Today’s pie comes with a story.
All recipes have histories, but we found Lisa McNamara’s Apple Pie alongside her essay in the beautiful collection The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Marriage, Family, and How We Learn to Eat.
McNamara describes learning how boys’ hearts can be won with baked goods, but that a well-cooked meal does not always mean a successful relationship. You can read the story here.
Find McNamara’s pie recipe below (cook it for someone you’re trying to woo?) and click here to enter YOUR delicious pie (or pies) in the 5th Annual Good Food Pie Contest on Saturday, September 7th at LACMA.
(By Lisa McNamara, from The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat ed. Caroline M. Grant and Lisa Catherine Harper, Roost Books, 2013.)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur works best)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound of sweet butter, very cold and cut into 64 pieces, approximately 1/3”-1/2” cubes. (I like to use Plugra or Strauss because they contain little moisture)
7 – 10 tablespoons very cold water
3 1/2 pounds apples (my favorite is the Arkansas Black, but Gala and Jonagold work well, too)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon plus a half-teaspoon for crust (I like Penzey’s China Cassia best)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
A tablespoon or two of whole milk or cream
Spoon flour into a measuring cup and swipe off excess with the flat side of a knife. Put flour and salt into bowl of food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
Sprinkle butter cubes over flour/salt mixture. Cut in butter using approximately 13-15 one-second pulses. There should still be very small pieces of butter visible in the mixture, about half the size of a pea.
Transfer mixture into large mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix together with a spatula. As you add the rest of the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, use your hands to mix so you can feel the dough’s texture. You only want to add enough water for the dough to just hold together when you squeeze it in your palm.
Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each piece into a round, flat disk, about 6″ in diameter. Wrap the dough disks individually in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour before continuing with recipe.
Note: My favorite pie pan is a glass 9”. That way you can see if the bottom crust is browning while it bakes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place oven rack on the lowest rung.
Combine sliced apples (slice about 1/4″ thick), ½ cup sugar, flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, vinegar and salt in large bowl; toss to coat apples well.
Roll out two pie dough disks into approximately 11” rounds so you have about a 1” overhang when it’s in the pan. (A good way to measure is to turn the pie pan upside down on the dough round and leave an inch beyond the outer rim of the pan.)
Pile the apple mixture into the crust and shape in a mound. Lay top crust over apples and fold over bottom crust–crimp and seal. Cut vents in top crust to let steam escape.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
Bake pie for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately brush top crust with milk or cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes more. If top crust or edges appear to be getting too dark, cover loosely with aluminum foil and reduce oven temp to 375 degrees.