It’s that time of year again, apple season. Our trees are practically raining Granny Smiths. In anticipation of a long apple season we have begun to experiment with apple pies; this recipe is our current favorite. What makes it special are two things: 1) an all butter homemade crust with some ground up almonds (I used a blender to chop up blanched almonds) added to the flour, and 2) including a little brandy and vanilla to the filling, along with the traditional spices. The trick is when to pull the pie out. The cooking time will vary a bit, depending on the apples you are using. Granny Smiths cook up pretty quickly, Gravensteins, longer. So look for a nice browned crust and you should be able to look through the venting slits to see the filling bubbling. Homemade crusts can be a challenge if you aren’t used to making them. See the following recipes for more detailed instructions: Perfect Pie Crust and All Butter Crust with Almonds.
Old Fashioned Apple Pie Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour (can substitute 1/2 cup flour if you don't have almonds)
- 16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled in freezer for at least 15 minutes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
- 3 to 6 Tbsp water, very cold
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 pounds of 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices of peeled and cored good cooking apples such as Granny Smith, Pippin, Golden Delicious
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 Tbsp cream
1 In a food processor, combine flour, almonds, salt and brown sugar, pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again.
Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape into 2 discs. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
2 Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F.
3 Combine sugar, flour and spices in large bowl. Use your hands and mix in the apples so they are well coated, then add brandy and vanilla extract.
4 Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, use a metal spatula to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.
5 Spoon in apple filling, mounding slightly in center.
6 Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently turn over onto the top of the apples in the pie. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork.
7 Stir yolk and cream in small bowl to blend. Brush over top of pie. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pie until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Tent the rims with aluminum foil or a pie protector if the edges are browning too quickly. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, anywhere from an additional 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of apples you are using. Transfer to rack; let stand 1 hour. Serve pie warm or at room temperature.
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