If apples aren’t making a seasonal appearance at the farmers markets I use a mixture of tart, firm, sweet and yielding apples like Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Pink Lady or Fuji. I love the taste of brown sugar in a pie, but if you prefer more sweetness and less butterscotch flavor use white sugar. You can also experiment by using maple syrup or palm sugar for sweetness. The more apples in your pie, the longer it takes to bake so don’t panic if the pie has been in the oven for an hour and the slices are still firm. Sometimes it takes 70 minutes for a loaded apple pie. You can cut down on cooking time by letting the apples sit with the sugar to soften. Why don’t I just precook the apples? I really prefer how the whole comes together when I start with raw apples in the pie. You end up with perfectly tender and yielding apple pieces that still have some texture and shape.
Dough for 2 crust pie
7 to 9 apples, mixed varieties, peeled to yield approximately 8 cups sliced apples
Brown or white cane sugar to taste (from ¼ to ¾ cup)
½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
A squeeze of Fresh Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt
3- 4 tablespoons flour or cornstarch (amount depends on juiciness of apples)
Place the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place a baking sheet to catch pie juices on the rack. Preheat the oven to 425º.
Peel the apples. Cut apple flesh off the cores. Turn apple pieces cut side down and cut into 3/8” thick slices. Put apple slices in large bowl. Taste the apples. Notice that they are already a little sweet. Decide how much sweeter you want them. Add sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time until they taste good to you.
Add the cinnamon, lemon juice and salt and mix. If you want you can let the apples macerate either in the refrigerator or at room temperature for half an hour or so to let the juices collect and the apples soften. After half an hour mix the juice back into the apples. Now add the flour or cornstarch mixing after each addition. You just want enough so that you feel the flour hold the juices together. Mix well.
Place the dressed apples in a prepared pie pan lined with dough. Pack the apples in well moving apple slices around so they fill all the empty spaces (voids). This is key to not having an empty space between apples and crust in the finished pie. Drape the chilled top crust over the apples. Trim the crust then fold and crimp the edges. Cut vents into the top dough. If the dough is very cold out of the refrigerator or freezer wait a few minutes until it becomes pliable enough to work without breaking.
Put the pie on the baking sheet that’s been preheating along with the oven.
Bake at 425º for 20 minutes, then lower the oven to 375 degrees and continue to cook another 20 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender when pierced through the vent with a paring knife or until thickened juices bubble out of the vents. If the top or edge of the pie begins to brown deeply too soon loosely drape foil over the areas at risk and return to the oven.
Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool off before eating. Best made at night and eaten for breakfast.