Thanksgiving and Christmas would not be complete without a beloved homemade apple pie. This pie is assembled and frozen raw in a 2-inch deep ceramic pie dish that is able to go directly from the freezer into the hot oven. The filling is parcooked to let the apples shrink and give off their moisture, sort of like a from-scratch ready-made pie filling, then mixed with the sugar and spices. The resulting pie is solidly filled with apples, more so than if it was baked with the raw apples. You will be completely baking this pie the morning of your dinner.
- 9 large (4 to 4 1/2 pounds total) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, halved, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 recipe double pastry crust for 9-inch pie crusts, ready to roll out
- 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon cold butter
Preheat the oven to 350º. Place the apples on a parchment-lined large baking sheet with 1 inch sides. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, the sugar and butter, stirring with a flat metal spatula to coat all the apples. Roast, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes only, stirring once with the spatula. Remove from the oven and drain off any accumulated liquid. Remove to a large bowl and set aside to cool completely, then refrigerate at least 1 hour to overnight before filling the crust (otherwise the crust will soften).
Add the sugars and cinnamon to the cooled apples; set aside while rolling out the dough. Set out a 9 inch ceramic pie pan capable of going from freezer to oven (such as Emile Henry) with a full 2 inch deep capacity. Lightly flour your work surface. Roll out one portion into an even round 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Fold into quarters and place on a foil lines baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (this is your top crust). Roll the remaining portion into an even round into an even round 4 inches larger than the rim of the pan and about 1/8 inch thick. Fold into quarters and transfer to the pie pan. Unfold the quarters and press into the pan without stretching; trim the edges with scissors or a paring knife to 1/2 inch over the sides; cover with plastic wrap and chill 15 minutes.
When ready to fill, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the bottom of the crust and pile in the filling, mounding the fruit in the center; dot with little piece of the butter. Moisten the edges with a bit of water and lay over the top crust, centering it; peel off the plastic wrap. Press the top crust against the bottom and trim the edges. Tuck the top edge under the bottom to form the crust and crimp with your fingers or the tines of a fork to seal. Place in the freezer, uncovered, for about 4 hours, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then heavy duty aluminum foil, pressing the foil tight against the crust. Freeze up to 6 weeks.
To bake, preheat the oven to 400º. Unwrap the pie and cut 6 little slashes over the top and one small circle in the center for the steam vents. If you like, brush the crust with some milk or cream and sprinkle with a little sugar, but this is optional. Immediately place in the hot oven while frozen (no need to defrost). Bake on the center rack about 1 hour 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of apple, until nicely browned and the filling is bubbling up through the slits. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature. If you bake the pie early in the day and want to reheat it, warm in a preheated 300º oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 1 pie, serving 8. Pie keeps for 2 days in the refrigerator or at room temperature, wrapped in plastic.