When it comes to pie, I’ve always been more of a filling girl. Sure, I love the contrast between a crisp, shattering crust and a soft, fruity filling. But if I had to choose between them, I’d definitely choose the filling. Hands down.
Unfortunately, my family doesn’t agree with me on this point. They’re crust people, all the way. This generally works to all of our benefits- a little swapping and rearranging, and we’re all content. But when it occurred to me that a slab pie- essentially a thinner, cookie sheet sized pie which not only has a double ratio of crust to filling but also feeds a crowd- would solve all of our problems, I was immediately on it.
Slab pies are a cinch to make, at least when compared to regular pie. The crust is a triple recipe of my favorite all-butter dough, divided into two rectangular halves and the filling is simple and familiar: a mix of diced apples, sugar, spices and lemon juice, for a little tartness. Rolling out the dough feels slightly trickier than it does with a regular pie; the dough needs to be long and wide to fit the cookie sheet, and cracks in the dough are easier to come by. But once it’s draped over a rolling pin and carefully nestled into the pan, things get easier. The filling is mixed and smoothed over the bottom crust, the top one is laid over it, and then both crusts are crimped together, brushed with egg, sugared, and sent off to bake.
What comes out of the oven is so delicious, so flaky, buttery and compacted with fall’s best fruit, that you can’t help but fall in love with it. Maybe it was the local apples I used (which we’d picked a few days before in an orchard) or maybe it was the crust, which shattered into beautiful flakes, free from its usual confines beneath a heavy mass of fruit, but we couldn’t stop snatching squares of pie from the sheet, all the while inhaling the classic scent of apple pie.
Whether you have apples to use, orchard visits planned, or Thanksgiving to bake for, this is the fall treat you need, in portable and share-able bar form. And it might just settle the crust vs. filling debate in your family, too.
Yields: one 10×15″ tray of slab pie, or around 25 small squares
Why I love this recipe: classic apple pie in bar form yields a higher crust to filling ratio and the thin layer of apples allows the crust to expand and flake to its potential. It’s buttery, fruity, spiced and a great way to use up some of the last apples you’ve picked from the orchard.
For the crust:
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
- 2 teaspoons apple cider
- 3/4 cup ice water
- 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
For the filling:
- 4 lbs. apples (I like a mix of Cortland and Granny Smiths for this pie)
- juice of one lemon
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers to cut in the cold butter until it is the size of peas. Then cut in the frozen butter, leaving it in bigger, visible pieces.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix the water into the flour until just combined.
- If the dough seems dry, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. Press the dough together, split it in half, form into rectangular shapes and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough overnight, or freeze for at least one hour. Let it defrost on the counter or in the fridge while you work on the filling.
- Heat oven oven to 375 degrees F. Line bottom of 10×15″ baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Now, onto the filling! Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/2-inch chunks. Toss the prepared apples with the lemon juice until coated. Top with remaining filling ingredients and stir to evenly coat. Set aside until needed.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll one of your dough halves into an 18×13″ rectangle. Work quickly and gently, keeping the dough as cold as possible and using enough flour so that it doesn’t stick to the counter.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and gently fit it in so that the dough fills out the inner edges and corners.
- Some dough will still hang over the sides of the pan; trim this to 3/4-inch. Refrigerate while you roll out the second dough.
- Roll the second of your dough halves into a 18×13″ rectangle. Pour apple mixture over the prepared dough in the baking pan and spread evenly.
- Drape the second crust over the filling and fold the top crust’s overhang under bottom crusts, crimping them together to seal. Cut small slits to act as vents all over top crust.
- Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Bake until crust is a dark golden color and filling is bubbling, 55-65 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.