When it comes to apple pie, the more fruit the merrier. Only, the more apples you pile into the dish, the more likely you are to end up with a big gap between the crust, which sets early in the baking, and the filling, which softens and shrinks by the time the pie is done. The answer, in a technique I adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, is to pre-cook the apples just a bit to “set” their shape. The result is a pie that’s good enough for a bake-off: tall, beautifully domed, and filled to the very top with juicy apples.
Apple Notes: Again, any combination of firm-tart and firm-sweet apples is fine. But, I particularly like Northern Spy, Sierra Beauty, and Esopus Spitzenburg for tartness, and Baldwin, Golden Delicious, Jazz, and Jonagold for sweetness.
The Best Apples for Pie
I always recommend using a mix of firm-sweet and firm-tart apple varieties in your pies. That way, you get a broader spectrum of apple flavors. However, if you’re eager to try a single variety pie, here’s a list of my favorites:
Firm-tart: Arkansas Black, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Newtown Pippin, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Roxbury Russet, Sierra Beauty, Stayman Winesap,
Firm-sweet: Baldwin, Gravenstein, Jonagold, York
Blue Ribbon Deep Dish Apple Pie
- 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot
- Rolling Pin
- 9-inch deep-dish pie plate (preferably glass)
- Baking sheet (any size)
- Cooling rack
For the crust
- 2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour butterflied (see Notes)
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 18 tbsp (2¼ sticks; 255 g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 6-8 tbsp (90 to 120 ml) ice water
- Milk for brushing over crust
For the filling
- 2 1/2 lbs (1.13 kg, or about 5 large) firm-tart apples (see Apple Notes), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
- 2 1/2 lbs (1.13 kg, or about 5 large) firm-sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
- 1/3 cup (66 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp (22 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- First, make the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt until well combined. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture and use your fingers to work them in (you want to rub your thumb against your fingertips, smearing the butter as you do). Stop when the mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water on top and stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together. If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons more of ice water. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead three times, or just enough to make a cohesive dough—do not overmix! Gather the dough into a ball, then divide into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Press each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 50 minutes and up to 2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF and set a rack to the lowest position. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a Dutch oven over medium heat, stir the apples with the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring gently, until the apples just begin to turn tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat if apples begin to sizzle vigorously.
- Remove the apples from the heat, stir in the cornstarch, and spread the apples out on a large baking sheet. Put in the freezer to cool to room temperature, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Prepare the crust: Dust your counter and rolling pin with flour. Unwrap the larger disk of dough and put it on the counter; flip over to coat with flour. Working from the center, roll the dough out to a 13-inch circle 1/8 inch thick. As you roll, turn the dough periodically and flip it over to prevent sticking; dust with additional flour as needed. Roll the dough up around the rolling pin and transfer to a pie plate. Press the dough into the sides of the plate, draping any excess over the edge.
- Remove the apples from the freezer, and use a spatula to transfer them, with any juices, into the pie plate. Unwrap the smaller disk of dough and roll out as before to a 10-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the pie and lay it over the filling. Using a sharp knife, make three 3-inch slashes in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Fold the top crust over the bottom crust and crimp to seal. If you don’t have a favorite decorative crimping technique, you can always simply pinch the crust between your thumb and forefinger at regular intervals around the crust, but I like to make a scalloped edge by holding my right thumb and forefinger in a “U” shape, then poking the crust between them using my left forefinger. Brush the crust all over with milk and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
- Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake on the lowest rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350ºF and bake until the pie is golden brown, another 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before serving.