With a perfect balance of sweetness to acid and the flakiest-ever, all-butter crust, this pie makes an epic dessert as well as a next-day breakfast to look forward to. Cooking the applies slightly in advance makes certain they are tender in the finished pie, and freezing the whole pie for a few minutes before baking will help it retain its shape and crimping while it bakes.
For the dough:
- 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar or coarse cane sugar, for topping
For filling and serving:
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
- 9 apples (2 ½ lb.)
- 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1⁄8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
- Make the dough: Cut the butter sticks into 1⁄2–inch cubes. Set in the freezer while you mix the dry ingredients. Place ½ cup water in the freezer, too.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, granulated sugar, and salt; stir briefly to combine. Retrieve the butter and add to the dry ingredients; using a pastry cutter or your fingers and working quickly, mash the butter pieces into the flour mixture until only pea-sized pieces of butter remain. Retrieve the water and trickle in 6 tablespoons, mashing and mixing it in with a fork to combine, then pinch the dough to see if it holds together. If not, add the remaining 1-2 tablespoons water and mix well to incorporate.
- Divide the dough into two equal balls. Place each on a large piece of plastic wrap and, using the sides of the wrap and your hands to press and shape it, condense the ball tightly into a thin, flat disk about 1-inch thick. Wrap the dough disk tightly with the plastic wrap and repeat with the remaining ball of dough. Refrigerate the disks for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Retrieve one disk of dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften only slightly. On a lightly floured work surface using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thick. Center the dough over a 9-inch traditional pie pan (preferably glass), leaving some overhang, and refrigerate.
- Prepare the apples: In a large pot, add the lemon juice. Peel the apples, core, and slice into 1⁄3-inch-thick wedges, tossing the wedges into the pot with the lemon juice as you go (stir occasionally to keep the apples coated lightly with the juice). Discard the peels and cores. Once all of the apples are sliced and in the pot, transfer the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the applies have softened slightly (but are not mushy) and the liquid in the pan has reduced and thickened, 5-6 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and refrigerate until almost fully cooled.
- Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack in the bottom third. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining dough disk, being careful to prevent holes and nicks. Retrieve the bottom crust and cooled apples from the refrigerator. Pour the apples into the prepared bottom crust, mounding them in the center slightly. Cut away all but about ½ inch of the crust from the edges of the pan. Drape the second piece of dough over the apples, then trim all but about 1 ½ inches of the top crust from the edges. Tuck the top crust around and beneath the bottom crust around the edges of the pie plate, then crimp and pinch it into your desired crust shape. Using a paring knife, slice four to five 1-inch slits into the center of the dough (these will help steam escape while baking).
- Transfer the whole pie to the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Retrieve the pie. In a small bowl, beat the egg with ½ teaspoon cool water. Brush the egg wash lightly all over the top and edges of the pie crust, covering it evenly. Sprinkle the crust evenly with the turbinado sugar.
- Transfer the pie to a rimmed baking sheet and place in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then lower the oven to 375° and continue baking, turning the baking sheet occasionally, until the pie looks deep golden-brown on the top and well-browned on the bottom and any running juices are bubbling slowly, about 35 minutes more.
- Remove and let cool about one hour before slicing and serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.