I think anyone who loves apple pie probably has a favorite, and really, is there any such thing as a bad apple pie? There are some that are better than others, without question, but even apple pies made by novices have a certain appeal (one that comes to mind must have had a quarter cup of cinnamon in it. I ate it, enjoyed it, told the cook how wonderful it was.). And then there's Mom's apple pie. I have seen far-away looks of people who fondly recall their Mom's apple pie, and none will ever be as good as the ones in their memory.
I have a couple of cookbooks that I love so much that I own duplicates of them, with the second copy being stored away for safe keeping if the first one should ever wear out and become unusable. Jim Fobel's Old Fashioned Baking Book is one example. One of my two favorite apple pie recipes and my favorite cheesecake recipe are between those hallowed covers. This cookbook has been so well loved that it's even been brought back from being out of print and reprinted. I've made this recipe countless times, have served it to a number of friends and family who have declared this to be "the best." In all humility, I don't know if this can be crowed "the best" but I do know it's mighty, mighty fine.
I had to take these photos under fluorescent lighting as we've had a steady rain and no natural light to speak of. The red coloring is a bit too saturated (to compensate for the green of the fluorescent, I think). Also I do not know how to make a beautiful pie crust edge. Oh, well, what lies between the pastry is beautiful!
(Jim Fobel's Old Fashioned Baking Book)
2 1/2 pounds (5-7) tart green cooking apples **
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Water or apple cider (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
Pastry for a double crust pie (your own, or store bought)
Glaze (optional, but very nice to give a finished look to the crust)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Have your rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have one half of your pastry dough rolled out into a 12-inch circle and ready to be transferred to the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. You can lightly roll it in half onto and over your roller, fold in half, or fold in quarters to transfer. Gently unfold and ease it into the plate, taking care not to tear or stretch the dough, but if you do, just moisten a finger and patch it (no one's going to see the bottom crust anyway). There should be a generous overhang of pastry. Refrigerate the dough until you need it.
Peel the apples and quarter them lengthwise. Core the apples and cut the quarters into wedges about 1/2 inch thick. You should have about seven cups of apples. Sprinkle with lemon juice to retard browning of your freshly cut apples.
In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the apples and toss well. If your apples seem particularly dry add the tablespoon of water or apple cider. Remove the prepared pastry dough from the fridge, and turn the apple filling into the pan. Mound the apples in the pan, patting them firmly. Dot with butter.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining pastry to a 12-inch circle. Moisten the edge of the crust that's in the pie plate. Lay the newly rolled pastry over the apples and press the two crusts together, all around. Tightly roll the overhanging pastry under all around to make a raised edge. Then using your fingertips or a fork make a decorate edge. Cut three or four vents in the center of your pie to allow steam to escape.
For the glaze, stir together the egg yolk and water. Brush the top crust (but not the fluted edge), twice. Sprinkle with sugar.
Place pie on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Then reduce the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes longer or until the pie is golden brown and the apples are tender when pierced with a knife through a steam vent. Cool on a rack before serving.
Very good with ice cream, but here in New England, it's also served with a wedge of nice cheddar cheese.
**Let me share a secret with you about making some of the best apple pie ever. Most recipes just say 5-7 cooking apples and may make a suggestion of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pippin, Braeburn, etc. Let me say that they are half right. To have the absolute best apple pie, you have to mix the apple varieties, at least two different kinds. Personally, I use Granny Smith and McIntosh. Granny Smith holds their shape while baking, but the McIntosh tends to cook down, filling in any gaps that might be caused by an uneven layering of the Granny Smiths. I probably use 5 Granny Smiths and 3 McIntosh apples, see how it looks in the pie plate and add or subtract apples depending on whim, fancy, size of the apple, and ability to resist snacking on sugar-cinnamon coated apple wedges, grins.