Apple Pie

This is my standard high-butter no-sugar apple pie. For more crust options, check out my pie crust page.


You need five standard size apples, more or less if the apples are smaller or bigger. When I'm using those small bagged apples, I find I need eight or nine. Any supermarket apple variety will work. I like Fuji the best because it's cheap and can carry a pie without sweetener. If you're going to add sweetener, you might want to use Granny Smith or another high acid apple.

I don't peel organic apples but I do peel apples that might have been sprayed with pesticides. Peeling many small apples is more work than peeling a few big ones, and if you're going to be making a lot of pies with peeled apples, you might want to invest in a peeler-corer-slicer gizmo. Anyway, my next step is to slice each apple into quarters from top to bottom, and use my smallest sharp knife to cut the little core sections out. Then I cut each quarter lengthwise into about four slices.

The apples require a bigger bowl than the crust. When I'm finished slicing them, I throw in a small handful of flour, which will absorb liquid as the apples cook, and a few dashes of cinnamon. Shake or stir it all together and you're ready for the crust.


1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Cup white flour
one stick butter
some salt
extra flour for rolling

You can substitute almost anything for the whole wheat pastry flour, and the white flour will still hold it together. If you substitute anything for the white flour, it's going to be hard or impossible to roll it out. If you don't want any gluten, you should press the dough in the pan for the bottom crust and do a crumble top.

Add the salt to the flour, then cut the butter in with your fingers, or you can use one of those metal tools. When the lumps of butter are about the size of peas or cornflakes, gradually sprinkle water in while gently lifting the flour through it. The rule for flaky crust is to work the dough as little as possible. It also helps if the water is ice cold. You lose flakiness if the butter melts.

Add water until the dough is just barely wet enough that if you roll it into a ball it doesn't crumble apart. Now separate it into two balls, one maybe a third larger than the other. These are your top and bottom crust. Shape them into patties and put the larger one on a flat surface for rolling out.

You can use a traditional rolling pin, but I've found that a wine bottle works surprisingly well. A metal water bottle full of cold water is great. You will probably need more flour than you think. I spread some on the counter, roll the crust a bit, flip it, roll it more, then add more flour, because the original flour gets absorbed in the dough. You need to keep both sides floured. Start rolling with light pressure and work up to heavier pressure as it gets flatter. What you're aiming for is a circle close enough in size to what you need that you don't have to trim the edges. This is a skill that comes with many crusts. You'll probably get nowhere near a circle and have to trim and patch.

There's nothing wrong with a patched-together pie crust. It tastes the same and you can't even see the patching unless it's on the top crust. Even after making hundreds of crusts, I often end up patching if I'm using all whole grain flour. If you're good, you can use all the dough in the crust, but if you have trimmings left over, you can just bake them as pie crust crackers. I would put them in for the last 15 or 20 minutes of baking the pie.

So roll out the bottom crust, wipe a thin coat of oil or butter in the pie pan, and put the crust in. Then roll out the top crust the same way. Then put the apples in and put on the top crust. If you've used enough apples they will rise above the edges and the pie will bulge at first, but the apples will cook down. Some people like to do a little sculpture at the edge of the pie where the top and bottom crusts join. I just press them roughly together. The important thing is to not leave any cracks low enough that the filling can run out of the bottom crust and down the inside of the pan. If it does, you'll just get a carmelized spot. Also you should cut a few artistic slits in the top crust to let the steam out.

I like to heat the oven to 425°F, lower it to 400 right when I put the pie in, then lower it to 375 after 10 or 15 minutes. Total baking time can run anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour. Having made hundreds of apple pies, taking the pie out at the right time is the only thing I still struggle with. You want the thick crust on the edge to be done through, but the top and bottom of the crust to not be burnt, and most people like the apples neither crunchy nor soggy. One way to test the apples is to take the pie out and stick a knife in. Note that they'll continue cooking a bit after the pie comes out. I really think the best way to know when to take the pie out is to train your nose and go by smell. If you start eating it and the crust is still gummy, it's not a disaster to put it back in the oven.

(public domain, 5 june 2012)