It’s hard to imagine anything more enticing than a flaky pastry good old-fashioned apple flag pie on the 4th of July. It’s a treat made the day before that will be perfect for serving the following day.
I’ve altered my go-to apple pie recipe slightly to have enough pastry to make the stars and stripes.
I also changed the technique a bit to ensure an even flakier crust.
Sugar when mixed with fruit will start to release or macerate the fruit juices. I wanted to prevent or at least minimize the amount of liquid that came in contact with the unbaked bottom pastry. I mixed the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt then chilled the mixture. Likewise, the sliced apples were also kept cold, separate from the sugar mixture.
Apple Pie Points to Ponder:
- Cold. When making pie keeping everything cold will help ensure a flaky crust, to the point that I even placed my pastry blender in the freezer just before preparing the pie dough. Use cold water, or even better, ice water when making the pastry.
- Ice Water. Use just enough water so that the dough will bind when you press it in your hand. Too much water will make a tough crust.
- Apple Pie Filling. Peel, core, slice the apples and keep them chilled. Mix the dark brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a separate bowl and chill the mixture separately from the apples. Mix the sliced apples with the brown sugar mixture at the last minute—when the pie plate has been lined and chilled, the top pastry rolled out, and the stars and stripes all cut and ready to go. Also prepare the egg glaze in advance. The apple pie filling will have plenty of time to macerate in the hot oven, but you want to prevent or at least minimize the amount of liquid that touches the unbaked bottom pastry.
- Nutmeg. Be careful not to go overboard with the powdered nutmeg. It is quite strong so I don’t go over 1/8 teaspoon even when I use more apples. A hint of nutmeg is just right.
- Thickener. The apples I used this time were quite large and juicy so I added half a tablespoon more of flour than what I would usually use.
- Bottom crust. Once you’ve lined the pie plate with the bottom crust, keep it chilled as well.
- Assembly. Once the apple pie filling is arranged on the pie plate, work quickly to get the pie in the hot oven as soon as possible. Dot the filling with butter. Then cover the pie with the top pastry and crimp the edges. Brush the glaze on what would be the blue field then arrange the stars. Do not brush the stars. Arrange the stripes and brush them with glaze as well. Do not brush the portion underneath. The glaze will give a nice golden color only to the portions that have been brushed, leaving the stars and the white stripes a paler color.
- Oven shelf. If you want to have the stars and white stripes contrast more with the darker portions, bake the pie in the lower middle shelf. I usually bake pies right in the center but doing so for this apple flag pie made the stars and the white stripes less conspicuous. Baking the pie in the level just below the middle worked well. The blue field and what would be the red stripes had turned a nice golden color while the stars and the white portions were relatively paler.
- Bubbling. Once the pie starts to bubble, it’s an indication that it’s done. I just let the juices bubble over then clean up the spillage after the oven has cooled. But if you want to avoid the pie filling from dripping onto the oven, try baking the pie on a cookie sheet, but make sure the cookie sheet is hot so let the cookie sheet preheat with the oven.
- Cooling. Your patience will be rewarded if you wait until the next day to serve your delicious apple pie. I usually bake apple pie late in the afternoon then let it cool. Before going to bed, I cover it with a cake dome. You will have neat slices the next day without the apple pie filling spilling all over the place. The bottom of a pie can seem cool to the touch but if the center is even just slightly warm, the sliced portions will almost certainly not hold their shape.
With those pointers in mind, you’re bound to succeed in baking a flaky pastry apple flag pie.
The more pies you make, the better it gets. Because the best apple pie is always Mom’s apple pie.
It’s time for some pie!
Some flaky pastry apple flag pie!
You can bake other flags or any design on a pie for that matter, like your favorite emoji perhaps? Just have fun and use your imagination.
Happy Independence Day!
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (477 g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (2 g)
- ¾ cup shortening (127 g)
- 4 tablespoons butter, cubed (56 g)
- 8 – 11 tablespoons ice water
- 7 – 9 medium apples
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (155 g)
- 2 ½ tablespoons flour (25 g)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (3 g)
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt (2 g)
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed (28 g)
- Egg wash: beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk
- Peel, core, slice the apples thinly and place them in a bowl. Cover and chill.
- In a separate bowl, combine the dark brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cover and chill.
- Do not mix the apples and the sugar mixture yet. Just chill them separately.
- Cube the 2 tablespoons butter then keep them chilled.
- Mix the all-purpose flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the shortening and butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or food processor. If using a food processor give it a few pulses. The mixture should look like breadcrumbs with the butter and shortening evenly distributed.
- Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, tossing the mixture with a fork. Add only enough water so that the dough will hold together when you press it in your hands. Form the dough into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
- Once the pie dough is chilled, slice half of it. Wrap the remaining pie dough and place it back in the fridge to chill. Roll out the dough to fit your pie plate. Drape the dough onto your rolling pin and transfer it onto the pie plate. Trim off any excess dough. Place the lined pie plate in the fridge to chill while you roll out the rest of the dough.
- Slice off about ¼ of the remaining pie dough to make the stars and stripes. Keep the rest of the pie dough chilled while you roll out the flag design. Combine any scraps trimmed off of the bottom crust to this portion of the dough. Roll out thinly then use a cookie cutter to shape about 15 – 17 stars. Use a knife to slice 7 stripes. Set aside.
- Take the last of the remaining dough and roll it out to make the top crust. Set aside.
- Prepare the egg wash by beating together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk.
- Combine the chilled sliced apples with the chilled sugar mixture. Take out the lined pie plate from the fridge and arrange the filling evenly. Dot with cubed butter. Note: work quickly at this point; the sugar will start to macerate the juices from the apples, and you would want to minimize the amount of liquid that touches the unbaked bottom crust.
- Drape the rolled pastry onto your rolling pin to top the crust. Crimp the edges to seal. Brush egg glaze on what would be the blue field. Arrange the stars but do not brush them with glaze. Arrange the stripes and trim off any excess. Brush only the cut stripes with glaze. Finally, cut small slits along the stripes in the center to vent the pie while it’s baking.
- Immediately place the pie in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.
- Let the pie cool completely; about 3 hours, preferably overnight.
- Store the pie at room temperature under a cake dome or in a pie keeper.
Flaky Pastry Apple Flag Pie