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Prize Winning Apple Pie and Best Crust Ever

by on October 1, 2009 · 61 comments

Every once in awhile, and for me almost never, a recipe comes along that’s so good you can close the book, put it some place safe, and never worry about finding a better version. It happened yesterday with this prize winning apple pie.

apple pie slice

I got the recipe from AJ at The Disney Food Blog, where she had the opportunity to interview the 2009 Crisco National Pie champ, Dawn Viola. If you’re a pie maker, you’ll love this. If you’re not, this pie might change that. The crust will make you a star.

At first glance, Dawn’s recipe appears rather complicated for an apple pie. It’s not. It’s just packed with helpful details. As for ingredients, Dawn was going for the gold with her use of vanilla bean, vanilla powder and organic dry ingredients, but being that I’ve been home with a sick kid and unable to go anywhere, I used “normal” stuff (vanilla extract, non-organic dry ingredients) and still ended up with a great pie. One thing I didn’t change was the European style butter. According to Dawn, that plus the vinegar (acid) were key ingredients in the crust which is definitely the best I’ve ever made in my life.

As for the filling, broiling the apples for 5 minutes (not cooking them through– just caramelizing the edges) gave the filling a nice depth of flavor. I loved this pie, and I tend to prefer lighter apple fillings with less-cooked apples and lemony. This one wasn’t light in any sense, but it was delicious.

I’m not going to re-post the recipe because Dawn’s steps are so carefully written, but I do have a few notes based on my experience making the pie.

— Substituting a teaspoon of vanilla for the vanilla powder in the crust worked fine
— Substituting a teaspoon of vanilla for the vanilla bean seeds in the filling worked fine
— Substituting apple juice for the apple cider worked fine, I used a juice box! Seriously, ack. But worked.
— 12 apples turned out to be a 3 pound bag
— If you have one, an apple peeler comes in handy.
— there’s a step missing the original recipe. AJ is probably going to correct it soon, but the recipe doesn’t say what to do with the 4 tablespoons of butter in the fililng. What you do is slice the butter and arrange it over the top of the filling.

apple peeler

— Broiling the cut apples wasn’t as big a pain as it seems. You just throw them in a roasting pan. No need to worry about a broiler pan. Mine took about 6 minutes. I mixed the dry ingredients in a bowl while the apples were broiling
— Makes sure you set the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil. Mine leaked like crazy. You might not have that problem, but it’s good to be safe. Plus, you won’t have to use my super dangerous method of cleaning hot, smoking molten caramel out of the bottom of the oven.

apple pie whole

If you try the pie, let me know! In the meantime, I’m going to try the crust with some different fillings.

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Published on October 1, 2009

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Lourdes January 13, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I tried to make this apple pie again . It turned out great! I used the proper amount of butter this time. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Donna October 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Where is the recipe? I read the description and I’d LOVE to try this pie.

Anna October 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm

It’s kind of hidden, I suppose. You have to click the link to Disney Food blog and head to the bottom of AJ’s post. Here’s the link in case you missed it.

Moe November 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I read your blog daily and have made a lot of the recipes you post but I’ve never commented til now. I made this pie for the first time about a month and a half ago when we had tons of apples from apple picking. I have to say it was a little intimidating at first since I had never made my own crust but it was well worth the effort. I’m now making it for the third time for Thanksgiving and can’t wait for a piece tomorrow!
I did have to tweak it a bit since I couldn’t find danish butter so I used regular butter and a bit of lard. My husband thinks it is the best apple pie he has ever had and he has had a lot cause he likes pie better than any other dessert. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention! Happy Thanksgiving!

Anna November 25, 2010 at 8:17 am

Hi Moe,

Thanks for the review! I loved this pie too. The only issue, and Dawn and I have both had this happen, is that the butter pools up a little when you try to blind bake it. It’s perfect for fruit pies and pies that don’t have to be blind baked.

Deirdre November 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Just had to make this pie for Thanksgiving!! I followed every step, except I did use the vanilla extract in the filling instead of the bean due to cost, and when I chilled the ingredients, I put all of the dried into a plastic yogurt container first , and then put the container in the freezer. Total of 4 hrs start to end.

My husband and I agree this is the best–on par with Gianna’s . This year it was just the two of us for the Holiday, and the pie is GONE.

This recipe goes is my book of those to make to impress!!

Thank you so much for posting this !!!

Anna November 26, 2011 at 7:36 am

Hooray! Glad you liked it Deirdre. Like I keep saying, blind baking the crust can be an issue because the butter pools up, but the recipe works perfectly with fruit fillings. I need to make it again soon.

Meg November 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I know you posted this so long ago, but I have a question for you – did you substitute vanilla extract for the powder in the crust as well as the for vanilla bean in both the crust AND the filling?

Anna November 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Hi Meg,

Thanks for commenting on this one because it reminded me I need to bump it up for the holidays. And yes, I did use vanilla extract in both.

Judy November 11, 2012 at 9:34 am

She won the contest for the 2009 Crisco National Pie Champion. Why didn’t she use Crisco in the recipe?

Shefaly November 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm

HI ! making this for sure. I googled best apple pie recipe and yours came up. i’ve made so many, classic and ones with a twist, and i’m never satisfied. And i’ve yet to find a really good apple pie in a restaurant here in AUstin. Wish me luck!!

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