Best-Ever Apple Pie
Yield: One 9-inch pie Active Time: 35 minutes Total Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
10 mixed apples (ex. Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn)
4 tablespoons butter
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unbleached sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
1 tablespoon raw sugar, to garnish
Make the crust
Using a food processor, process flour, salt, sugar, and butter about 5 to 8 seconds, so some pieces of butter are left, then transfer mixture to a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add egg yolk and a scant half cup of water (less on a hot day, more on a cold day). Stir quickly with a fork to start bringing the dry and wet ingredients together, add more water if needed. When the fork can't do anymore, gather up the dry parts of the dough with hands as quickly as possible and press into dough. Make sure the dough's not too sticky or too dry, then wrap in plastic and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. When ready to make pie, preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch deep pie dish with butter.
Make the filling
Peel, core, and quarter apples and slice into pieces 1/4-inch thick. Place butter in a large skillet and toss with apples. Sauté apples until they begin to soften, then stir in lemon juice, spices, and sugar. Let sugars caramelize then stir in crème fraiche. Let mixture bubble up, and then cook 30 seconds more. Stir and turn off heat.
Assemble the pie
Divide into two even balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a disc 11 to 12 inches wide, taking care not to work the dough too hard. Center one of the rounds of dough in the bottom of the pie dish, and trim it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the dish. Add in the apple filling and smooth the top so that it's even. Using a knife, cut the second round into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Lay strips of dough, evenly spaced, across the entire pie. Weave more strips of dough through the previous strips perpendicularly to make a lattice design across the entire pie. Trim excess dough from the ends of the strips. Pinch the edge of the bottom crust and edge of the lattice together, and flute the edge of the pie. Brush the surface of the dough with beaten egg and then sprinkle with raw sugar. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Bake pie until the crust is golden, 40 to 50 minutes minutes, rotating at the halfway mark. Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before serving.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont