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

The Apple Pie

TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
I can finally say, after tinkering with my original recipe on and off for a decade, this is the apple pie I want when I want apple pie, a craving that rises constant in me from the first rattle of fall leaves. We've upped the grains of paradise (see note below), traded out the apple cider for apple cider vinegar, and enhanced the texture by inviting liquid pectin to the party, easily found in most mega marts. We've also changed the apple mixture, replacing the original golden delicious with Pink Lady. I realize some of you may not be able to land these where you live, so feel free to replace whose with Winesaps, or just stick with Honeycrisps and Granny Smiths.
Some of you will notice that I've eschewed the pie bird relied upon in earlier iterations. As much as I dig their retro-homey vibe, truth is, slitting the top crust does as good a job of venting. Yes, the top crust does sometimes crack without the bird there to support the middle, but so what...I'm going to eat it and I trust you will too.
This recipe first appeared on altonbrown.com.
Photo by Lynne Calamia
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  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
  • 7 tablespoons Laird's Applejack or apple brandy, such as calvados, chilled


  • 4 1/2 pounds (8 large) apples, mix of Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons liquid pectin (we like Certo)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise

Specialized Hardware

Food processor
Digital kitchen scale
9 1/2" x 2" tart pan with removable bottom (a wonderful multitasker)
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 40 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Crust Procedure:

  • Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of your food processor and pulse 3-4 times. Add the butter and pulse until texture looks mealy, 5-6 pulses. Then, add the shortening and pulse until incorporated, another 3-4 pulses. Remove the lid and drizzle in 5 tablespoons of the Applejack. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add the remaining Applejack and pulse until the mixture begins to hold together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Dump the mixture onto a clean surface and squeeze together with your hands to form a smooth ball. Divide the ball in half and press each into a disk about 1-inch thick. Wrap each dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (You can refrigerate longer, even overnight, but the dough will have to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to be malleable enough to roll.

Filling Procedure:

  • Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4-inch slices and move to a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and toss with your hands to thoroughly coat. Set aside for 45 minutes, tossing halfway through, then transfer to a colander set over a large bowl and set aside to drain for 45 minutes.
  • Transfer the accumulated juices (you should have about 1/4 cup) to a small saucepan and reduce over medium heat to 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Stir the remaining sugar into the apple slices along with the tapioca flour, liquid pectin, apple cider vinegar, salt, and grains of paradise. Set aside.

Assembly Procedure:

  • Crank your oven to 400℉ and move a rack to the lowest position.
  • Place a 12" x 24" piece of wax paper on a clean work surface and lightly dust with flour. Remove the dough disks from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature, 15 minutes. Discard the plastic wrap from one and place the dough on the wax paper. Dust with a bit more flour and roll into a 12" x 12" circle. Carefully peel the wax paper off and place the dough into the tart pan, gently pressing it into the edges. (See the note on dough movement below).
  • Arrange the apples in the bottom of the pan in concentric circles starting around the edges, working toward the center, which will result in a slight mound shape. Pour any remaining liquid evenly over the apples.
  • Roll out the second dough disk in the same manner as the first. Place this dough over the apples and seal the edges of the pie, trimming any excess dough. Make a few slits in the top of the crust with a paring knife to give steam a way out. Park the pie on a foil-lined sheet pan and brush the top of the crust with the reduced juice. Bake for 1 hour, 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and rest for at least 4 hours before removing from the tart pan and slicing.
Note regarding Grains of Paradise: Aframomum melegueta is a cousin of ginger and its seeds are known as "grains of paradise." I have absolutely no idea why this spice is not more popular, because when crushed, the seeds deliver a spectacular complexity, a mingling of black pepper, lemon, cardamom, and something that reminds me of brown butter. Although GoP is welcomed on many a meat dish, it's on fruit that I really read the magic. This pie, is not this pie without this spice. You won't find it at the mega mart but it can be found online from sources such as spicehouse.com.
Note on dough movement: I'm really bad at moving doughs once they're rolled, and my hands run hot so here's how I roll...so to speak: After rolling out the dough, I slide a cookie sheet under it. I position the flat, removable bottom of the tart pan and center it on the dough. While holding the round in place, I flip the whole thing over, remove the cookie sheet, and peel the wax paper away, leaving the dough atop the round. (You can't see the round at this point because the dough is wider.) I then gently fold back the edges of the dough so that the edge of the round is revealed. I then slide the round off the counter and drop it into the tart pan. Finally, I unfold the edge of the dough and mold it into the sides of the pan. Make sense? I sure hope so.
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