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Lattice apple pie

SERVES 8

This is the classic American pie, with a diagonal lattice top crust. The same recipe can be used to make a plain double-crusted pie: After rolling out and filling the bottom crust, roll out the top crust and lay it on the apples without cutting strips. Crimp the edges to seal them and make half a dozen steam vents in the top crust; brush with cream and proceed as directed.

Pastry:

2 1/4 cups flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter, cut up

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar

1 egg, beaten with 1/3 cup ice water

Extra flour (for rolling)

2 tablespoons cream (for the lattice)

FILLING:

6 large or 7 medium cooking apples

1/3 cup sugar

Grated rind of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons butter, cut up

1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca or flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

For the pastry: Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and shortening and use a pastry blender or two blunt knives to blend the fats with the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir the vinegar into the egg mixture.

Add the liquids to the flour and use one blunt knife or a fork to blend the flour with the liquids until the dough forms large moist clumps. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary.

Turn the clumps out onto a lightly floured board and knead them gently until they form a smooth dough.

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a flat cake. Wrap them in foil and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Set the oven at 400 degrees.

On a floured board with a floured rolling pin, roll out half the pastry, moving it on the board to prevent it from sticking, until it is about 11 inches across. Gently fold it into quarters and put it into a 9-inch pie pan. Unfold the dough and center it in the pan.

Use scissors to trim off all but 1/4-inch of the outside edge and refrigerate the pie pan while you prepare the apples.

For the filling: Peel, core and slice the apples and pile them into a bowl with the sugar, lemon rind, butter, tapioca or flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Gently stir the apples to coat them with the spices, then scrape the contents of the bowl into the pie pan, making the apples form as smooth a layer as you can.

Brush the outside rim of the pastry with water and set the pie pan aside.

Roll out the other half of the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick (and at least 10 inches across). Use a ravioli cutter or large knife to cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips.

To make the lattice, lay half of the strips across the pie, 1/2- to 3/4- inch apart, letting the edges hang over. Arrange the remaining strips across the first set so they are diagonal -- not perpendicular -- to the bottom strips. (This makes the lattice form a professional-looking diamond pattern.)

Use scissors to trim the strips so they are even all around with the bottom dough. Press the tines of a fork, dipped repeatedly in flour, around the edge to seal the lattice to the bottom crust. Brush the lattice all over with the cream.

Set the pie on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any juices and transfer the pie to the top shelf of the heated oven. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 375 and continue baking for 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is tender when pierced with a skewer.

Leave the pie on a wire rack until it is no longer hot, then cut it into wedges and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Sheryl Julian

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