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Homemade Apple Pie - How to Make Apple Pie

Updated on November 21, 2017
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

Perfect Homemade Apple Pie

Perfectly sweetened filling, firm apples and a crust with the perfect amount of crispiness all come together more easily than you think. Check out how perfectly this homemade apple pie recipe comes out!
Perfectly sweetened filling, firm apples and a crust with the perfect amount of crispiness all come together more easily than you think. Check out how perfectly this homemade apple pie recipe comes out!

Homemade Apple Pie

When I was five my grandmother taught me how to make apple pie. My grandparents had an apple orchard in their backyard, and I remember her being able to do more with apples than Johnny Appleseed.

I also remember not wanting to take the time to find the missing pie pan when I decided to do one all by myself. I used a loaf pan. And no sugar. And probably most of the cinnamon in East Tennessee. I also distinctly remember it being a bit on the grey side. And bless his heart - my grandfather ate the whole thing. Could have been the encouragement that set me on another thirty-five years of experimenting in the kitchen.

I've gotten much better since then. I love to do apple pies with paper-thin slices, and decorative crusts - they can be absolutely beautiful. However, since a pie lasts about 4.2 seconds at my house, most of the time this is the one I crank out. Call it rustic - meaning nothing fancy - the kind of thing any country cook would have been able to whip out. (Rustic is another way to say it might have been a little messy in presentation). The point with this pie is to produce a big slice of something delicious - and solid enough to stand up to ice cream - or cheddar if that's your thing. Just make sure it's really good ice cream or good sharp cheddar cheese.This is the pie you can happily give your loved ones on a regular weekday night - or on a relaxed weekend. Try it after Southern Chicken and Dumplings. Oh my - yes. Do that.

A word on cooking apples...

I can tell you to use particular apples, but frankly you can never be entirely sure what you'll find in your local market. My personal favorite for this pie is the Macintosh, which is firm enough to stand up to the cooking without going mushy, but sweeter than the Granny Smith apple. My second is Jonagold. In this case, no Macintosh apples were available, nor were Jonagold apples, so I went with the old standard.

This particular group of apples were both tarter and juicier than most. That happens. Unless you're prepared to measure the moisture content of your apples and adjust your recipe accordingly (I'm not), then sometimes you'll have a 'soupier' filling than others. No big deal.

What makes the filling 'gel' or hold together depends on two things. How juicy your fruit is, and how much flour you use. The flour comes to a boil so to speak while the pie is baking, and while the pie is cooling develops its holding power. You can see in the top picture that this pie not only was cut while still warm (which means the flour hadn't fully done it's job of pulling the filling together), but that the filling itself was somewhat loose. It doesn't affect the taste at all, and personally I have no problem with it. It's still sweet appely goodness. So I can tell you how to bake a pie, but some of it depends on you watching your fruit while you're putting the pie together, and tweaking it accordingly. Of course - that's also the backbone of good cooking.

If it bugs you - try this. Once you've tossed your apples with the sugars and spices, give them just a few minutes to sit. A maceration process will happen - that just means the fruit will begin to loose juices in the presence of sugar. If you have a lot of juices that collect in this process, you'll want to add more flour, since your apples are probably juicier than normal. In this case I could have tossed in another 1/4 cup of flour. Just make sure the filling bubbles completely, or your filling will taste pasty - like kindergarten glue. I think this juicy stuff is one of the nice things about pie - it's almost the sauce the graces the ice cream. So it's your preference. But I do it my way. :-)

Homemade Apple Pie Recipe - Ingredients

Homemade Apple Pie Recipe - Ingredients

We're making a 'rustic' pie - right? So relax and have fun with this one. First - you'll need either store bought pie crust for a two crust pie, or two All Butter Pie Crusts. Now - don't be afraid of homemade pie crust. Once you've done a couple, you'll be a pro. Chill and give it a try.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium cooking apples, Granny Smith or Macintosh are my favorites
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream

Homemade Apple Pie - Instructions

Homemade Apple Pie - Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F°.
  2. Peel and core the apples - cutting each one into eighths. This gives nice fat slices of apple. You can cut them thinner if you like, but that's getting fussier than I usually do.
  3. As you're cutting the apples, keep them in a large mixing bowl with a little lemon juice in the bottom. For why see Acids in the Kitchen. Toss them just so all surfaces get a touch of the lemon juice.
  4. Toss in the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle surface of the apples with the pinch of salt and the flour. Toss the whole thing gently - you want it well combined but don't want to bruise the apples. If there's a small lump or two - nobody cares. It'll go away in the oven.
  5. Roll out the bottom crust and put it in the bottom of a nine-inch pie plate. Layer the apples on top of the crust, working them in spirals to get as little 'blank' space as possible. If there are juices in the bottom of your mixing bowl, just pour those on top. Top the apples with the butter, broken into little pieces.
  6. Roll out and top the pie with the second crust. Crimp and pinch the edges, trimming the excess. Prick the top with a fork. Granny said it should look like a little bird hopped on it. Isn't that cute?
  7. Brush the top of the pie with the cream, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
  8. Bake for about 45- or until the pie is bubbly and gorgeously browned. After 20 minutes, check the crust edges. If needed, cover the edges with foil so they don't get too dark.
  9. Allow the pie to cool for at least a couple of hours before serving - so the inside will set. If you don't the apples will still be runny, and will end up all over the plate. Frankly, that's not always a bad thing - but the pie you don't eat will end up being an empty crust next to a lake of apple stuff. That almost always happens if I make pie when the kids are home. Apple lake.

If you want a dressier pie, slice the apples one more time - sixteen slices per apple. Use a fork or decorative cutters to crimp the edges, and brush with cream, and sprinkle with a scant tablespoon of sanding sugar. But if you want just a big fat slice o'pie - one that leaks a little juicy goodness onto the plate to mingle with the ice cream, try it this way!


Start with Lemon Juice

Lemon juice does a couple of things in apple pie. It enhances and balances the sweetness of the pie, but it also helps the apples from browning, and aids in maintaining their texture.
Lemon juice does a couple of things in apple pie. It enhances and balances the sweetness of the pie, but it also helps the apples from browning, and aids in maintaining their texture.

Choose Your Apples

Granny Smith apples are classic, but I also like MacIntosh or Jonagold apples. In this picture I had a mix of apples.
Granny Smith apples are classic, but I also like MacIntosh or Jonagold apples. In this picture I had a mix of apples.

Add Sugar and Flour

The sugar enhances the sweetness of course, and the flour helps thicken the juices that will cook out of the apples.
The sugar enhances the sweetness of course, and the flour helps thicken the juices that will cook out of the apples.

Keep the Spices Simple!

I like the apple flavor to really shine, so I keep the seasonings simple. A pinch of salt, a little cinnamon and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg are all you need.
I like the apple flavor to really shine, so I keep the seasonings simple. A pinch of salt, a little cinnamon and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg are all you need.

Transfer to a Pie Dish

Dot the apples with butter. Line a 9 inch pie dish with pastry, and transfer pies to the dish. Move the apples around so they leave as little air space as possible, then top with a second crust.
Dot the apples with butter. Line a 9 inch pie dish with pastry, and transfer pies to the dish. Move the apples around so they leave as little air space as possible, then top with a second crust.

Crimp the Edges to Seal

Crimping the edges does a couple of things. It's pretty - and pretty food tastes better. But it also seals the juices into the pie, so there's less chance of spillover in the oven.
Crimping the edges does a couple of things. It's pretty - and pretty food tastes better. But it also seals the juices into the pie, so there's less chance of spillover in the oven.

Sprinkle on a Bit of Sugar

The sugar on the crust may not completely melt - who cares? It will be a little sugary crunch against the flaky crust and spiced apples.
The sugar on the crust may not completely melt - who cares? It will be a little sugary crunch against the flaky crust and spiced apples.

Cut Vents

Brush the top crust with cream, sprinkle on the sugar then cut vents. Or you could prick the top with a fork. Granny would say to make it look like a little bird had hopped across the pie.
Brush the top crust with cream, sprinkle on the sugar then cut vents. Or you could prick the top with a fork. Granny would say to make it look like a little bird had hopped across the pie.

Bake for 20 Minutes and Check the Edges

Bake for 20 minutes, then cover the edges of the crust with strips of foil to prevent them from becoming too dark. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.
Bake for 20 minutes, then cover the edges of the crust with strips of foil to prevent them from becoming too dark. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Golden Brown Perfection - But Hands Off!

Perfectly browned pastry - but don't cut it! Let it cool completely, otherwise the juices will all run all over and the pie will look like it's been hacked with a saw. Trust me - I have to take extreme measures, and the kids still usually get them!
Perfectly browned pastry - but don't cut it! Let it cool completely, otherwise the juices will all run all over and the pie will look like it's been hacked with a saw. Trust me - I have to take extreme measures, and the kids still usually get them!

Seriously. Don't Cut It.

Do whatever you have to do to let it cool completely before cutting into it. You want the interior of the pie to settle and firm up, otherwise it looks like a huge mess.
Do whatever you have to do to let it cool completely before cutting into it. You want the interior of the pie to settle and firm up, otherwise it looks like a huge mess.

Cut AFTER it Cools!

You can always reheat slices for serving warm with ice cream, but let it set first! You'll love the results. Just a bit of patience!
You can always reheat slices for serving warm with ice cream, but let it set first! You'll love the results. Just a bit of patience!

Check out the Quick Tutorial!

How to Make Your Own Pie Crust

How to Make Your Own Pie Crust - Part 2

© 2010 Jan Charles

Comments

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    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      5 years ago from Germany

      Yummy! I love apple pie. This sounds easy to make. Thanks for sharing. Happy weekend!

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 

      5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Love the story of your first attempt at apple pie!

      Nice photos here.

      I am adding this to my Recipe Index for HubPages.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      6 years ago from America

      This sounds great. Love your hub done so well. Voted up on your hub.

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