Apple Pie with a Lemon Zested Crust

Today is my roommate Jonathan’s birthday. He has expressed an interest in apple pie before… one of his favorites. But with my recent running schedule and a couple of UCLA friends visiting me in Washington this weekend, I wasn’t quite sure how plausible an entire apple pie would have been on my agenda. So last night, I broke the bad news — I didn’t know if I would be able to make a pie this weekend.

But this morning, I woke up and decided against the run I planned with my visitors. Well, one visitor never came home last night, and the other was a marine, so I knew I’d get left in the dust (he runs 3 miles in 18 minutes on a daily basis… FML). Aside from that, I spent last night doing interval training at a high school track 1.5 miles from my house. Needless to say, after 15 miles in four days, my calves are not cooperating. I needed a day of rest. So I sent my marine friend out with the non-birthday roommate and the honorary roommate. While they were gone, I set out to bake this pie.

As I was slaving away in the kitchen, the birthday boy walked into my mess. “What’s going on in here?” he asked.

I smiled and said very inconspicuously, “Oh, nothing,” only to have him throw his hands up in the air and run off to fetch some celebration clothes. They’ll be covered in drunk apple pie tonight, I promise :)







for the crust:


1 and 1/2 sticks cold butter, diced

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

zest of 1 to 2 lemons

1/3 cup cold water

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water


for the filling:

About 2 pounds baking apples (I used Braeburns)

Juice of one or two lemons (for soaking; use to prevent the apples from turning brown)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup heavy cream


1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves



First, peel and slice the apples (eliminating all cores and stems).  I sliced them very thin, but Martha’s recipe calls for 1-inch slices.  I like them thin and delicate, so you can cover more surface area with the cinnamon spice mixture.  As you peel and slice, toss the apples in a bowl with a water and lemon juice solution to keep the apples from browning.  Then, in a large bowl, combine the apples with sugar, cinnamon, flour, salt, ginger, cloves, and cream.  Mix thoroughly, then set aside.

Now, the crust:  Dice the butter into quarter-inch cubes, and place on a small plate in the freezer to chill further.  In the meantime, combine the lemon zest in a small bowl with the sugar, and use your fingers to mix — squeeze the zest into the sugars!  It really brings out the lemon flavor in the sugar.  Then, add this mixture to the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly.  Combine the butter cubes and water with the dry ingredients to create the dough.  Once it started to form, I rubbed the crumbles of dough between my hands and fingers to make sure all the butter dices had blended in.  Then, I formed the dough into two spheres of relatively equal size.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Powder your clean counter with flour and roll out the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch in thickness (or a little thinner).  Carefully transfer the crust into your pie dish — if it cracks, simply press it together again with your fingertips.  Then, fill the lined dish with the apple filling, and roll out the second crust.  If you roll out a flat crust, place it over the filling, and trim the excess crust with a knife (confession: I just broke it off with my hands).  I made a lattice-crust, which is much easier than you’d think.  If you want to attempt it, just roll out the dough, and use a paring knife to slice enough strips to weave the crust one strip at a time.  Seal the crust by pressing your fingertips along the edge of the pie dish, and slice steam holes in the top if you opted for the simple pie crust.  Then, mix one egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush over the pastry crust — this will give the pie its nice color.

Bake at 400 degrees for about one hour, until the crust is golden and the apple filling is bubbling.  Then, let cool for about four hours: the pie continues to cook after you remove it from the oven, so the cooling period is very important.  Don’t leave it outside though; the birds will attack.  And birds suck.