Grandpa’s Apple Pie

My grandfather was an MP in WWII and a postman in Brooklyn in the 1940’s. When I knew him, he had long since retired and had a head full of white hair. I remember watching him make this pie when I was still too little for the top of my head to reach the top of the formica countertop in my grandparents’ kitchen.

He told me once that the key to this pie is to let the apples sweat for a bit before you put the pie together. At the time, I didn’t understand why that was important, but like a lot of things he told me over the years, it stuck with me.

Grandpa spent more time teaching me about cooking than anybody else, and for me cooking and family go hand-and-hand. Cooking was quality time. It was always about learning. It was about bonding and, yes, to me cooking grew to represent love. So I think it’s fitting that I begin this blog on Valentine’s Day (which is, coincidentally, my birthday) with this recipe from one of the men who loved me first.

I find dimes from time-to-time. Always dimes. I find them on the ground when I’m outside on walks, around the house. I find them in parking lots. And I’m not sure why, but I swear they’re from my grandfather.

Grandpa, you are missed.

Note: This recipe is written below as it was published in our family cookbook, and while Spectrum makes an organic shortening that I’ve used with very good results, I prefer a butter crust with this recipe. I’ve always, always used Martha’s recipe with excellent results every.darn.time. 

In any case feel free to experiment and, of course, your favorite double pie crust recipe will work in place of my grandfather’s – I promise you that he would not have been offended. My grandmother now… that’s a story for another day. If you don’t have a favorite pie crust, just double the recipe for my fav, or perhaps you’d like to try this one and let me know how it comes out. 

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Grandpa’s Apple Pie

Crust
2 1/4 C All purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 C plus 2 T shortening
1/3 C cold water
Cut in 2/3 of the shortening until mixture is like corn meal. Cut in remaining 1/3 of shortening until mixture resembles large peas. Sprinkle water, 1 tablespoon at a time, while tossing with a fork. Add only enough water to make mixture cling together. It should not be wet or slippery. Divide dough in half. Roll out each half on a floured surface.

Filling
3 lbs MacIntosh apples, peeled, cored, sliced, and sprinkled with lemon
2 T cinnamon
3/4 C sugar
pinch salt
1 T butter

Coat apples with cinnamon-sugar-salt mixture in a large bowl. Place one half of the prepared crust in bottom of pie plate or tin. Fill bottom crust with apples. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust and poke with a fork to vent steam.

Bake in an oven heated to 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. Lower heat slightly if pie is browning too fast.

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