Recipe: Former Food and Wine Editor Dana Cowin’s Perfect Apple Pie


When in search for the perfect apple pie, you must consider your source and I couldn’t think of a more reliable one than Dana Cowin, the former Editor-in-Chief of Food and Wine Magazine. Cowin, who was at the helm of the trusted food magazine for over twenty years, was generous enough to share her Perfect Apple Pie Recipe which star baker Peggy Cullen “recreated” from the cherished recipe of Cowin’s own childhood.

While I love to bake, I’ve sheepishly avoided tackling a homemade apple pie. It’s always seemed to me like one of those time-consuming and labor-intensive Thanksgiving dishes that you can just as easily pick up at your favorite bakery. Cowin’s recipe changed my mind forever. Yes, it is very labor-intensive, but rolling your own pastry dough can also feel therapeutic and once you nail the crust, the rest is simple enough to follow.

The result is truly the perfect pie: the crust is light and flaky (heed the warning below, the top of mine browned too quickly in the oven), pierce your fork into the baked apples coated in the not-too-runny brown sugary syrup, and you might as well be tasting liquid gold. Cowin, now the host of the podcast Speaking Broadly, says it took several tries to get this recipe right; it only took me one try to never want to go back to store-bought apple pie again.

Serves Yields 1 9'' PiePrep time: 45 minutesCook time: 35 minutes totalTotal time: 1 hour and 20 minutes


2 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 cup cold solid vegetable shortening
Ice Water
4 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples
Juice of 1 large lemon
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons milk


Step 1:
In a food processor, pulse 2 1/2 cups of the flour with the salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Add 8 tablespoon of the butter and the shortening; pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Add 1/3 cup of ice water and pulse until evenly moistened. Squeeze some of the mixture with your hand; it should come together. If it crumbles, add 1 tablespoon of ice water and pulse again.

Step 2:
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently press with the heel of your hand, then gather into a ball with a few quick strokes. Divide in half and form into disks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 2 days. 

Step 3:
On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk into a 13-inch round 1/8 inch thick. Fit the round into a 9-inch glass pie plate and trim the overhang to 1/2 inch. Refrigerate the pie shell.  Roll out the second disk into a 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Step 4:
Peel, halve and core the apples, then cut into 3/4 inch wedges and toss with the lemon juice in a large bowl. In a 12-inch skillet, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter over low heat stir in the brown sugar. Add the apples and turn to coat. Increase the heat to high and cook, turning occasionally, until most of the wedges are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes. Do not overcook.

Step 5:
Immediately scoop the apples and their juices onto a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour and the cinnamon over them and toss until the four disappears. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the apples cool to room temperature, 40 minutes.

Step 6:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the apples in the pie shell; drizzle the juices over them. Moisten the pie rim with a wet pastry brush. Center the top crust over the apples and press the rim to seal. Using scissors, trim the top crust to a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold it under and crimp. Dissolve the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar in the mix and lightly brush the top of the pie. Pierce several holes in the top of the pie with a fork.

Step 7:
Bake the pie for 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. If the crust begins to brown too quickly, cover the rim with foil. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until you can hear the apple pie filling bubbling.

Step 8:
Transfer the apple pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting into wedges and serving.

Recipe courtesy of Dana Cowin and recreated by Peggy Cullen.