Okay, after a couple of days of just tons and tons of great advice, recipes, and encouragement from the incredibly knowledgeable locals here on the General Topics board, I'm sitting here at 1AM Saturday night eating piping hot apple pie of my own creation. It is damn good! Much closer to what I was looking for (and didn't get at Thanksgiving, which started this whole thing) - and in some ways even better. My saga:
I ended up not going with any one recipe, but combining elements from a bunch of them.
Took Sandra L's advice on apples - raced out to the Union Square Market and bought
Northern Spy, Mutsu, Honeycrisp and Cortland apples.
Got about 6 lbs, which, it turns out, would be enough for about 2 pies (my dish isn't that deep).
Peeled, cored, and sliced the apples about 1/4 inch thick (as per Colleen's advice). At this point I realized we were just about completely out of sugar! I put 1/3 cup total into the 6 lbs, and it was half white and half brown sugar.
Added nutmeg, cinnamon, and on a whim, a couple of shakes of cayenne and mixed it up.
I put 2 cups of organic pastry flour, 1 cup of organic whole wheat pastry flour and 1 tspn. salt in the food processor.
Added 4 tablespoons of butter (in tablespoon-size slices), and 4 tablespoons of Smart Balance Organic Shortening as per Chris VR. It turns out this is just organic palm oil.
Pulsed the mixture a few times until the fat seemed somewhat absorbed (as per Pat Goldberg), then added 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar and a few tablespoons of ice water. Some part of me knew even at the time that it wasn't enough water, but the thing more or less folded up into a ball, two balls actually (Pat G again) and I put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Meanwhile I prepared the apples.
After letting the dough warm up a little, I tried rolling it out and it completely fell apart, since there wasn't enough water. So...I just added a few tablespoons of ice water to each of the dough balls, reformed them, and put them back in the fridge for about 20 minutes figuring I was probably doomed. But they rolled out perfectly, and I followed Pat's procedures w/ the plastic wrap (decided to opt for simplicity, rather than the intriguing Pastry Bible route).
There wasn't quite enough dough, but it more or less fit. I only just saw crusty's post about needing to use more flour when using pastry flour. Oh well.
After laying out the bottom crust, I piled in the apples (leaving the liquid that had collected in the bowl right there), as much as I could, put a few pats of butter on top, and then applied the top crust (with the help of my lovely wife). After that, I brushed the top with some whole milk, cut three slits with a pairing knife, and put it in the oven, which I had preheated to 420. After about 25 minutes I turned the oven down to 350, and the pie was done in just under an hour.
As Colleen warned, since I used no thickening agent and didn't precook the apples, there was a lot of liquid inside the pie, but not by any means too much - the pie so far has maintained its shape, and certainly isn't a soggy mess. It would have more shape if I had had a little more crust so that I could have pulled it all the way over the edge of the deepish pan. That said, the standout feature to me, my mishap notwithstanding, is the crust. It's perfectly flakey, but has some of the added depth and flavor that I find in whole wheat crusts. Colleen's suggestion of 2/3 regular and 1/3 w.w. was perfect, and the combo of palm oil and butter gives a nice buttery taste.
The apple filling is also great. Not particularly sweet (but certainly flavorful, and I think it has a lot to do with the wonderful combo. of apples) and the kick from cayenne is perfect. In the beginning I think I sliced a couple of the apples too thin (probably about an 1/8th of an inch), so there is a slight applesauce effect, but for the most part the apples have maintained their form and the texture is good.
The problem: My wife went to bed an hour ago, and I think I might eat the whole thing before morning comes!!!
Yahoo!! Sorry for this ridiculously long post, but I just couldn't not fill everyone in on my adventure after I received so much help here. Wish I could send you all a slice! Now I can begin to experiment.
p.s. Just cut myself a third slice and it's the best yet!