Monday, September 14, 2009

My First "Homemade" Old-Fashioned Mixed-Apple Pie

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”
Dr. Carl Sagan quote

I did it! I made a homemade double-crust apple pie, sort of. Scratch the crust because I got a little help from Marie, Marie Calender's pie crust. And I'm glad I chose it. Like an apt pupil, I read up on DIY crusts--made with flour, sugar, salt, butter, shortening and water; refrigerated varieties (supposedly the best that you simply roll out yourself); and the frozen ones that got slammed with criticism. No matter. I followed my heart and followed Marie and purchased her frozen pie crusts. No regrets. After all, we used to have a Marie Calender's here at Lake Tahoe, and the pies were my favorite, especially the light, flaky crust like mom used to bake.

The truth is, I've always wanted to make a double-crust pie but never did it by myself. Sure, when I was a tween I helped my mother, a baking goddess, do it. I remember together we sliced the apples and she explained to me how to prevent the apples from browning as I put the wedges into a bowl of cold ice water. Fast forward: As I took out my bottom crust from the packaging I got hit with flashbacks, one by one, when plopping my apple wedges high into the pie shell. (I admit it: I need to get one of those fancy coring gadgets because preparing these puppies, one by one, made my blood pressure soar. But the good news is, potassium-rich apples can help lower BP.) I did it. I did it like when I was a kid with my mom there as my guide...

The Crust
  • I read up on the trials of a prepared frozen crust. So I was one up on the woes I faced. I kept 'em frozen before preparing (not refrigerated like I was told to do at the store). Upon opening up the package of two crusts, I was surprised at the texture--just like homemade. I lightly floured the bottom with whole wheat flour. Then, I plopped my apples (see below for Filling info) in and was pleased at the metamorphisis that was appearing before my eyes. (Next time I will do a lattice crust but that is a bit more challenging.)
  • When taking out the second crust to avoid sticking I flopped it over in my hands and ran warm water over the tin pan. Then, flipping it back, I topped the pie with the second crust and there were a few glitches. No worries. I dabbed a bit of warm water on the torn parts and smoothed out a handsome crust to write home about. When I fluted the edges (like mom taught me to do) I felt like she was in the dining room with me. It was an unworldly experience. Instead of brushing the top of the crust with an egg white, I chose organic milk. And sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on top was just the beginning of a good time because I sensed the work was over.
  • I cut a few slits (as I read to do) and cut out a small circle on top of the pie. It looked like pies in photos. Into the oven for 15 minutes...and then I peeked at my pie before turning the oven down for another hour. It was confirmed. My first homemade apple pie was not going to flop. My mom was an excitable, passionate bakeress and I will never forget one time when her homemade Butterscotch Pie turned out too soupy. She cried. I cried. It was a sad event. (To prevent a sequel, I was thankful that I read ahead of time and remembered to prevent the pie crust from cooking too fast and burning...fold foil over the heat-sensitive edges.)
  • Note: A no brainer: Do this first before turning to your crust of choice. Combine the ingredients. I put it all in a collander and drizzled thick, brown juice ontop of the apples, stirring it up so each and every apple was coated.
6 large apples (Golden Delicious, Granny, Fuji), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into wedges
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon
  • One hour later: At 8:50 P.M. last night I peeked inside the oven. My pie was golden brown and the apple juices were all bubbly oozing out through the slits. I took a fork and pulled out one single apple wedge--tender. It was done. Sixty plus minutes later (I couldn't wait any longer to judge the pie), I cut a piece of pie (I rarely eat after 7:00 P.M.--the secret to maintaining a size 4-6) and savored the first bite. Success. The apples were hot and juicy, not too sweet or too tart. The crust tender, a nice golden light color, and hard to decode if it was homemade or not. It was a natural, wholesome apple pie (almost like mom used to bake). I miss her. Making and baking this sweet apple pie brought me back into time, the Sixties, when I was just a kid who loved her mother who knew how to bake from scratch.

P.S. Enter the Healthiest Survival Pie Contest and Win a Copy of The Healing Powers of Chocolate, Olive Oil, Vinegar--Your Choice. Click Here for Easy Details--the Title of Your Fave Healthiest Pie.


  1. FYI: I was so tempted to try and create the apple masterpiece in the main photo on this blog but...upon my little brother's request, I made the old-fashioned apple pie (for him). He still likes milk chocolate...What can I say? If you can beat 'em, join 'em? Exclude dark chocolate.

  2. Hello anyone? Pie contest is getting some mean competition. State your survival pie and you may win a free, signed copy of The Healing Powers of Chocolate! And I'll bake it, too.