Apple Pie

I remember when I first learned how to make a pie. I was probably about 7 years old, and my family had a huge rhubarb plant in our garden. I always loved to bake things in the kitchen, and my mom showed me how to make a rhubarb pie using this crust recipe. Well, I was only 7 years old, and it was my first pie, so you can imagine that the first crust didn’t turn out quite as beautifully as my mom’s. But with a little practice, I mastered the techniques.

With so many good apples available right now, I wanted to share this pie recipe recipe with you. I wrote the directions based on a unique technique my mom made up – grating the butter using a hand-held cheese grater. It seems to work great every time, so if you’ve had trouble making flaky pies before, give this recipe a chance. You can also watch a video of me making the crust if you want a visual of what I’m talking about in this recipe. Click here to see the video.

For the filling:

about 6 medium-sized apples – 6 cups total or as much as you need to make a nice, full pie (We like the tartness of  Rome, Ida Red, Granny Smith, and  Jonathan, but any apple you have on hand will be fine. Just don’t use Red Delicious.) 
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup rapadura (or sugar)
1 teaspoon cinnamon


For the crust:

2 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup cold, salted butter
very cold water


For the Apple Filling

Peel, core, and slice the apples. In a large bowl, toss them together with the flour, sugar and cinnamon.


For the Crust:

Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Take the butter directly out of the refrigerator and carefully grate it into the flour using a cheese grater (use a hand-held grater for this, NOT an electric grater). Each time you grate the stick of butter, roll it in the flour so it is always coated with flour. When all the butter is grated, mix it into the flour slightly. DURING THIS STEP, YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVER-MIX. IF YOU OVER-MIX THE CRUST, IT WILL BECOME TOUGH.

Fill a small pitcher with water, and add an ice cube to make it extra cold. The cold water will help the butter to stay cold during this step, resulting in a nice, flaky crust. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the water into the flour/butter mixture. Stir the water in with two or three strokes. Again, make sure you don’t over-mix, or you’ll have tough crust. Keep adding water until you have a dough that sticks together nicely but is not so wet that it sticks to your hands. Don’t knead it; press it together gently, adding more water if needed.

Break the dough into two equal sections. Set one half aside while you roll the first one out for the bottom crust. Flour the counter well, or the crust will stick. To be sure that the crust is the right size, place the pie plate you plan on using over the circle you have rolled out. The crust should be about 1 1/2 inches bigger than your pie plate on all sides. If your crust is a little bigger, don’t worry – you’ll just trim it down a little when you have it in the pie plate.

Place the rolled out crust into the bottom of your pie plate. This can be a tricky step, because… well, how do you pick up a large circle of delicate crust and put it into your pie pan without breaking it? So I found a way to make it easier. Fold the crust in half – make sure it’s dusted with flour on the top – then fold it in half again, so your crust is just 1/4 the size of a circle, and then place it in the pie plate. Unfold it, and… you have a beautiful pie crust that’s NOT torn!

Pour the apple mixture into your crust. Roll out the top crust and place it over the pie. (You can use the same method of getting it onto the pie as you did with the bottom crust.) You should have about 1/2 to 3/4 inches of crust hanging over the edge of your pie. If you have more than this, just cut it off with a scissors or a sharp knife. Tuck the overhanging crust under the edge of the bottom crust, and crimp the pie with your fingers. Cut a few vents in the top. Then bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

The last step: ENJOY! This pie is best served hot.

Wow! Check out all of those beautiful flakes! They were all formed by the really cold little flakes of grated butter, and they were preserved by mixing the dough as little as possible.

How do you make pie crust? Do you have any techniques that result in a really flaky crust? Has anyone ever made a pie in a brown paper bag? (That’s Mom’s next pie project.)

Pumpkin Pie

Oven 375
Makes one 8 inch pie

If you’ve never made a pie before, someone may have already convinced you that’s it’s a bit tricky. Well phooey on them! They probably never made a pie with Emma’s flaky pie crust recipe. It’s unique. And although you may turn out pies of varying degrees on the GOOD-TO-FANTASTIC scale, they should at least be good. Never blah. And who knows, you may even hit the FANTASTIC mark first shot.

Our family’s favorite pumpkin pie recipe is adapted from The Martha Stewart Cookbook. We almost always use butternut squash instead of the pumpkin; it gives the pie a much richer flavor.


1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
2/3 cup cold salted butter
very cold water

For directions to make the pie crust, check out Emma’s Flaky Pie Crust video.

2 cups pumpkin puree (or butternut squash puree)
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup rapadura
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt


This pie turns out the best if you process the ingredients in a blender, but you can combine them in a large bowl too. Either way, just combine all the ingredients together and blend until creamy or whisk until combined.

Pour into a prepared, unbaked pie shell, and bake at 375 degrees for 45 – 50 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and the custard set. To test the custard, gently jiggle the pie. If the filling is firm in the middle, it’s done.

Let the pie cool before serving.

Lazy Peach Pie (Peach Cobbler)

From Debra DeMoulin
This was given to me by a Mennonite friend of mine.  It is a family Favorite!

Melt 1 stick margarine in a 13×9 or 8×8 glass casserole

Mix:  1 c. sugar
1 c. self-rising flour
1 c. milk

Pour into casserole.  Add one qt. canned peaches with about 1/2 the juice.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot as is or with a scoop of ice cream.  YUM YUM!!!!

Christine’s Apple Pie Filling

Canned apple pie filling:  the ultimate last-minute dessert for unexpected company or chilly winter evenings when you’d rather be sitting beside the woodstove than slaving on pies in the kitchen.  If you’d rather, you can freeze this pie filling in quart freezer bags. Enjoy.

4 – 6 quarts peeled and sliced firm apples, like Winesap, Rome, Ida Red or Jonathan (reserved)

4 1/2 cups sugar or rapadura

1 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder

4 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

3 tablespoons lemon juice

10 cups water

In a large pot, cook all the ingredients, except the apples, until thick and bubbly, stirring often.  Remove from heat.

Add as many apples to the sugar sauce as you can, keeping the mixture plenty juicy.

Place the apples into prepared quart jars and process 25 minutes in a hot water bath.   Makes 4 – 6 quarts.