As you may have noticed, Rose Levy Beranbaum is one of my baking heroes, and she doesn’t disappoint with this classic apple pie. The apples are macerated in sugar to release their juices and the sweetened and spiced apple juice reduced, with butter, to make a thick, caramel-like sauce to coat the apple filling. The pastry crust stays crisp, the apples have great flavor and the pie is not overly sweet. This one gets raves every time I make it.
This is the base recipe for my Drunken Cherry & Apple Pie and I often add other ingredients to mix it up; whole, macerated cranberries, brandied raisins, or Bartlett pears, but it’s also excellent all on its own. Give this one a try and your family will be singing your praises this holiday season.
Adapted from The Best All-American Apple Pie in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose’s Apple Pie
- double recipe of Rose’s Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust (see Options for the cream cheese variation)
- 3 lbs baking apples
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
- Roll and shape half the dough to 1/8-inch thickness into a 9-inch pie dish. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. Reserve a disc of the other half of the dough in the refrigerator for the top crust.
- Peel, core and slice the apples and add to a large bowl with the lemon juice and sugars. (Save the peels and cores to make apple cider vinegar or apple pectin stock.) Toss the apple slices in the lemon and sugar as you go, to prevent browning. Add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest to the apples. Toss to combine and allow the apples to macerate in the sugar for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
- Transfer the macerated apples to a large colander and drain the exuded juices; transfer to a small saucepan. Add the 2 tbsp butter and cook over medium heat, swirling the pan but not stirring, until the juice is reduced, syrupy and thickly bubbling (about 10 minutes).
- Meanwhile, toss the cornstarch with the apple slices until it disappears. Remove the top crust dough from the refrigerator.
- Pour the reduced juice/syrup over the apple slices. Toss to mix.
- Once warmed sufficiently (about 10 minutes) roll the top crust out to 1/8-inch thickness and large enough to cut a 12-inch circle. You may choose to make a decorative cut-out (or several) with a cookie cutter or sharp knife.
- Transfer the apples to the bottom crust/pie dish. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust slightly by brushing it with water or milk. Shake the pie pan a little to settle the apples, then lay the top crust over the top of the pie. Trim the excess top crust with kitchen shears, leaving about an inch to tuck under. Tuck the overhanging dough under the bottom crust border and press down with your fingers, all around the edge, to seal the edge. I like to make a decorative border by pushing down diagonally with my pinky finger, which both seals and decorates the edge. Make decorative slashes in the top crust to release steam (if you have not used a cutout). Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour prior to baking to chill and relax the pastry. This will maintain flakiness and help to prevent the crust from shrinking.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Set the pie directly on a pizza stone, or on the bottom rack of the oven, on a rimmed baking sheet or on top of a large piece of aluminum foil to catch drips. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the juices bubble through and the top crust is nicely browned (if the edges of the crust begin to burn, cover them with a foil ring or crust shield). Cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before cutting.
- You can substitute an all-butter pastry crust for the Cream Cheese version, but the cream cheese gives the dough a slight tang that works well with the sweet apples, and the dough is more tender, making it easier to roll out and shape.
- A festive option is to use a lattice top made with cookie-cutter shapes (like the above star-lattice top) instead of a traditional rolled top crust.
- The only changes I’ve made to Rose’s original recipe are to increase the amount of apples (from 2 and 1/2 lbs to 3 lbs), the lemon juice (from 1 tbsp to 1 and 1/2 tbsp), add lemon zest, and to use turbinado (raw) sugar in place of white granulated sugar.
- I’ve tried this pie recipe with honey in place of the sugars; honey does not work very well to macerate the apples, so they do not release much juice and there is little resulting syrup. Also, since there is so little sugar in this recipe to begin with, and honey is sweeter than sugar, even 1/4 cup of honey seems like too much. It just doesn’t work all that well. I’ve used honey mixed with apples with better success in an apple tart, where you can precook the tart shell and it stays crisp even though the apples release their juices during cooking, or in a spoonpie, where the extra liquid does not matter as much.
- Keep apple slices relatively thin (less than 1/4-inch) in order to minimize shrinking of the fruit filling below the crust. The maceration of the apples prior to cooking also helps with this, but there will still be some shrinkage, as apples are a watery fruit. If you want no shrinkage below the top crust, be sure to choose good baking apples, and you could consider pre-cooking the apple filling and partially blind-baking the bottom crust; cool both filling and crust completely, fill and top the pie, and then bake in a 425 degree F oven.
At room temperature, up to 3 days. Refrigerated, the crust will become soggy; it can be recrisped in a 425 degree F oven, but will lose some flakiness. Frozen, a fully made pie will last up to 3 months. If baking from frozen, do not thaw first; simply place the frozen pie in it’s pie dish and into the preheated oven.
Fall through winter.