Deep Dish Apple Pie

Here is the essence of Fall baking.  Time to dispense with the fancy and get down to the basics. Apple pie is the fundamental American treat.  Its virtues have been documented in song and verse through every epoch of our history.  And with good reason.  This is sweetness that brings the family together, can evoke debilitating spells of nostalgia, and sells Chevrolets at the same time.  Enough with the pomp, let's get down to business!

I had a standard pie that I thoroughly enjoyed (and method that I still partially use), but several years back Cook's Illustrated came out with their rendition of a deep dish apple pie. It was strikingly similar to the recipe that I used at the time, but it had twice the amount of apples. In my book, more apples means more goodness. So, I decided to blend the two recipes for the perfect apple pie (at least for my taste buds).  

Unlike some apple pies that one may have encountered with a gaping pocket of emptiness between the filling and the crust, this pie is all about the apples. And I mean all 5 pounds of 'em (which is about 11 apples, not 11 pounds that I originally typed-- whoops). The apples are cooked and the juices are reduced until thick and syrupy before being added to the crusts. This method prevents the filling from shrinking and the crust from collapsing when sliced. It will also help the pie  retain all of its good caramel juices. There are a few more steps and there is a bit more work than the standard apple pie that utilizes raw apples, but the the end result is, well...

as you can see, LOADED with tender sweet apples and a flaky, buttery crust. À la mode with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream is certainly optional, but I highly recommend it to enjoy the traditional American experience.
Printable Recipe

Deep-Dish Apple Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

For the Pastry
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
16 Tablespoons (8-ounces) unsalted butter, cold, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup ice water, and more if needed

For the Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 5-6 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 5-6 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 egg white, beaten

For the Topping
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Pastry
In the bowl of a food processor, process the flour, salt, and sugar until combined, about 3 seconds.  Add the butter and pulse until butter is the size of small peas, about ten 1-second pulses.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and ice water.  Add half the sour cream to the flour and pulse briefly.  Repeat with the remaining sour cream mixture.  Pinch the dough with fingers, if the dough is dry and does not hold together, add 1-2 tablespoons of ice water and process until large clumps form, about three to five 1-second pulses.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface and press to combine lightly.  Divide the dough in half, pressing each half into a flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour, preferably several hours, or for up to 2 days before using.  The pastry can also be wrapped airtight, placed in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 6 months.  Thaw completely in the refrigerator before using.

For the Filling
In a medium bowl, combine sugars, salt, zest, juice and cinnamon.  In a large dutch oven over high heat, melt the butter.  Add the apples and toss until the apple slices are coated with butter.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover tightly, and cook, stirring frequently until the apples are slightly softened, about 7-10 minutes.  Add the sugar mixture and increase the heat to high.  Cook the apples at a rapid boil, stirring frequently and gently until the juices become very thick and syrupy, about 7-10 minutes more.  Immediately spread the apples in a thin layer on a large baking sheet and allow to cool to room temperature.  Position a rack on the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425º F.  

Meanwhile, remove one disk of pastry to a lightly floured work sheet of parchment paper.  For the bottom crust, roll out pastry to a 13-inch circle  adding flour as needed.  Transfer pastry to a baking sheet and refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.  Roll the other half of the pastry for the top crust onto a separate sheet of lightly floured parchment paper into a 12-inch circle.  Transfer to another baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.   Once firm, invert 13-inch bottom pastry into a deep 9-inch pie plate; peel off parchment paper.  Ease pastry into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand and pressing into bottom edges of the pie plate with the other hand.  Allow overhang to remain in place.  Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Pour the cooled apple mixture into the bottom crust.  Brush the edge of the bottom crust with cold water. Flip the 12-inch top crust onto the apples and peel off the parchment.  Seal the edge, trim slightly, fold edges under, and crimp or flute.  Cut several steam vents and brush with the beaten egg white.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.  Sprinkle the top of the pie evenly with the sugar mixture.  Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown and bubbling, about 50-60 minutes.  If the top appears to be browning too quickly the last 15 minutes, place a sheet of aluminum foil on top (do not wrap) to prevent over browning.  Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely, about 3 to 4 hours.  To serve pie warm, reheat at 350º F for 15 minutes.  Pie can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 days.  

To freeze the pie, assemble the pie to the point of sealing and crimp the crust (do not brush with egg wash or sprinkle with sugar).  Freeze the pie uncovered for 2-3 hours, then wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil, and freeze for up to two weeks.  When ready to bake, remove the pie from the freezer, cut steam vents, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar mixture.  Bake as directed, increasing the time 5 to 10 minutes longer.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997 and Cooks Illustrated, September 2005


  1. Yum, I can just imagine the delicious smell while this is baking - it's making my mouth water!

  2. Such a gorgeous pie!! I absolutely love the stacks of apples and how juicy it looks! What a great Fall recipe :)

  3. Did you say 11 pounds??! That is a true apple pie. I can't wait to try it, it looks just beautiful.

  4. Kathy-
    Whoa-- thanks for pointing out a big typo! On my notes I have written down ll, but that is the number of apples I usually use. I have corrected it in my write up as 5 pounds and that is still a lot of apples:)

  5. It looks delicious! I need to make a big batch of pie crust to help deal with the Mutsu apples I'm drowning under.

  6. Hi Nicole - I too had collected the Cook's Illustrated apple pie recipe a year or two back, but had never got around to trying it.

    I tried your merged recipe this weekend and it was fabulous!

    For those interested - I used a different assortment of apples: Swiss Gourmet & Zestar because that's what I had. And I subbed plain yoghurt (after letting it drain a bit) for the sour cream in the pie dough.

    Since I didn't use your recommended apples, when cooking the apples down, I was worried that they were getting too mushy considering they were still going to have 50 minutes in the oven. So after about 10 minutes of trying to reduce the liquid to a syrupy consistency. I pulled out the apples with a slotted spoon. And then boiled away the liquid until it was a beautiful carmel-ly syrup. Then added that back to the apples.

    Not that any of this is that important. The real point of the post is - make this yummy pie!

  7. Nicole - I'm going to make this pie this weekend, but was wondering about the crust... I know you usually use the CI vodka pie crust recipe which you've converted me to as well. Is there a reason you used the all butter/sour cream crust for this pie? You are always very intentional, so figured there must be a reason?

    1. Both the vodka and sour cream create a tender and flaky crust, but the sour cream adds a bit more flavor where the alcohol does not. Enjoy the recipe!

  8. nicole — will this work in a 10.5 inch pie plate? thanks!

    1. I cannot speak from experience, but it should be fine.

  9. Saved as a favorite, I really like your site!


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