“I remember her saying…” is a phrase that often finds its way to the tip of my tongue. It comes about at the most random of times - when I’m trying to remember how to take care of the roses in my garden, how to change the tension on my sewing machine or what the right ratio of mustard to mayo is in her potato salad. It happened again today with the pie. This isn’t just any old pie, it’s Mom’s Apple Pie. And Mom’s Apple Pie beats any apple pie I have ever tasted hands down. But I don’t have the recipe. I didn’t think to write it down. In all those years leading up to her passing, if I wanted to know how she made something I would call her. It was our way of connecting and I don’t regret it. I just regret never writing it down.
There are several recipes that are ingrained in my heart and in my mind as irrevocably hers, not to be surpassed by any others. In my mind these foods have no comparison and I shutter to admit that my nose has been turned up a time too many when similar dishes have crossed the table and sat before me. I am polite to be sure, but there’s always a comparison that it isn’t quite as good as Mom would have made.
As the holidays draw closer, and in an attempt to chronicle the recipes that were kept safe inside my mom’s heart, I've quizzed my dad and my sisters, compared notes on rememberings and am recreating some of the all-time favorites and sharing them here. These are SO good, I just have to share. First up…Mom’s Apple Pie, but on the roster will be homemade cranberry sauce (warning…throw away all canned cranberry sauce now! You’ll never open another can again!), Italian green beans, homemade cinnamon rolls, fudge and caramel popcorn. Then buckle up because after the holidays I’ll be sharing some of our family staples - like carrot cake, French bread and more. If you want to be sure to collect some of my family’s favorites, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing.
Let’s get on with it.
How is it that the BEST apple pie I have ever tasted is cooked mostly in the microwave? It’s true and I don’t want to lose you. Stick with me, give it a try - I know you’ll appreciate having the oven space come Thanksgiving Day.
And, fair warning, if you haven’t read any of the recipes I’ve shared before, you need to know two things: I’m not a food blogger so there won’t be pretty pictures AND I am sharing these with the assumption that you are reasonably capable in the kitchen. If you want hand holding you’re in the wrong place (except when it comes to home decorating…then I’ll hold your hand the whole time). But recipes…nope. Think of it as my encouragement to you to call your own mama and ask her all the things that you’ve been meaning to, but just haven’t. Or better yet, invite her over so you can make the recipes together.
Mom’s Apple Pie: The BEST apple pie ever!
For the dough:
This makes 2 crusts
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 t. Salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
I use a good old fashioned pastry blender to blend the butter with the dry ingredients. Blend until the butter is pea size.
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup ice water (not the ice
Critical that this is ice water and not just from the tap. Don’t add the ice silly, just the water.
Stir until the dough adheres to itself, but isn’t sticky. Start with 1/4 cup of water at a time (also - you’re welcome for this bit of hand holding…it’s for selfish purposes. If this pie fails and doesn’t stack up to be the BEST apple pie I don’t want it to be my fault for not sharing the important stuff!).
Divide the dough into two equal portions, wrap in saran wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can make this a couple days ahead of time to help with the holiday or party prep.
For the filling:
10 - 12 (yup…this in NOT a typo) apples of different varieties, peeled and sliced (NOT cubed)
Mom preferred Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Braeburn
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup (plus a smidge more) flour
1/2 teaspoon plus a generous dash of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon plus a little more ground nutmeg (if you haven’t invested in whole nutmeg…do it! It makes a world of difference in your baking. I promise!!)
Dash of salt
You’ll need a LARGE bowl to stir all these ingredients together. Make sure you get all the goodies that settle in the bottom of the bowl. Taste the apples…you’ll know you’re on the right track if the apples themselves taste like a treat!
Putting it together:
Here’s where you need to put on your big girl pants and TRUST!
Roll out one of the doughs and place it in the pie dish. I used a 9in pie plate because I didn’t have a 10in. Score the bottom of the pie dough with your fork. Bake in 400` oven for about 5 minutes.
Pile all the apples on top into a heaping mound that you’re just sure will topple over with the slightest movement. Then…ADD THE REST! This will seem like an insane amount of apples because IT IS. But hey, you wanted the recipe for the BEST apple pie ever, so you need to trust the process.
Roll out the other dough and place on top. Flute the edges, use any left over dough to make cutie patootie designs on top and make sure to cut slits in the top of your pie.
Place in the microwave and cook for 15 minutes. Check to make sure everything is staying in place and cook for an additional 15 minutes. I checked on my pie half way through. You’ll know it’s ready for the oven when apple juices start bubbling out the top.
This is where you get out a large cookie sheet so you can place the pie on before putting it in the oven. Trust me on this - you don’t want to skip this step.
Place it in the oven and cook at 450 for about 15 minutes or until it’s golden on top.
Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.
Also, don’t bother getting out the Cool Whip. You went to all that trouble making real crust, stacking apples sky high and microwaving the dang thing - just make the whipped cream!
Whipping cream (and, NO, half and half won’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried!)
Generous dash (1 T. ish) pure vanilla
A dash of sugar (1 t. ish)
An electric wisk will be your friend, but if you’re doing this after Thanksgiving dinner you may appreciate a bit of a workout with the hand held whisk. ;)