pie crust recipe from now on. Just make sure to keep it cold and don’t overwork the dough!
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
For the Filling:
2 1/2 pounds Kougiyoku apples (or Granny Smith outside Japan)
2 1/2 pounds Ruby apples (or Braeburn outside Japan)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons apple jelly
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
1. Make the crust: Cut the butter into very small pieces and spread them evenly on a plate. Place the plate into the freezer. Fill a cup with 1 cup of water. Place it in the freezer as well. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Place it in the fridge for 2-3 minutes.
2. Take the flour mixture out of the fridge and sprinkle the cold butter pieces over the mixture. Work the butter into the flour mixture evenly using a pastry blender until the butter is the size of small peas. Stop mixing even if the mixture isn’t fully combined or even. It’s ok!
3. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the water from the freezer over the flour mixture and use a spatula to gather the dough together. Add in a tablespoon more of water at a time, mixing with the spatula each time, until a ball of dough forms. When you’re pulling large clumps, gather the dough, gently kneading it together into a ball. You should still have those pea-sized balls of butter in the dough. Divide the dough into 2, cover separately with plastic wrap, and flatten each ball of dough into a disk. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
4. Make the filling: Preheat oven to 210°C. Peel and core the apples; cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Place apples in a large bowl. Stir in next 7 ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes, gently stirring halfway.
5. Put together the pie: Roll out your dough to 12 inches, trimming off the edges. Place the bottom layer into a 9-inch baking dish. Fill the baking dish with the apple mixture, packing them tightly together and slightly mounding them in the center. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the juices, and pour the remaining juices on the apples. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of butter onto the apples. Roll out the top of the dough and place it on top, crimping the edges. Cut 4-5 slits on top of the piece to allow the steam to escape. Brush the remaining tablespoon of juices onto the top of the pie.
6. Bake at 210°C on the lower rack for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 170°C and bake 35 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake 30 more minutes or until juices are thick and bubbly, crust is golden brown, and apples are tender when pierced with a long wooden pick through slits in crust. Remove to a wire rack. Cool 1 1/2 to 2 hours before serving.