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Not much can trump a freshly made fruit pie with homemade pie dough. But let's be honest, few of us ever feel like making one. Even for an experienced baker like myself, I still get nervous and sometimes frustrated. Lining the pie plate (or the dreaded deep dish) is a hassle, pretty crimped edges are elusive (I always use too much dough), and then there's the disappointment of cracking into that perfectly shaped top crust only to find a cavernous space over sunken fruit.
Perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but I'll never say a double crusted fruit pie is easy.
For me, a rustic pie—if you want to be fancy you can call it a galette—is a heck of a lot less stressful and no less satisfying. So when I'm not in the mood for an easy baking project, I turn to this version. This type of pie doesn't need a pie plate. All you have to do is roll one sheet of dough, pile the fruit in the center, fold the dough around the fruit, and bake. It's more shallow than a regular pie, with a wide open center. This allows for evaporation during baking, so you can have juicy fruit with a crust that stays good and crispy all around. No soggy, under-baked bottom here. And the free-form nature of this pie means it's also very forgiving to shape.
The pie dough itself is also very simple. There's no need to pull out any mixers or food processors here, just a simple basic dough made by cutting butter into flour and adding enough water to bind it. The amount of dough needed for one pie is modest enough to mix by hand, and cutting the bits of cold butter into the flour mix can be easily accomplished with either your fingertips or a pastry cutter. The only key? When adding the water to form the dough, add just barely enough for the dough to become pliable and not dry. The only possible headache with this recipe is if the dough is too dry and crackly when you go to roll it out. If in doubt, simply err on the side of an extra pinch of water.
For the filling, tart baking apples such as Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or Gala are ideal because they hold their shape when baked, but any good fresh baking apple will do (check out our tests to find the best apples for pies). Fresh cranberries add bite to the sweet-tart filling and before baking the filling is dotted with butter for rich flavor and texture.
The best part? Because so much liquid evaporates during cooking, this rustic pie has a more concentrated apple flavor and doesn't require the cooling period that big pies often nned before slicing. It can go straight from the oven to your mouth. Your dinner guests might not appreciate it, but your belly sure will.