Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nana's Apple Pie

There are few desserts that are better than a homemade pie. Really think about all the desserts you've had in your life... are you thinking?... and in your top 5 favorite desserts, I'm betting that some relative's homemade pie that is always brought to a particular holiday or family occasion makes the cut. Of all the fruit pies, my top two picks are apple and strawberry-rhubarb, but strawberries aren't in season yet and as this was a birthday request, I went with apple this time.

Truth be told, there's a second reason to why this was an apple pie. In addition to it being a birthday request, there was also an unfortunate consistency incident with a strawberry-rhubarb pie two summers ago that's made me think twice about making one again. Once the farmer's market opens back up, however, and I'm surrounded by rhubarb, I'm sure I'll give it another go... with a different recipe.

Anyway, back to the pie at hand! This is my great-grandmother's pie recipe, which I'm guessing was handed down to her by older relatives, so there's a good chance this is the recipe that came over from Germany with great-x?- grandma Heiburger. There are probably as many pie crust recipes out there as there are people who make them, but this is still the best crust I've ever had. Normally I want nothing to do with shortening -- it's white vegetable-based goo, how could that possibly be a good idea? -- but I know better than to EVER mess with a recipe like this. It's made fantastic pie crust for over 80 years, it's perfect the way it is. If you want to skip the pie crust steps, which probably adds 30-45 minutes, you can make it with a store-bought crust. But I promise, it's totally worth it to make the crust.

Nana's Apple Pie

For Crust:
3 cups sifted flour
1 1/4 cup shortening
1 tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg
1 tsp salt
5 Tbs *cold* water
1 Tbs vinegar

1. Mix the flour, shortening, salt and baking powder. Cut with a pastry knife (I used a butter knife because I don't have all the fun tools I'd like, and it still worked, though took a little longer).
2. Mix eggs, water and vinegar. Add to the dry mix and mix thoroughly.

The crust can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, probably for up to a day, but it's definitely best to make it when you plan on using it.

Apple Pie Filling:

2 1/2 pounds (5 or 6 large) Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 Tbs flour
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into little pieces
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
*Preheat oven to 425ºF

1. Peel, core and slice the apples to about 1/4 inch thickness.
*I've tended to peel the apples, use the core-er/slicer gadget and then thinly slice them. It seems easiest to me, though there's definitely no right way to do this so long as you end up with thinly-sliced apples.

2. In a large bowl, combine the apple slices with the sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring several times, so that the apples soften and produce that wonderful sticky juice/goo.

3. While the apples are goo-ing, roll out half of your dough on a floured surface and line the bottom of your pan with it. Be sure to prick the bottom with a fork!

4. Pour the filling into the bottom crust and gently level the top with a spoon. Dot the top with the small pieces of butter.

6. Cover the pie with the upper crust and gently slice air vents in any pattern you choose. Sprinkle with the 2tsp sugar and 1/8 tsp cinnamon.
*I'd recommend just sprinkling some over the top, straight out of the jar. It tends to clump if you try to "shake" it from an 1/8 tsp measuring spoon.
7. Bake for 30 minutes at 425ºF on the middle rack.
8. Slip a baking sheet under the pie and reduce the temperature to 350ºF. Bake until the fruit feels just tender and juices have started bubbling through the vents (hence the baking sheet!). This takes about 30-45 more minutes.
9. Cool completely on a rack, 3-4 hours.

*If you want to serve the pie warm, you can reheat it in the oven at 350ºF for about 15 minutes. It's best on the first day you make it, though it keeps for 2-3 days, covered, at room temperature.


  1. hmmm we might have to have an apple pie off at Thanksgiving, but this honestly is the greatest apple pie ever!!!

  2. I'm always up for a pie baking contest... though I'm not sure who I'm competing against. Glad you liked the recipe, and really glad people are reading these and trying the recipes!!