Deep-Dish Apple Pie with Foolproof Double-Crust Pie Dough
Not only was this pie delicious, I learned a lot while making it. And that is thanks to Cook’s Illustrated and all the information they include in their cookbooks. Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks are not just full of yummy recipes. They also have chapters of information that explain the science behind the cooking techniques and ingredients, as well as equipment and ingredient reviews. My bachelor’s degree is in Biology, so all of this Food Science stuff is very interesting to me!
Here’s a quick summary of what I learned from reading about pie crusts and apple pie in the book More Best Recipes:
- A pie crust consists of dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar), fat (butter or vegetable shortening), and liquid (usually water, but in this case, vodka + water)
- The combination of shortening and butter gives the crust a nice flavor and flaky texture.
- Gluten is the protein matrix that provides structure to baked goods. Gluten forms when water combines with flour. If a pie crust has too much water in the dough, too much gluten will form, which will cause the dough to be tough (as opposed to tender). However, if you don’t add enough water to the dry ingredients, the pie dough will be difficult to roll out and shape. The addition of vodka to the pie dough adds no flavor (the alcohol will vaporize while the pie is baking in the oven), but improves the texture of the dough, resulting in a flaky and tender pie crust. This is because vodka contains only 60% water, so it doesn’t contribute to gluten formation (gluten will not form in alcohol), and thus, the resulting dough is soft, tender, and pliable.
- Pre-cooking the apples in a Dutch oven before assembling the pie extracts excess juice and prevents the pie from becoming too soggy while it bakes.
- The combination of tart and sweet apples gives the pie a nice balanced flavor.
Foolproof Double-Crust Pie Dough
- 2 ½ cups (12 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼- inch pieces
- ½ cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
- ¼ cup cold vodka
- ¼ cup cold water
- Process 1 ½ cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process until a homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (the dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around processor blade. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the vodka and water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on the dough until the dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide the dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Yield: one 9-inch double-crust pie
Deep Dish Apple Pie
- 1 recipe 9-inch double-crust pie dough
- ½ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest, grated
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 ½ lbs tart apples (such as Granny Smith), about 5 medium, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices
- 2 ½ lbs sweet apples (such as Golden Delicious or Braeburn), about 5 medium, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 1 egg white, beaten lightly
- Mix ½ cup of the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, salt, zest, and cinnamon in a large bowl; then add apples and toss to combine. Transfer the apples to a Dutch oven (do not wash the bowl that they were in) and cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender when poked with a fork but still hold their shape, 15 to 20 minutes. (Note: The apples and juices should gently simmer during cooking.) Transfer the apples and juices to a rimmed baking sheet and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. While the apples cool, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place a foil lined baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rolled out dough to a 9-inch pie plate, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, roll the second disk of dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Set a large colander over the now-empty bowl that the apples were mixed in. Then transfer the cooled apples to the colander. Shake the colander to drain off as much juice as possible (the cooked apples should measure about 8 cups). Discard the juice. Transfer the apples to the dough-lined pie plate and sprinkle with lemon juice.
- Place the second round of rolled out dough on top of the apple filling. Pinch the edges of the top and bottom dough rounds firmly together. Trim, seal, and crimp the edges of the dough. Then cut four 2-inch slits in the top of the dough. Brush the surface with the beaten egg white and sprinkle evenly with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.
- Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet and bake until the crust is dark golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool at least 1 ½ hours. Cut the pie into wedges and serve.
Source: More Best Recipes Cookbook, Cook’s Illustrated (Pgs. 668 & 675)