The Biggest, Most Impressive Apple Pie
Pies can be a homey affair and the way my Nana used to throw them together seemed like second nature and they were always good. But every now and then I see a pie in a bakery window or in a magazine spread and it is drop dead gorgeous – I would even say stunning – and the pies that usually get my attention are the huge ones. The big and tall ones. Sometimes they have billows of meringue or whipped cream on top but most often they are the double-crusted apple pies that are deemed Mile-High Apple Pie. I love a good buttery crust, but I really love a high ratio of juicy, fruit filling, so these speak to me. There are tricks beyond just using more fruit and that’s what this recipe is about. Read the Tips first to learn about the right equipment, ingredients and techniques used to make a Mile-High Apple Pie of your own.
- 1 recipe Large Pie Crust for Mile-High Double Crust Pies
- 5 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices, such as a combination of Granny Smith, Cortland, McIntosh and Golden Delicious (see Tips for other recommendations)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch cinnamon (optional)
- For the Filling: Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Coat a 9 ½ x 1½-inch tempered glass pie plate with nonstick spray. Toss together apple slices, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon and and let sit 15 minutes.
- Roll out 1 dough disc on lightly floured surface to a 14-inch round. Transfer to pie plate. Scrape filling into crust and dot with butter.
- Roll out second dough disc on floured surface to an 18-inch round. Drape dough over filling. Trim dough over hang to ½-inch. Press top crust and bottom crust together at edge to seal. Fold edges under; crimp edge decoratively. Slash top crust with a few vents using a sharp paring knife.
- For the Topping: Brush pie crust with milk. Combine sugar (and cinnamon if using) and sprinkle evenly over pie. Place pie on prepared pan. Place in oven, turn oven down to 350°F and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
- Cool on rack for at least 2 hours to allow juices to thicken. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
- The choice of pie plate is important. You must use a deep-dish plate. The dimensions should be 9 ½ x 1 ½-inches (note that many manufacturers still call this a 9-inch plate or 9-inch deep-dish plate) and you can read more about them here. I like Pyrex because I can monitor the browning of the crust and also because they have standardized sizes. This is important. You might find a different deep-dish 9-inch plate and it might have a greater depth, which would mean your pie wouldn’t be as tall once baked. Use the equipment called for.
- Your choice of apples will also make a difference. These apples have been chosen to provide interest in texture and flavor but also for how they break down – or don’t – and that will also affect the height of your finished dish. The apples listed can be found in most supermarkets. If you have access to more varieties I suggest trying Northern Spy, Baldwin, Gravenstein, Spitzenberg, Ginger Gold, Jazz, Jonagold and Caville Blanc d’Hiver to name a few for you to seek out and sample.
- How you slice the apples is important. I like to use a rotary spiral slicer; you can of course slice them by hand. The key is to cut them into very thin ¼-inch thick slices. This is because if you have large chunks there will be a lot of air in-between the raw apple pieces and they will cook down, reducing the height of the pie. Thin slices can be jam-packed into the pie shell and they won’t lose as much height during baking.
- Note that the absence of thickener is deliberate. The softer apples cook down (and they have tons of natural pectin) and after cooling thoroughly you will have a juicy apple filling with the purest of fruit flavor but it will be thick enough to slice.
- Allowing fruit pies to cool so that the fillings thicken is always important and never more so than with a very deep filling such as this one. This is actually the only fruit pie I like the second day better than the first! A huge boon for the holiday table when the oven is crammed the day of. At the very least, let if cool for 2 to 6 hours, depending on room temperature.