Apple pie with stovetop filling comes together quickly, and is accented with a whisper of beautiful flower waters (get them here).
I have to admit that the apple pie here is typically last or near-last on the list of must-make for Thanksgiving. As a stand-alone pie especially when apple season hits in the fall, apple pie is the star. In summer, never. Much to my profound regret, after telling my adorable nephew and godson one mid-summer day that I don’t make apple pie in the summer. I learned from his equally adorable mother, Amara, that apple is my sweetheart’s favorite. Live+learn=Aunt Maureen.
Last Thanksgiving, it was quite literally the morning of, 30 people arriving by 2, and I conferred with my crew on the pie list. Amara wondered if we had apple on deck. Oh Lord, I had all of the beautiful apples in a bag somewhere but I hadn’t gotten to that one. Banana cream, oh yes. Pecan and pumpkin and cherry, you bet. But apple had been left behind. No WAY I was going to disappoint my godson again.
But time, time was tight. Amara whipped into action, never mind three little bambinos underfoot: apples were delivered to her, and her filling, already cooked, was delivered back to me within the hour. What the? How easy was that?! I made the fastest Mom’s crust of my life, filled and crimped and found a place in the hot oven to bake it off.
If that wasn’t the best pie of the day! I mean, I don’t often do this but that day I cut a massive wedge and hid it in the laundry room. One leftover I could count on.
During our ritual glass of wine at the end of a holiday day, I pulled out the pie. It was sweet-tart, the way I love my fruit. Mom’s crust, perfection. Amara said her way is simple, and she always cooks the filling in batches in the fall, freezes, and then has apple pie at the ready for months to come.
What she loves most about cooking the filling first is what I too love: control. You can taste, add more sugar, a squeeze of lemon, the right amount of thickener.
I added whispers of both orange blossom and rose waters to incredibly delicious effect. Not the flavor of orange blossom or rose, actually, but a heightening of the apples’ natural floral tendency. Oh my gosh yes. I haven’t often mixed both flower waters but I have seen it done extensively in my Middle Eastern cookbooks.
That’s the kind of glory that will inspire me to make apple pie all year long. Especially when my nephew is coming to dinner.
Apple Pie with Stovetop Filling
Apple pie with stovetop filling comes together quickly, and is accented with a whisper of beautiful flower waters. These gently bring out the natural floral flavors in the apples.
For the filling:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting the pie
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
- 2 teaspoons rose water
- 6 cups sliced, peeled apples (from 6 large apples, a mix of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 5 tablespoons water, divided
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
For the crust:
- 2 2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (1 teaspoon if using table salt)
- 3/4 cup neutral oil such as safflower, canola, vegetable
- 6 tablespoons ice water
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, orange blossom water, and rose water and stir to combine.
Add the sliced apples with the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of the water. Stir to coat the apples with the butter mixture. Cover and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat under the apples to low. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of the water. Stir the mixture into the cooked apples and heat until the liquid thickens. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a sheet of foil on the rack beneath the center rack to catch any pie drippings.
To make the pie crust, in a medium bowl whisk the flour and salt. Stir in the oil, then add the water 2 tablespoons at a time. Do not over-stir. The dough should look a bit streaky.
To roll out the crust, wipe the work surface with a damp sponge so it is moistened but not beaded with water. Lay out one sheet of wax paper (about 15 inches) on the damp surface. Place half of the dough on the center of the wax paper and shape into a disk. Cover the disk with another sheet of wax paper.
Roll the dough out evenly into a 12-inch circle, rolling out from the center of the disk and working to shape and even circle as you roll. Place a 9-inch pie plate over the rolled circle to see that it's about an inch wider than the plate.
Remove the top piece of wax paper and discard that. Lift the bottom sheet of wax paper with the circle of dough on it up and place dough-side down on the pie plate. Gently remove the wax paper and discard that. Ease the dough down into the plate and trim any excess around the perimeter. Use trimmings to add to any areas that may have fallen short of the edge.
Fill the bottom crust with the cooked apples. For the top crust, repeat the process of rolling out another circle of dough between wax paper on a damp work surface, and lay the top crust over top of the apples.
Tuck the top layer of dough under the bottom layer of dough around the perimeter of the pie. Crimp. Cut vents in a cross in the top of the crust. Brush or dab with your fingers the milk on the top of the crust. Place a protective pie ring over the edges, or cover the edges of the pie with foil pieces.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F. Continue baking for another 30-40 minutes, or until the top of the pie is golden brown and the apple juices are bubbling through the vents in the top of the pie.
Remove the pie to a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of the pie. Cool for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the filling to set up.