Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Homemade Apple Pie with a Buttermilk Crust

It's game time. You've got your food assignments, your materials, now it's time to plan out the execution of the highlight of the Thanksgiving table: pie. Perhaps it's pumpkin or pecan or the classic all-American apple.

Both the crust and the apple filling are from Joy the Baker's Homemade Decadence (side note: going to see her again in 2 weeks, aaaaah!). Unlike last year, I planned ahead. I set aside a fair amount of time to make the crust, let it chill, work on the crust again and let it chill some more. Okay, I still didn't let it chill as much as prescribed but it worked out.

The best that I can tell, when you're making a fruit pie, you don't have to pre-bake the crust like with a pumpkin pie. But you still need a lot of time to chill. Flour, sugar and salt are cut with butter--lots of butter-- to make a crumbly dough. Buttermilk is then added to make a shaggy dough. Shaggy is a very technical term for pie crust, it's not smooth like cookie batter but has a pull-apart quality to it.

This recipe makes two pie crusts so the dough is divided in half. It's okay if the dough is a little crumbly because you're going to knead it a bit so it will stick together more. Round one of the chilling begins with the two disks of dough wrapped in plastic and chilled for 30-60 minutes.

While the crust chills, you can prepare the apples. I used 5 medium sized apples but you could pile that pie higher if you want. There will be a top crust to contain the filling. The apples are sliced and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Also, a little bit of lemon juice. The apples are then left to set for 30 minutes (conveniently while the crust is chilling). This allows the flavors to meld together and the juices to net out.

Those juices are going to be key. After the half hour, strain the apples in a colander over a large bowl. You want to capture about a half cup of juices. Those juices are then heated with butter to create a syrup.

The syrup will take a few minutes to cook so you can roll out your crusts in the meantime. If you're worried about multi-tasking, you can also roll the crust out before making the syrup. The dough can become sticky so make sure you flour your surface and rolling pin. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness but still large enough to fill the pie pan. Carefully center the crust over the pie dish and push in on all sides. You can trim large pieces of dough that overhangs and patch up thinner areas or save to make a seal with the top crust.

Mix the apples with the cornstarch. I didn't have any so used a 1:3 ratio of flour instead. Once the syrup is done, mix in with the apples and add the apples to the pie pan. In an ideal world, you would have time to let the filled pie chill before baking. However, I didn't do that so no stress. Roll out the second disk of dough and cover the pie. Make sure to seal the top and bottom crusts using a little bit of water or pinching together with a fork. If you're fancy, you can make designs.

Make sure you make some vents in the top crust. I just made a classic flower design but get creative! The last step is brushing the top with an egg wash. This will give it a nice golden shine.

The pie should bake for 45-60 minutes or until the apples are softened. I used a chopstick to test this, through the top crust vents. Make sure you place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any juices that bubble out. No fires on Thanksgiving!

Serve warm, with ice cream or cold for breakfast. Whatever makes you happy. Have a great Thanksgiving!


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cold buttermilk
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the cubed, cold butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter. The dough should become crumbly with butter chunks about the size of peas.
  2. Create a well in the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Using a large fork, stir in the buttermilk until combined and the dough becomes shaggy.
  3. Divide the dough into two pieces. On a floured surface, knead the dough into a disk. The dough should be held together now. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat with the second section of dough. 
  4. Once the dough chills, roll out on a well-floured surface until the dough is 1/8 inch thick. Try to roll out evenly to create a circle about a foot across. 
  5. Using one shell, line the pie pan. You will use the second to cover the filled pie (see below). 

  • 5-6 apples (I recommend Granny Smith for their tartness), peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (for syrup)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Set a colander over a bowl and strain the apples to capture 1/2 cup of juice. In a small saucepan, bring the juices to a boil. Add the 2 Tablespoons of butter and allow to cook until syrupy. You won't need to stir much, a syrup should form in about 5 minutes.
  4. Toss the apples with cornstarch while the syrup is cooking. Pour the syrup over the apples and stir to combine.
  5. Fill the prepared pie pan with the apples. Cover with the second pie crust.
  6. Pinch the edges of the pie crusts together. You can seal this with the tines of a fork or use a little bit of water to seal the shells together.
  7. Create vents in the top shell in whatever design you like. Brush with the egg wash. 
  8. Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any juices during baking.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 40 minutes.
  10. The pie is done when the apples are tender but not squishy. 
  11. Allow the pie to cool before serving.

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