Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 17, 2010

Holiday Pies

I’ve been baking pies since I was seven. I’ve been baking truly world class pies only for the last couple of years–at best. My tarts overtook my pies a decade ago. But tarts are another post altogether. This is about the holiday that made pie great. This is about Thanksgiving and pies.

I come from pie eating people. We once sat 14 down to Thanksgiving, with nine pies glowing on the sideboard all through the meal. There was pumpkin pie, with and without (bourbon, a controversial family custom), and lattice topped cherry pie, and pecan pie, and mince pie, and that wonderful blender coconut pie my sister makes, and apple pie–and I don’t remember what the other two were. There was likely more than one cherry pie, since we like cherry pie and my aunt keeps seven or eight sour cherry trees running down the lane to the road.

Apple Pie

1 recipe pie pastry, divided and cold but not frozen

8 apples, peeled and cored and sliced into 1/2 cm thicknesses (I like to combine a crisp tart apple with a softer more perfumed apple–like Granny Smith and Gala)

1/8 tsp salt

1/3-2/3 cup sugar, depending on the tartness of your apple blend

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

2 TBSP butter or Earth Balance buttery sticks

Preheat the oven to 450°. Toss the sugar, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon together. Sprinkle these over the sliced apples in a medium sized bowl and toss until well combined. Set this aside.

Roll out half the pie dough on a lightly floured smooth surface. If you don’t own a rolling pin, a wine bottle, or other similarly sized smooth glass bottle, with the label completely removed works pretty well. Beat the cold dough a few times to loosen the fat. Roll away from you two or three times, but don’t go back and forth. Turn the dough ninety degrees and repeat. Turn and roll twice more. Now bring up the dough, re-flour your work surface, and flip the dough over. It should be an approximate circle. Without taking much more time or applying the rolling pin more than you have to, make the dough circle about 10 1/2″ across. Drape the dough around your rolling pin and set it in the 8″ pie pan you have nearby. If you’re using a 9″ pie pan, you’ll want the dough to be at 11 1/2″ before it’s ready.

Arrange the dough so that some of it hangs over every side of the pie pan. Gently lift and scootch the dough against the pan contours. Don’t stretch it–it will just shrink whilst cooking. Roll out the second half of the dough using the same technique as for the first half. Make it the same size as the bottom was. Gently spread the apple slices into the prepared pie pan. Add any juice that may have drained from the apples while they were macerating. Shake the pan lightly to help settle the apple slices. Cut the two tablespoons of butter or Earth Balance into small pieces. Dot the pie with the pieces.

Drape the dough around the rolling pin and arrange it evenly over the top of the pie. Bring the top edge over and around the bottom edge of the pie dough. Crimp it with your fingers or a fork. Slash some steam vents in the top of the pie (no fewer than three, no more than seven are necessary). Wrap a foil cover lightly around the crust edge.

Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Put a cookie sheet under the pie, lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Remove the foil over the crust edge for the last 10-15 minutes. Let the pie cool completely, about three hours, before serving it. This gives the cornstarch a chance to properly thicken the filling.



  1. yum. sounds delicious. i want holidays to be here faster so i can get lots of pie.

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