Baking / Recipes

Rustic Apple Pie

Dr. Fiance and I aren’t doing Thanksgiving at home this year, and while I feel like I should be making something festive I’m certainly not going to practice making a turkey. At least not this year. So I decided that I might as well take a shot at making an American classic, the apple pie. I started out looking for recipes and of course there are hundreds out there. I had pretty much decided to go with a Apple Ginger Pie with Cider Bourbon Sauce but then wasn’t able to find the apple cider or the candied ginger. So I decided to just drink the bourbon and make a more traditional apple pie from my favorite country cookbook, Food That Really Schmecks with a few minor changes.

Apple Pie by St. Louis Food Photographer Jonathan Gayman

This was my first attempt at a double crust pie. I’ve made a few single crust pies, but I’m still honing my crust technique, so going with two crusts was an adventure. Should I make the single crust recipe twice or make a double batch and split it? Which is easier/better/easier? I ended up making a double batch of the crust and separating it into two balls prior to refrigeration. This worked out ok I guess, although I made a massive mess trying to separate the dough. But hey, messes can be cleaned up.

My next challenge was the peeling and coring the apples. I don’t own a corer, but seeing as they are pretty cheapI may have to pick one up. I managed the job just fine with a paring knife, but instead of rows and rows of pretty, perfectly cut apples I was envisioning for my photo, I had a mass of butchered apples. It was pretty f’ugly. In any case, my new policy is that anything that ends up being ugly is just going to get called “rustic”. As is “rustic apple pie.”

Apple Pie Ingredients by St. Louis Food Photographer Jonathan Gayman

Rustic Apple Pie

Pie Crust
I used the Alton Brown Pie Crust Method and a slightly modified recipe. Alton’s recipe calls for a 3/1 ratio of butter to lard – I didn’t have any lard so I went with all butter. This affects the flakiness of the crust, but thus far I have found the difference to be minor. This recipe is for two crusts:

2 sticks of butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
2.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup ice water, in spritz bottle

Pulse the flour and salt a few times in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until mixed. Spritz water on top of the flour until evenly covered. Pulse until mixed. Repeat until you have a mealy mixture which sticks together when pinched. Split the dough in half in two large ziplock bags. Compress each one into a hockey-puck shape and refrigerate for at least a half hour before rolling out your pie crusts.

Alton suggests rolling the dough out in the ziplock but either he has bigger ziplock bags than I do or I’m doing something wrong. I generally roll out my dough between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Perhaps not as neat and tidy as doing it in the bag, but works out much better for me.

5-6 Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled and sliced
2/3+ cups of sugar (if you use really sour apples, add a little more)
2 Tb all-purpose flour
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt or 1/8th Tsp Table Salt
2 Tb Milk or Half and Half
2-3 Tb Butter

It doesn’t get an simpler than this: Mix your dry ingredients, then add the mix to the apples in a large bowl. Make sure that all of the apples are coated in the mixture. Pour apple mixture into the first pie crust which you’ve put in a pie pan, then drizzle the milk or cream over the pie. Drop a few dollops of butter here and there to make it really healthy and fat free. Add your second crust on top, forming a nice tight seal with the bottom crust by pinching the edges. If you’re like me, this will look completely uneven and ugly as hell rustic. Add a pretty pattern of slits to the top crust to let the steam out. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or so until golden. After being warned about potential explosions of goo I was concerned, so I put my pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. This proved unnecessary as there were no explosions or ozing with my pie despite the fact that I didn’t use a pie bird.

Printable Version

After Action Report

  • Best pie I have ever made, no kidding. This was my first truly successful apple pie and it was incredibly good. I used a fair amount of freshly ground nutmeg and the taste was amazing. I served it with some nice vanilla ice cream. Can’t beat that!
  • The pie didn’t set quite as well as I would have liked; it was a little moist and generally fell apart when cut rather than holding it’s shape in that nice slice of pie triangle. Perhaps a little added flour and more attention to it’s distribution would help solidify some of the juices. That said, even though it fell apart when served, this did not effect the taste one bit (only the photo of the cut pie was a failure).
  • The completely healthy two stick of butter crust was perfect. It was flaky and nutty in flavor, really excellent. And the rustic look tasted good here as well.


  • Ericka
    December 1, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    That is one gorgeous ass pie!!!!!

    If you want to try another crust recipe, I highly recommend Cooks Illustrated’s crust—secret ingredient is vodka (let’s you add moisture to work the dough without gluten development).

    Also to tighten up my fruit pies (that kinda sounds wrong) I use minute/instant tapioca. Works like a charm and you never know it’s there.

    • ShootToCook
      December 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      Rock! I need a new crust recipe. Made a quiche today (post on that to follow) and the hardest part was the crust. All my crusts are too dry, I definitely want to try the vodka version. Good tip on the instant tapioca too, I’ll have to give it a shot.

  • J.W.Price
    December 4, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Rustic’s a great word! I can second the Cook’s Illustrated rec. A friend of mine uses their pie crust recipe with cold vodka and it works great.

    I’ve always followed the Joy of Cooking recipe (from an early nineties, pre-revision edition). It’s awesome. I usually use half butter and half shortening (like Crisco). I don’t worry about adding too much water. 2/3 cup fat works well with 5 T. ice water. It’s better for it to be a tiny bit soggy than a tiny bit dry, at least for me. I roll out the pie crust with lots of flour on the counter and the rolling pin. It gets more flour it in that way, so I don’t want it to be too dry when I start shaping it.

    Getting the filling right turns out to be the trickiest thing with pies because different apples have different water contents! I just throw in a few spoonfuls of flour and cross my fingers. I hope you can get a cool pie slice photo! Good seeing you and Christina last week.


  • Apple Galette Recipe « Shoot to Cook
    February 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

    […] The rustic apple pie that I made in November was amazing despite it’s somewhat rugged appearance. That rugged appearance was due to my craptastic pie crust skills. All of that has changed now, for sure. I have started to perfect the pie crust using a food processor and Julia Child’s recipe. I had been doing the Alton Brown recipe but for whatever reason I could not get it to work. I’ve made Julia’s twice now and twice it has been perfect and easy to use. So I’m gonna stick with hers. I was going to make a standard pie, like I did before but then decided that I should make something different, and decided to do a galette instead. But to make it even more interesting, I added the woven pastry strips on the top like a traditional pie. […]


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