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+ servings

Carl Sagan's Apple Pie

yield: 1 9-inch, double lidded pie crust
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For the Pie Dough

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) very cold water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) very cold unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Apple Pie Filling

  • 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed (3.75 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 cups (around 2 lbs) cored and sliced apples

For the Eggwash

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water


For the Pie Dough

  • Combine 6 tablespoons very cold water, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup ice in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Whisk to combine and transfer to the refrigerator while you work with the other ingredients.
  • While the liquid mixture is chilling, use a sharp knife to slice 1 cup very cold unsalted butter into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to the freezer to chill while you work with the other ingredients.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse 2 to 3 times until the ingredients are combined. Remove the chilled butter from the freezer and add to the dry ingredients; continue pulsing in short, 5-second intervals until the mixture resembles cornmeal with no butter pieces larger than the size of your thumbnail.
  • Once the mixture resembles cornmeal, remove the liquid mixture from the refrigerator and add 6 tablespoons to the dry ingredients. Pulse another few times and pick up a tablespoon of the dry ingredients with one of your hands and give it a squeeze. If the mixture still feels dry and crumbly and does NOT hold together even when squeezed, add about 2 tablespoons of water, pulse, and test again until it passes the squeeze test. If the mixture holds together, dump it out into a medium bowl and use your hands to knead it together into a ball.
  • Use a bench scraper to divide the ball into two even halves. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and mold it so that it resembles a rough ball; punch the ball down into a disc. Transfer to the refrigerator to rest and chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.

Filling and Assembly

  • Once the pie dough has rested, remove one disc from the refrigerator and use a rolling pin to roll the disc into a 10 1/2-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit onto a 9-inch pie plate. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, "tightly packed" 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and a pinch of kosher salt until well combined.
  • Place 6 cups cored and sliced apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle the dry ingredients (from the 1st step) over the apples and toss until evenly coated. Spoon into the prepared pie shell in the pie plate and cover loosely with plastic wrap; transfer to the refrigerator to chill while you roll out and work with the second disc of pie dough for the lid.
  • Roll out the second disc into a 10 1/2-inch circle for the pie lid; carefully transfer to a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and place in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes, before using cookie cutters to stamp out the pattern of your choice across the circle. Once satisfied with your design, transfer back to the freezer to chill for another 10 minutes to firm up the lid.
  • Once the lid is firm, remove the pie crust base from the refrigerator. Carefully transfer the pie crust lid on top of the fruit, centering the lid accordingly. Use kitchen shears to trim any dough overhang from both the lid and the crust, using the edge of the pie plate as a guide for trimming. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer to chill for at least 24 hours before baking.

Egg Wash and Baking

  • Once the pie is frozen solid and you're ready to bake it, prepare an oven by positioning a rack in the lowest possible position in the oven and another in the center of the oven. Preheat to 375 (F). Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1 large egg white and 1 teaspoon water. Remove plastic wrap from the pie and place in the center of the lined sheet pan. Use a pastry brush to quickly brus the top of the pie with the egg wash.
  • Transfer to the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 60 minutes, covering the top with aluminum foil if the edges and top of the pie begin to brown too quickly. At 60 minutes, remove from the oven and check the pie — if the top is an even, golden brown and the fruit juices in the center of the pie are bubbling slowly, the pie is done. If the center of the pie is still pale, transfer back to the oven, this time positioning on the center rack, and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes until the juices in the center of the pie are bubbling slowly.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour to allow the juices to settle; serve warm, with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.


Adapted from this Serious Eats recipe