Classic Apple Pie ~ Easier Than you Think

November 20th, 2013

Applie Pie ~ Traditional pastry I’m diverting from my Arab theme this week because apple pie is a universal favorite, and the American holiday of Thanksgiving is coming up. 

I’m a bit obsessed with apple pie. As a child growing up in Washington State (the apple state) I learned how to make it. And now as an expat living in Dubai and a homesick Washingtonian, I’ve made countless apple pies for holidays, international days, and for no reason at all.

Some people stress out about making pies and pie pastry. I think they are aiming for “perfection,” not realizing that a fruit pie is a RUSTIC dessert. Any cracks and imperfections and liquid oozing out of the top will simply make the pie look more delicious!   

Classic Apple Pie

As for types of apples, I use mostly Granny Smiths, which are green and tart, and I include a few sweet red apples, such as Braeburn, Rome Beauty or Pink Lady. Here in Dubai, apples are labeled simply “green” or “red” so sometimes it’s a bit tricky figuring it out. Just keep in mind, you can’t go wrong with Granny Smith. 

Not everyone grew up eating this dessert or watching their grandmother making pie. So, here you go, my Apple Pie Primer.  

Apple Pie Slice

 Pastry Ingredients

2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 c + 2 Tablespoons (160g) softened butter and/or shortening

5 T ice cold water

Filling Ingredients

½ cup (100g) sugar (or less)

1/3 cup (50g) flour

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

7 medium apples, peeled and sliced thinly


1.  Prepare pastry.  In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Add softened butter and cut into flour with pastry blender or fork. Keep blending until butter particles are the size of peas. This texture will create a flaky crust.  Apple Pie ~ blend in the butter with a pastry blenderSprinkle in the ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, blending the mixture with a wooden spoon. Form pastry into a ball and divide into two.

Apple Pie ~ Cut ball into twoOn a floured surface, form one half into a disk and dust with flour. (Cover the other half with a dish towel and set aside.)  

Apple Pie ~ Form dough into disk

With a rolling pin, roll dough out, rotating the dough frequently to prevent it from getting stuck to the counter. If you are nervous about this step, try rolling dough between two sheets of wax paper.  

Apple Pie ~ Roll out DoughRoll out dough only once. When the dough rips—and it will rip—repair by pressing the dough back together. Do not re-roll or over-handle. Rolling the dough again will destroy the lovely flaky layers of the crust.  

Apple Pie ~ Expect the dough to rip

Apple Pie ~ Press the dough back togetherCheck to see you have the right sized round—about 2” larger than the pie dish.   

Apple Pie ~ Check size with pie panTransfer the dough to the pie dish. Using a scraper or metal spatula, gently loosen the dough, fold into thirds and transfer to pie dish.  

Apple Pie ~ Fold with scraper

Apple Pie ~ Fold dough into thirds

Apple Pie ~ gently transfer dough to dish

Apple Pie ~ unfold dough in dish

2.  Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C. Move rack to the center of the oven.  

3.  Prepare the filling. Mix flour, sugar, and spices in small bowl. Peel and slice apples thinly—or better yet, get a loved one to do it for you. Apple Pie ~ slice apples thinlyStir the sugar and spice mixture into the sliced apples until all the apples are coated. Fill the pastry-lined pie plate with the apple mixture. It may seem like too much, but keep adding.Apple Pie ~ tansfer applie mixture to dishWith both hands, pack down the apples. This will help avoid air pockets and create a nicely packed filling.Apple Pie ~ pack applie mixture into dish4. Prepare the top pastry. Roll out the remaining dough the same as before and transfer in the same way as before. If the dough rips, don’t stress, just try to press back together and think “rustic.” Apple Pie ~ transfer top pastry to dish

Apple Pie ~ unfold top pastryThe pastry will overhang around the pie dish. Tuck pastry under all around the dish, trimming and discarding as needed, sealing the edges.Apple Pie ~ tuck pastry evenly around edge

Apple Pie ~ prepare edges of pieFlute the crust by pinching in a uniform, decorative manner around the edges.   Apple Pie ~ add decorative fluted edges to pieCut slits in the pie to let the steam escape.

Apple Pie ~ add vent slits to top of pieLightly brush the top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.    Applie Pie ~ brush top of pastry with milk

Applie Pie ~ Sprinkle with Sugar5. Prepare aluminum foil cover. This step may seem like a hassle, but it prevents excess browning and hardening of edges. Cut out a square of foil. Fold in half and cut a ring of foil to fit the pie. Save the center of the foil.   Applie Pie ~ Cut square of foil

Applie Pie ~ Fold & cut ring in foil6. Bake for about 45 minutes. The following is my own method for baking: For the first 15 minutes, bake the pie completely covered with foil. That is, press the ring of foil around the edges and place the center of foil on top.Applie Pie ~ cover top with foilThen remove the top foil and rotate the pie dish in the oven. For the next 15 minutes, bake with the foil on the edges only.    Applie Pie ~ Bake with only edges uncoveredRemove all foil and rotate the pie dish again. For the last 15 minutes, bake the pie uncovered—unless there are dark spots, which you can cover with a piece of foil.   Applie Pie ~ Bake last 15 minutes uncoveredThe pie is finished when the crust is lightly browned and bubbling. Remove from oven and cool before cutting.     

Apple Pie ~ traditional American pastry_ (800x604)

Questions: What are your apple pie tips and tricks? What pies do you serve on Thanksgiving?

  1. Jeannie Neely
    November 20th, 2013 at 22:28 | #1

    Beautiful pie, Holly, I can practically taste it! What good advise to pack down the apples, I’m going to do that next week. Thanks, I love reading the blog. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 24th, 2013 at 07:58 | #2

      Thanks, Jeannie. Enjoy Thanksgiving with your family. 🙂

  2. November 20th, 2013 at 22:39 | #3

    Mom said she wants apple pie for Thanksgiving at our house so looks like I will be making your recipe! (Albeit vegan with vegetable shortening.).

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 24th, 2013 at 07:57 | #4

      HI Jenn, I actually like pies better with shortening. The shortening is consistent & it turns out always the same. Also, the shortening doesn’t add any flavor–only texture & fat. This way you taste the apples & cinnamon. I’m sure your pie will turn out terrific. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Wish I could be there. 🙁

  3. Natalie
    November 21st, 2013 at 00:53 | #5

    Holly, I am salivating. Magnificent. You’re a credit to your home State. 🙂

  4. Deborah Mustafa
    November 21st, 2013 at 05:50 | #6

    Thanks for sharing this recipe and your tips Holly. A lovely reminder of how much I miss a good apple pie. Your’s looks delicious!

  5. November 21st, 2013 at 06:52 | #7

    i might even try this. havent baked a pie in years and you have inspired me! love how many apples you use. nothing more ‘merikin than apple pie.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 24th, 2013 at 07:54 | #8

      Hi Dannie, If you do end up baking one, let me know how it goes.

  6. Tammy Kyle
    November 21st, 2013 at 15:10 | #9

    Well done! I love it!! Thank you Holly.

  7. Barbara AlOthaimeen
    November 22nd, 2013 at 02:36 | #10

    This is great Holly, all of the pictures are so beautiful. I love your apple pies and yes they are perfect. I am the pie lady in the family as well, totally unafraid of a cracked, oozing crust. I have always done one apple and two pumpkin for thanksgiving, until of course, my California family stumped me with their love for chocolate cream pie. I have yet to find a recipe that rivals the near by hamburger joint that makes pies by the thousands. Mine are just too, uh, chocolaty? Is that possible? I’ll bring the pies this year, one pumpkin, one apple and one chocolate cream from the place that makes them “just right”. Maybe if I made a crappy lard crust, poured chocolate pudding mix in it and topped it with canned whipped cream it would pass the picky eaters test. Family, gotta luv ’em.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 24th, 2013 at 07:53 | #11

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for stopping by. I heard that pies are going to be the “new cupcake” I’m still waiting for that to happen. Then our skills will finally be in demand! 🙂 Wishing you & your family a happy Thanksgiving! Holly

      P.S. I’m with you on the chocolate cream pie. There are so many better ways to eat chocolate. At least you can just buy that one & everybody’s happy. 🙂

  8. Jessica Cannon
    November 24th, 2013 at 04:52 | #12

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!! The timer has 4 minutes left and It looks perfect (the foil thing?! Genius!!)… The only thing the other half wanted for thanksgiving was an apple pie. He’s not going to be disappointed. Pictures were perfect and instructions for the crust were easy to follow (I usually use store bought crust… This was a new venture for me). I Picked you’re recipe partly because of the Washington background (woot woot!!) and I wasn’t disappointed!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 24th, 2013 at 07:49 | #13

      Hi Jessica, I’m sooo glad it turned out. Thanks so much for your comment. It made my day. 🙂 Wishing you & your other half a Happy Thanksgiving

  9. Kelli
    November 28th, 2013 at 07:13 | #14

    Hi Holly! I’ve been through dozens of apple pie recipes, looking for one that I felt would be simple enough for me to make and will also taste amazing! I haven’t made an apple pie since 1992! I’m looking forward to trying out your recipe and sharing it with my family this Thanksgiving. Thank you for the picture illustrations! I’m a hands on learner so having photos will certainly help me! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 28th, 2013 at 17:28 | #15

      Hi Kelli,
      Thank you so much for the comment. I hope the pie turns out for you. I just got finished making all my pies for Thanksgiving (2 apple, 2 pumpkin & 1 date-pecan). It’s a nice tradition. I hope your pie turns out & you have lovely Thanksgiving. Thanks again, Holly

  10. Kelli
    November 29th, 2013 at 19:58 | #16

    Hi Holly!

    My pie was AMAZING! I really wanted to impress my sister since she’s the baker, and I did!! She complimented me several times and said, “I must have this recipe!” Your apple pie truly is the BEST I’ve ever had and will be the only apple pie recipe I ever use! And, I’ll share your recipe with everyone I know!!

    Thank you for sharing your amazing recipe!! Now on to Christmas!! 🙂


    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 1st, 2013 at 13:18 | #17

      HI Kelli — I’m sooooo glad it turned out. Thanks for letting me know & thanks for sharing it.
      All the best, Holly
      P.S. I can relate to having a foodie sister 🙂

  11. Becky Cochran
    December 15th, 2013 at 21:19 | #18

    Hi Holly, I call the pinching the crust part “feeding the duck” especially when making crust with kiddos. I don’t know if you remember the pie article I did for Friday magazine…..which pie did they put on the cover? The apple….what was wrong with it? Stupid me…..I cut a complete circle around my design and the crust fell through…..the folks doing the article didn’t know the difference, but I sure did! I think I made six or eight pies for them that day and after they were all done, we sat down and sampled each one, the two working on the article had never eaten pie in their lives! It’s a huge family tradition in our family and we make all kinds!
    You made a lovely pie, I typically roll my dough on the pin and then put it in the dish…..but I love the way you did it and am going to try that. Funny I found this just now as I was thinking of making a pie today. But am thinking of coconut creme……a Tom favorite.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      January 4th, 2014 at 19:13 | #19

      HI Becky, I remember your pie article in Friday magazine!! 🙂 What a great memory. Happy pie making!!! 🙂 Coconut cream sounds like pie heaven

  12. OB
    December 16th, 2013 at 19:47 | #20

    I take it you have tried the Tarte Tatin at La Duree in The Dubai Mall. I am not a fan of fruit desserts but still think that it is one of their best pastries. They are not serving it at the moment, and do ask for it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream (ordered separately) when it returns. They are planning to open a branch at JBR which will be their largest – even bigger than the original in Paris…so very Dubai!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 19th, 2013 at 12:13 | #21

      Thanks so much for the fruit dessert tip. I will look for it. Sounds divine. 🙂

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      January 4th, 2014 at 19:12 | #22

      Thank you for the tip! Sounds totally decadent & delicious!

  13. October 2nd, 2014 at 01:05 | #23

    Just put the pie in the oven and it looks amazing. Very easy to make and the foil–genius!!
    Can’t wait to enjoy it tonight with my hubby!
    Thank you!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 8th, 2014 at 15:21 | #24

      Cheryl, Thanks so much for trying my recipe and stopping by. I hope the pie didn’t disappoint.

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