My Absolute Favorite Homemade Apple Pie Recipe.
Ok. So, Apple Pie is about as American as you can get. And there are a LOT of really great apple pie recipes out there. I have made a lot of them. Probably so have you. So, what kind of nerve do I have calling this apple pie recipe the BEST apple pie recipe? Well… it’s the best apple pie recipe I’ve ever made – or eaten – in 20 years of baking apple pie.
I can’t make apple pie, or applesauce, or apple crisp, without thinking of my mom. Every fall she buys a few boxes of Colorado Macintosh apples and cooks pan after pan of apple pie filling, apple crisp filling, and applesauce, canning it all for use later in the year. As such, all three were staples of my culinary upbringing, and one or the other continues to make it’s appearance at holiday dinners and birthday celebration. They are always very well received.
Her apple crisp topping is still the best I’ve ever eaten. Perhaps I’ll share that recipe someday… but for now, let’s talk Apple Pie, and why this apple pie recipe is the best.
Many apple pie recipes don’t call for a pre-baked bottom pie crust.
They also don’t usually require you to cook the apple pie filling before pouring it into the crust. The problem with that, I find, is that the bottom crust gets a bit soggy. By partially pre-baking the bottom pie crust and cooking the apple pie filling a bit just to thicken all that apple juice, you’ll end up with a deliciously crispy bottom crust.
You’ll also notice that this recipe calls for Sorghum Syrup. Alternatively, you can use Maple Syrup, which is also delicious, but I urge you to try Sorghum. I discovered Sorghum Syrup last November, while trying to recreate the traditionally (in my opinion) much-too-sweet Pecan Pie into something dark and rich and complex, rather than something so sugary that it sets my teeth on edge. I swapped corn syrup for Sorghum and added some Bourbon. Sublime. (Here’s that Pecan Pie recipe, if you’d like to check it out.)
Sorghum syrup is made from sorghum grass juice. The flavor is complex, deep and almost leathery. It also has a very high ratio of taste to sweetness. It is sweet – but not sickeningly so like corn syrup. In fact, Sorghum used to be fairly commonplace, especially in the south, before the introduction of cheeper (but flavorless and nutrition-less) corn syrup. You can find it at some grocery or specialty stores. I ordered mine on Amazon. It’s a little pricy, but it adds a deliciously deep caramel flavor to this apple pie recipe, making it worth the extra investment.
Finally, I chose to top the apple pie filling with a crumble rather than a top crust so that the result would be a delicious cross between apple pie and apple crisp. I love this combination, but feel free to substitute a top crust in lieu of the crumb topping.
So tell me… What are your secrets to baking a fabulous apple pie? Do you have any ingredients or techniques for the perfect apple pie that you’d be willing to share with me, and other readers?
- ½ recipe Fool Proof pie crust, chilled for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about the size of 1 large lemon)
- 8 cups (approximately) tart apples, such as granny smith or macintosh, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices
- 2 tbsp Sorghum Syrup or Maple Syrup
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp butter, cut into pea size chunks
- 1¼ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 7 tbsp butter, melted
- Partially pre-bake the bottom pie crust according to these instructions. Let the pre-baked pie crust cool completely before adding the apple pie filling.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Squeeze the lemon juice into a large, heavy bottom sauce pan and toss the apple slices with the lemon juice as you slice them to prevent the slices from browning. Pour the sorghum or maple syrup over the apples and stir briefly to mix.
- In a small bowl, add the sugars, cornstarch, spices and salt and stir with a wire whisk just to combine. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and toss with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to coat the apples. Cook the apple pie filling over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until the mixture thickens and boils. Pour the apple pie filling into the pre-baked pie crust and dot the surface evenly with the butter. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- In a medium size bowl, add all the topping ingredients except the butter and stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and mix with your hands just until all the dry ingredients are moistened.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the pie from the oven and cover the apple pie filling with the crumb topping, squeezing the topping with your hands as you do so to create some large chunks.
- Return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the crumb topping is golden brown and the apple pie filling is bubbling slightly.
- Remove the apple pie from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.