For the pie crust:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
9 tablespoons ice water
For the apple filling:
4 pounds fresh apples (I used Gravenstein)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp coarse salt
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
For the egg wash:
1 large egg yolk whisked with 1 tbsp heavy cream
Start off with putting flour, salt and sugar for dough into a food processor. Mix together. Then, add cold butter cubes and pulse until the texture gets crumbly (doesn't take long- less than a minute or so). Then for the final step, gently pour in the ice water while the processor is on to get it to form a dough. It doesn't take long for this last step- less than a minute. You should get a nice lump of dough when it's ready.
Then, take dough out of the food processor and divide into two. Wrap each in saran wrap and put in the fridge. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the better- the butter will get cold again which is going to help the flakiness of the crust when it bakes. I left the dough discs in for an hour but overnight would really be ideal.
Once you take the discs out of the fridge, you are going to take one of them and roll it out to about 12" in diameter. Then, carefully lay it in your pie plate. I used a 9" pie plate and had enough for the dough to go gently over the edge of the pie plate. The next step is to put the pie plate in the fridge for another hour so it can get cold again.
While the pie crust is in the fridge, you can work on the pieces that will go on top of the pie to form a crust. I decided to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out little hearts. I rolled the second dough disc out into 1/8" thick and cut out hearts. The cookie cutter I had is about 2" big and I ended up cutting out about 40 of them. Place your shapes on a non-stick baking sheet then put it in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
At this point, you can prepare your apples. Peel and then slice 4 lbs of apples. Once they're cut, you can add the other ingredients and give everything a stir. You can then take your crust out of the fridge and put the apple mixture into the pie. At this point, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Then the fun part comes in.
Take the heart pieces out of the fridge and gently place them around the edge of the pie. Prepare your egg wash and brush the pieces gently. Then put another round of pieces on the pie, connected to the first round. Then, do the third and fourth rounds. The fifth round should be near the center of the pie. Brush everything with the egg wash and give the top of the pie a dusting with cinnamon before placing it on a tray and then putting it in the oven. (Placing it on a tray prevents drips from going on the bottom of your oven).
Bake at 400 degrees for the first 25 minutes, then turn down the heat and bake at 375 for another hour. I like a darker crust so if you prefer something not quite as dark, start checking it after 50 minutes at 375. Remove from the oven, give the pie a light dusting with sugar then let it sit to cool. That's it! Enjoy!