For the Top Crust (Shortbread):
- 1/3-pound unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
For the Bottom Crust & the Leaf Decorations:
- ½ pound unsalted butter, softened
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
For the Apple Filling:
- 10 apples (Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and sliced ¼-1/2-inch-thick
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 and ½ teaspoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of crust
- 1 whole egg beaten with 2-3 tablespoons water or milk
- Begin by making the filling. In a large shallow saucepan, melt the butter. Add the apple slices, both sugars, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt. Cook over medium heat. Carefully stir the apples as they cook down taking care not to break them. They will release liquid. As soon as the liquid boils and begins to thicken, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely. This takes about 10 minutes. Stir in the cream if desired.
- Make ahead tip: This mixture can stay fresh up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Once it cools, store it in an airtight container chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the bottom crust, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a table top mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until incorporated and fluffy.
- Add the flour slowly and beat on low speed until a dough is formed.
- Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Make ahead tip:This dough can be stored in the freezer up to a month. Wrap in parchment paper, then tightly in plastic wrap and keep frozen until ready to use. One day before, thaw in the refrigerator.
- To form a pie crust, lightly dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Reserve 5 ounces of the dough for the leaf decorations for the crust. Roll out the larger piece of dough to about 13-14 inches in diameter.
- Fold it in half to transfer it onto a 10-inch round by about 2-inch-deep pie pan. Open up the dough to cover the pan. Fold the edges under that are hanging out of the pan. Crimp to form a decorative pattern.
- Freeze for at least an hour before filling with the apple filling. You may wrap the frozen prepared pie crust in its pan with plastic wrap and store in the freezer up to a month.
- To make the top crust (shortbread): Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla extract, and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until combined and fluffy. Add the flour and beat on low speed until combined and a dough forms. Form the dough into a disk and reserve about 5 ounces on the side for the leaf embellishments.
- To create the leaf embellishmentsfor the pie crust, roll out the 5-ounce piece of dough on a lightly floured surface. Using leaf shaped cookie cutters with stamps, cut out about 30 leaves (and press the cutter down to stamp the decorative pattern on the dough) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Chill in the freezer until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 425 °F, 220 °C. Position the rack to the center of the oven with a pizza stone on it.
- For the top crust, roll out the shortbread on a surface dusted with all-purpose flour. Roll it out to about 12-13 inches round.
- To assemble the pie: Place the pie plate on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Fill the pie crust with the apple filling.
- Cut the shortbread crust into 4 quarters and place each quarter on top of the pie to cover the filling.
- Brush egg wash on the back of each leaf and over lap them to form a crown all around the pie. Use any left-over leaves to form clusters and to add dimension and beauty.
- Cover the pie with aluminum foil.
- To bake the pie:
- Bake for 20 minutes at 425 °F, 220 °C.
- Reduce the heat to 350 °F, 180°C and bake for 30 minutes.
- Carefully cut a hole in the foil to expose the center of the pie while still keeping the edges covered.
- Bake at 350 °F for 25 more minute or until golden brown.
- Allow the pie to cool at least 1-2 hours before serving so that the filling sets. 4-5 hours is even better (for neater slices).
- This pie can be made a day before serving and kept at room temperature. Warm through at 325 °F for about 15 minutes and serve with ice cream or homemade whipped cream. Enjoy!