It seems like everyone’s going apple picking and generally enjoying apples lately, but they don’t all know what to do with them. Apple pie is the easiest answer, but it can be a little daunting if you’re not experienced in the kitchen. I love cooking and even I get intimidated by many pie recipes, calling for frozen butter and ice water and needing to keep everything just so cold. It can be ridiculously easy, though. A simple olive oil-based crust needs no freezing temperatures and no meticulously cut pieces of butter, and takes only a minute or two to come together. Honestly, the hardest part of the recipe is peeling the apples, and only if you’re using a basic hand peeler like I do and not a fancy peeler/corer stand thingy.
I’ve made two pies with this recipe so far and changed it a little bit each time, like I do with most baked goods. This version is the most recent, and you can definitely play with the spices or sugars to suit your taste – the most important thing in the recipes is pre-cooking the apples. This will shrink them down before they go in the pie and the whole thing will stay nice and tall. If you assemble the pie with raw apples, they’ll cook down right inside the pie and you’ll get what we call the “apple gap” around here. A gap will probably also cause your top crust to collapse in on the pie, which makes pies look very sad.
Big Fat Apple Pie
10 medium- to large- sized McIntosh apples (use whatever kind you like, this is my favorite local variety)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp minced fresh ginger (I REALLY love ginger so I keep fresh on hand, your taste may be different)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Peel and cut the apples. You should get between 12 and 16 slices out of each fruit. Place the slices in a large pot and add the rest of the ingredients, then mix them well, until the apples are fully coated in the mixture. Put the pot on the stove over medium heat and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring and checking frequently. Once they are cooked through (soft on the inside but still firm on the outside) remove from heat and take off the lid so the apples can cool a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 and prepare your crust.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light olive oil
1/3 cup water
pinch ground nutmeg, if desired (something I just started experimenting with)
cinnamon sugar, for dusting
Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and blend with a fork until there’s no more flour on the sides of the bowl, but not more than that. Take a long piece of wax or parchment paper* and fold it in half so that you have two squares. Place half of the dough between the squares and roll it out with a rolling pin until you have a disc a little bit larger than the circumference of your pie plate. Unfold the paper, exposing the dough, and place the pie plate over it. Flip it upside down and lightly press the dough into the plate, making sure there’s no big air bubbles. Trim around the edge of the pie plate and fill in any cracks or holes (it’s ok, it happens!) with bits of dough.
Return to the apples. Either drain them in a large colander before filling the crust or use a slotted spoon to transfer them. If you have too much extra juice in your pie, it will leak and be sticky and messy in your oven.
Next, roll out the rest of the dough. Place the disc on top of the pie (this can be tricky, again, just fill in any holes) and go aound the edges, tucking the bottom crust over the top one and pinching all the way around. If there is a lot of overhanging extra dough, you can try to mold it into a cute little apple or leaf to decorate the top of the pie. Yay! Use a sharp little knife to cut slits in the crust for the steam to escape and sprinkle with cinnamon (and) sugar. Put it in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edge of the crust is a nice golden brown (see above). Cool for 30 minutes or so and enjoy with vanilla ice cream (I keep forgetting to buy it so we end up using whipped cream, which works ok) and/or a nice cup of tea.
*If you don’t have either of those kinds of paper, use a clean counter sprinkled with liberal amounts of flour, and coat the rolling pin in flour, too. Keep that bag of flour handy because you’ll need more…then add wax or parchment paper to your shopping list, silly!
Psst…you can click the pictures for AMAZING DELICIOUS CLOSE-UPS!!!