How to Make an Apple Pie

Many novice bakers soon learn that just because you have a recipe for apple pie does not mean you know how to make one. Even if you follow the recipe exactly the results may be different that your grandmother's – and that can be frustrating.

Whether you are trying to make an apple pie or apple tart to impress the relatives or to win a blue ribbon at the county fair there are a few tips that can help you create a winner. Keep in mind that if you have never made a pie before it may take a little practice to make the perfect pastry.

Choose Quality Ingredients

Your pie will only be as good as the quality of ingredients that you put into it. Make sure all the ingredients are fresh – using canned apple filling will not achieve the flavor and texture you want in your pie. Spices should be fresh and you will want to use butter, not vegetable shortening.

apple pie with lattice crust
apple pie with lattice crust | Source

Best Apples for Pie

You should be careful when choosing apples for pie. Choose firm, fresh, organic apples in season. Check to make sure that they have no bruises or spots that will change the flavor. For the most intense apple flavor choose several different varieties rather than just one – it will give your pie layers of flavor.

  • Braeburn
  • Cox's Orange Pippin
  • Empire
  • Fuji
  • Granny Smith
  • Gravenstein
  • Honey Crisp
  • Jonagold
  • Jonathan
  • Mutsu
  • Newton Pippin
  • Northern Spy
  • Pink Lady
  • Rome

You should always peel and core your apples. Keep them from discoloring by dropping them into a large bowl of organic apple cider mixed with about ¼ cup of lemon juice. Not only will your apples stay a clean, white color but the apple cider will add more apple flavor.

When the apples are all peeled and sliced drain them well and toss with the spices as instructed in your recipe.

Spices

Most spices don't stay fresh very long, especially if they are ground. Buy the best spices you can get – Penzey's specializes in spices and the flavors are magnificently fresh and sharp. If you have a WholeFoods store nearby you can choose spices from the bulk foods section. Use your nose – the spices should have a strong scent of their own.

One of the most common spices for an apple pie recipe is cinnamon. If you have only bought cinnamon from the local grocery store you are probably unaware that there are many varieties of cinnamon, each with its own distinct flavor. Adding an unusual cinnamon to your pie, or even a combination of cinnamon types, will make any apple pie recipe extraordinary.

The most common, and the type that you will find in your grocery store, is Ceylon cinnamon which is mild and, compared to the other varieties, sort of insipid. A nice cinnamon for apple pie is China Tung Hin which has a deep spicy cinnamon flavor that brings out the flavor of the apples and fairly bursts in your mouth. Vietnamese cinnamon is spicy to the point of being hot and Korintje is mild and sweet but has more flavor than the Ceylon.

Other common spices are:

  • Allspice
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg

Use fresh, whole nutmeg and grate it yourself for the best flavor. If you feel very adventurous add just a pinch of cayenne pepper. It will increase the heat without changing the flavor – making the cinnamon seem spicier.

Pate Brisee is a versatile pastry that works well for most fruit pies
Pate Brisee is a versatile pastry that works well for most fruit pies | Source

Decide on the Pastry

There are a variety of pastry types to choose from when you are making an apple pie or tart recipe. Each of them is slightly different and will give a different look, texture and flavor to your dessert. As a general rule you should use either Pate Brisee or Pate Sucre as the bottom crust of your pie. It cuts easily, holds together, and stays crisp.

You can choose almost anything for the top of the pie. Possibilities are:

  • Pate Brisee is a flakey, mild pastry that allows the flavors of the apples to shine.
  • Pate Sucree is a sweetened pastry dough that enhances the flavor of the apples and is especially good with very tart apples as a contrast.
  • Phyllo Dough is a very thin dough that you can find in your grocer's freezer. It is very thin and you lay one sheet at a time over your pie filling, brushing each sheet with butter, until you have several layers. It comes out delicate and flaky.
  • Puff Pastry can also be found in your grocer's freezer. The result is a buttery, flakey crust.
  • Streusel is made from sugar, nuts, spices, butter, and flour and is sprinkled on the top of the filling before baking. It comes out sweet and crumbly – also a good choice for very tangy apples.

How to Make Flaky Pie Pastry

About thirty minutes before you plan on making the pie dough (either pate brisee or pate sucree) put your flour, salt, and other dry ingredients in the bowl and place in the freezer. Put the rolling pin in there, too. Keep the butter in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it and have a bowl of ice water to dip your fingers in. Why?

The secret of a flaky pastry is to encase the butter with flour. You don't ever want the butter to melt enough to melt into the flour mixture. In the oven the butter will melt and leave air pockets in the pastry, keeping it light and airy.

  1. When you are ready to make your pastry work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers, dipping them in the ice water to keep them cold. Keep working the butter into the flour until it looks crumbly, a little bigger than coarse grits or cornmeal
  2. Add your ice water a little at a time and mixing in well until you have a dough that is pliable. It may take a little more or even a little less water than your recipe calls for. When you have a ball of dough cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling out. This helps the gluten in the dough relax and will keep your pastry tender.
  3. After the resting period take the dough out of the refrigerator and place it on the clean counter that has been lightly dusted with flour. Break it in half if you have made enough dough for a double crust pie.
  4. Roll it gently from the center to the edge, give it a quarter turn and roll from the center to the edge again. Continue rolling and turning until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick and large enough to fit into the pie plate with a generous amount hanging over the side.
  5. Fit it carefully into your pie plate and repeat with the other half of the dough. Brush the bottom with melted butter and then sprinkle with a little white sugar. This will help the bottom of the pie stay crisp and keep it from getting soggy.

Assembling and Baking the Apple Pie

Place your filling in your pie and dot with about 2 tablespoons of butter cut into eight pieces. Add the top crust. If you are using pate brisee or pate sucree press the edges of the bottom and top crusts together and crimp with your fingers to seal. Brush the top of the pie with some melted butter and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Alternately you can brush the top with an egg yolk beaten with a teaspoon of water and then sprinkle sugar on top. The pie will develop a shiny, golden crust with a thin layer of crispy, sugary goodness on the top.

Make a few slits in the top to allow the pie to release steam.

You should plan on your pie taking about 40 minutes to an hour at 400F to bake properly. Of course if your recipe has a different temperature be sure to use that.

Simple Apple Pie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 -8 cups apples, mixed varieties
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pie crust for a double crusted pie


  1. Instructions
  2. Roll out half of the dough at a time. Line the pie plate with the first half.
  3. Toss the peeled, cored, and sliced apples in a large bowl with the spices, salt and flour.
  4. Mound the apple mixture in the bottom crust.
  5. Dot with butter.
  6. Lay the other half of the dough (that has been rolled out in a large enough to cover the filling) over the filling.
  7. Trim and press the edges together with your fingers to seal.
  8. Cut a design in the top crust to allow the steam to escape.
  9. Cut slits in the top crust.
  10. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 400F, or until the juice thickens and bubbles through the crust.
  11. Let cool.

Bourbon Apple Tart

Ingredients

  • 6 cups mixed variety of apples, sliced and peeled
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • Pate brisee for a one crust pie

Instructions

  1. Fit a pie or tart pan with the pate brisee
  2. Slice the apples and lay them carefully in the tart
  3. Whisk the sugar, flour and eggs until smooth
  4. Mix in the melted butter and bourbon
  5. Pour over the apples and bake for 1 hour at 375F

Apple Pie with Streusel Crust

Ingredients

  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 6 – 7 cups tart apples
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pate sucree crust, fit into a 9 inch pie pan

Instructions

  1. Mix the ½ cup flour, ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, and ¼ cup unsalted butter until crumbly
  2. Set aside
  3. Toss the apples with ¼ cup flour, ½ cup brown sugar, and salt and mound in the crust
  4. Sprinkle with the streusel mixture
  5. Bake at 375F for 40 to 50minutes
  6. Let cool

Easy as Pie!

Learning how to make an apple pie takes a little practice but with high quality ingredients and a little know how you can be making pies of all types in no time. Pie crusts freeze well and you can easily make several and freeze them in freezer bags for up to three months. That way you can make a pie with no trouble at all.

Once you learn how to make an apple pie you can master any sort of pie or tart that you want to make. It will be "easy as pie"!

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Comments 38 comments

DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

I never thought of using vinegar instead of lemon juice but now I can't wait to try this out. My FIL loves apple pie so I'm always looking for a new take or variation to try on him. I've found two great recipes tonight...thanks to Hub Pages:)


SherrieAnne profile image

SherrieAnne 4 years ago

You are an amazing baker and writer. I'm learning so much reading your hubs~ thanks!


Infogravity Solutions 4 years ago

Looks yummy!! Thanks for the recipe.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago

Sounds delicious - beautifully explained. This hub goes in my bookmark for future reference. Would give it a try soon! Thanks for sharing this lovely hub and congratulations for the accolade, well deserved :)


Jennifer Mullett profile image

Jennifer Mullett 5 years ago from Canada

Yum!!! I want to make a pie right now! I like to add pears in with the apples for depth of flavor.


leroy64 profile image

leroy64 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

I like the directions and the way you wrote the recipe out.

I am book marking this one.


creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 5 years ago from Maine

Looks delicious! Does the filling stay together when slicing a pie with a lattice crust?


Cousin Fudd profile image

Cousin Fudd 5 years ago from From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina

I live in the largest apple producing county of North Carolina and there is a bumper crop this year. Love those apple pies.


jloeding profile image

jloeding 5 years ago from Lafayette, LA

These tips are all great. Can't wait to try placing the sliced apples in apple cider, and trying all different varieties in one pie. Thanks. Congratulations for having the Hub of the Day.


UnconqueredCoop profile image

UnconqueredCoop 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

This hub just made my mouth water! Cannot wait to give this a try.


Donna Huebsch profile image

Donna Huebsch 5 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

This looks yummy! You take the best pix - congrats on being Hub of the Day :o)


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 5 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

I love Apple Pie... The way you have described it here I am surely going to try this at home.


vinsanity 5 years ago

This looks really good. I don't think i'll ever make it though haha! Congrats on having this picked for the Hub of the Day.


jrport profile image

jrport 5 years ago

The only thing I like better than hot apple pie - with French vanilla ice cream - is chocolate!! The holidays are coming and I'm getting ready to try this recipe! I hope it turns out as well as that pie in the photo! I never made a streusel crust and I loved the info, it was well presented. Thanks!

jrport


september girl 5 years ago

Not to coin the phrase, but my grandma on my Momma's side did make the best apple pie. She handed down one of its key ingredients. The funny thing is, I don't really care for apple pie, except that which she made. But all the same, I am bookmarking this useful hub! : ) Voted most definitely 'up'.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

Congratulations on Hub of the Day! Well done article. I've not had any kind of luck with pie crust in the past, and have therefore resorted to just buying frozen pies from Sara Lee! ;-)

My mother had a foolproof recipe...but it is not 'light and flaky,' it just works, goes together easily, and successfully holds the filling. ;-)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Just wanted to come back and say congrats on getting Hub of the Day! You deserve it.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 5 years ago from Neverland

You made my mouth water after reading all about this wonderous apple pie! It looks like I need to hit the grocery store now :)


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

Sounds yummy! I definitely can't make a good apple pie. Can make other stuff, just not a pie.


applecsmith profile image

applecsmith 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Congratulations on being the Hub of the day! This is a fabulous post, and I absolutely love apple pie. I'm not very successful at cooking or baking, but this looks like I do it.

I have never heard of the tip to keep apples from discoloring. Thank you so much for sharing this info! Also, I'm a huge Penzy Spice fan. I would definitely recommend their spices.

Voted up and sharing.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

Looks so incredibly delicious...and beautiful, too. The twisted pate brisee is such a nice touch, especially evident in the slice of pie. Thanks for sharing this recipe and some variants to try.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

These recipes sounds delicous, I have never used mixed varieties in a recipe before and am looking forward to trying them, congratulations on Hub of the Day!


Fellow Mumbaite profile image

Fellow Mumbaite 5 years ago from India

Thanks a lot for the great tips..Good recipes for Apple Pie.


homesteadpatch profile image

homesteadpatch 5 years ago from Michigan

We just picked up some Mac & Wolf River apples from a local farm. We need to make some pies! Yummy.


Jokylu profile image

Jokylu 5 years ago from Waratah North, Victoria.

I am amazed as to how much you can write about apple pie. An excellent presentation of information and directions for making a sumptious apple pie. Thankyou I am going to file a copy of this one.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

This delicious hub is reminiscent of how my grandmother made her apple pie. Her pie was more than scrumptious; it was a food group that deserved its own unique category. Thank you for this wonderful hub!


Karen King 5 years ago

Good tips, Marye!


Eloise Hope profile image

Eloise Hope 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon, USA

I love your suggestion of putting the sliced apples in water with cider vinegar to acidify it, instead of lemon. I don't really like the citrus flavor with an apple pie, which to me is best left just with apple (Gravenstein is my favorite, followed by Belle de Boskoop and Cox's Orange Pippin), cinnamon and sugar, with dots of butter. And do you make the 'goodies'? We always take the trimmings of crust dough, lay them closely together on a baking sheet, sugar and cinnamon them, and bake about 15 minutes at 425 or so, until golden in spots. (Hopefully not brown in spots, but this does seem to happen as I distractedly finish the filling...) Almost the best part of the pie, and a sure way to move the hearts of grouchy old men.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great topic for a hub! I love apple pie.


rsusan profile image

rsusan 5 years ago from South Africa

Yummy!!! Thanks, Marye. My mom just loves apple pie, so this is one to share with her.


lovelyredrose profile image

lovelyredrose 5 years ago from Malaysia

Wow great detailed tips! Cant wait to try ...thanx :)


Dana Hinders profile image

Dana Hinders 5 years ago

Looks great! I have a ton of apples I need to use up and I'm getting sick of making applesauce.


rwelton profile image

rwelton 5 years ago from Sacramento CA

...off to the store for apples...and a fresh pot of coffee.

thnx

rlw


dobo700 profile image

dobo700 5 years ago from Australia

Nice choice of recipes, thanks


Hashirraja profile image

Hashirraja 5 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

soooooooo testy mam!!!!!!!


playfulvixen profile image

playfulvixen 5 years ago from Central Point

I can't wait to try it! Thanks for the tips!


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas

Fantastic Hub and recipe! If I could choose one fruit and one spice that defines fall I would have to choose apples and cinnamon. Wow - my mouth is watering!


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

Wow - I now have a huge craving for warm apple pie. Your first couple sentences couldn't be more true - especially my apple pie not tasting like my grandmother's apple pie.

It never occurred to me to use multiple varieties of apples in a pie. This is a great idea. Also, I was not aware that sliced apples could be kept from browning by using apple cider and lemon juice.

Thanksgiving really is not that far off. I am definitely going to use this hub and your tips when I make apple pies then. Thanks :)

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