After the Little Pie Company opened the doors of its first location on 43rd Street in Manhattan in 1985, it didn't take long for word to spread. The owners, Michael Deraney and Arnold Wilkerson, soon found their tiny storefront bakery inundated with New Yorkers clamoring for a whiff—and taste—of their mouthwatering fresh-baked pies. True to Wilkerson's dramatic background as a former actor, the Little Pie Company touts itself as a "theater of baking." Large windows allow passersby to watch bakers in tall white hats and crisp aprons cut fruit, make dough, and slide the pies into large ovens. Row after row of pies cooling on racks emit an aroma that is nothing less than intoxicating.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and lard. (If using vegetable shortening, work in the butter first until it's the size of large peas, then add the shortening.) Using your fingertips, work the fat into the flour until the mixture forms pieces the size of peas. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and cold water. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in a fast, steady stream, stirring with a fork. Continue stirring until the flour is almost completely mixed in but the dough does not form a ball. Work in remaining flour with the heel of your hand. Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 disks. (There will still be pieces of butter and lard visible.) Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Roll out each disk and fit 1 pastry round into a 9-inch pie pan.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut each apple quarter into 3 wedges. Put the apples into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients except the butter, and add to the apples, evenly coating them. Heap the filling into the dough-lined pie pan. Trim the bottom crust to a 1/2-inch overhang. Dot the filling with butter. Arrange the top crust over the apples, leaving a 1-inch edge. Fold the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and flute the edges. Bake the pie until golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie.
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