I Baked 4 Famous Apple Pies and Found the One I’ll Make Forever

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Credit: The Kitchn

Apple pastry epitomizes fall. It’s nan reply to each apple-picking haul, nan centerpiece of vacation dessert spreads, and nan best-scented measurement to support your room warm.

But pome pastry is amazingly difficult to make. There are galore variables that tin drastically alteration your acquisition of a recipe, from nan kinds and value of apples you use, to really evenly you portion them, to what benignant of crust you laic connected apical and really you trim and crimp it. Despite plentifulness of testing and investigation by galore different group — I could person spent days reference astir whether food aliases lard yields a crispier crust, aliases nan pros and cons of pre-cooking nan apples — there’s very small statement connected what yields nan champion results.

That’s partially because everyone has different preferences erstwhile it comes to what a awesome pome pastry tastes like. This became particularly evident erstwhile different Kitchn unit members tasted nan pies. Some group for illustration nan spirit of an all-butter crust, while others for illustration nan flakiness and easiness of a crust made pinch shortening. Some for illustration a tart pie, while others for illustration a saccharine pie. Some for illustration a filling that still has immoderate bite, while others want each nan gooey-ness they tin get.

So erstwhile it came clip to conflict disconnected 4 well-loved pastry recipes, declaring a victor wasn’t conscionable astir my ain sensation buds. It was astir which pastry I felt would output successful, delicious results for arsenic galore bakers arsenic possible.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How I Chose nan Apple Pie Contenders

We often take our showdown contenders based connected which recipes are nan astir searched-for connected nan Internet, which intends nan aforesaid fewer celebrities popular up clip and clip again: Ina Garten, Alton Brown, Martha Stewart, and nan Pioneer Woman. That didn’t really work, here.

As it turns out, group aren’t ace keen connected Ina Garten’s pome pie (the summation of citrus zest appears to beryllium very polarizing). Alton Brown’s pie calls for immoderate hard-to-find ingredients (and has a batch of antagonistic feedback). I recovered likewise lukewarm reviews connected Martha and Ree’s pies.

So I did a small other digging.

Gordon Ramsay’s pastry stood retired to maine because it won Buzzfeed’s bake-off, and featured an absorbing method for caramelizing nan apples. I had remembered that Smitten Kitchen, aft moving a bunch of tests, had precocious updated her already-beloved pie, truthful it felt worthy of inclusion. Commenters person raved astir King Arthur Flour’s pie. And I simply couldn’t disregard Grandma Ople’s pastry connected AllRecipes.com, which has much than 10,000 reviews, astir of them raves, and is nan first point that comes up erstwhile searching “apple pie” connected nan internet.

As pinch each our look battles, I kept arsenic galore factors accordant arsenic possible. I utilized nan aforesaid marque of ingredients for each nan pies. I baked them each successful nan aforesaid marque and style of pastry plate, connected nan aforesaid day, successful nan aforesaid oven. I fto them each cool for a afloat 5 hours earlier slicing (I urge you do this, excessively — pome pies request a long clip to patient up).

The 1 large facet that varied from pastry to pastry was nan apples. I felt that successful bid to find a winning recipe, I needed to instrumentality to nan instructions arsenic intimately arsenic imaginable — which meant utilizing nan type of pome it called for.

Smitten Kitchen calls for mutsu, which she describes arsenic a hybrid of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. I primitively had problem uncovering mutsu truthful I utilized a operation of Granny and Golden, but was capable to root mutsu for my 2nd test. Gordon calls for “tart baking apples,” truthful I went pinch Granny. King Arthur Flour recommended utilizing aggregate varieties and provided a database of their favorites. I picked three: Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Cortland. Grandma Ople simply called for Granny (which seemed on-brand).

Meet Our 4 Apple Pie Contenders

1. The Best Pie for Fried Apple Lovers: Gordon Ramsay’s Caramelized Apple Pie

This was nan only pastry that instructed you to pre-cook nan apples — and fto maine show you, they were delicious. You chop them into cubes (not slices!), sauté them successful food and sweetener until caramelized, past heap them into nan crust and bake. It reminded maine of Cracker Barrel’s skillet fried apples — and that is nan highest of compliments.

Thanks to nan short constituent list, easy assembly, and comparatively short cook time, this pastry was besides beautiful speedy to make — pinch nan objection of nan crust. Instead of a accepted pastry crust, this pastry is made pinch a sweetened tart dough, which was overmuch much difficult to activity with. It besides didn’t brownish and crisp arsenic overmuch arsenic I had hoped.

My suggestion? Make nan apples, skip nan pie, and eat them pinch crystal cream. If you do make nan crust, flour nan aboveground generously to support it from sticking.

Overall rating: 7/10

Read more: Gordon Ramsay’s Apple Pie Recipe Is Like Nothing You’ve Seen Before

2. The Best Pie If You Want a Quirky Baking Project: Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

Out of each nan pies I baked, this 1 was successful and retired of nan oven nan fastest. That’s because you do perfectly thing to nan apples (other than peel and portion them) — you conscionable heap ’em correct into a pastry crust, spot a lattice crust overtop, past move a buttery syrup complete nan afloat unbaked pie.

The consequence was a gooey (borderline mushy) pastry pinch a hint of caramel-like spirit and extra-delicious crispy bits of crust. But nan look arsenic written could easy group you up for disaster. I was gladsome I publication done a number of nan reviews — and that I cognize really to make a pie. If trying thing different interests you, you’ll decidedly person nosy pinch this pie. Just beryllium judge to publication my tips successful nan nexus beneath earlier you start. Oh, and you’ll request to prime your ain pastry crust recipe. We urge this one.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

Read more: I Finally Tried “Grandma Ople’s” 5-Star Apple Pie (It Has More than 10,000 Reviews)

3. The Best Pie for Firm Apple Lovers: Smitten Kitchen’s Even More Perfect Apple Pie

This was nan only pastry that had maine macerate nan apples — flip them successful sweetener and spices and fto them beryllium — earlier assembling nan pie. This gave them clip to soften and slump, meaning I could battalion measurement much into my crust. I utilized 9 afloat apples!

This pastry came very adjacent to taking location first place. Although time-consuming, it’s easy to make, and boasts classical pome pastry spirit (it’s made pinch all nan warming spices) and a golden-brown crust (I really liked nan all-butter crust look and technique). But it turned retired otherwise each clip I made it — and nan apples ne'er rather softened arsenic overmuch arsenic I hoped they would. If you for illustration your apples successful your pastry to clasp a spot of texture (which galore group do!), this is nan pastry for you.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

Read more: My Honest Review of Smitten Kitchen’s “Even More Perfect” Apple Pie

4. The Best Apple Pie: King Arthur Flour’s Apple Pie

To me, this is nan quintessential pome pie. The crust, made pinch a operation of food and rootlike shortening, is easy to activity pinch and bakes up flaky and crisp. The filling was nan astir flavorful of them all, acknowledgment to a concealed ingredient: boiled cider! (Although you tin substitute pome juice concentrate, which is easier to find).

The filling was soft but not too mushy, and each wound that contained flaky crust, gooey filling, and vanilla crystal pick was simply retired of this world. This is nan pastry I would urge to astir bakers.

Overall rating: 9.5/10

Read more: King Arthur Flour’s Secret for nan Best-Ever Apple Pie