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October 18, 2009 / Tony

Almost Perfect Apple Pie


I think this recipe is almost as good as pie gets and I owe it all to pork fat:

Almost Perfect Apple Pie

(Please see some additional pie making hints in this post.)

About 3 ½ pounds apples (weighed before peeling and coring)

3/4 cup sugar

3 T all-purpose flour

1 T apple cider vinegar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

2 T unsalted butter

About 2 tsp sugar

Lard Pie Crust (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and quarter apples, then, using a sharp knife, cut out the core in each piece. Cut the apple pieces into 1/8 inch slices. Toss with 3/4 cup sugar, flour, vinegar, cinnamon, and salt. Let sit for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Roll out one half of the pie crust and line the bottom of a nine inch pie pan. The dough should overhang the edges of the pan by about 1/2 inch. Then, add the apples by placing them one by one in layers, so as to avoid any large air pockets in the dough. (This step is a pain but it makes it possible to get more apples into your pie and hence, have a “meatier” pie.) If there is any liquid remaining in the bowl that contained the apples, pour that liquid into the pie pan. Dot the top of the apples with the unsalted butter.

Then roll out the other half of the pie dough and use it to cover the pie. Again, there should be about a 1/2 inch overhang. Tuck the overhang into the pie plate (this will help to prevent leakage) and then decoratively crimp the edges. Cut about 4 steam vents in the top of the crust and then sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Place the pie on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 30-45 minutes more or until the apples are just tender. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Lard Pie Crust

(enough for two 9-10 inch open faced pies or 1 double-crusted pie)

13.25 oz (about 2 1/2 cups) all purpose flour, chilled

1/2 T kosher salt

3 oz (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

5.5 oz lard, chilled

1/2 cup ice water

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter. Then, using your fingers, rub it into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add the lard and toss with the flour to coat. Break the lard into about 5 large pieces. Then, using your fingertips, rub the lard into the mixture until it has small clumps and curds. Switch to a wooden spoon and add the ice water, stirring to incorporate it. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold it over on itself a few times-don’t get carried away. The dough should be soft but it will firm up sufficiently in the refrigerator.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and for as long as 5 days. It is now ready to roll out and used in any recipe calling for flaky pie crust.

The lard-infused pie crust was the flakiest and most flavorful pie crust I’ve ever had. It’s so good, I can’t even think about making pie crust any other way. The filling is a just a bit tart with the homegrown apples my friend Dusty gave me. The apples match beautifully with the ever so slight specter of the pork fat in the crust. I really know why pie was at every meal in days gone past.


One Comment

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  1. ghettoblackify / Oct 18 2009 12:32 pm

    i should give it a try

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