Deep-dish: a word that should inspire a simultaneous sense of fear and ambition amongst all those who approach foods with such a label. Recent experience has taught me that there are some deep-dish foods that are made more glorious through their deep dishy-ness and others that will leave you worse off than if you’d eaten a family-size bag of white cheddar popcorn to yourself (hypothetically speaking…I’ve certainly never done this and woken up with a stomach full of regret and cheese-dusted fingerprints all over my pillowcase). Luckily deep-dish apple pie falls into the former camp as it means more depth for extra stacks of caramelized apple goodness. The latter camp belongs to the likes of deep-dish pizza, which I recently sampled on a trip to Chicago and am shocked to still be alive after the whole ordeal. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself during the eating process (I did, though it was in that rapid-fire kind of way where you know the punishment for such hedonism will be swift and merciless), but the second I was finished I was awash with a wave of panic, knowing that the fullness would only get worse before it got better thanks to the mounds of pizza dough, cheese, and sausage that felt as though they were somehow replicating in my gut. Six hours later, when I woke up sweating in a manner so profusely it bordered on feverish, I took a firm stance in the age-old argument over which U.S. city has the better pizza (New York or Chicago) and staunchly aligned myself with the N.Y. camp, vowing off deep-dish pizza from there on out.
Fortunately, you will not be forced through such discomfort with deep-dish apple pie. In fact, this crust is SO buttery, flaky, and perfect that you will be thrilled to have an extra inch of it at the bottom of your pie plate. I take my pie crust game real seriously and this one is next level. As in I’m considering – just considering, no real commitments have yet been forged – changing my regular pie crust recipe to this one and just freezing the extra dough. That real. Oh, also the apples (duh, the stars of the show) get smothered in this crazy delicious, apple cider-punched up caramel sauce that was so oozy and perfect it warranted SO MANY PHOTOS. But that crust, man. That. Crust. It’s real deep.
BA’s Best: Deep-Dish Apple Pie
Taken directly from BA’s Best arsenal, with some very slight tweaks
Makes 1 double-crust pie (serves roughly 8-10 people)
**Please note: this recipe requires the use of a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. Do NOT attempt this recipe with a regular depth pie plate, it will not turn out and I will refuse to accept responsibility for your wasted afternoon. Here is an example of the type of dish you should be using.
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, (measured correctly) + more for dusting
2 tbsp white sugar
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled thoroughly
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Filling and Assembly:
4 lb Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
¼ cup white sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cardamom
1 ½ cups good-quality apple cider (apple juice will do in a pinch, but try for cider)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 large egg
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
Demerara or raw sugar, for sprinkling
Start by making the crust. Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a large food processor to combine. Add the cold butter into the dry ingredients and process until the largest pieces of butter are the size of beans. Turn the mixture out into a large bowl. If you do not own a food processor, you can whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then cut in the butter with a pastry blender. Combine the vinegar and ½ cup ice water in a small bowl (measure ½ cup cold water first, then add some ice cubes). Drizzle this over the flour-butter mixture (minus any ice cubes), stirring with a fork to combine. Mix the dough until shaggy pieces form, then knead it gently in the bowl a couple of times with your hands, just until you have a very rough dough with some dry pieces still left. Transfer the dough in clumps over to a very lightly floured work surface. Drizzle 1 tbsp ice water over the remaining flour in the bowl and mix to bring it together. Add the moistened flour to the dough and gently knead to bring together. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough in half. Working with one half, press the dough down into a single mass, incorporating any dry bits, then pat down to form a ¾-inch-thick square. Use the bench scraper/knife to divide the dough into 4 quadrants, then stack the pieces on top of one another, pressing down to combine the layers. Shape the stack into a ¾-inch-thick disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Repeat with the remaining dough half. Chill the disks for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days, letting them both sit flush against the refrigerator shelf to get as cold as possible.
In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with both sugars, the lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and cardamom. Let the apples sit for 1-2 hours to release their juices.
Once the dough has chilled, let it sit for 5 minutes at room temperature to soften up slightly. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. When rolling pie crust, ensure that you’re constantly turning the dough (to avoid parts of it sticking or getting rolled thinner than other areas) and lightly dusting any sticky spots with flour. Once the dough has reached ~ 1/8-inch thickness, transfer it to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and chill while you roll out the top crust. Repeat the process with the other dough disk, placing it on a piece of parchment on top of the other rolled dough or on its own lined baking sheet. Chill the dough while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the apple cider in a medium saucepan and scrape in the seeds from the split vanilla bean. Add the vanilla pod to the cider as well, and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce the liquid down to ~ 1/3 of what you started with. Strain any juices from the spiced apple slices into the cider reduction. Return to a boil and cook until you have ~ ¾ cup liquid left. Discard the vanilla pod. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 3 tbsp cold water until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the cider reduction, and cook until the mixture is very thick and bubbling (this will not take long at all). If your mixture congeals or thickens too quickly, just add a splash of apple cider to loosen things up a bit. Let the mixture cool slightly then scrape it over the apple slices, tossing to coat.
Carefully transfer one of the chilled, rolled doughs to the deep-dish pie plate by folding it loosely into quarters and laying the point in the centre of the dish before unfolding. Lift up the edges and allow the dough to slump down into the dish. Gently press the dough into the edges of the dish if needed, without creating any tautness or stretching. Trim, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Beat the egg with 1 tsp water and brush over the edges (not centre) of the dough. Scrape in the apple filling, mounding the fruit in the centre. Try to get all of the apples into the pie, even if they are almost spilling out. The apples shrink pretty significantly during cooking, so you need an excessive amount of raw apples in the dish to avoid creating any gaps between the crust and the filling. Place the second rolled dough over the filling, trimming the edge to leave a ½-inch overhang. Fold the edge of the bottom dough up and over, pressing together with the top dough to seal. Crimp the edge with a fork or leave it tidy but free-form (as I did). Make sure the edge is sitting along the rim, not tucked under it at all as this will create problems during slicing. Brush the top crust with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with the Demerara or raw sugar. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow for ventilation. Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Bake the pie until the crust is golden-brown and the juices are thick and bubbling, about 1 ½ - 2 hours. Yes, this is a long-ass time – make sure you cover the crust with foil if you notice it getting too dark before the time is up and rotate the pie as needed if some areas start getting dark patches. My oven runs perpetually hot so I covered up the pie about 45 minutes into baking and then took the foil off for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool for 4 hours prior to slicing. Make sure you put on some ear protection before slicing into that deafeningly crackly, flaky crust.