Best Apple Pie in America: Vanilla Roasted Apple Pie

September 30, 2010.   2 Comments.   Categories Chef Dawn Viola, Christmas, Contributing Chefs, Desserts, Pies and Tarts, Thanksgiving Dinner.   Tags , , , , , , , , , , .

This is simply the best apple pie in America! Really! Dawn Viola of “Wicked Good Dinner” is an award-winning chef and food-writer.  She won the 2009 Crisco National Apple Pie Championship (professional division) for this wonderful Vanilla Vanilla-Bean Roasted Apple Pie.  Dawn has also appeared on Food Network, Fox News, Martha Stewart Radio, Cooking with Emeril and has been featured in Desserts Magazine. Most recently, she spent the summer working as an intern in America’s Test Kitchen.
As I’ve admitted in previous posts, I do not consider myself a great baker.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I just spend more energy cooking then baking.  Last year when I decided to make an apple pie during the holidays, I decided to try Dawn’s national award-winning recipe.  It was considered the best apple pie in America in 2009!
When I read the recipe, I immediately knew why she won.  I loved the idea of a vanilla scented crust and roasted apples.  Roasting anything magnifies the the intensity of the flavors.  I was so pleased with this pie!

The crust had little flecks of vanilla bean and is the best I’ve tasted. It was very easy to prepare.  Roasting the apples will always be part of my pie process.  This recipe uses Granny Smith apples which are tart, but roasting brings out a little extra sweetness.
Dawn suggests some organic and specialty ingredients that are well worth the investment.  Aside from the great flavors, I felt good using such high quality ingredients and items like the vanilla powder opened new horizons for future recipes. I also went to my local culinary store in Boulder and bought some fun pastry tools to make the crust more elegant and festive.  It was fun to play with the design and get creative.
Overall, I enjoyed making this pie so much that it will be part of my fall tradition.  Although I may experiment with different varieties of apples or crust flavorings, I’ll stick to most of Dawn’s formula.  Like all of her recipes, she spends countless hours testing and perfecting her dishes.  Why mess with perfection!  So here it is… the first place winning recipe for the best apple pie in America by a very talented and passionate chef!



Vanilla-Vanilla Bean Roasted Apple Pie


For the crust:
2 1/2 cups Organic all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting/rolling
2 teaspoons Salt
1 tablespoon Vanilla powder
3 tablespoons Organic sugar
1 Vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
20 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted European style butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar, chilled
6 – 8 tablespoons Ice water (plus more if needed)

For the filling:
4 tablespoons European style butter
12 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced in large chunks
1 Vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2 teaspoons Ground cinnamon
1 cup Organic sugar
4 tablespoons Organic all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Apple cider
1 tablespoon heavy cream

For the egg wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon of cream
Coarse sugar

Measure out all ingredients and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Place the food processor blade and bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Make the dough:
Place the food processor bowl back on the motor with the blade, as directed by the manufacturer. Combine flour, salt, vanilla powder, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in the food processor; pulse to mix.

Add butter cubes and pulse 10 times, or until the mixture begins to resemble coarse meal with varying sizes of fat – pea-sized + some larger and some smaller.

Add the vinegar and pulse to mix. Add one tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing to i
ncorporate, until the mixture begins to clump together. Pinch some of the dough in your hand. If it sticks together, the dough is ready. If the dough does not stick to itself, add another tablespoon of water, pulse, and pinch the dough together again. Repeat until the dough holds together without being overly wet. Dough should be slightly crumbly, but hold together when pinched.

Remove dough from the food processor and transfer to a work surface. Divide the dough into two equal parts and gently shape into two flat round discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. (allowing to rest overnight is best)

Prepare the apples:
Preheat the broiler. Add apples, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to a roasting pan; toss apples to coat. Broil until the tops of the apples begin to brown. Apples can burn easily under the broiler, so don’t walk too far away. Toss apples as soon as you notice browning. Once apples are caramelized (but not cooked through), remove from heat and add the remaining sugar, the flour, vanilla extract and salt.

Add the apple cider and cream, stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning – depending on how sweet or tart the apples are, you may need to add additional salt, sugar, vanilla or cinnamon to taste.

Finish the pie:
Place a 9” pie plate into the freezer. Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 – 10 minutes, or just long enough for it to become easy to roll, but still chilled. Lightly flour your work surface and roll dough out to a 12″ circle, between 1/8 – 1/4″ thick. Place in the bottom of the chilled 9” pie plate. Return to the refrigerator to chill. Remove after 5 minutes and add apples. Dot the top of the apples with remaining butter.

Remove second dough disc and roll out to a 12” circle on a lightly floured surface. Place on top of the apples and pinch the top and bottom dough edges together to enclose the apples. Add decorative edge if desired, and slice 1” air vents around the top of the pie.

Make the egg wash:
Beat the egg in a small dish and mix in cream. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of the pie and along the edges. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake:Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Cover edges with aluminum foil if browning too quickly. Turn the pie in the oven, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Continue to cook in 7 minute intervals, as needed, until the crust is golden brown and flakey.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least two hours before cutting and serving.

Chef’s Notes:
Because it’s impossible to determine how much juice an apple will give up after being salted and sugared, it’s always best to mix the apples with seasonings in a separate bowl, as explained above, instead of adding the apples to the pie and then sprinkling the seasoning over the apples (as most recipes will suggest). This will allow you to control the amount of liquid you add to the pie. Use a slotted spoon to add the fruit to your bottom pie crust, which will allow you to see just how much juice is left in the bottom of the bowl. You’ll need about 1/4 cup of the juice. If you have more in the bottom of the bowl after removing the fruit, take only 1/4 cup and pour over the apples. Top with the top crust dough and bake.


  1. Hi Kay, European style is creamier/richer then regular butter. Whole Foods carries it

  2. Sounds wonderful ! How is European style butter different than organic butter from Whole Foods ? And if it is, where can you find it ?

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