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An Award-Winning Spicy Apple Pie

Alrighty, everyone. Apple pie season is upon us! Pie season in general, to be fair, but particularly as we grind our way through the month of November, the apples are best in many parts of America and terribly wonderfully ripe. As always, notes and tips at the end of the post!

PREP TIME: 1 hr.

COOK TIME: 45 min


Serves: 8-12 slices


  • 6-8 apples (about 3 pounds)

  • 1/4 cup white sugar

  • ½ pound brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 2 ½ tsp cinnamon

  • 1 ½ tsp nutmeg

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp ginger

  • ½ tsp ground clove

  • 3 tbls butter

  • 2 ½ cup AP flour

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ½ cup butter, cubed and chilled

  • ½ cup ice water

  • ½ cup shredded cheese, like gruyere or cheddar (optional)


  1. Prep the pie dough. To do so, combine flour and salt. Use hands or pastry cutter to cut in the butter chunks until a loose and coarse crumb forms. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture just forms a ball. Work as little as possible to preserve lumps of butter (see photo below). Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge to let gluten rest.

  2. Set oven to 375° F.

  3. As the dough is resting take time to peel, core, and slice apples. Move slices to a large bowl. I prefer slicing mine to 1/16 of an apple (halving the size the corer renders). While you get through cutting apples, add a splash of lemon juice to prevent browning and lightly toss to coat.

  4. In a small bowl, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, and clove. Add salt to taste, especially if not using a tart apple (like a granny smith).

  5. Combine the spiced sugar mixture and the apples. Toss to combine and coat lightly.

  6. Remove dough from refrigerator. Cut into two halves. Roll out one half between two pieces of wax or parchment paper until 1/3" thickness. Using the paper rolled out on, transfer the dough sheet to a 9" pie tin. Gently work the excess dough from outside of the dish into the dish, filling the corners of the dish.

  7. Trim the excess dough on the bottom of the tin and use a fork to poke around the base of the dish. Doing this is called "docking" and will create escape holes for steam from the crust (which will happen as the butter solids melt and the liquid moves elsewhere), to prevent your dough from... blowing up. This is important with blind baking.

  8. Combine the excess/trimmed off dough with the other half of the dough and start to roll out the second dough. When you've gotten to 3/4" thickness, you can add the sliced cheese, if you wish. In the same way you incorporate butter into rough puff pastry, this would be the time to sprinkle as much of that 1/4 cup of cheese onto the top, then gently fold the dough and roll again. You may need to work the dough a bit more to warm it up enough to work the cheese "into" this layer. Roll out to 1/3" thickness. Use a lattice cutter or knife to cut strips all along the same direction the entire length of this second crust.

  9. Do a quick taste test of the liquid that has formed at the bottom of your apple slice bowl at this time. Adjust spices and salt as needed. Once satisfactory, pour the fruit into the uncooked pie shell.

  10. To lattice: gently place your longest strip across the pie in one direction, followed by the next longest strip about 3/4" or 1 cm parallel from it. Fold this secondary strip up halfway. Take the longest remaining strip and place it directly perpendicular and in the center of the longest strip. Unfold the second strip you placed. Fold up the first strip to place a fourth (second this direction) perpendicular strip to the first strip. Be careful to maintain the same exact distance between strips to result in nice square holes. You'll now be in a repeating folding-unfolding pattern, working your way from the center of the pie out. Continue using the largest, longest strips available as you work your way to the edge of the pie.

  11. Use a fork to combine the lattice strips into the edge of the base of the pie crust. Trim the excess.

  12. Carefully use a pastry brush to paint egg (or milk, if you desire) onto only the lattice of the pie crust. If using egg, be sure not to let any excess egg build up between lattice crosses.

  13. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

  14. Place on a cookie sheet or baking tray and put in the oven.

  15. Immediately drop the temperature to 350° F. Bake the pie for 35 to 40 minutes, with a browned crust and bubbling juices. If the pie crust starts to get brown much before the time ends, use small strips of aluminum foil to cover the edges of the pie.

  16. Let pie rest for 20-30 minutes on a wire rack after removing from oven. Serve with a rich vanilla ice cream.

You don't have to be perfect with your measurements--just try to be relatively consistent. I used a dough scraper to try to cut my stripes which wasn't terribly even. What you can see here is a general attempt to keep the squares the same size, as well as preventing egg pooling or collecting at the intersections.

My apples aren't perfect. And the apples I used for this recipe definitely weren't ripe, so I would up with a drier mixture than I should have. I should have course-corrected with extra butter, sugar, and flour. As you can see, I also used a combination of granny smith and Braeburn. Braeburn have a citrus-bend in flavor (which hints to my secret ingredient I'll never share publicly!) to help compliment the nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla spices.

IDEAL PIE CRUST: one that shows literal butter chunks when cut in two. The butter chunks will result in flaky pockets for the entire thing. You get these by being slow to mix and careful not to overmix!

I didn't trim my pie crust before starting the lattice topper, but I wish I had. The extra affordance I'd have gotten from using the trim in the top as I rolled it out would have helped with my sloppy strip cutting.

The process of weaving a lattice crust is difficult to explain, so I'm kicking myself for not taking more photos!

The complete lattice prior to trimming and forking! This is the time to adjust the strips and spacing.

Before brushing the egg onto the pie crust. It looks homely, and tastes divine.

The sprinkled turbinado sugar really helps give the crust an extra "wow" factor.

Just before the bake.

OTHER TIPS: If you have an excess of dough, and a handful of apples (or even apple slices!), I recommend making an apple gruyere galette with rosemary! Recipe on that to come in the future.


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