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Course: Sweets
Keyword: Baking, Desserts, Fall, Fruit, Holidays, Thanksgiving, The Apple Pie

The Apple Pie

Alton Brown's double-crust classic apple pie in a pie pan on a sheet of parchment paper.
ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 9 hours 55 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Everyone and their grandma has an apple pie recipe, but this one’s mine: a classic golden, flaky double-crust apple pie with sweet, velvety filling balanced with unique spices. It’s the only one I have and, quite frankly, it’s the only one I need.
It does call for two unusual items: a pie bird (Google it) and grains of paradise. It’s not that I’m trying to be difficult, but this is the only apple pie I’m ever making, so I wanted to get it right.
Oh, and you won’t want to use a glass baking dish for this — since we’re partially baking the pie on the bottom of the oven, glass cookware could (and probably will) explode.
Both U.S. standard and metric measurements are listed, but for consistently delicious results, go metric.
This recipe first appeared on altonbrown.com.
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FOR THE CRUST

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 to 7 tablespoons applejack or apple brandy, such as calvados
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

FOR THE FILLING

  • 4 1/2 pounds (8 large) apples, mix of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, and Golden Delicious
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise

Specialized Hardware

  • Digital kitchen scale
  • 10-inch tart pan
  • Pie bird
Alton Brown's double-crust classic apple pie in a pie pan on a sheet of parchment paper.
ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 9 hours 55 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Procedure

  • Refrigerate the butter, shortening, and applejack for 1 hour.
  • Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in your food processor by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add the butter and pulse until the texture looks mealy, 5 to 6 pulses. Add the shortening and pulse until incorporated, another 3 to 4 pulses.
  • Pop off the lid and sprinkle in 5 tablespoons of the applejack. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add more applejack as needed until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Weigh the dough and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  • Peel and core the apples and slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Toss apples with 1/4 cup of the sugar, place in a colander set over a large bowl, and drain for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Transfer the drained liquid to a small saucepan, place over medium heat, and cook until it is reduced down to a mere 2 tablespoons, then set aside to cool. Toss the apples with the remaining sugar, the tapioca flour, jelly, cider, lime juice, salt, and grains of paradise.
  • Heat oven to 425ºF. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. Place the dough on a lightly floured piece of waxed paper or parchment paper, lightly sprinkle the top with flour, and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Place in a 9 1/2- to 10-inch tart pan that is 2 inches deep. Gently press the dough into the side of the pan, crimping and trimming the edges as necessary. Set a pie bird in the center of the bottom of the pan to help vent steam out of the pie. If you don't have one, you can skip it, but your pie won't be quite as solid inside.
  • Arrange the apples in the unbaked pie shell in concentric circles starting around the edges, working toward the middle and forming a slight mound in the center of the pie. Pour any liquid that remains in the bowl over the apples.
  • Roll out the second disk of dough as the first. Place this dough over the apples, pressing the pie bird through the top crust. Press the edges of the dough together around the rim of the pie. Brush the top crust with the reduced juice, but avoid the rim. Trim off any excess dough.
  • Place the pie on the prepared half-sheet plan and bake on the floor of the oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to the lower rack of the oven and continue to bake until the apples are cooked through by not mushy, about 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool at least 4 hours before serving.
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