Friday, December 23, 2011

The World's Best Apple Pie - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

"There's a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy..."

Kate and I are sitting at the window listening to Christmas music and watching the neighbors come and go as we wait for pie #3 to finish baking. Actually, that's what I'm doing. Kate's more interested in the buttons on my shirt. She's also endlessly fascinated with my mouth. She likes to take her index finger and press it against my lips, which makes me laugh because it reminds me of the scene in "Dumb and Dumber" when Jim Carey similarly hushes Lauren Holly and dramatically tells her, "Shhhh. Just go." My life isn't perfect, but sometimes in my mind I think it is. Nobody has everything and everyone has challenges. Many I know are suffering pains or worry that, realistically, aren't going away anytime soon. My own family that I grew up in is currently experiencing its most difficult struggle. So, just like I imagine is the case for many of you, this holiday season brings a mix of emotions. But that's why I appreciate that there are still some moments when I feel nothing wanting. It's its own kind of little miracle, don't you think? :)

Speaking of nothing wanting, are you ready for a recipe that will knock your wooly, wintry socks off? I think I started making this pie about 5 years ago. I've probably made it 30 times, and I haven't made any other apple pie recipe since I discovered it, because why would I bother when I have the Superman of all apple pies? This is a photo of me making a couple of pies back in my single days for a special dinner with some friends.
Me in Fall 2007 making The World's Best Apple Pie.

Okay! Here you go!
Toffee Apple Pie (The World's Best Apple Pie) Adapted from this recipe by Marles Riessland
Serves 8

Pie Crust:
Choose your own favorite recipe, buy good pre-made dough, or make this one. (Honestly, I buy mine most of the time.)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter flavored shortening, chilled
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg, beaten

6 cups apples (Primarily Granny Smith with a blend of other crisp (not gritty) apples)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purposeflour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter

Streusel Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoon butter
9 ounces of English toffee bits or peanut or pecan brittle, crushed (Marles suggests chocolate-covered toffee or brittle, but I'm a purist when it comes to this recipe and feel that the toffee alone makes a classier dessert and a less-cluttered taste.)
In your baking isle, look for Heath English Toffee Bits

Pie Crust:
Chill all ingredients, including the flour and vinegar. Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In another bowl, mix water and vinegar with the beaten egg. Add the liquid mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the flour mixture, tossing with a fork to form a soft dough.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Peel and slice apples. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add apples. Toss to mix. Add vanilla and cream. Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add apple mixture and cook approximately 8 minutes, to soften apples. Turn into pie shell.

Streusel Topping:
Combine the flour and sugar. Mix in butter with fork until coarse crumbs, or until the mixture starts to resist the fork. Stir in the crushed toffee. 

Sprinkle over pie.
Pile up the streusel up against the rim of the pie crust to help seal in the juices.

Create a small vent in the center of the streusel.
Add top crust. Seal, flute edge and vent top. 

Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake 40 minutes longer.

Janna's Notes: 
  • This pie has a tendency to want to release its juices while baking, so make sure to seal the top and bottom crusts together securely (a little bit of water and a pastry brush helps), and place a cookie sheet under the pie while baking in the oven to catch any disobedient filling. 
  • As with most pie crusts, this one is finicky, but worth trying. For an easier option, though, you can always use purchased, ready-to-bake pie crusts.

For Zora who ate his apple pie with a slice of sharp cheddar. We love and miss you.
I won't be back until Monday so I can focus completely on my family for Christmas. But you'll come back, right?? :) May your next couple of days be merry and bright!


  1. Mmmm, looks so good, I've got to try this.
    You're a doll Jana.

  2. I always have aged chedder with my apple pie. I love the tartness of the cheese with the sweet pie. I'm not a huge fan of sweets so this helps balance everything.