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It’s as American as… well, you know the saying. Apple pie is more than a dessert, it’s an American tradition, and so it seems a shame that the process of making double-crust pies intimidates so many cooks. Two things can make or break a pie: the crust and the filling. The ideal apple pie has a flakey crust and a perfectly spiced filling that is neither too runny nor too dry.
Whether you choose a lattice or cut-outs, we have a breakdown of all the techniques you need to take on the task of baking an apple pie for your next cookout, holiday party, or just because.
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Using a pastry cutter, cut in 1 cup of cold butter in ¼-inch cubes into 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour mixed with a ½ teaspoon salt until the butter is about pea sized. Then, add the a ¼ cup of ice cold water a tablespoon at a time, kneading the dough to just incorporate the water. Once the dough has enough moisture to form a loose ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
The crust of your apple pie should be flakey with a hint of sweetness. For the perfect crust, choose a recipe that uses the “cut in butter” method for the flakiest result. The enemy of a flakey crust is gluten. The two major protein components in flour, glutenin and gliadin, form gluten when mixed with water, which is why cutting the butter into the flour before adding the water ensures a flakier crust.
To make the crust, divide the dough in half and roll two crusts about a ¼-inch thick. At this point, use the bottom crust for the apple pie to line the pie pan, and either use cookie cutters to cut out shapes in the top crust or slice it into even strips for a lattice top. Transfer the top crust and store in the fridge until you have filled the pie.
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For a quick apple pie filling, core, peel, and slice 6 to 7 apples for a 9-inch apple pie. Then, combine the apples with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, ¾ cup granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of ground cloves. Finely, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan and add the apples. Sauté the apples on medium-low to dissolve the sugar, allowing the apples allow to release most of their juices. Cook for about 10 minutes, then strain the juices from the apples and fill the prepared piecrust with the apples. Top with the second crust, or weave the strips for a lattice crust. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Then, brush with an egg wash and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.