Old Fashioned Apple Pie

The classic American dessert recipe gets a boozy update that combines artisan baking and cocktails.
Photo by Meg Baggott / Food styling by Katherine Rosen and Dylan Garret

Swap the calendar, pull out the sweaters and get ready to cuddle. Fall is officially upon us. Depending on where you live, this change in seasons may also mean that it’s time to hit the local apple orchard. Need something to do with that bushel you’ve brought home? Want to ditch premade grocery store pastries? We’ve got you covered.

To put the “old fashioned” into this apple pie recipe, we’ve combined two of the best flavors of fall: a traditional apple pie and a classic whiskey cocktail, the Old Fashioned. In addition to rye whiskey and Angostura bitters, this recipe was designed and tested using a mix of Paula Red, Gala and Honeycrisp apples, but feel free to use whatever combination you prefer.

The most important things here are keep your crust ingredients cold, and douse the fruit in as much whiskey as possible.

If you really want to raise the bar, check out our helpful guide below on how to make a lattice top for your pie crust.

Whiskey Caramel Sauce with Bitters
Ingredients for the Crust
  • 2½ tablespoons rye whiskey
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3¾ cups bread flour
  • ⅜ cup rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold butter, cubed
Directions for Crust

Combine whiskey and milk in small bowl. Chill in refrigerator.

In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flours, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add butter cubes, and toss to coat. Using fingers or pastry blender, quickly cut and rub butter into dry ingredients until it forms pea-sized pieces. Dig small well in center, and add milk mixture. Using hands, knead just until dough comes together. Add more liquid, as needed, if dough is too dry.

Place dough on flour-covered work surface. Knead briefly, just to smooth, if needed. Do not overwork. Divide dough in half, and shape each into 1-inch-thick disk.

Cover each disk in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour, or up to overnight.

Ingredients for the Filling and Assembly
  • 4 pounds assorted apples, cored and sliced
  • ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ cup rye whiskey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Angostura bitters, for brushing
  • 1 egg, whisked, for brushing
  • Turbinado sugar (optional)
Directions for Filling and Assembly

Place apple slices in large bowl. Add ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup whiskey and half of lemon juice. Toss to coat. Set aside.

In small saucepan, boil ½ cup whiskey and remaining lemon juice until reduced in half. Lower heat, and stir in 2 tablespoons butter until melted.

In medium heat-proof bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Whisk in reduced whiskey to make slurry.

Place apples in large pot. Cook over medium heat just until fruit starts to soften. Stir in whiskey slurry and cook until apples become coated in syrupy sauce. Remove from heat.

Heat oven to 425°F. On well-floured work surface, roll dough disks into ⅛-inch thick circles roughly 1 foot in diameter. Transfer first dough piece to standard 9-inch pie plate. Use fingers to press dough gently in place. Dough should hang over edges of plate. Brush dough liberally with whiskey and bitters. Place in refrigerator.

Using pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut remaining dough circle into uniform strips roughly 1-inch wide for lattice top.

Pour cooked apples and half of pan juices into prepared pie plate. Discard remaining liquid, or reserve to enjoy separately.

Weave dough strips atop pie (see instructions below). Use sharp knife to trim excess dough from lattice strips. Roll overhang of bottom crust over strips to create ridge. Use fingers or fork to crimp down edges. Brush crust liberally with bitters. Chill pie 10–15 minutes.

Brush crust with egg and sprinkle turbinado sugar atop, if desired. Place pie on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 90 minutes to 2 hours, rotating halfway through, until filling bubbles and crust turns deep golden brown. Let cool completely. Brush with whiskey before serving. Serves 6–8.

How to Lattice a Pie like a Pro

Lattice-topped desserts look fancy and intimidating, but it’s very easy to become a dream weaver. All you really need is a sharp edge, some concentration and a little confidence.

Your lattice strips can be as wide or thin as you see fit. The thinner the strips, the more intricate design you can create. Just make sure that your dough strips are straight. If necessary, grab a ruler, sheet of paper or other straight edge to help guide your hand.

If your strips are slightly askew, that’s okay, too. Go ahead and tell everyone you were aiming for “rustic elegance.”

Cut your strips slightly longer than the length of your pie plate, so ½ inch or so hangs over the edge. Don’t worry if some strips are shorter. You can use them closer to the edges of your pie dish. You can also gently stretch the strips. If one rips, just press the broken ends back together. This is dough, you’re not going to hurt it.

When you have your strips ready, start to weave. Lay half of your strips horizontally atop the pie. Leave about the same width of your strips between each, until the entire pie is covered.

Fold back every other strip, like you’re opening the cover of a book. Starting where your folded-back strips meet the edge of the pie plate (the “spine of your book”), lay a new strip vertically across the pie. Straighten the folded strips back across the pie. Now alternate and fold back the strips you skipped the first time, and place another new vertical strip next to the first. Again, leave about the same amount of space between your strips as you did with the horizontal ones. Repeat this process all the way across your pie.

Once finished, trim excess dough from the lattice strips and roll the bottom crust up over the edges to create a ridge. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp down edges. Stand back and admire, then proceed with the rest of pie assembly and baking.

Published on September 22, 2018
About the Author
Sarah E. Daniels
Associate Editor

Daniels is the former Dining Editor at Hudson Valley magazine who has also written and edited for web-based publications such as Food52 and The Kitchn, and has assisted in food styling and recipe testing for an assortment of cookbooks. Prior to her career in culinary-related media, Daniels spent years as a pastry chef at venues throughout upstate New York and completed the Longhouse Food Scholars program. She has a soft spot for quiche and hiking trails with footbridges, and would be hard-pressed to turn down a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Email: sdaniels@wineenthusiast.net
Instagram: @little_honey_dee



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