When I walked into my house that Saturday in 1985, I heard noises coming from my kitchen. Curious, I went in and was shocked to find my husband Bill and my sonâ€‘inâ€‘law Reagan busy peeling apples. Reagan picked all the apples from the trees in his backyard and he and my husband thought it would be great if I would make a batch of apple pies for the freezer.
Considering the number of apples the two guys peeled, we decided it would be best to double the recipe and make two pies at a time. Reagan grabbed an envelope and began to write on the back the ingredients and the amounts needed to double the recipe as I said them.
One of the first things I learned to bake after Bill and I married was apple pie. He said he had never eaten an apple pie as good as the ones his grandmother made. This was the encouragement I needed to learn to bake pies.
I used the recipe from the Comstock brand canned apples that were so popular at the time. As far as I was concerned, those canned apples tasted just fine but Bill kept asking me to try to use fresh apples. We made a deal, if he would peel, I would be happy to use fresh apples. From that time on he has always peeled the apples.
After a while, based on the portions from the canned apple recipe I created my own recipe using fresh red delicious apples from the store, adjusting sugar and flour amounts and adding extra spices. At times, I use apples that are not as sweet as red delicious apples. In that instance, I use little extra sugar. Fourteen large red delicious apples, purchased at the store, make approximately two quarts steamed apples, enough for two pies.
My double crust pie crust recipe is taken from the Betty Crocker Cook Book we received for a wedding present so many years ago. I increased the ingredients because I use larger than usual pie dishes. Eventually I began using Grandma Bonnie’s pie dishes made by Longaberger Pottery of Newark, Ohio. The pies should be nice and brown and the bottom will continue to cook even after removing from the oven. The bottom of a pie will brown much better in a pie dish made of pottery than in an ordinary ovenproof glass dish. I never use metal or aluminum foil pie pans.
Stir the dough mixture with a big spoon until the dough starts to hold together. Using latex gloves (I prefer not to use my hands as the dough gets under my fingernails which isn’t very sanitary) knead the dough with your hands forming one big ball, then divide into four parts. You will note in the pie crust recipe that I specified Gold Medal flour and Crisco shortening. I have tried other brands and they never turn out as well.
Both the apple pie filling and the double crust pie crust recipes can be doubled to make a batch of pies to freeze for future use. Do not make slits in the top of the crust until you are ready to bake the pies. It is best to thaw or partially thaw before placing in the oven.
Let the pie cool for three hours. Do not cut the pie while hot; the juices are not set and you cannot remove pie slices easily from the pie dish. The pie remains slightly warm and slices much better when cooled.
Another little tip, at times there is just enough of the apple mixture and the dough left over to make a little sample “mini” pie to make sure it tastes “just right” before I serve my family or my guests.
As the afternoon wore on, we were having a great time. What I thought was going to be a big chore is a memory I have cherished over the years. You see, a few years later Reagan died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 42. He and our daughter, Susan, were married for 20 years. They had a 17-year-old son. Reagan was the son Bill and I never had.
This recipe is copied from the words Reagan penned that day (the words in brackets are mine). I treasure the recipe he wrote on the back of an envelope. We made five apple pies that Saturday afternoon.
Apple filling for two double crust pies:
2 quarts of homegrown [fresh] apples [cooked until slightly tender]
1 cup of white sugar [granulated]
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
8 rounded tablespoons of flour
8 tablespoons of butter
Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices. Barely cover the bottom of a large cooking pot with water and add the sliced apples. Set heat to low, stirring occasionally until apples are slightly tender. When apples are ready, remove from heat, drain and return to pot. Add all ingredients except the butter, mixing well. (Note that when mixing the apples juice accumulates in the bottom of the pot.) Divide the apples evenly into two deep pottery pie dishes. Dot the top of each pie with 4 tablespoons of butter. Add top crust and make cuts or designs to allow steam to escape. Preheat the oven and bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes until top is golden brown.
Double crust pie crust:
4-1/2 cups sifted Gold Medal flour
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups Crisco shortening
8+ tablespoons cold water
Add salt to flour and mix. Cut shortening into flour with pastry blender. Gradually add coldâ€‘water and mix until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Knead dough and divide into four parts. Roll 2 pieces of dough into circles and place one piece in each pie dish. Add apple pie filling and top with butter. Roll remaining two pieces of dough into circles and place on top, crimp edges and make slits in top to allow steam to escape.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1