No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Food & Fitness71 Comments

I attempted to make apple pie many times and it never turned out quite right.  The dough was tough or the filling was runny or there was a big pocket of air under the top crust or the apples weren’t fully cooked, but the crust was burnt on the edges.  I finally threw in the towel.  We’ll just buy a stupid pie since I can’t make a proper one.  

Then, I was taught all of the secrets for making a perfect apple pie.

We had just moved to Pennsylvania and a couple had us over for dinner.  For dessert, she served the best apple pie I ever had.  Ever.  After all of my pie-making failures, I was not shy about asking if she would teach me her ways.  And I was learning from an expert.  She grew up on an apple orchard and then owned an apple orchard as an adult.  Apple pie baking was a family tradition.  She told me that, during apple season, she would sometimes make three pies a week, one for each of her teenage sons!

So, she had me over one morning and we baked a couple of pies together and she taught me everything she knew.  That was 12 years ago and, since then, I’ve tweaked the recipe and baked at least a few pies each year.

MISS MUSTARD SEED TV

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

The ingredient list and directions are at the bottom of the post, but I’ll walk you through it with pictures and sprinkle in some of the tips I learned.

ONE

Preheat oven to 350°.  Peel and core 8-12 granny smith apples.  Cut into slices approximately 1/8″ thick.  Put apples into a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Key number one is peeling the apples.  Always peel the apples!  The skin can be tough when it’s baked and it’s an odd texture in the pie.  Several recipes I tried early on did not specify peeling the apples, but it makes for a much better filling.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

TWO

Add  3/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 4 T uncooked tapioca, 1/8 cup cornstarch, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 fresh squeezed orange juice (or lemon), 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and 2 T butter to the apples.  Stir and microwave for 5 minutes on high.  Stir again and microwave for 5 more minutes.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

This step is where I made the tweaks to the recipe.  I added salt, nutmeg, and orange juice.  Do not add the extracts at this time, since they will retain their flavor better if they are added after cooking the apples.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Microwaving the apples was brilliant!  It solves the issue of underdone apples, watery pie filling, and the apples shrinking, creating a large pocket of air under the crust.  The addition of the tapioca and cornstarch also helps absorb moisture from the cooked apples and gives the filling more body.

As I did, you can adjust the spices, salt, and acid as much as you want to suit your taste, but this is what our family likes the best.

One thing I will implore you to do, though, is to use fresh nutmeg. There is no contest between ground nutmeg and freshly grated nutmeg.  If you’ve only had jarred ground nutmeg, you’ve never really, really had nutmeg.  So, just try it.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Stirring halfway through the 10 minute cooking time ensures the apples are cooking evenly.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

THREE

While apples cook, lightly dust work surface and roll out one pie crust.  Lay in bottom of pie plate and press into corners.  Roll out top pie crust.  (It can be used as is or can be cut into strips approximated 1/2 – 3/4″ wide to make a lattice-patterned top.  If making a lattice top, cut an additional pie crust into strips.  )

I was thrilled to learn that my teacher used refrigerated pie dough!  It’s only been in recent months (with my tart excursion) that I’ve had any amount of success with pastry, so using a boxed, refrigerated crust took the pressure off.  I’ve always used Pillsbury and it’s turned out perfectly every time.  It’s also easy to roll out and work with and it’s very forgiving.

I tried a box of Trader Joe’s pie crust and here is a comparison…

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

The Trader Joes’ crust is the bottom one and the Pillsbury is the upper one.  Maybe I just got a bum box, but the TJ’s dough had to be shaped into a ball and rolled out again.  I think it also had a stronger shortening taste, which I’m not a big fan of.  So, I will stick to the Pillsbury crusts if I don’t make my own.

Either way, you do need to roll out the dough a bit to smooth it out and make it a bit bigger.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

I always use a deep-dish pie plate for this recipe, so I can pack it full of apples.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

I’m going to show how to do the lattice-topped pie, but feel free to leave the top whole and just cut a few slits to vent steam.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

FOUR

Stir 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extracts into apple filling.  Pour apple filling into bottom pie crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle edge of pie filling with 1/8 cup cornstarch to soak up any excess moisture from apples as they are cooking.  Dot top of filling with 2T softened butter.  Allow pie filling to cool.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

This was another trick I learned…  sprinkle the edge of the pie filling with cornstarch and it will soak up any moisture that can pool around the edges, making the crust soggy.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

FIVE

If using pie crust as is, cut a few slits for vents, place on top of the pie and skit to step six.   To create a lattice pattern, weave sliced strips of pie dough (see pictures.)

To create the lattice, you’ll need about 1 1/2 pie crusts.  You could, in fact, use two whole crusts if your weave is super tight.  I keep mine a little more open, so I can check the doneness of the apples without messing up the design.

It is important to let the pie filling cool a bit before doing this step since the heat will start to melt and stretch the pie dough!

Lay strips on the pie…

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Fold every other strip back in half and insert another strip of pie dough, perpendicular to the first layer.  Unfold pieces, so they overlap the piece just put in place.  Keep repeating this process, folding the strips that are under the strip that was just placed.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

SIX

Wet outer edge of bottom pie crust with water and press upper pie crust into it.  This “glues” them together.  Crimp top and bottom crusts together with a fork.  Cut off excess dough.

I just fill a small bowl with water and then dip my (clean) finger into it to wet the dough.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Even if I shape the edge of the pie with my fingers into a fluted pattern or something, I always wet and crimp the edges first.  It really makes a difference when it comes to the top and bottom having a good seal, so the crust stays crisp and doesn’t get soppy from filling seepage.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

SEVEN

Cut out leaves and make florets and other desired embellishments out of remaining pie dough.  Sprinkle entire top generously with cinnamon sugar.  Bake pie for 45-60 minutes or until apples are tender when speared and filling is bubbling.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

This looks a lot fancier than it really is!  Just hand-cut some leaf-shaped pieces of dough and stick them on in a random pattern.  Make sure to wet the bottom of each leaf before sticking it into place.  Just a little dab of water with your finger will do.

If you don’t handle random well, you can have them all facing the same direction, slightly overlapping.  That would look pretty, too.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

And, just for fun, I make a few rosettes.  Just cut a strip of dough, about 3-5″ long and 1/2″ wide.  Roll it up, slightly folding the dough as you go.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Wet the bottom with water and stick each one into a grouping on the pie.

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and it’s ready to bake!

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

The wonderful thing is you can make the pie a day ahead, refrigerate it, and then bake it after everything else is out of the oven on Thanksgiving day, so the pie is fresh and hot.  You can also make the filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a couple of days and then assemble the pie just before you’re ready to bake it.

I hope these tips work well for you and you love this recipe as much as we do!

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

No-Fail Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • 8-10 cups granny smith (or tart) apples, peeled cored, and sliced
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp uncooked instant tapioca
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (divided)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 fresh orange or lemon, squeezed
  • 1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon sugar
  • 2 boxes refrigerator pie crusts (or homemade pie crusts enough to make three to four 9″ pie crusts)
  • flour for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Peel and core 8-12 granny smith apples. Cut into slices approximately 1/8″ thick. Put apples into a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl.
  • Add white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, tapioca, 1/8 cup cornstarch, salt, 1/2 fresh squeezed orange juice (or lemon), nutmeg, and 2 T butter to the apples. Stir and microwave for 5 minutes on high. Stir again and microwave for 5 more minutes.
  • While apples cook, lightly dust work surface and roll out one pie crust. Lay in bottom of pie plate and press into corners. Roll out top pie crust. (It can be used as is or can be cut into strips approximated 1/2 – 3/4″ wide to make a lattice-patterned top. If making a lattice top, cut an additional pie crust into strips. )
  • Stir vanilla and almond extracts into apple filling. Pour apple filling into bottom pie crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle edge of pie filling with remaining 1/8 cup cornstarch to soak up any excess moisture from apples as they are cooking. Dot top of filling with 2T softened butter. Allow pie filling to cool.
  • If using pie crust as is, cut a few slits for vents, place on top of the pie and skit to step six. To create a lattice pattern, weave sliced strips of pie dough (see pictures.)
  • Wet outer edge of bottom pie crust with water and press upper pie crust into it. This “glues” them together. Crimp top and bottom crusts together with a fork. Cut off excess dough.
  • Cut out leaves and make florets and other desired embellishments out of remaining pie dough. Sprinkle entire top generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake pie for 45-60 minutes or until apples are tender when speared and filling is bubbling.

 

 

MIss Mustard Seed No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe

Related Posts

“the best paninis in Florence”

October 2018 Favorites

early thanksgiving & a thrift store score

piazza pitti palace in Florence

71 Comments on “No-Fail Apple Pie Recipe”

  1. Hi Marian, what a beautiful pie, very yammy!
    I have had the same problem with Trader Joe’s pie crust, so it is not just you!
    I do not use the Pillsbury pie crust because it is not vegetarian friendly, it is made from lard….
    I like to make my own (the day before) so it does not take too much time the day of pie baking.
    I will have to try with fresh nutmeg, it sounds very appealing.
    Morgane

    1. Oh yes, you will love fresh nutmeg! 🙂 I was certain the Pillsbury crust isn’t the best food choice, but it’s just a couple times each year, so I let it slide!

  2. I’ve been making successful pies since I was a teenager (a long time ago) and my method is completely different than yours. It just shows there are many paths to success!

    I think the key to becoming a good pie maker is learning how to make good pie dough. The crust is what everyone either compliments or complains about. The absolute essential tip is: don’t handle the dough too much. Mix all the dough ingredients cold and quickly, roll it out quickly and don’t handle it more than necessary. I bake my apples pies for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then 20 minutes at 350. Always comes out great. I never use a Granny Smith type apple, but one that is a combo of sweet and tart. The only time I precook apples is if I am making strudel because the pastry dough does not need to cook as long. (BTW. Trader Joe’s puff pastry is A+)

    1. So interesting! Yes, I agree that there are many right ways to do things when it comes to baking and cooking. I’ll have to try pie crust again. I was able to make a successful crust for my tart and it was so tasty, so it’s given me the confidence to try pie dough again.

  3. I have an apple cobbler recipe my family loves, but hubby has asked that I not put on a top crust as it tends to get nearly burned. How do you avoid that? P.S. Your pie is gorgeous!

    1. My oven cooks very evenly, so I haven’t had an issue with that, but you can always cover the edges with foil to protect them from burning.

  4. Looks amazing. Are there any tips on might share on the actual baking of the pie. Reason for the request is the pie crust came out perfect (there are no dark areas or burnt edges).

    1. Yes, you can cover the edges of the pie with foil, if necessary, but I have found that I can just pop it in and leave it alone in my oven.

  5. SO beautiful, Marion!! I feel like we are sisters in that much of our lives revolve around art. I baked w my daughter (who is also an oil painter)while she was growing up and she and I ended up opening 3 French macaron stores. I would just caution you on the use of a microwave bc there is far too much research that proves it is harmful. If you look past the mainstream research which always considers business and revenues, and look further into what actually happens to the food (Dr Mercola has a good example of a thorough report) you can read an alternate opinion which, to me, seems more thorough. Especially because sautéing apples yields the same result. Just cover on slow heat and cook until apples are barely soft. Then cool before placing in pie crust. First thing every morning I check your blog and see what you are up to and I adore the European influence on your decorating! Thank you for the many hours of pleasure you have provided me! Kind regards, Liz

    1. Yes, you can definitely cook the apple filling on the stovetop. I generally don’t cook in the microwave, but we use it for reheating leftovers. Thanks for the information, though!

  6. Thanks for sharing! When making the filling ahead of time, do you microwave the apple mixture before refrigerating? (I’ve never made apple pie!)

    1. Yes. I cook them first, let them cool, and then put them in a ziplock bag. Then, they are ready to dump right into the pie crust when I’m ready to make it.

  7. Every year we have so many apples! I make pie “guts” with all them, I make lots of extra filling line a pie dish with plastic wrap freeze the filling in the pie plate, then when frozen wrap the “guts” well and they stack easily. You can keep them frozen up to a year. To use just thaw enough that it gets soft and squishy and put into your pie dough. I don’t precook the apples but cook the same as Kate 450 to brown then drop the oven to 350 until it’s bubbly.

  8. My sister is an awesome pie baker, I’m the cookie baker of the family…..each to her own 🙂
    Her secret is to use canned pie filling, the homemade kind that she cans herself and keeps for pie baking.
    Love your lattice crust, what a festive touch!

  9. I always thought TJ’s pie crusts were all butter…..but whatever the case…they look just like yours…..and I had such HIGH hopes for them……

    1. Yeah, I love TJ’s and I expected them to be better, but they were not easy to work with and I think the taste was a little off, too.

  10. Looks gorgeous. I’m going to try it, and maybe use a variety of apples we picked at an orchard (mostly tart though). Re: use of the microwave: Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but Dr. Mercola markets his own brand of supplements, and his advise is very controversial. Look him up on Quackwatch.

  11. Marian, your pie looks and sounds so yummy, I feel like I can almost smell it!
    Is it possible to make it pinable for Pinterest?

  12. Looks superb! Shame to cut it, but the aroma probably quickly overrides any hesitation to dig in!

    I assume the Large T measurement is tablespoon?

    Also, since I’m in Australia we don’t have the same brand of dough here, does the dough you used come ready rolled in flat sheets or a block you need to roll out?

    1. Yes, T = tablespoon and tsp = teaspoon. The dough comes in a box with two rolls, one for a top crust and one for a bottom. They are usually sold with the premade refrigerated cookie dough, biscuits, etc.

    1. No. The cornstarch and tapioca will absorb all of the moisture. If it seems watery (based on the moisture in the apples), I’ll just add a little more tapioca or corn starch to soak it up.

  13. This falls into the “too pretty to eat” category!! It is beautiful! And after your struggles you must be doubly proud! I have a question on the recipe. It calls for 1/2 orange. Is that literally a half an orange or 1/2 cup? Also thanks for the research on TJ’s pie crust! I love TJ’S, but not all of their stuff is good.

    1. I juiced half an orange or sometimes half a lemon. It just adds some acid and I think it brightens the flavors.

  14. Beautiful and delicious! I fortunately, had my husband’s Grandmother, who was the family expert pie maker, to show me how to make pies when i first got married. She passed away a number of years ago and the family looks to me for their pies. Its sweet to carry on the tradition. I must try fresh nutmeg though this Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Aw, I love that she taught you to bake pies and you’ve been able to carry on that tradition. Such a special thing.

  15. I applaud your unique tweaks to the traditional apple pie. I have always maintained that everyone has their own way of doing things but we end up with wonderful results. I always add a pinch of cardamom to all of my baked items. Adds a bit
    of mystery. I definitely tend to adapt this to my rhubarb/strawberry pies next June. They have always been problematic with my expertise.

    My mother couldn’t be bothered with the details. She would roll out this huge pie crust. Put it in a pan then filling. Gather up the dough and twist it around in a knot. She always called it her bag pies.

    I too am trying to figure out how to print the recipe.

    Thank you.

    1. To print the recipe, open up a new document in Word.
      Go back to the recipe, left click your mouse to highlight the whole recipe.
      Then right click, and select the ‘copy’ option.
      Go back to your open blank Word doc and click ‘paste’. It is now a Word document.
      Save the file. Of course, this works on a PC/laptop. Apple computers may be a little different.

      OR – You could use the Print function in your browser and print just the pages with the recipe.

      1. Yes, that’s exactly what I was going to suggest. I need to get a recipe plugin for my blog, so it can be opened in a separate window and printed.

  16. My husband makes the apple pies at our house as taught to him by his mother. He akways peeks three kinds of apples for his pies. Adds a richer dimension to the taste. Piles them high because they cook down…. no precooking.

    1. I’ll have to try mixing apples! Sometimes I do by default if I’m just using what I have on hand. I’ll have to try it intentionally and pick varieties with different flavors.

  17. Gorgeous pie!!! Pie baking/making is a lost art,I feel. Thank you for the amazing photos !! Seemed like I could almost smell it…I will be making pie for Thanksgiving this year,and I want to try your recipe and tricks/hints. Who knows,I just may make a pretty top crust too!!

  18. I wonder what apples would be good mixed together for an apple pie.

    I drove an hour and half to get pies made at a Methodist Church in WV. Their goal was 5,000 pies this year making apple, cherry, blueberry and peach. The blueberry and cherry were pie fillings but apple and peach were made from scratch. This will be the closest I ever get to having homemade pies.

    1. I’m not an expert baker, but I have used “minute tapioca” as well as the pearl variety and both worked fine! The pearl variety is more visible (you have little clear beads of tapioca throughout the pie, but it doesn’t negatively impact the texture or flavor.

  19. I have been making pies for about 75 years. I like to use at least three kinds of apples for pies. Any tart ones will do. Before there was many varieties of apples available I used yellow delicious Apples. I still prefer these for fried apples. A few years ago I experienced making pie crusts using different fats. I like all butter best, but a quick and easy one to use that is also flaky is oil. I used to use lard when we rendered our own. The commercial is not as flavorful. Some one is going to give me some she rendered, so will have this for Christmas.

  20. Lovely looking pie . I have a metal ring shaped pie tool that can be placed on the pie after it’s been cooking for awhile to keep the edges from browning too much.. I purchased mine here in Canada at a department store and have used it successfully for years. It’s so easy to use. Perhaps one of your kitchen stores might carry something like that.

  21. Never made an apple pie but I am going to attempt this “no-fail” and hope its true to its name…ha! will report back. thanks

  22. Your pie is a work of art, but of course it would be because you are a true artist!!
    How do you store your pie please?

    1. I always try to time it so we eat it when it’s fresh out of the oven. If there is any left, I wrap it and store it in the fridge.

  23. Thank you Marian! Now I think I can bake a pie. I never have made an apple pie in my 30+ years because I didn’t like my mom’s, always runny and so I always bought one. I’m excited to try this and thank you for walking us through the steps!

  24. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! I can’t wait to try it this Thanksgiving. I hope I can find a pie dish as beautiful as yours to bake it in. I am a faithful shopper at TJ Maxx and Home Goods, and will have to see if I can find a dish.
    I only use fresh nutmeg whenever I bake or cook. It is the ONLY way to go!

    1. Yes! High five on the fresh nutmeg! I searched for one and Crate & Barrel has a white fluted pie pan, too.

  25. Hi Marian. Of course your pies would be as as creative as you are! 😁. It’s just beautiful! I’m in charge of bringing the pies on Thanksgiving and you’ve really saved my hide! Thanks so much for the recipe. Who knew tapioca and corn starch would solve the runny apple juices problem. And nuking the apples is genius! A few nuked apples never hurt anyone! lol. Thanks again for sharing!
    Shelia

    1. Ha, best quote ever, “A few nuked apples never hurt anyone.” Glad this recipe will help you out!

  26. Is a T, a tablespoon? Also, what size is a standard cup? We don’t use that measurement in England. How much water would it hold so I can work it out from that?

    1. Yes, a T is a tablespoon. One cup is 236 ML, if that helps! Also, one cup is 16 tablespoons.

  27. I use lard for pie crusts and it is the best for a tender and flaky crust. Store bought can’t really touch it but you are right, some are better than others. I got a really great frozen crust at Natural Grocers for a stellar peach pie over the summer this year when my broken arm prevented any dough-rolling. But it cost $7! Phyllo is a good alternative when you want something less sweet. Did a pear-pecan tart that way–out of this world. But back to lard–it is very old fashioned and you must research to get the best you can from a local source of natural (not factory-raised) pork. Pure whole natural fats in moderation can be very useful to the body. Including real butter from pastured animals.

    1. I completely agree that homemade crust is going to taste the best. I also know that pie crust can be a challenge to master, so this is a way for people to make their own pie without feeling intimidated by making their own crust. I’m definitely going to work on making one from scratch, though! Thanks for the tips!

  28. Hi Marian:
    I am passionate about the restoration of furniture and as soon as I “discovered” I started to follow you. Thank you very much for sharing with us all your work and thanks for sharing your recipe for the cake, sometimes it is difficult for us to share our precious prescriptions and you have done it generously.
    I also do it very often and I love the amount and mixture of spices that you have put, of course I am going to do it.
    A hug.

  29. Thanks for the awesome recipe!
    After cooking the apples in the microwave I have one cup of liquid in the bottom of the dish. Should the apples be drained or does the liquid need to remain?

    1. No, stir it and add just a little more cornstarch, if needed. When you sprinkle the cornstarch around the edge of the filling, that will absorb some as well and the tapioca will absorb even more liquid as the pie bakes.

  30. I’m so taken with the photos and descriptions of your pie that I’m committed to making my first one this week. Thanks for the inspiration!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *