The peel-to-stem apple pie is a labor of love, but totally worth it. It really makes use of every part of the apple by having you make an apple stock out of apple peels and cores, and then reducing that down with macerated apple juice to make a decadent apple sauce that gets incorporated into the pie filling. Delicious!
Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie

Weekend baking project!!!!!!!!

And I mean weekend literally, in the sense that making this will fully take up two days of your life BUT IT WILL BE THE BEST DANG APPLE PIE YOU’VE EVER HAD, so.

I really can’t think of a better use of your free time.

Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie

It’s also entirely possible (likely, even) that this pie-baking process won’t feel so long if you don’t have a toddler “helping you” at every step of the way.

But I wouldn’t know anything about that.

Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie

Alright, so let’s get down to the cold hard truth: making this pie is involved.

The recipe is from The Artful Baker cookbook and the magic of it is that it really squeezes as much apple flavor as possible out of the apples and into the pie. To do this it has you use every part of the apple – the flesh, the peels, the cores, the stems – no part of the apple gets left behind.

Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie

The apple flesh gets sliced into impossibly thin pieces (I have intense mandoline fear so I just cut them myself and it took an eternity) and then macerated in a lemon juice and cinnamon mixture. Pretty standard.

While that’s going on, you take all the peels, cores, and stems that would ordinarily be discarded and simmer them with some water to make a deliciously fruity apple stock. The stock gets strained out, along with any apple juice that has been released from the maceration process, and then the two are reduced down together to make a thick apple caramel-esque sauce.

Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie

The pie filling is ultimately comprised of alternating layers of apple slices and apple sauce, which bake down into the most glorious sheets of apple layers that set up perfectly and have a really rich apple flavor.

Because this pie making process has so many steps, I probably wouldn’t recommend you make it for, say, Thanksgiving, especially if you have a bunch of other things to bake just because it really is pretty time intensive. HOWEVER, if apple pie is your sole cooking and baking responsibility for the holidays and you’re looking for something really show-stopping to wow your friends and family with, then THIS. IS. IT.

Or if you just want the best ever apple pie to enjoy for a random fall weekend. That’s a pretty good reason too.

Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie

Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie
The peel-to-stem apple pie is a labor of love, but totally worth it. It really makes use of every part of the apple by having you make an apple stock out of apple peels and cores, and then reducing that down with macerated apple juice to make a decadent apple sauce that gets incorporated into the pie filling. Delicious!
Yield: 8-10 servings
For the crust
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted European-style butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup ice
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
For the filling
  • 2.2 lb sour apples, like Granny Smith
  • 2.2 lb sweet and firm apples, like fuji or gala
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ cups water
  • 3½ tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp glutinous rice flour
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
For the glaze
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
For the crust
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold butter cubes and toss so that they are coated with the flour. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the largest butter pieces are the size of peas. The rest of the mixture should look and feel like Parmesan cheese.
  2. Place the ice in a liquid measuring cup. Add ice water until it reaches the 1 cup mark, then stir in the apple cider vinegar.
  3. Add the ice water-vinegar mixture to the pie crust mixture by the tablespoon, mixing with your hands, until the dough comes together. Remove it from the bowl and cut it into two equal pieces. Pat each piece into a 2-inch thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Once chilled, roll one disc of dough into a 13-inch round and the second into a 10-inch round on a floured surface. Fit the larger one into 10-inch pie plate, letting the extra dough hang over the edge. Place in the refrigerator. For the second disc of dough, place on a baking sheet, wrap with plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge until you're ready to assemble the pie.
For the filling
  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples into very thin (1/16 to ⅛ inch) slices using either a very sharp knife or a mandoline. Reserve the peels and cores for later use. Transfer the apple slices to a large bowl. Toss with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and cinnamon, trying not to break them. Allow to macerate for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the apple cores and peels. Place them in a medium saucepan. Add the water, cover the pan, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until only ½-inch of water is left, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a bowl or second saucepan, pressing on the solids to make sure you get as much of the liquid out of them as possible.
  3. Place two mesh strainers over two large bowls and divide the apple slices between the two strainers, allowing their juice to drain into the bowls for 30 minutes. Once done, transfer the apple slices to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Scrape the apple juice that you just collected into the pan with the apple stock. Cook over medium-high heat until it is reduced to ½ cup, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, rice flour, and salt, whisking until well combined. Place back on the stove and cook for 2 more minutes, whisking constantly. Scrape this apple sauce into a bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, until it cools to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.
To assemble
  1. Remove the chilled pie crust bottom from the fridge. Stack a quarter of the apple slices onto the crust. Spread a third of the apple sauce over the slices. Repeat this layering process until you have used all of the apples and sauce, ending with the apple slices for the final layer. Place the pie back in the freezer and chill for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream until well combined.
  3. Remove the pie from the freezer and the second round of dough from the refrigerator. Center the dough over the filling and tuck the overhanging dough from the bottom crust over and onto the top crust to seal it. Brush with the glaze and sprinkle with the sugar. Cut four slits in the top of the pie to vent it. Freeze for 30 minutes.
To bake
  1. Heat oven to 400F. Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F. Bake for 55 more minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden.
  3. Allow to cool for at least 3 hours before serving.
Pie crust from Sister Pie
Pie filling from The Artful Baker


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3 Responses to Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie

  1. Pam says:

    What a beauty! Seriously. I love that you make a tasty apple stock by boiling down the stems, skins and cores. What a fantastic idea!

  2. Kate says:

    I’m so glad the stems are used for a stock. I was very worried about incorporating them into the filing!

  3. Beautiful recipe. I remember my English teaching us how to made this traditional apple pie. But the twist on the peel and core is a real twist we used flour. Thank you so much

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