You may be intimidated by the thought of making pie crust, but it is not as difficult as you think. I use my grandmother’s recipe and it is literally indestructible! You will not fail with this recipe, I promise. It might seam a little unorthodox, with vinegar and brown sugar, but trust me, it is delicious. There are a few tricks, so just follow my suggestions and you will be a pie crust making expert in one try!
P.S. I know that the recipe uses lard- and you might be thinking …NO Lard! But, it really is the difference between flaky and delightful pie crust and so, so pie crust. Think about the crust you get in the best restaurants and bakeries. They use lard. So, I think about it this way. I make and eat pie a couple of times a year. Therefore, I can justify the lard for superior pie. You can substitute shortening or a combination or 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter.
Pie Crust Recipe for Grandma’s Cinnamon Apple Pie*
5 C Flour
3 Tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 lb lard
1 egg plus water to equal 3/4 C
2 tbsp vinegar
1 egg for brushing on the surface
To begin your Grandma’s Apple Pie pastry combine all dry ingredients together and stir together to mix the baking powder, sugar and salt into the flour. With a pastry blender, cut in the lard until the mixture resemble oatmeal. In a 1 cup measuring cut break the egg and lightly beat. Add enough water to equal 3/4 C total liquid, then add the vinegar to the liquids. Stir together. Add these liquid ingredients a little at a time to the dry ingredients and stir together. When your mixture comes together into a ball, you have enough liquids.
Tip: Sometimes you do not need all of the liquid. It depends on the humidity of the environment and the flour. I know it sounds a little funny but in really dry climates you will use all the liquid, but in more humid climates you will may have about 1/4 C of liquid left over.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat into a ball, and divide in half. One half of the dough is enough to do the top and bottom of our Grandma’s Cinnamon Apple Pie recipe. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
*This recipe makes enough pie dough to for 4 crusts or two double layer pies. It can be frozen for up to two months or kept in the refrigerator for a week. Seal in plastic wrap and a zip lock bag to keep fresh.
Once the dough has chilled you are ready to roll out and fill the pie for baking. Prepare the filling before you roll out the pastry.
Cinnamon Apple Filling Recipe
3 lbs of apples – Combination of Grannie Smith (4) and gala (2) ( Grannie Smith is the hands down favorite for their ability to hold their shape, not turn to much and hold up to the sugar in the recipe)
1/2 C sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp flour
6 Tbsp butter-softened
Start your filling for Grandma’s Cinnamon Apple Pie by peeling, coring and slicing your applies into a large mixing bowl. Remember your slices don’t have to be perfect and you could do this in a food processor or with a chopper. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Start by dividing the dough in half. Half for the bottom crust and half for the top crust. Keep the top crust wrapped up in plastic while you are rolling the bottom.
The key to success with pie dough is to use enough flour so that the dough will not stick to your surface. Keep the dough moving and don’t push too hard with the rolling pin. A light touch is all that is needed and a few easy strokes to make the circle large enough for your pie plate. Start by placing your dough round in the center of the flour. Flour both sides and the rolling pin. Always roll from the center out to the edges in all directions, top, bottom, left and right.
Once you have done each direction, gently pick up the dough and turn in over. Sprinkle flour over the other side and the board and do the same thing again; roll it in 4 directions, from the center to the top, center to the bottom, to the left and to the right. By the this time you should be getting a pretty large circle. You want your pastry to be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch think and about 2″ larger than your pie plate. I gently place the pie plate on the pastry in the center and measure to see it my rolled dough is big enough. If it isn’t, it keep rolling, if it is, I stop and trim of any extra I don’t need.
Here is the tricky part that some people have difficulty with. Moving the dough from the counter to the pie plate. But, it is pretty easy, it you don’t panic. If you don’t make it the first time, gather up the scraps, and roll it out and try again; it won’t hurt the pastry. Once you trim the excess, have your pie plate ready, so you don’t have far to travel, and just gently slide a metal spatula under one end to release any spots that may be sticking (hopefully not if you used enough flour) pick it up with both hands underneath and lift it onto the pie plate so that it overlaps the sides.
Another method is to roll the pastry only your rolling pin like a burrito. You will want to make sure that the bottoms and sides sit against the plate as pastry shrinks when it cooks and we are going to overlap the top crust with the bottom crust after we have put in the filling, so you want the bottom to hang over. If you have any tears, just patch them together. No one well ever see them on the bottom, so it is NO big deal! It should look like this.
Add the apple filling we already prepared. Make sure you use a spatula to get all of the yummy liquid from the bottom of the bowl. This makes the syrupy goodness in between the apples.
Now follow the same method to roll our the top crust from the remaining dough. Roll out a circle just an inch larger than the circumference of the pie plate. This will give you enough dough to tuck under the bottom dough to form a decorative edge and prevent the filling from spilling out all over your oven and making a mess of your pie. Once you have the top crust rolled out follow the same procedure. Put the pie plate on the crust. Cut the pastry all around allowing for the extra inch. Remove the pie plate and the extra dough. Transfer the pastry to the top of the pie and tuck the pastry under the bottom crust. Crimp the edges together by either pinching them like I have done, or pressing down with the tinges on a fork. Both make for a pretty edge.
You are ready to bake, once you add an egg wash to the surface of the pie. Break an egg into a small dish, beat lightly, add 1 tbsp of water and brush lightly on the surface of the pie. This will give the pie a shiny golden brown appearance when it bakes. You can also sprinkle with sugar if you like. Cut some vents in the surface of the pie to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 375F for 55 minute or until the pie is golden brown and bubbly and the apples are tender.