Fergus Cousland’s Apple Pie
Nothing reminds Fergus of the good times - home and family - like the smell of fresh-baked apple pie.
This recipe is easy, but it is not quick. One advantage to doing things the long way is that unlike many other fruit pies, the filling of this one is already cooked, so it will not overflow and ruin your oven. You could use purchased pastry, but why bother? They’re loaded with things only the alchemists can pronounce. Butter is the fat of choice for this recipe. It yields a tender crust, but it is not particularly flaky. You could always substitute lard in equal quantities for a crust that is both tender and flaky, but many people prefer to avoid it. I do not recommend substituting vegetable-derived alternatives for either. Alchemically altered oil is arguably worse for you than the fat it’s supposed to replace. People do not eat pie because it is good for them, but that may be taking things too far. If you eschew all animal-derived ingredients, substitute olive oil instead and accept that the pastry will be dense.
The best apple pies are made from more than one kind of apples. Try a blend of Macintosh, Granny Smith, and Rome, or use whatever pie apples look and smell the best.
For the filling:
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
- 3/4 cup sugar (brown or white)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
For the crust:
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 ounces cold butter, cut into chunks
- ice water
Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a large skillet and whisk in the flour. Add the apples and cook down, stirring carefully to avoid breaking the apple slices. When the apples are almost tender, sprinkle the sugar and spices over them and take the pan off the stove to cool to room temperature. The apples should finish cooking the rest of the way while the pan sits.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the pastry, mix the flour with the salt and cut in the fat. You could use a pastry blender or two knives, but pulsing a food processor is easier. When you are done with this step, the mixture should resemble moist bread crumbs. Sprinkle ice water over the dough, a tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork or pulsing the food processor, until the dough comes away from the walls of the bowl and forms a ball. Divide the ball in two pieces, and flatten into two discs. Roll one of the discs out to 1/8-inch thinness and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate by folding the opposite sides into the center, turning and repeating. This allows you to position the center of the pastry in the center of the pan without winding up with all of the crust on one side. Unfold the crust and patch any cracks or shortages. Trim to a 1-inch overhang, reserving scraps.
Spoon filling into the prepared case, stirring slightly as you go to distribute the sugar and spices more evenly. Smooth the top.
Roll out the second disc of dough to a 1/8-inch thinness and fold the edges in as you did with the bottom crust. Lay the top crust on top of the filling and unfold. Trim to a 1-inch overhang, reserving the scraps.
Fold the overhang back into the pan, forming a double thickness of pastry around the edge. Crimp all around the outside by pressing the pastry to the edge of the pan with the tines of a fork. Brush top crust with beaten egg and cut steam vents to avoid a pastry explosion.
Take all those pastry scraps, wad them up into a ball, reroll, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cut into 1-inch strips and roll up with the sugar on the inside. Place on a baking sheet.
Position one shelf in the bottom third of the oven and the other shelf about 2/3 of the way up. Place the pie plate on the bottom shelf and the cookie sheet on the shelf above. The cinnamon roll-ups should be done in about 30 minutes. Check the pie when you take them out. If the top is golden, it’s done, but it may need another 10 minutes.