pre-cooked apple pie filling

i've had a lot of thoughts on apple pie. pies were one of the first dishes i learned to make so there have been many versions over the years, but since i like to blog to record things for myself, i wanted to update with my new go-to filling.

for a couple years, i made apple pies with no issues. then suddenly - something changed. my beloved recipe was betraying me! my baked pies looked fine, but when i cut into them they were filled with liquid. i tried changing the type of apples, letting them macerate to reduce the juices, ensuring there was enough ventilation, and refrigerating them overnight before cutting, but no matter what i did i still seemed to encounter the same issue. i finally concluded the problem was likely a result of not enough thickener in my filling, but rather than risk another watery pie, i changed tack and decided to make a pre-cooked filling.

i found this williams-sonoma version, which was highly rated, and decided to give it a whirl. combined with the classic martha-stewart pate brisee (*with one tiny edit: i use 2 tablespoons of vodka + 3-4 tablespoons of water instead of 5-6 straight tablespoons of water. the vodka helps the crust be as flaky as possible by inhibiting the tough, gluten string formation in the dough.) it's total perfection - a recipe that takes the best of both worlds from two american kitchen heavyweights. in addition to thick, flavorful filling, it's a win since you can cook the filling in advance and then refrigerate overnight. i'm all about splitting up the year's largest meal into bite-sized tasks. especially helpful given that homemade pie filling and crust are kind of a process.

this was a huge hit at our friendsgiving, and will definitely be repeated a couple more times this year. 

| ingredients |

2 pie crusts - i use martha stewart's pate brisee* (see edit in text above.)
4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
2 pink lady apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
2 gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
1 egg, whisked with a splash of water
clear sprinkles or turbinado sugar, for dusting

| method |

in a large pot or skillet with a lid, combine sliced apples, sugars, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cornstarch. cover the pot and heat over medium for 20 minutes, until the apples are tender. uncover, and let cook for 5-7 additional minutes, until the filling is thick. 

remove from heat, add the lemon juice and let sit until it is cool enough to be transferred to tupperware. pour into a container and refrigerate overnight. 

when ready to bake your pie, pull your filling out and let it sit on the counter while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees. make or roll out your crust and place into your greased/buttered pie pan. scoop your refrigerated filling into your prepared pie pan and dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter, then place the second crust on top (make a double crust or lattice!) and crimp or decorate as desired.

in a small bowl, mix your whisked egg and water to create an egg wash and brush it over the pie. this will ensure you get that beautiful golden color when baked. sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake for one hour in a 400 degree oven, until the crust is golden. you won't have to worry too much about the filling being cooked through enough, since your apples have already been cooked until tender. if your crust is becoming too crispy, cover with tin foil. 

i prefer my apple pie cold, so after baking i let cool to room temperature, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving. the pie must sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours after baking, before slicing. if you'd like it warm, place it back in a 200 degree oven while eating dinner before serving. warm or cold, it's delish with an added dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.