All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie

All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough (see below), chilled
4 pounds (about 6 very large) apples (use a mix of varieties, tart, sweet, crisp)
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

For the Glaze:
Milk or heavy cream
Decorating (coarse) or granulated sugar

Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate (I use Pyrex). If you want to use a standard 9-inch pie plate, just reduce the amount of filling by about one-quarter.

Working on a well-floured surface (or between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch thick. Fit the dough into the butter pie plate and trim the edges to a 1/2-inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick circle and slip it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Cover the circle and the crust in the pie plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, while you preheat the oven and prepare the filling.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, core and slice the apples. You have a choice for slicing: you can cut each apple in half and then slice each half crosswise or lengthwise into slices about 1/4 inch thick, or you can cut the apple into chunks about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on a side. In either case, put the apples into a large bowl and add the sugar, zest, tapioca, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss everything together really well - I do this with my hands. If you've got a little time, let the mix sit for about 5 minutes, until juice starts to accumulate in the bottom of the bowl.

Remove the pie plate and top crust from the refrigerator and put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the crust - this will help keep it from getting too soggy (some sog is inevitable) - and then turn the apples and their juices into the crust. The apples will heap over the top of the crust. Pat them into an even mound. Dot the apples with the bits of cold butter.

Very lightly moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water, then center the top crust over the apples. (If the crusts - top and bottom - are still very cold and in danger of cracking when you work with them, let them sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes.) Either fold the overhang from the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp the crust attractively, or press the top crust against the bottom crust and trim the overhang from both crusts even with the rim of the pie plate. If you've pressed and trimmed the crust, use the tines of a fork to press them two crusts together securely.

Use a sharp paring knife to cut about 6 slits in the top crust. I always use the wide end of a piping tip to cut a circle out for the center of the crust as a steam vent. Brush the top of the crust with the milk (or cream) and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 degrees F. and bake the pie for another 50 to 60 minutes (total baking time is between 65 and 75 minutes), or until the crust is gorgeously browned and the juices bubble up through the top crust. After about 40 minutes in the oven, if the top crust looks as if it's browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with a foil vent.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let it rest until just warm.

Good-for-Almost-Everything Pie Dough
For a 9-inch double crust

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 oz.) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1/3 cup very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop the butter and shortening in and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing - what you're aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tablespoons of the ice water - add a little water and pulse once, a little more and pulse again, and keep going that way. the use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary or even a few drops more, to get the dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter still in the dough are fine. Scrape the dough onto a work surface. Divide the dough in half, gather each half into a ball, flatten them into disks, wrap in plastic and chill at least an hour.

Baking: From my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.