The attractive high dome of an apple pie can be considered a ruse since the apples have usually shrunk, leaving a big space between the filling and the crust. Precooking the apples will minimize the gap and concentrate the apple flavor, too.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 6 ounces cream cheese (not low-fat) at room temperature, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 4 pounds Golden Delicious apples
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided, plus 1 teaspoon
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
For the crust:
Put the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine them. Scatter the butter and cream cheese over the top and pulse about 12 times, or just enough until the dough begins to clump together (butter pieces will still be visible). Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and gather it together.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled but not hard, 1-2 hours.
For the filling:
Peel and quarter the apples and cut out the core from each quarter. Cut each quarter lengthwise into thirds and place in a large bowl. As you add the slices to the bowl, occasionally sprinkle and toss the apples with lemon juice. (Don't wait until the apples are cut, or the first slices will already have turned brown.)
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add half the apples and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, or until the apples are barely tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Transfer to a large bowl or rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the second half of the apples and another 1/4 cup sugar. If your skillet is smaller than 12 inches, cook the apples in three batches. Let the filling cool completely, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the flour and cinnamon over the cooled filling and toss well.
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Lightly flour a work surface and draw a 12-inch circle in the flour. This guide will be the perfect size for a standard 9-inch pie dish. Place 1 dough disk in the center of the circle and dust a little flour on top. Using the circle as a guide, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Loosely roll the dough around the rolling pin, center the pin over a 9-inch pie dish and carefully unroll the round over the dish, easing it into the bottom and sides and allowing the excess to overhang the sides. Fill with the apples.
3. Trim the overhanging dough to 1/2 inch. Roll out the remaining pie dough into a second 12-inch round. Transfer the dough round the same way, centering it over the apple filling. Fold the overhang of the upper round under the edge of the bottom crust. Pinch the crusts together and flute the edge attractively. Cut a small hole in the center of the pie to allow steam to escape. Freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To bake and serve:
Lightly brush the top crust with the cream. Sprinkle the top crust with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.
Place the pie on the hot baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.