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Old-fashioned apple pie for Thanksgiving

Apple pie is a persistent classic at the Thanksgiving table.

By In Praise of Leftovers / November 24, 2010

Old-fashioned apple pie.

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I’m a fan of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Except for pumpkin pie. Since this is a food blog, I won’t go into detail about my childhood experience of eating too much pumpkin pie. I can hardly think of a food I don’t like – I am the un-pickiest eater in the world. Pumpkin pie is a rare exception. I tried a bite a couple years ago to see if I was playing old tapes. Nope. 30 years later, those memories are still fresh.

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None of us will be suffering with apple pie, though. I’ve been amused with all the Pie Fright lately. I even noticed a local class which is about the art of pie crust – several hours in a therapeutic setting helping people build confidence and face their Crust Trauma. Maybe this syndrome has never plagued me because I grew up watching my grandmothers, aunts, and mother make pies like they were making peanut butter sandwiches. Or maybe I escaped it because I’ve never been concerned about the perfect crust. Like I’ve said here before, one of my favorite mantras is Good enough is good enough.

Here are a couple apple pie tips and opinions that come to mind (I know – you’re surprised I have opinions. I’m so meek and mild-mannered normally):

  • Though Crisco does make a delightfully flaky crust, I don’t use it. Butter has better flavor and doesn’t clog the arteries.
  • One thing that can ruin an apple pie much more thoroughly than an imperfect crust is underbaked apples. It’s better to overbake them. You want your fork to slide through the pie with just a bit of resistance, not be slip-sliding around everywhere.
  • I think cold ice cream generally wrecks a good pie. I prefer mine plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
  • In order to adequately cook the apples before the crust burns or gets too brown, you may have to cover the edge of the crust with foil the last 20 minutes of baking.
  • I use my food processor for the crust because it helps me not overwork the dough and it’s fast. You can use a pastry cutter or fingertips, though.
  • Your butter must be as cold as possible and your water icy cold.
  • If I’m not cleaning out my produce drawer, I like to use a mixture of tart (such as Granny Smith) and sweet (such as Golden Delicious) apples.
  • It’s imperative that you cut steam vents in your top crust to prevent a soggy bottom crust.
  • Do not cut into a pie until it has cooled on the counter for 2-3 hours. Cutting into it too soon doesn’t give the juices a chance to set and eating it hot (instead of room temperature) doesn’t allow the flavors to come through.
  • Even if your pie doesn’t live up to your hopes for it, you will get a lot of kudos for trying and you’ll feel proud of yourself.

Old Fashioned Double Crust Apple Pie
Adapted from Gourmet. Serves 12 if you have a steady hand and you’ve waited until the pie is completely cool before cutting it.

For dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup plus 1 to 4 tablespoons ice water

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