Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes plus chilling time
Servings: 8 to 10
Prepared pie crust
3 to 4 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and sliced into large chunks, eighths or tenths.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten (to use as an egg wash)
1. Heat the oven
to 450 degrees.
2. Starting around the outside edge,
line the pie crust with apple chunks. Move in concentric circles inward. When you've got the bottom layer covered, mound the rest on top. Go for density without overcrowding.
3. In a medium bowl,
mix together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and lemon zest. Sprinkle the sugar/spice mixture evenly over the top of the apples, then sprinkle over the brown sugar. (Don't worry, it'll all migrate downward.) Cut the butter into tiny chunks and scatter it around, randomly but evenly over the top of the sugar.
4. Put the top crust on,
crimp, then cut steam holes and glaze with an egg wash. Chill the pie for 20 minutes or so before baking.
5. Place the pie
in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and bake until the juices are bubbling but the fruit still feels firm (use a toothpick or the tip of a paring knife to reach through a venthole to pierce a piece of apple), another 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pie to a cooling rack.
6. Cool the pie
to room temperature before serving. A few hours is fine, even overnight is good. The flavors will blend and mellow, and the juices will have time to solidify.
Each of 10 servings: