It’s tradition that connects the present to the past, so every year I build one of my grandmother’s dramatic apple pies. As I lay the last slices of apple atop the mountain of apples, I’m taken back to my grandmother’s kitchen on baking day when we made all the goodies for the upcoming holidays. I can hear her urging us to stack the apples ever higher until the slices are falling off the diminishing peak.
The apple pie was her trademark, an expression of her flamboyant personality. Layers of apple, flour, butter, sugar and spice artfully composed in the dish. No two pies are ever the same, but all have that touch of home that makes the holidays special.
Genee’s Apple Pie
Makes one large, 12 inch pie
10-12 medium Granny Smith or other baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup flour
½ cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
Apple pie spice – combine 2 t cinnamon, ½ t nutmeg, ½ t allspice and ¼ t clove
¼ – ½ cup butter, depending on taste
Salt to taste
Milk for brushing on pie crust
Pie dough for a double-crust pie – I double the recipe for Cooks Illustrated’s Fool Proof Pie Dough
Preheat oven to 400°.
Sprinkle about ¼ of the flour in the bottom of a pastry lined pie dish. Sprinkle with the sugars and dot with about ¼ of the butter – cut into pieces about the size of the end of your index finger.
Next add a layer of ¼ of the apple slices, sprinkle lightly with salt, and then layers of flour, sugars, and dots of butter. Repeat with about 4 more layers until the apples are falling off the top. Skip the flour on the last layer.
Cover with the top crust, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar to help brown the crust, and slit the dough to allow the steam to escape.
Bake the pie at 400° for about 20-25 minutes, until the crust browns. Turn the oven down to 350° and continue baking for another hour or so until the apple are tender but firm. Probe with a dinner knife to judge firmness. My Grandmother used to turn the oven down to about 225° and cook it all afternoon, but that was my Grandmother!