Culinary Arts

Chef Thomas Keller’s Apple Pie Recipe With Lard Pie Crust

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 5, 2019 • 6 min read

“Here’s wishing you a little sweetness every day.” - Chef Thomas Keller

While Chef Keller—like many others—strongly associates apple pie with his American childhood, the fact is apple pie originated in England. English or American, this apple pie recipe with a classic, flaky, lard pie crust is a dessert staple. The iconic lattice top not only adds visual appeal, but it also helps to vent the filling, keeping the crust crispy. When it comes to your classic apple pie, start with cold fats—chilled butter and lard. (Vegetarian replacements for the lard would be cold vegetable shortening or cold clarified butter in a 1:1 substitution.)

Work as briskly as you can, and don’t worry about leaving little pea-size bits of fat in your dough. 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.

Chef Keller prefers Granny Smith apples over other apples like Honeycrisp for apple pie filling due to their hard, crisp, and tart properties. This recipe uses both grated and diced apples. 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. A small amount of cornstarch will help set the apple filling.

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Chef Thomas Keller’s Apple Pie With Lard Crust Recipe

Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min

Ingredients

For the pie dough:

  • 275 grams all-purpose flour
  • 175 grams pastry flour or “00” flour
  • 22 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 grams kosher salt
  • 1 pinch baking powder
  • 200 grams unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes, very cold
  • 72 grams lard, cut into ¼ inch cubes, very cold
  • 52 grams cold water
  • 18 grams white wine vinegar

For apple pie:

  • 2 sheets pie dough
  • 125 grams granulated sugar
  • 15 grams cornstarch
  • 1 gram cinnamon powder
  • 1 gram ginger powder
  • 16 to 18 apples
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, not scraped
  • 50 grams lemon juice
  • 50 grams egg white, lightly whipped with a fork
  • Granulated sugar for dusting

Equipment:

  • Baking stone
  • 8- to 10-inch pie tin
  • Paring knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Baking beans or pie weights
  • Mixing bowl
  • Peeler
  • Box grater
  • Scale
  • Large sauteuse
  • Wooden spoon
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Cake tester (optional)
  • Rubber spatula
  • Fluted pasta cutter
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Pastry brush
  • Serrated knife
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Plastic bench scraper
  • 4 sheets parchment paper, sized 16 x 12 inches
  • 2 half sheet pans, sized 18 x 13 inches
  • Rolling pin

For the pie dough:

  1. Combine the two flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl, and mix evenly. “Cut” the butter and lard into the flour mixture with your hands, breaking the fats into pieces no larger than the size of a pea.
  2. Once the fats are sufficiently cut into the flour mixture, make a well in the bottom of the bowl, and pour in the cold water and white wine vinegar. Incorporate the liquid into the mixture with your hands. Do not overwork the dough.
  3. Turn the mixture onto a clean work surface and use your hands to form it into a dough. Use a bench scraper to incorporate any stray pieces. Bring the dough together and knead just enough to ensure it is evenly mixed. Do not over-knead.
  4. Divide the dough equally into two parts. Shape one of the halves into a circular disc approximately ½ inch thick. Shape the other half into a ½-inch-thick rectangle. Place both halves on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Use a sheet of parchment paper to cover the doughs.
  5. Chill the doughs in the refrigerator; refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Roll out the circular disc between 2 sheets of parchment paper, rotating the dough by quarter turns as you roll to maintain the circular shape. Roll the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch. Gently push or slide the rolling pin across the surface of the dough to smooth out any unevenness or ridges. Repeat this 4 times, rotating the dough a quarter turn each time. Set the entire ensemble on a half sheet pan.
  7. Roll out the rectangular piece of dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper, making efforts to maintain a rectangular shape. Roll to a thickness of slightly less than ¼ inch with a length of 11 inches. Gently push or slide the rolling pin across the surface of the dough to smooth out any unevenness or ridges. Repeat this 4 times, rotating the dough a quarter turn each time. Set the entire ensemble on a second half sheet pan.
  8. Refrigerate both sheets of pie dough for 10 to 15 minutes before use.

For the apple pie:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, along with a baking stone.
  2. Remove the circular sheet of pie dough from the refrigerator. Place the sheet of dough centered over the pie tin. Gently lift the edge of the dough to let the dough naturally fall into the corners of the pie tin. Do this for the entire circumference of the tin.
  3. With your thumbs and index fingers, crimp the pie dough using the extra dough hanging over the edge of the tin. Cut away the excess dough with a paring knife. Reaccentuate the crimped edge as needed. Transfer the lined pie tin to the refrigerator to chill, set, and rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the lined pie tin from the refrigerator and line with 2 layers of plastic wrap in a similar technique used to line the pie tin. Fill with an even layer of baking beans up to the top of the pie tin. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the beans to expose the edge of the pie crust. Bake directly on a heated baking stone at 350°F for 30 minutes until the crust is a light golden brown.
  5. Remove the pie crust from the oven. Leave the oven on at 350°F and leave the baking stone inside.
  6. When the baking beans are cool enough to handle, lift the plastic wrap lled with baking beans out of the baked pie crust. While the crust continues cooling, make the pie filling.
  7. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and spices. Mix well and set aside. Peel and grate 8 to 9 apples on the large teeth of a box grater. Immediately weigh out 900 grams of grated apple and place it in the sauteuse with the vanilla bean and lemon juice. Cook the mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes until there is little to no visible moisture on the bottom of the pan.
  8. While the grated apple is cooking, peel the remaining 8 to 9 apples and dice them into a rough ¼-inch dice. Once the grated apple has finished cooking, add 600 grams of the apple dice. Continue to cook the mixture for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the apple dice has minimal resistance when pierced with a paring knife or cake tester.
  9. Remove the pan from heat and remove the vanilla pod. Add the sugar mixture and stir to fully incorporate. Place the mixture into a bowl and allow the filling to cool to room temperature, approximately 20 minutes.
  10. Fill the baked pie crust with the apple filling and use a rubber spatula to smooth out the top of the filling.
  11. Cut the second sheet of pie dough into ½-inch-wide strips using the fluted pasta cutter. You will need 12 to 14 strips. Weave a lattice with the dough strips spaced ½ inch apart over the top of the pie, allowing the excess dough to drape over the edge. Use scissors to trim the edges of the lattice 1/4-inch beyond the edge of the crust. Brush the lattice with egg white and dust with sugar.
  12. Bake the pie directly on a heated baking stone in an oven at 350°F for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours before slicing with a serrated knife.

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