I love eating pie and I love baking pies. When I bake a pie I believe that it starts with a good pie crust. My grandmother taught me the basics. Besides me, nobody else can make a crust like grandmas. Apple pie is a favorite and I use three different types of baking apples to get the flavor that I want.
Notes from the Test Kitchen:
The crust in this apple recipe is flaky and delicious thanks to the addition of lard. I especially like how three types of apples are used. It just added to the overall yumminess. All that's missing is a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Peel, core and slice apples. Squeeze with fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloring. Set aside.
Start by making a pie crust. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry blender cut in lard.
NOTE: I home render my lard for pie crusts. It is a creamy white lard unlike the lard purchased in the grocery stores. If you can get home rendered lard from someone it makes the best pie crust.
You want to cut in the lard until course and pea size.
Add 3-4 tablespoons cold water and bring together dough with fork. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough holds together.
NOTE: Now here is the trick. Make sure that you have cut the lard into the flour enough and you want it to hold together slightly forming peas. Do not beat, mix or squash. CUT into and I usually work my way around the sides of the bowl when I cut. I will take a fork and gently go through this to see how it looks and feels. Then I add my water. Again gently bring dough together.
Now, on a flour board dump the dough on the floured board and with hands gently from the outside move dough together so it holds.
Now I take a knife and cut my dough right in half. Cover the dough with plastic wrap so it does not dry out.
On a floured board, cloth or Roll'Pat (I purchased this at a specialty baking store. It is silicone and wonderful.) Sprinkle with flour. Pat the ball of the dough flat gently. Add more flour underneath. Flour the top. Now roll gently away from you, not back and forth. You will tear the dough! Flour the top and gently lift and add more flour underneath. Roll out to about a 10-11 inch circle to place in a 9 inch pie plate.
Place in pie plate and gently (do not stretch dough). Pat around into place. The should hang over about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch.
You have peeled your apples. Arrange apples in pie plate. Mix 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon cornstarch together. Pour on top of apples evenly. Sprinkle the 1 tsp. cinnamon on top. Cut the butter in small pieces and put dabs all over the top.
Roll out second pie crust same as before. Cut a design on top or use small cookie/pie cutters to cut out three small shapes for steam to escape.
Gently place crust on top of apples. This should be trimmed around the edges to fit the size of the pie plate. You want to be able to fold the bottom pie crust over the top pie crust on the edges. Pinch together or flute sides as you normally would or use a fork. I use my fingers and flute it!
Place pie in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, then turn it down to 350. Bake an additional 45 minutes.
Place foil or a pan to catch dripping if the pie should bake over.
***NOTE*** You can use your food processor to mix the pie dough. I add my flour, salt and lard in chucks. I pulse to food processor until I get pea formation. Then I dump this into a bowl and add my water.