What do you do when you want to make apple pie for a big crowd? 2 or 3 round pies are difficult to carry to a gathering, and fussy to serve. Apple slab pie, or apple slice, is an old-fashioned option: a thin but luscious pie baked flat and wide.
It takes a hefty batch of crust – start with almost 4 cups of flour – and 3½ to 4 pounds of apples. It makes a pie that fills a half-sheet pan and will yield 24 servings of pie in 3 x 3¼ inch squares, and even more if people like smaller pieces.
And you can pick up those squares and eat them out of hand! The filling is soft and toothsome, the crust is tender and flaky, and even the middle pieces had enough integrity that they don’t crumble or flop.
If you need to serve a crowd, this one’s a keeper.
Apple Slab Pie (Apple Slice)
FOR THE CRUST
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour (470 g)
- 1½ Tbsp granulated sugar (18 g)
- 1½ tsp salt (1 g)
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, very cold (340 g)
- ¾ cup ice water (175 ml)
FOR THE FILLING
- 4 pounds Granny Smith apples
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (30 ml)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 g)
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch (22.5 g)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (2.5 g)
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg (1 g)
- ¼ tsp ground allspice (.5 g)
TO TOP THE CRUST
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp water (15 ml)
- pinch fine table salt
- 2 Tbsp turbinado (coarse) sugar (14 g)
MAKE DOUGH: BY MACHINE
- Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Cover and whiz to mix well.
- Cut the cold butter into at least 10 pieces per stick, and place on top of the dry ingredients. Cover and pulse (turn on and off, 2-3 seconds each time) until the mixture looks like coarse oatmeal, with no piece larger than a tiny pea.
- Add the water through the feed tube while the machine is running, and process only until the dough begins to gather around the blades, 12-15 seconds after all the liquid is added.
MAKE DOUGH BY HAND
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
- Cut the cold butter into at least 10 pieces per stick, and add them to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces are the size of tiny peas.
- Stir in the water with a spatula, mixing until a shaggy mass forms. Knead it with your hands two or three times, right in the bowl, to form a ball.
DIVIDE, WRAP, AND CHILL THE DOUGH
- Divide the dough unevenly: 60/40 rather than half and half. Pat each half into a rectangle about 1 inch high, wrap well, and chill in the refrigerator at least an hour, or up to two days.
- To freeze dough for later use: put the plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag, label, and freeze up to 2 months. To use, defrost for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
ON BAKING DAY
- Heat the oven to 375˚F. Line an ungreased half-sheet pan (18 x 13 x 1 inch) with parchment paper.
- Peel and core the apples, chop them into ½-inch pieces, and put them in a large bowl. Toss them with lemon juice. Add in the sugar, cornstarch, spices, and salt; stir to mix evenly.
- On a large lightly floured surface, roll the larger one of your dough halves into an 20 x 15 inch rectangle. Dust the top surface of the pastry with a little flour as well. Use your rolling pin to press down on the pastry, making little grooves. Turn the pastry 90 degrees every so often to keep the rectangle shape, and keep pressing until the dough is about twice its original size, when you can begin to roll.
- Work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter. Your dough should be bigger than your pan by 1½ inch all around. Carefully transfer the dough to the lined sheet pan, and gently pat the dough into the corners. Some pastry will still hang over the sides of the pan; trim this to ¾ inch.
- Pour apple mixture over the dough, and spread it evenly.
- Roll the smaller dough piece into a 19 x 12 inch rectangle. Drape this over filling and fold the bottom crust’s overhang over the edges, sealing them together. Crimp the edges, if you like, but neatness doesn’t matter too much. Cut small slits to act as vents all over lid.
- Make an egg wash by whisking the egg with a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush this all over the top crust. Sprinkle the surface with coarse turbinado sugar.
- Bake 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool in the pan on a wire rack until just warm to the touch.
- If you’re planning to carry the pie to a gathering, take the entire pan, and slice it onsite.