Posts Tagged ‘apple pie’

Happy Pie Day

Just before baking: lots of apples and lots of crumble on top.

Just before baking: lots of apples and lots of crumble on top.


Hello, pie. No I won’t be making any cliched comments about the Life of Pie. Just a recipe. A classic that holds precious memories. This is the pie that always takes me home.

And, oh, by the way. January 23 is National Pie Day. Warm up your oven.

If you’re in Milwaukee and not up to baking, go have a slice at Honey Pie Cafe. Get there early.

Mom’s Apple Pie with Crumble Topping

My mother always doubled this recipe. One pie is for immediate eating and the other goes into the freezer.

1 recipe Crumb Topping (below)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups thinly sliced, peeled tart cooking apples (about 2-1/4 pounds)

1. Make Crumb Topping. Set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together 1-1/4 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of the water; gently toss with a fork. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until all dough is moistened. Form into a ball.

3. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Set aside. (I usually cover and put it in the fridge til I’m finished peeling apples and mixing the topping.)

4. Preheat oven to 375 degree F. In a large mixing bowl stir together sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add apple slices. Gently toss to combine.

5. Pile apples mixture into crust. Sprinkle Crumb Topping over apple mixture. Gently pat mixture down over apples.

6. Place pie on a baking sheet. Cover entire pie loosely with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes more or until top is dark golden brown and apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack.

CRUMB TOPPING: Stir together 3/4 brown sugar, 1/2 cups flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/3 cup butter unitl the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1 cup chopped nuts.

Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare as above, except after sprinkling with crumb topping, wrap entire pie tightly in a double thickness of foil. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake frozen pie, remove foil wrapping and place frozen pie on a baking sheet. Cover entire pie loosely with foil. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes more or until top is brown and apples are tender. Cool on wire rack.

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Random Act of Pie

Every now and then, six or seven firefighters sit in a row of chairs in front of the firehouse at dusk, sometimes after dark, cooling off. I’ve driven by on my way home and there they are, side by side, sitting on folding chairs in the driveway, facing the street. Makes me smile.

And because of that, I decided to bake them a slab apple pie (also known as apple pie bars).

Picked up Jonathan and Cortland apples from the farmer’s market. Used vodka, along with water, in the dough for the first time because Cook’s Illustrated says it makes the best pie crust. It’s all about science and gluten (which makes tough crusts). When water is combined with flour, it forms gluten. Replace some of the water with vodka and you don’t get as much crust-toughening gluten. I probably won’t do it again. My original crust was easier to work with. Just sayin’.

Also tried adding apple cider to the glaze, rather than my standard milk.

Then it was time for the delivery. I stopped in just as the firefighters were finishing dinner. “Here’s the dessert I ordered,” said the guy who held the door open for me.

It made the guys smile. Which made me smile. Again.

Here’s the recipe:

Slab Apple Pie

3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
½ cup ice water
¼ cup ice cold vodka or water

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 cups sliced apples
1 recipe Vanilla Glaze (below)


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Mom, Apple Pie, and Angels

At my mother’s bedside yesterday, knowing that she only has days, if not hours, to live, I held her hand and whispered in her ear: “It’s OK to put on your angel wings and soar.”

But moving beyond this life seems to be a quietly hesitant passage for her. She has led such a full life, that I think she may still feel the need to do a little more caring for those of us she is leaving behind.

My sister made dinner in her honor last night. It was a savory blanket of comfort food that wrapped us all up in its warmth. It was simple, but so worthy of second helpings. Roast pork tenderloin rubbed in salt, pepper, and herbs. Redskin mashed potatoes. Gravy. Roasted mashed acorn squash with butter and a smidge of brown sugar. If Mom were able, she would have baked us her apple pie with a topping of buttery brown sugar and walnut topping. We would have peeled and sliced the apples while she tossed together the dough and rolled it to fit the pie pan.

I promise to share Mom’s Apple Pie soon. But in the meantime, as snow blankets most of this country, can you do me a favor? Go outside—by yourself or with your family or friends—and make snow angels for my mother. I think she needs those angels to gently accompany her as she takes to the heavens with her own wings.

Then fling some snow, marvel at life, hold tight to your family and friends, add a splash of Bailey’s to your hot chocolate, and fix comfort food tonight.

4 Responses to “Mom, Apple Pie, and Angels”

  1. bob says:

    another snow angel made under the clear starry night & imprinted in my heart forever…love to mom & you…the words from both of you are magic to me…thank you !!!…oxoxox

  2. angela baptista says:

    Beautifully written aunty! Can’t make snow angels here but we can make grass ones! And I will hold the kids a little tighter tonight, say a prayer that she finds peace soon, cook a good ol spread of comfort food and embrace and celebrate life.

  3. Amy Moody says:

    Grandma wouldn’t have it any other way!! She would want us to have fun and continue smiling!! She has lots of angels around her and lots of love and prayers being sent her way!! Grandpa is patiently waiting for her to be by his side again!!

  4. Gayle Sullivan says:


    Snow angels made and love being sent! That was a wonderful post:)

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