I love pie. A lot. I also love that others love pie so much that there are entire bakeries, blogs, and cookbooks devoted to just it without cupcakes or cookies or other filler. One can do a lot with pie.
Recently I purchased one of the aforementioned pie-only cookbooks, “A Year of Pies” by Ashley English, and have tried out a few of the recipes including the star of this post, an apple pie made with chai tea spices. Now I love me some chai tea and it totally sounded like a very clever and logical thing to do to pair it with apples, and boy was it.
The cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper (yes, black pepper!) turn it up a notch and add a little excitement to the classic apple pie recipe. I brought it in to work and one coworker who had a piece told me it was so good she dreamt about it that night. High praise!
Some people have told me they are intimidated about making pies but I really think they are one of the easiest things to make as long as you have an ounce of patience when it comes to making your own crust. It’s really not that hard, I promise! The crust recipe below calls for half shortening, half butter, though you could make it with entirely one or the other if you like. In general I avoid shortening like the plague as it is usually so processed that a tub of it would outlive us all and then some, but I have found an organic, 100% palm oil version from Spectrum that I really like and feel better about using. It does add a nice flakiness to the crust.
Chai Spice Apple Pie (adapted slightly from “A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” by Ashley English)
- 1 recipe Basic Pie Dough
Chai Spice Blend
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds or ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon black tea
- ¼ teaspoon whole cloves
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, for dotting the filling
Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch, then place the crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Using either a mortar and pestle or a spice or coffee grinder, grind the cardamom seeds (if using), black tea, while cloves, and peppercorns to a powder.
Pour the ground spices into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl. Gently shake the sieve so all but the larger pieces fall through. Discard the larger pieces left in the sieve.
To the freshly ground spices in the bowl, add the ground cardamom (if using), cinnamon, and ginger. Whisk well to combine.
Combine all of the filling ingredients, including the chai spice blend, in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using either clean hands or a large spoon, toss until all of the ingredients are fully combined and the apple slices are evenly coated.
Pour the apple mixture into the prepared crust, mounding in the center. Dot the surface with diced butter.
Roll the remaining dough disk into a 12-inch circle. Use a small pastry cutter to cut decorative images in the dough, if desired.
Roll the top crust loosely over your rolling pin and unroll it over the filling in the pie pan, making sure it’s centered. Trim the top crust overhang to 1 inch and tuck the edges under the bottom crust overhang. Crimp the edges decoratively.
Place the pie in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil to catch overflow juices and bake at 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperatures to 375 F and continue baking for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the crust is golden and juices are bubbling in the center of the pie.
Cool at least 1 hour before serving.
Basic Pie Dough (from “A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” by Ashley English)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- ¾ vegetable shortening, chilled and cubed
- ¾ cup ice water
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large bowl.
Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal (you should still have some rather large bits of butter and shortening when you’re done.)
Slowly drizzle in the ice water and stir with a large spoon until the dough begins to clump.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and, using your hands, fold it into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky.
Divide the dough in half, shape it into two balls, and pat each ball into a ½-inch thick disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.