Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Martha's buttery apple pie

March 30, 2014

I'm embarking on a rare re-blog with this apple pie recipe. I first made it in 2007 and didn't include the full instructions. I think I've made it once every year since and I'm starting to worry that one day Martha Stewart's web team will delete the page (they've shifted it once already) and I'll be pie-less forever more.

I'm not certain that I'd bookmark this recipe if I were to happen upon it for the first time now. It's completely unsharable with my vegan and gluten-free mates, with almost three cups of flour and more butterfat than our fridge has held since... well, probably since I made this pie last year.

But I've grown rather fond of it. The crust is crisp and unsweetened with an unfeasibly high proportion of butter. The filling has the usual pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, but it's the multiple varieties of apple that provide a surprising complexity (clever work, Ms Martha). And if the butter quantity seems unfeasible, the 1.8kg apple filling defies logic itself. It forms a mountain in the pie crust, threatening avalanche as you fit the pastry lid and a pie-splosion in the oven.

There are some pesky interim stages where you're supposed to freeze the crust and the pie, and I've concluded that they're worth it, somehow they even out the pie's baking. I'd deem the extra butter in the filling less necessary, as it was responsible for some unattractive oozing in my most recent pie.

Nevertheless, this buttery apple pie has taken a nostalgic hold on me. It's my Melbourne winter pie.

Martha's buttery apple pie
(a metricified, annotated version of this recipe)

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
230g butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water

1/3 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons cream
1-1.6kg assorted apples
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
60g butter

To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a food processor. Dice the butter and add it to the processor, blending only until the mixutre forms a coarse crumb-like texture. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again until the dough just starts coming together. It should look like this:

Add a little more water if it won't come together within a minute, and repeat.

Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form it into two balls and wrap them separately. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Roll one of the dough balls out to fit a pie dish. Transfer the pastry into the dish, fit it as best you can, trim the edges and place the crust into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Set to work on the filling. Peel and core the apples, and slice the flesh into bite-size pieces. Place them in a large bowl with the lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

When the pie crust is ready, retrieve it from the freezer and spoon in the apple filling.  Dice the butter and distribute it across the pie filling.

Roll out the second dough ball to fit the pie as a lid. Place it over the pie, pinching togther the edges. Cut slits into the pastry top. Brush the cream over the pastry and sprinkle over the extra sugar. Freeze the pie for a further 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 200°C. Bake the pie until the crust begins to go golden, about 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180°C and continue to bake the pie until the crust is very golden and the juices are bubbling, about 35 more minutes.


  1. It looks magnificent and it is impressive to hear you make it every year - every year I dream of making apple pie and yet time just whizzes by - maybe this year

    1. Johanna, there's no shortage of good things coming from your oven - even if not this pie!

  2. OK the challenge is on! I have apples from the garden, I'm going to try to veganise this. Stay tuned...

    1. Make sure you post it if it works out. I was thinking of doing the same thing myself, but it's much easier if you do it and let us know if it was successful! ;-)

      We have two BIG apple trees in our backyard - but this year the apples have all gone to flying foxes, rainbow lorikeets and possums, because we didn't do anything about the codling moths that have taken over. We dont' mind sharing with the animals, but next year we'll be more vigilant so we can get some too.

    2. I'd love to see a vegan version! There are some nice vegan pie crusts out there, for sure. And look at you two with your home-grown apples, that's so cool.

  3. Yes. Yes to butter. Butter ALWAYS.

    1. Hayley, there is so much of it here that my hands smelled of butter all afternoon. This was not unwelcome.

  4. Wow, that is some pie. Pastry always seems to have an unfeasible amount of butter in it, which is why I make it so rarely but when you do, it really is worth it. These extravagant high pies really are the best.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Yes, I really am fond of a home-made shortcrust. Worth the effort, especially when I can use the food processor.

  5. Wow that really is a monster!
    I think I shall try this recipe - even though I usually avoid Martha. But if its a tried and true in your household, its gotta be good.
    To add, the apple pies I usually make use the All Butter Flaky Pastry recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Her method is faultless but the pastry is different in texture due to the lumps of butter being slightly larger and less evenly distributed.
    And Ive always cooked my filling before it going in the pie case. Dont know if that's standard?
    My mum always put a very fine layer of semolina on the base of a pie also, to prevent any sogginess in the pastry.

    1. Hi Esz! Thanks for these extra tips, I'll look up the SK recipe especially.

  6. Did you see the Martha Stewart AMA on reddit? It's pretty great for someone in her seventies: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1zqn4d/im_martha_stewart_ask_me_almost_anything_its_a/ (also did you guys get me onto her terrible food photography?: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/someone-needs-to-tell-martha-stewart-her-food-tweets-are-dis)

    This comment is brought to you by someone who has never made a pie.

    1. Hi melbournewiththerocket - oh yeah, Jolie Kerr put me on to that thread. And I think Jezebel got me onto Martha's food photography too. We can all pretend but we're really not too cool for Martha Stewart at all, are we?