The Compleat Apple Pie…Deconstructed

Re-posting from a few years ago, one of my faves.

Your apple pie tutorial.
An apple pie with attitude.

If you are one of the many boys and girls (OK, adults) who’ve never made an apple pie from scratch and you don’t want to meet the Grim Reaper without having made at least one perfect apple pie, you’ve come to the right place.

I’m right here, holding your hand, gently walking you through all the steps and twists and turns to create the best apple pie you will ever eat. Guaranteed.

I know you can do it! Once you’ve mastered one pie start to finish, you will never be afraid of a little old piecrust again. Pinky swear.

The Apples
The apples you choose are of the utmost importance. They need to be firm and tart and able to stand up to the heat of a 425 degree oven without becoming mushy as the pie bakes. (For my Canandian friends, you’ll have to do the conversion–I’m not that smart.)

I like Granny Smith or Pippin apples for pies. Normally, that would be the green ones. Depending on the size of the apple, I like to use between 6-8 apples per pie.

apple1I enjoy making my pies the old fashioned way. I peel and slice the apples.


Squeeze a little lemon juice over the slices for a pop of flavor and it’ll help keep the apples from turning brown.
apple3Unless I’m making apple jelly, I put the peels in the compost bin, and so should you!


This is one time when I use white sugar and don’t feel guilty about it–about 2/3 cup or to taste. Some apples need more sweetness, some need less. The most important ingredient is cinnamon. The right amount of cinnamon elevates the apple pie to a higher level.  I use approximately 3-4 tablespoons. I do a lot of tasting, so it’s a good idea to add a little at a time and taste as you go. My family loves a LOT of cinnamon!



When you feel that your apples and sugar and cinnamon have reached the zenith of blissful co-existence, sprinkle one tablespoon all-purpose flour over the apples and mix lightly.

stressed is dessert spelled backwardsDon’t be afraid, don’t desert me before the dessert is complete–watch and learn!

It’s not that difficult. It’s like many things in life. Once you try something new and master it, you lose the fear of the unknown.apple8

I like my mom’s favorite cookbook for old-fashioned recipes.

The Crust
It’s not rocket science. This is a tried and true basic recipe for a two-crust pie. I don’t like to use butter in this crust because I don’t want any other flavors to taint the apple+cinnamon perfection. I know you can use a food processor and it cuts the time in half but sometimes the most satisfying part of baking is to be fully immersed in the process as much as the final results!

For a nine-inch pie pan:
Mix together…
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
Cut in…
2/3 cup shortening
Sprinkle with…
Four tablespoons water

What does “cut in” mean? It means you need to distribute the shortening into the flour so that the particles become the size of peas. This is what makes pastry flaky. pastry-blenderUse a pastry blender to cut shortening into flour. If you don’t have one, use two knives and this technique: holding a knife in each hand with blades almost touching, move knives back and forth in opposite directions in a parallel cutting motion. The side of a fork or a wire whisk works, too.

apple11 Mix only until all ingredients are worked in. If you overwork pastry dough, it’ll become tough. Sprinkle the water in a tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork until all the flour is moistened. Gather dough together and press into two balls for the upper and bottom crust.apple12

Flour the board or counter and the rolling pin so the dough won’t stick. There are all kinds of fancy schmancy rolling pins–I’ve been really happy with this old wooden one. Flatten the balls with your hand. Roll each ball into a sort of circle; don’t go all crazy thinking it has to be perfect at this point. If it breaks or tears, just pinch and push it back together–about 1/8 inch thick. For an apple pie, I think the bottom crust needs to be a bit more sturdy than the top crust–roll accordingly.


Roll into a circle two inches larger than pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and sides.


Pile high with the yummy apples.


Redo the same steps with the other round for the top crust. Cut off the extra dough that hangs over–leaving enough to fold under.

You can either crimp the edges…piecrustedges

or use a fork. Dip fork tines in flour; press tines onto edge of dough. Poke with fork or knife all around to release steam as it bakes.apple18

I wanted to add an enchanted seashell embellishment to the final version.


I molded leftover dough over a scallop shell, cut off the excess, and placed it on the pie.


It will bake quicker than the pie–remember to take it out after about ten minutes and place it back on the pie before serving.

I always bake pies on a cookie sheet because they will invariably ooze and turn your oven into a burning, sticky, smoky mess that can set off a smoke alarm and that’s always annoying!apple19

Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes or so until it’s bubbly and the crust is beautifully browned.



apple21“Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up”
(Norma Desmond, Sunset Blvd.)


Come on, add this to your list of goals for 2013 and let me know how it turns out!

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96 thoughts on “The Compleat Apple Pie…Deconstructed

  1. You are sneaking into my territory, but that’s OK, the more the merrier! I plan on doing pies sometime in the future.
    My mother was a Master Crimper; you never saw such perfect-the-first-time around, uniform crimps; I did not inherit that trait. You can wait until I do my pie post to see what I usually do.
    (But don’t hole your breath.)


      • Bring it on!
        I made my least favorite cookie this evening,Chocolate Chip …although some are palatable because I threw pecans in half of them. The kids have been asking for them and I wanted to turn the oven on and warm the place up.It is warmer temp-wise but doesn’t feel it because it is rainy…Don’t tell me how warm it is there and how mice the beach is!


      • Well, after a few rainy days, it was clear but cool today, not lay-out-on-the-beach weather at all! We did a lot of errands, mostly getting the boat project finished for sea trials! The chic chip cookies sound good to me!

        On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 5:15 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


    • You are so kind! Thank you so much! I save up all my baking for when hubs is here (or my son). I don’t bake at all when I’m by myself so I don’t feel too guilty about the extra calories! Send a pic when you bake it!


    • It’s like the only artistic thing I ever thought of! Thank you! It worked so good I think I’ll make cookie dough and use shells as a template. Hmmm, even melted chocolate in a scallop would make a great base for anything!

      On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 6:34 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  2. Yummmmm… Your pie looks delicious and you showed lots of great pictures. I have made apple pie and it is good. I hardly make it anymore because it’s just the 2 of us and a whole pie is just too much. We make now little apple tarts that work better for us.


  3. The pie looks delicious.My mother-in-law always used same edition of the old Betty Crocker cookbook that is in the picture. The photo brings back wonderful memories of her fabulous cooking.


    • You are very kind. I remember being about 3yrs old looking at all the mouthwatering pics while my mom was baking and I wanted to make every recipe! The colors of the pics are gorgeous.

      On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 8:09 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  4. Needs more cowbell… Wait? Where did that come from?
    My wife makes apple pies from scracth very similar to what you’ve done here except she adds in some cranberries too. I guess that technically makes it an apple-cranberry pie but we may just be arguing semantics then.
    The seashell you did on top is amazing!!


    • Yum, apple cran sounds so good! You have a fantastically wonderful wife, that’s for sure! And more cowbell–always!! Glad you liked the shell embellishment, it made me happy too, and it was edible!

      On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 9:43 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  5. Super wow!! Loving your pie so much! Could I please have a slice? And that seashell definitely is the best ever πŸ™‚

    I hope you don’t mind if I reblog your link on my reblog page?


    • Yes I’ll def save you a slice. I’d love your critique :). You should have seen the lightbulb over my head when I thought of using a real seashell!

      On Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 3:18 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  6. You rock woman! I tried to comment last night from my phone but it wouldn’t work. I was stuck with the furnace repair lady – yes, a lady – until 1:30 a.m. over at our rental property. It is a looooong story. Anyway, love this! I will definitely try to make it. I’ve never made a pie before. This would be my very first one. Leave it to you to get me to do something crazy like that. πŸ˜‰

    I love the shell topper, and the goose measuring cup. You sure have all your details down pat.

    Looks really delicious. I’ll use the Granny Smith, I think. xo


    • That’s funny! Actually, I’m a food portion police and we work out/exercise a LOT. Plus, he never gets this stuff when he’s gone, and he’s actually lost about 10lbs!

      On Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 8:37 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


    • So glad you liked it! I felt like I had really discovered something when I did the seashell! Now hubs wants another one, so I’ll be baking him a pie again!

      On Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 10:15 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  7. This is exactly how I make a pie, yay! Well, except for the fork edging and the pie crust seashell. It’s also how my Grandma made it. AND my Mom has that cookbook too. I remember the pictures…and seeing her use it all the time.


    • Sometimes I find it so satisfying to do things the “old fashioned” way by hand, nothing to plug in. I think a lot of moms/grandmas had that cookbook!

      On Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 7:26 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  8. Pingback: My First Time…Baking A Pie « TheFurFiles

      • You are very sweet. Thank you! My tugboat man did some tug work up your way a while back. If you’re ever down south, please let me know! Hubs wants to take in rescues since all of our own angels have passed on–old age, etc. I’m a bit afraid cos I’d never want to let them go, in the case of fostering). I’m the type of animal mom who never took a vacation cos I’d never leave them.

        On Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 8:40 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


      • Oh, I would love to meet you. You’re also welcome at our home and table if you’re ever up our way. That’s a tough one on taking on more, the bittersweet relationship of fostering/bonding/letting go and adopting and letting go because even if they live a long life it’s still way too short. In the end, we just have to live our lives, do the best we can, and include ourselves into the equation of compassionate living. Been wonderful chatting with you. Big cyber hug.


      • Wonderful words, thank you! Hubs just left to go out to sea–I’ll be here waiting for my son to visit!

        On Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 9:06 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  9. Pingback: The Matticus Kingdom # 200 | thematticuskingdom

  10. Aw! It’s so sweet that you put your own spin with a pie crust seashell on top. Great pics with step-by-step instructions. Oh, apple pie warm from the oven is heavenly!


  11. I am an absolute baking dud and you have shown me the way to bake an apple pie (yes, my first though I have made several apple tarts in my life.) Thanks for the beautiful photos and clear instructions.


  12. You make a beautiful pie, Princess! Take it from one who knows. I’ve made apple pies all my life and I use the exact same crust recipe (I use Crisco for the shortening). Great instructions and beautiful photos, too.


    • What a very lovely comment, Sandra! I really appreciate it. I think that knowing I learned how to bake from my mom and her apple pie was legendary makes everything better. Carrying on the tradition…I even taught my tugboat man how to make it cos he sometimes likes to bake for his crew when they’re out to sea.

      On Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 6:14 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  13. Pingback: Happy 100th Birthday, Mommy! | Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife

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