Food & Drink

Thomas Keller's 11 Tips for a Perfect Apple Pie

Prepare to Win Thanksgiving

By Kevin Gray ·
Photo: MasterClass

Some people believe that Thanksgiving is all about the turkey.

Ignore those people. They are bad influences.

Because we all know that Thanksgiving is just a thinly-veiled excuse to watch football and eat pie on a weekday.

And, important to note: The pie that you'll be bringing to the table this year has pre-approval from Chef Thomas Keller. 

Yes, the famed chef from the French Laundry and Per Se has providing you with 11 apple pie tips—and, therefore, life tips—to improve your holiday. You can catch all of his pie-related wisdom below. And for more hands-on help, you can also check out his MasterClass for the full recipe and detailed instructions.

Thomas Keller's Apple Pie Tips

1. Start with cold fats
When it comes to your classic apple pie, start with cold fats—chilled butter and lard. For a vegetarian replacement, opt for cold vegetable shortening or cold clarified butter in a 1:1 substitution.
2. Check your temperature
Just as oven temperature is important in baking, so is the temperature of your kitchen. Ideally, you don’t want your environment to be too hot, as butter and other fats you may be working with will melt quickly.
3. Get your hands dirty
Instead of using any tools to combine your crust’s ingredients, use your hands to work the flour mixture.
4. Roll things out
When rolling your dough, gently push or slide the rolling pin across the surface of the dough to smooth out any unevenness or ridges. Repeat this four times, rotating the dough a quarter turn each time.
5. Do it all the same day
Make the pie dough the same day that the pie is being made. If you refrigerate pie dough overnight, it’s going to get very firm and will require taking the dough out of the refrigerator to temper it for rolling. You then run the risk of emulsifying the fats and the flour, which will prevent a flaky crust.
6. Use cling wrap
Blind bake the pie crust by lining the crust with a double layer of cling wrap, filling with baking beans, and then folding the excess cling wrap over the beans to expose the edges of the pie crust during baking. Parchment paper is not as strong as cling wrap, and aluminum foil tends to stick into the dough.
7. And a baking stone
Using a baking stone will help the crust and pie bake evenly. If you do not have access to a baking stone, you can use a large cast-iron pan that fits the pie tin, a heavy-bottomed baking tray, or just two stacked baking trays.
8. Show off your lattice work
Use the iconic lattice top—it not only adds visual appeal, but also helps to vent the filling, keeping the crust crispy.
9. Trust Granny Smith
Granny Smith apples are best for apple pie due to their hard, crisp, and tart properties.
10. Grate some, dice others
Incorporate both grated and diced apples into your filling. The grated apple cooks quickly and consistently, allowing for excess liquid to evaporate and resulting in an applesauce texture with just the right amount of moisture. Alternatively, the diced apple provides a textural contrast.
11. Cornstarch is your secret weapon
Add a small amount of cornstarch to your filling, as it will help it set.

Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray lives in Texas. He likes whiskey, weekends and hammocks, often at the same time.

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