When the nights start getting cooler after a long hot summer, and the leaves show glimpses of turning color, that’s when apple season starts around here. We grow Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Pink Lady, and Fuji apples, all great for making apple pie!
Here is our favorite apple pie recipe, with an easy, no-fail, buttery, flaky homemade pie crust (the crust makes all the difference, don’t you think?), and a filling with a mix of different types of apples, spices, vanilla, and a splash of brandy.
My homemade apple pie is like a siren call to my family. All I have to do is pick up the phone and say “pie” to my father and he’s here in less time than it takes to clear a place at the table. You know when people are eating and they aren’t saying a word? It’s either a very good thing, or a very bad thing. In this case, it’s all good. Enjoy!
If the crust looks like it's getting too browned, take a large piece of aluminum foil and place on top of the pie in the oven. No need to wrap it around the pie, just place it on top. That will keep the top from browning further.
Pies always seem to take longer to cook than one expects. (Perhaps it's because we're always opening the oven to check on how the pie is doing?) The filling should be visibly bubbling, which you should be able to see through the steam vents.
I recommend putting a rimmed baking sheet on a rack beneath the rack of the pie to catch the filling as some of it invariably bubbles up and out over the pie. Makes oven clean-up a lot easier.
Crust Ingredients for a flakey pie crust
- 2 1/2 cups (285 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 10-ounces (1 1/4 cups, 285 g) unsalted butter (room temperature), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup (115 ml) sour cream (use full-fat sour cream for best results)
- 3 pounds of good cooking apples such as Fuji, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, or Pippin (about 6 to 8 apples, depending on the size of your apples and the size of your pie dish)
- 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (to toss with the sliced apples so they don't brown as you slice them)
- 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like your pie
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour for thickening
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp brandy (Optional. By the way, if you have Calvados apple brandy, use it!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 Tbsp cream
1 Make the pie crust: To make a homemade crust, in a large bowl whisk together 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Add the cubed butter and use your clean dry hands to toss to coat with the flour. Using your hands work the butter into the flour, pressing the cubes of butter between your thumb and fingers. Continue to work the flour until the mixture is shaggy and the largest pieces of butter are no larger than a kernel of corn.
Make a well in the center and add the sour cream to it. Use a fork to work the buttered flour and the sour cream into each other until the dough begins to clump.
Separate the dough mixture into 2 equal sized piles and work each one first into a ball, and then into a disk. Sprinkle with flour and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out. (See more detailed instructions with photos on our Sour Cream Pie Crust Recipe.)
2 Peel, core, and slice the apples: While the dough is chilling, peel, core and slice the apples into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices.
As you cut your apple slices, add them to a large bowl and sprinkle them with a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help keep them from turning brown.
3 Toss the apples with sugar, flour, spice mixture, add brandy and vanilla: Combine sugar, flour and spices (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon) in a bowl. Add the flour mixture to the apple slices and use your hands to distribute the flour through the apples so they are well coated.
Then sprinkle with brandy and vanilla extract and stir to coat all the apples.
4 Prepare oven: Place one oven rack in the lowest position and put a large rimmed baking sheet on it (to catch any drippings from the pie.) Position a second rack the next rung up (still in the lower third of the oven) and preheat to 375°F.
5 Roll out the dough and line bottom pie plate: Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Place disk on a lightly floured, clean, flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pie dough to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick.
As you roll out the dough, check to make sure it isn't sticking. If and when it starts to stick, gently lift it up and sprinkle a little more flour on the table surface or on the pie dough to keep the dough from sticking.
Gently place the rolled out dough onto a 9-inch pie plate. Press down to line the pie dish with the dough.
6 Place apple slices on top of the bottom crust: Arrange the apple slices in the dough-lined pie plate. Mound the apples in the center.
7 Roll out top crust, place over apples, trim and crimp edges: Roll out the second disk of dough, again to 12-inches. Gently place the second round of pie dough over the apples. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang from the edges of the pie pan.
Fold the dough under itself so that the edge of the fold comes right to the edge of the pan. Press the top and bottom dough rounds together as you flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork.
8 Brush with egg wash, cut vents: Place egg yolk and cream in a small bowl and use a fork to stir until well combined. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash over the top and fluted edges of the pie. Use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top of the pie crust for steam vents.
9 Bake: Place pie on oven rack centered over the baking sheet on the rack below it to catch any drippings. Bake the pie at 375°F until crust begins to lightly brown, about 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F.
Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, anywhere from an additional 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of apples you are using. (About halfway through baking check to make sure the pie isn't browning too much. When it's nicely browned, tent the pie with a large piece of aluminum foil to keep the pie from browning further.)
10 Let cool: Transfer the apple pie to a rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Great with a side of vanilla ice cream.