I've included my button link to PERFECT PIE CRUSTS ~ both butter and shortening ~ at the end of the recipe ~ with tips and the differences between them. SHORTENING crusts are much easier for the "novice" pie baker though, because you don't have little dots of hard, cold butter in there (which makes the dough harder to roll out thin and even). Shortening crust has more of the texture of cookie dough, when you roll it out, and much easier to work with. ** I bought a silicon pie crust protector on eBay (but any kitchen store should have them). Works beautifully to keep your edge crust from burning (and won't fall off like those little scraps of foil that you probably use now).
I made a double crust here ~ but you could do a lattice ~ or cut out STAR cookie forms, if you want this for the 4th of July or Memorial Day.
ALL AMERICAN APPLE PIE
I used 8 medium apples. 4 Granny Smith (tart) and 4 were either Gala or Pink Lady (any red will work). I cored & quartered them, but did NOT peel them. Then sliced them in my food processor ~ and put into a large bowl. Toss, to coat well, with the following:
1/2 cup sugar ~or~ 1/2 cup plain white Splenda (not baking blend)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar ~or~ 3 TB brown Splenda blend
1 tsp. cinnamon...............................................1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla…………………...............………pinch of salt
1 TB "Fruit Fresh"............................................3 tsp. powdered pectin
(NOTE: The Fruit Fresh and powdered pectin can be found near the canning supplies at grocery store, or near the Knox gelatin. The Fruit Fresh will keep apples from turning color, and the powdered pectin will keep the filling from becoming "watery")
Fold together with a rubber scraper until the apples are coated well. Then put them into a large casserole dish ~ cover and microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. (This will soften them, so they won't be in separate layers when you slice the pie ~ and you won't have to worry about undercooked apples later ~ and the peel will be soft enough to eat, since you didn't peel the apples). Let them cool, while you make the crust.
Follow the directions on button link below to make pie crust. Spray the BOTTOM ONLY of pie pan with non-stick spray. (DON'T spray the sides or your crust will slide down while baking) I "blind-bake" my bottom crust (see TIP under PIE CRUST) and then let cool while you finish the filling.
Then, when the crust is cooled & ready to be filled, smash the apples against the side of the casserole dish with your rubber scraper, and drain all the liquid out. Then, put the filling into the bottom crust. Spread evenly and flatten it down (so no air bubbles underneath).
Roll out the top crust ~ set your filled pie pan on top and cut about 1-2" around the edge. Then roll up the pie crust on your rolling pin, and unroll it over the apple filling (see photos above). With your finger, press down right at the base of the sides where it meets the top crust. Crimp the top & bottom crust edges together. Cut some slits in the top crust for steam to escape.
TIP: I like to brush the top crust with either milk or lightly-beaten egg white ~ and then sprinkle with sugar (and in this case, I also added some gold edible Sparkling Sugar ~ can add colored sugar too, if you want) before baking. That gives a slightly SUGAR CRUNCH top. But watch it carefully in the oven, because it may brown too quickly (so can cover lightly with foil for the first half of baking).
Even though pies are my least-baked dessert, I'm still a "pie snob" and my 2 "pet peeves" are crust that's too thick and apple pie filling that's separate slices of apple when you slice it. I think my aversion to thick crust is because I make strudel, rugelach and other pastries often, so I'm used to rolling dough very thin and thick crust just seems to wrong to me! Obviously though, my pie crusts aren't as thin as my pastry crusts, but thin enough that the APPLES are the star of the show!
NOTE: You can make an 8" or 9" pie, but I used a 9" pyrex pie pan, because the filling would just be a very large mound in a smaller pan (and since my husband tends to cut himself a BIG slice, it would probably topple over his plate! ~ My apology for the photos above, but he cut the 1st piece for himself and put ice cream all over it before I could take a photo!)
WARNING: My old pie crust recipe calls for baking at 400 degrees, but I've read that "newer" (think they consider from the '70s on as "new") pyrex bakeware that's made in China contains sand and can explode in ovens that are 400 or higher! So, unless you're using retro pyrex and know that it was made in the USA, don't bake in it higher than 375!
TIP: I used my easy, flaky SHORTENING CRUST for this ~ and "blind-baked" it for 10 minutes. (I put it in the oven before filling, so the bottom of the crust would be cooked & crisp, not soggy.) Be sure to prick the crust all over the bottom & sides before blind-baking (@ preheated 375).