Close your eyes and tell me what image you see when I say the word "Grandma." Do you picture the woman in an apron with white hair and a gleam in her eye? .... that's my grandma. She has beautiful cotton white hair, an infectious laugh and the ability to bake circles around any professional chef. The woman has baked at least 2 pies a week for the past 60 years. My grandpa doesn't consider a meal to be complete unless it ends with a pie (and yet, still works out and remains incredibly fit).
My grandma, much to my family's delight, has passed down to me her pie making skills... and now I'll pass on her wisdom to you. She's got a couple tricks up her sleeve to make pie making easy and to keep the crust from over browning... so even if you've baked pies before you might want to find out her secret. After all, she HAS baked thousands of pies (and I might be underestimating here).
First the crust:
1.5 Cups of Crisco
1 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Boiling Water
4 Cups Flour
Pour boiling water over Crisco shortening and salt. Add flour and stir with a fork. The dough should not be smooth, but clumpy (this is what makes the crust flaky when baked).
Let it cool and divide into 2 balls. Roll out one crust on a floured surface. I have a pie crust maker I roll mine out on. It helps to figure out the size and makes transferring the crust to the pie pan easier (but it's not necessary if you don't have one!)
Place the crust in the bottom of a glass pie pan making sure it covers the bottom and rides up the sides of the pan.
Onto the Filling:
5 Gala Apples (or any other apples for baking - I like Braeburn)
1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Peel the apples, you can see here I used more than 5 since I wanted my pie to be overfilled (that's how John likes it). Core the apples and cut into bite sized pieces.
Mix apples with the rest of the filling ingredients - if you use more than 5 apples, just supplement with more sugar, flour & cinnamon.
Place the filling inside the crust. Use a paring knife to cut off any excess crust. Then roll out your top crust (same way as before).
Place the top crust over the filling. I run a paring knife around the edges to get rid of any excess crust. Then crimp the edges. I could write out instructions on how to crimp, but I think they would be confusing (even though crimping so easy to do). Just watch this 1 minute video if you don't know how. Cut little slits in the top to allow extra steam to escape.
Now, here's the biggest secret to apple pie making... microwave it for 11 minutes. I know, microwave it! This allows the apples to soften without browning the pie. If you put it in the oven long enough to soften the apples, the edges of the pie crust get too brown. This eliminates the need for long baking.
After microwaving place it in a 375 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes. This finishes the apples cooking and bakes the crust. That's it - no burned edges like you get on so many apple pies.
Keep in mind, that this pie is homemade and it's ok for it to look homemade. If the pie looks too perfect people will think it's from a box (until they taste it!). Don't overthink the beauty of your pie crust... it's taken me a while to accept that, but it's true.
Tell me... do you have any baking secrets?