After 25 years living in Europe, 20 of them in Switzerland, I’ve nudged and tweaked my beloved old Iowa apple pie recipe. Over time your taste buds shift a bit, and recipes need tweaking. In my case I now use about half the sugar called for by most of my American recipes. Here is American Iowa apple pie, with Swiss ingredients and metric measurements. A collection of 31 step-by-step photos is on Flickr. A few are included here.
Note: the key to a successful pie is to enjoy making it, from start to finish.
The starting point was a Joy of Cooking recipe from the 1983 version of the cookbook by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.
Please note that this recipe may be shared freely: this is the point of joy and I find great joy in baking this pie for family and friends!
- 2 cups white flour: farine fleur, 360ml
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup vegetable shortening: Sais Astra 10, which is 10% butter, 160ml
- 4-6 tablespoons, about 70-90ml cold water
- 5-6 cups apples and I usually go for more rather than less: variety, Canadas if possible
- 1/2 cup brown sugar or slightly less, US or UK brand, from Jim’s supermarket in Geneva
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt, or a pinch
- 1-1/2 tablespoons corn starch, fécule de mais
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, canelle
grated nutmeg, Migros spices, noix de muscade using very fine grater
Prepare the pie crust:
Mix flour and salt well.
Use a fork to blend in slightly softened shortening. I keep it in the refrigerator and take it out 1/2 hour ahead.
Add cold water 1-2 tablespoons at a time, tossing it and the flour mix from underneath.
Note: it is better to have it too dry than too moist.
Set aside and cover with a tea towel to keep it from drying out.
Peel large apples, leaving a bit of the peel on. Cut each into 6-8 pieces, top to bottom. This is chunkier than the fine slices you find in most European apple pies and tarts.
Cut pie pastry in two and cover one with the tea towel while you roll out the other. Sprinkle the work surface generously with flour and place a ball of dough in the centre. Use a series of quick moves to gently but firmly flatten it with the heel of your hand. Pick it up frequently to make sure work surface has enough flour so it doesn’t stick. Once it is about 2cm or 1/2 inch thick, roll out from the centre, lightly and quickly, spinning the dough to make sure it does not stick and keeps a round shape. Place the pie pan over it to make sure the dough extends about an inch, 4cm, beyond the pan.
Place the rolling pin in the middle, lift half the dough over it to carry it to the pie pan. Gently lift in and adjust to fit.
Add filling. Place small slivers of butter (to thicken the sauce) around the top of the fruit. Repeat steps above for the second crust.
Once the second crust is on the fruit, fold it under all around (but not under the rim of the pie pan!) to seal in the fruit. I decorate the crust in several ways but my favourite, shown here, is to hold the thumb of my right hand against the edge and gently make a dent with the forefinger of my left hand. I use a fork to decorate and make small holes in the top of the crust. It’s best to make an additional, larger vent in the centre of the pie, which I do with a sharp knife. Bake at 220C for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 190 and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.