I figured if I was going to pay top dollar for a bag of beautiful local apples at the farmer’s market, I wanted them to be the star of my pie. So, I skipped the (potentially overwhelming) traditional spices and just tossed the apples with sugar and browned butter, not unlike the filling for Nancy Silverton’s apple crumble in her great baking book Pastries from the La Brea Bakery. Next, I turned to Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau’s Once Upon a Tart cookbook to riff on their killer tart crust, adding a handful of grated cheddar cheese and a bit of lard (yep, lard) for good measure. - Midge —Midge
Test Kitchen Notes
Midge's pie is an homage to apples in their purest form. She employs no cinnamon or nutmeg to cloak their sweet perfume; instead she browns some butter, which complements the apples with a faint nuttiness. The crust is tender and flaky, with a muted burst of cheddar breaking through towards the end of each bite. It's crucial to chill the dough as Midge directs -- then you're sure to end up with a perfect, and perfectly gorgeous, fall apple pie. - A&M —The Editors
1 hour 20 minutes
8 to 10
apples, preferably a combo of Cortland and Honey Crisp, peeled and roughly chopped
dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups
cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
cold lard [Editors' note: we swapped in butter with success]
Toss apples and sugars together in large bowl. Set aside for an hour to allow apples to break down.
Sift flours and salt together by hand or in bowl of food processor.
Add butter, along with the lard and cheese, to flour mixture. Pulse food processor (or cut into flour quickly by hand) just until fat and flours turn into a pebbly mixture.
Remove blade from processor and sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of ice water on pebbly mixture. Using your hands, gently combine until the dough starts to hold together. Add more water as needed.
Cut dough in half and form into disks, one a bit bigger than the other. Wrap with wax paper and chill for about 30 minutes.
Roll out larger disk of dough on floured surface. Gently fit into pie dish, crimping the edges. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 400.
Poke dough in pie dish with fork to ventilate. Line with parchment or foil and add pie weights (or beans and/or rice). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and pie weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes until pie shell starts to look dry-ish on the bottom. Cool.
Meanwhile, onto the filling: Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over med-high heat. Swirl until the foam subsides and the butter turns a nut brown color. Watch closely - this can burn quickly. Toss with apples.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the 2 tablespoons of water and toss into apple mixture.
Roll out second disk of dough on floured surface to fit the top of your pie.
Fill par-baked pie shell with apple mixture. Gently fit top over the filling, crimping the edges. With a sharp knife, cut slits or poke with fork to vent.
Beat egg with one tablespoon of water. Brush egg wash on top of pie.
Bake at 350 for about 50-60 minutes, until filling is bubbly.
I’m a journalist who’s covered everything from illegal logging in Central America to merit pay for teachers, but these days I write mostly about travel. I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in some far-flung locales, where poking around markets and grocery stores is my favorite thing to do. Cooking, especially baking, is my way of winding down after a long day; there’s nothing like kneading bread dough to bring you back to earth.