Apple pie is my dad’s favorite dessert. My mom usually makes it for him for Christmas and his birthday, although this year Dad told me he might learn how to make it himself. While I applaud his willingness to try to make something new in the kitchen, it made me remember once when my mom was out of town for some reason, Dad was going to make waffles for me and my sister, but only wanted to make a half batch. The recipe called for one egg, so dad cracked it on the counter, Samurai-ed it in half and sent half of the yolk flying across the kitchen. Whatever works, right? I made Alton Brown’s apple pie recipe for Christmas and it was fabulous. I did have to plan ahead to order seeds of pardise online. Alton described it as a pie to celebrate apples. It really was, being more apple-y than cinnamon-y. It takes quite a bit of work, but it’s worth it.
For the crust:
6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ounces vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 to 7 tablespoons applejack
12 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 2 3/4 cups, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the filling:
3 to 3 1/2 pounds apples, mixture of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn and Golden Delicious, about 6 large apples
1/2 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 tablespoons apple jelly
1 tablespoon apple cider
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise
For the crust: Place the butter, shortening and applejack into the refrigerator for 1 hour. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add the butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until the texture looks mealy. Add the shortening and pulse another 3 to 4 times until incorporated. Remove the lid of the food processor and sprinkle in 5 tablespoons of the applejack. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add more applejack as needed, and pulse again until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Weigh the dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
For the filling:
Peel and core the apples. Slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Toss all of the apples with 1/4 cup of the sugar, place in a colander set over a large bowl and allow to drain for 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the drained liquid to a small saucepan, place over medium heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons. Set aside to cool. Toss the apples with the remaining sugar, tapioca flour, jelly, cider, lime juice, salt and grains of paradise. For assembling and baking the pie: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. Place the dough onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Place into a 9 1/2 to 10-inch tart pan that is 2-inches deep. Gently press the dough into the sides of the pan, crimping and trimming the edges as necessary. Set a pie bird in the center of the bottom of the pan. Place the apples into the unbaked pie shell in concentric circles starting around the edges, working towards the center and forming a slight mound in the center of the pie. Pour over any liquid that remains in the bowl. Roll out the second pie dough as the first. Place this dough over the apples, pressing the pie bird through the top crust. Press together the edges of the dough around the rim of the pie. Brush the top crust with the reduced juice everywhere except around the edge of pie. Trim any excess dough. Place the pie on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake on the floor** of the oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to the lower rack of the oven and continue to bake another 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through but not mushy. Remove to a rack and cool a minimum of 4 hours or until almost room temperature. **If you’re using an electric oven with coils on the bottom of the oven, place the pie on the sheet pan on the lowest rack over the coils, NOT directly on top of them.