Hello! I’ve been making lots of pies this month and in the process have come up with several updates to our old family recipe.
First, I add a little flour to the apple-sugar-cinnamon mixture. This helps thicken the filling just a bit. Not thick like those gelatinous Luby’s pies — just a tad thicker than usual to prevent juice from sloshing all over your crust.
Second, I include instructions for adding decorations. The decorations are made by using cookie or pie cutters to cut out shapes from extra pie dough. For an apple pie, these can be added immediately after second crust or lattice is placed on top. (For pumpkin or pecan pie or other pie with a soft filling, the pie needs to be half-way baked before decorations can be added.) Because the decorations will be on the apple pie for the entire baking time, a sheet of foil over the top of the pie will protect the decorations from burning. (More on that below.)
Third, I add optional egg wash and sugar to decorate the top. The egg wash goes on before baking, and the sugar can be sprinkled on before the last ten minutes in the oven.
Fourth, I update the baking times and temps. The first bake is at 425 for 20 minutes using a pie shield and sheet of tin foil. This high temp will help set the crust, while the shield and foil will help protect it from burning. Then remove the foil, reduce the temp to 375 and bake for 30 minutes longer. Next, remove the pie shield, sprinkle on the sugar and bake for 10-15 minutes more.
Fifth, I include instructions for baking the pie from frozen. This is extremely helpful if you want to make the pie ahead of time! Simply remove the pie from the freezer and bake (without thawing) for the times detailed below. Such a time-saver on busy holidays!
Let me know if you have additional questions! Your questions inspire me to continue to improve this recipe, so I appreciate them all :) Happiest holidays — I hope they are sweet, warm and delicious — like my grandma’s apple pie.
Grandma’s Apple Pie – Updated!
My great-grandmother Ruby Nunn always enjoyed her apple pie with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. As a child, I remember how classy she seemed, compared to me with my slice and a messy scoop of melting vanilla ice cream. This recipe is named after her, and in her honor, I will always give my guests a choice of sides. But it’s always ice cream for me!
6 to 8 medium Granny Smith apples
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into eight slices
Optional: egg wash (1 egg white + 1 T water, beaten with fork) brushed on top before baking
Optional: 2 teaspoons sugar, for sprinkling on top before last 10 minutes of baking
Preheat oven to 425° and set oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Peel and slice apples (slices should be thin, but need not be uniform). If you have a food processor, use the slicing blade to speed up the process.
Place apple slices in a large bowl. Add lemon juice. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour until well-combined. Pour the dry mixture over the apples and, using your hands, toss until all slices are fairly evenly coated.
Place one pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate Add half of the apple mixture. Place four slices of butter, spaced evenly, on top of the apples. Add remaining apple mixture, arranging the slices so they form a small mound. Top with remaining butter.
Place second pie crust over filling. Seal the edges of both crusts by pressing the crusts together, and then tucking them under to form an even edge.
Use your hands to form a decorative scalloped edge if desired. With a sharp paring knife, make four 1-inch to 2-inch slits in the top pastry. The slits should form a cross shape, but without meeting in the center.
If you want to add decorations, use cookie cutters to cut out shapes using extra dough. Place these on around the edges or over top of the pie. These can be used instead of or in addition to a second pie crust.
Brush with egg wash if desired. (If you are planning to freeze your pie, add the egg wash later, as instructed below, right before baking.)
Cover edges of pie crust with a pie shield. (If you do not have a pie shield, no worries. It helps but is not essential.) In addition to the pie shield or instead of the pie shield if not using one, gently lay a piece of foil over the top of the entire pie — this will protect the top crust (or lattice or decorations) from burning. Bake pie at 425 degrees for 20 minutes on a rack in set in the middle of the oven.
Remove pie from oven and remove foil laying over top (but leave pie shield if using one). Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake pie for 30 more minutes.
Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with sugar. Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes or until apples are tender when a toothpick is inserted through one of the slits.
Cool for 1-2 hours before serving.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR BAKING FROM FROZEN:
Tightly wrap unbaked pie in plastic, making sure all sides of pie are completely sealed. Place pie in freezer for up to 2 months.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove pie from freezer and unwrap but do NOT thaw. (If using a glass or ceramic pie plate, let the pie sit on counter at room temp for about 15 minutes. This is to prevent the glass from cracking as a result of drastic temperature changes.) Add egg wash if desired. Cover edges of pie crust with a pie shield or ring of foil (to keep the crust from burning). In addition to the pie shield, gently lay a piece of foil over the top of the entire pie — this will protect the top crust (or lattice or decorations) from burning.
Bake pie at 450 degrees for 25 minutes on a rack in set in the middle of the oven.
Reduce temp to 375, remove foil but leave pie shield if using, and bake for 40 minutes more.
Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with sugar. If the crust is nice and brown, replace sheet of foil loosely over top to prevent crust from burning.
Return pie to oven and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until apples are tender when a toothpick is inserted through one of the slits.
Cool for 1-2 hours before serving.