ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Lulen’s Grated Apple Pie,” from Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree*
TIMING: At least a few hours, but can be stretched out to a few days
DIFFICULTY: Sorry, but pie isn’t easy, although this is on the easy end of pies
TOOLS: A pie plate, a food processor, and something to grate the apples
COOK TYPE: Oven, baking
HEALTH: Apple. Pie. Apples are good for you. Pie is not.
EXPERIENCE: My husband had broken his arm in two places and sprained his other thumb. From his perch on the couch and from behind some book about deviant psychology or ancient history he occasionally piped up, “Please make me an apple pie.” But in between all the schooling and cooking (actual meals) and cleaning and laundry, I didn’t have the time to hunt down my hand-written preferred recipe for apple pie. (Somewhere in the future, I will not have to hunt for any recipes, as they will all be right here.) I grabbed a couple books that I thought would have an apple pie and settled on the grated apple pie from Nathalie Dupree’s Southern cooking tome.
It said it was easy, so I took some liberties in pretending I was not a foodie, but just your regular ol’ home cook whipping up a pie. It didn’t exactly work. I think Dupree–and everyone everywhere–just needs to accept that we have been lied to: making a pie is anything but easy, and it’s definitely not fast. In fact, the only way to make a fast, easy pie is to buy a pre-made crust and whip up some sort of alternative filling, like Japanese Fruit Pie or a canned fruit or boxed pudding/custard. But if you insist on homemade, like me, there are just no simple steps, from fruit filling to custard, from meringue to whipped cream, from crust to finishing. Making pies takes a pie-knowledge of sorts, from knowing when to cool or freeze an ingredient, from creating an egg wash to gelling the water that seeps from fresh fruit.
I will try to walk you through this easier of apple pies. The bonus is: it’s not a naturally runny pie–it must be from grating the apples.
Still, not my favorite apple pie. But throwing the apples in a food processor grater is a little easier than slicing them. I suppose.
NOTES: As you can tell from the photos, this recipe has a pecan topping. I would suggest replacing the pecans with an easy crumble topping made from butter, brown sugar, and just a touch of flour and/or oats. I would also consider adding an acid to the filling, like citrus juice, but you’ll want to counter that with more flour.
You are always welcome to break pie-making up into a few days. You can prep your crust on one day, bake it the next, fill it the third.
- In a large food processor, add 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pulse a few times to lighten and combine.
- Cut 3/8 cup cold, unsalted butter and 1/8 cup cold, non-hydrogenated shortening into cubes. Add half the cubes and quickly pulse a few times. Add the rest of the cubes and pulse ONLY until sandy but with some pea-sized chunks. Add 5 tablespoons ice-cold water and pulse until small clumps form (but NOT all the dough pulls together). More water may be needed. The idea is, you want to be able to form dough together with your fingers like building a sand castle or, better yet, kinetic sand.
- Remove dough from processor and turn out onto a floured surface. Fold 2-3 times and form into an 8-inch disc with smooth edges. Wrap in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove dough from the fridge onto a floured surface and, still quickly, roll dough out to more than 12 inches in diameter. Roll the dough up onto your rolling pin and transfer to a pie plate. Gently mold to dish and crimp the edges.
- Place your crust in the freezer for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F.
- When ready, cover bottom of dough with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans that you keep for this purpose. Bake 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.
- Quickly, remove the pie weights and foil/paper. Brush the crust with the eggwash. Return to oven and bake for 8 more minutes. Crust should be completely baked. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Whisk together 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 4 1/2 cups grated apples (preferably Granny Smith) and toss to coat.
- Beat 1 egg until basically uniform, then add to the apple mixture with 1/3 cup melted, unsalted butter.
- Pour mixture into the pie crust and cover the crust edge with a crust protector or aluminum foil. Top with 1 cup chopped pecans (or the crumble I suggest, above). Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350F and bake for another 45 minutes.
- Test for doneness. The center should be set. Then allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
Serve a la mode. Warm would be nice. And coffee.
*Recipe changed from the original.