The Best Apple Pie Ever

Updated 1/23/2020

At Sunburst we have 5 apple trees and a pear. When we first got here I was super excited but because the trees were neglected the fruit this fall was not the greatest not to mention at near neck breaking heights. I’ll be tackling pruning next month which will hopefully (eventually) make the trees healthier – the Crispin especially produced extremely malformed fruit- so here’s to hoping some improved air flow will help. So because of this and the move, and crap weather, the chickens got to enjoy most of the apples. Oh well. Next year will be better.  I was able to snag a few decent apples to bring to fair last fall though so that’s a positive point and I’m gonna hang on to that.

Since first writing this post my apple pie recipe has gotten even better.  For one thing I now use only lard in the crust.  I used to do a mix of butter and lard but I find all lard gives the texture I’m looking for.  I’ve also been sneaking in boiled cider into ALL of my apple recipes (breads, cakes, muffins, pies, everything) since making it two seasons ago.  It gives a huge burst of apple flavor to every bake it touches and I can’t say enough about it.  It’s super easy to make too, simply boil cider until it cooks down to a thick syrup.  Simply add 7 quarts of apple cider (my fave is from Votaw’s in Pioneer, OH) to a large pot and cook it down to 1 quart.  Then you can can it in jelly jars in a hot water bath canner and process for 10 minutes. (be sure to follow the proper usage directions that came with your canner)

These days each one of my boys is big enough to help and is eager to do so. Baking especially.  Sometimes including kids in the cooking process is hard because they are each clamoring to “do the thing” and it gets a little loud. It is also really hard for me to work past my “just get it done” attitude to slow down and let them help, and even though it may take 3 times as long to get the task done I’ve gotta remember they’re excited and we’re building important life skills.

If I can manage getting all of the necessary equipment and ingredients out and ready before they notice somethings going down in the kitchen it makes it a bit less difficult.  If the nosey 3 year old comes out and asks ‘whatcha doin?” and I let the word “cookie” or “pie” slip the whole operation is up in smoke because what 3 year old do you know can keep a secret?  None of them.

I also use a bar height bench for our work surface rather than having them stand on a stool by the counter.  Unfortunately our children inherited my grace which means they trip and fall over flat ground regularly…we don’t need to add any sort of height to the equation. This way everyone has fair access to the process at all times.

And yes.  We use knives. I know…crazyness. Someone is probably freaking out right now.  Look, they’re either going to learn it the right way or they’re gonna wing it, I’d rather it be the right way.  We also use the least sharp knives in the kitchen. With proper supervision and instruction they do just fine…I’m not saying let your kid julienne carrots unsupervised with a super sharp knife. I am saying calm down they’re more capable than you realize.

I’d like to share my apple pie recipe with you, its got to be my favorite apple pie I have ever eaten…maybe it simply tastes so good because we made it together, or maybe it really is The Best Apple Pie Ever. I do know this: So long as you bake it, it will always be the best.

The Best Apple Pie Ever

For the crust:

  •  1-1/2 cup flour
  •  2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup cold Lard
  • 1/4 cup cold water

1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl, using a pastry blender or fingertips work the lard into the flour, then slowly add water continuing to blend until dough begins to stick together.

2. Roll into a ball and turn out onto plastic wrap and chill up to 3 hours.

3. Before baking, remove from plastic wrap, roll dough out, and place in pie pan.

For the Filling:

  • 6 Apples (a variety of tart and sweet)
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup White Sugar + More for top
  • 1/4 Brown Sugar
  • Sprinkle of Fresh Grated Nutmeg
  • 3 Tbs Boiled Cider
  • 1 Tbs Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbs Minute Tapioca
  • 1 whole egg beaten for top
  1. Fold all ingredients together.
  2. Pour into prepared crust, apply top crust in your preferred method.
  3. Brush top with beaten egg & sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Place pie on a cookie sheet, cover top in foil. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, remove foil. Reduce temperature to 375 and bake for 25 minutes.

Homemade Applesauce

 

This year my family got together and made applesauce for the first time. We had not only 2 bushels of FREE apples, but we also had a free day this weekend to make SAUCE. Happy Dance. And by “free day” I mean, “We are already canning 40 lbs of beef this weekend so we might as well …”

Funny how everything has to come at once. We had planned on doing the applesauce, then we got that faithful call from the meat processor that our steer was ready for pick up. All blessings of course … we have meat for our freezer and tasty applesauce for the dead of winter. The work is totally worth it. Plus you get the added bonus of family time, and passing traditions down through the generations.

No extra acid was used in our recipe, you can add lemon or citric acid, however some claim that it causes an off flavor so we opted out. Sugar is an optional add in too, it all comes down to taste. Since the babies would be the main eaters of the applesauce we chose to not add sugar. The apples we had were a mix of lord-knows-what varying in texture, size, color, and acidity. Our end product had enough acid that we were comfortable skipping it and the sugar both, simply for taste reasons and safety, too.

Lets get to it then!

Apples

Acquire your apples. You want a nice mix of sweet and tart apples. We aren’t really sure what kind of apples we ended up with, but we could tell that there were three distinct varieties ranging from tart to sweet and crisp to soft.

Coring and Peeling

Core and peel your apples. You can see we saved our skins and cores and stuffed them in half gallon jars for apple cider vinegar making. Another blog for another time.

Cored and Peeled Apples

A pot of cored and peeled apples ready for cooking.

Apples Cooking Down

Apples cooking down. We worked in batches with two large pots on the stove. Cook them until they are nice and soft and easily mashable.

Mixing applesauce

We used a hand mixer in the pot to “sauce” our sauce. It has some teeny weenie chunks in it. It’s homemade, the perfection is in the imperfection.

Filling Jars

Fill your jars. We use a 2 cup measuring cup to scoop into jars rather than a ladle. We find that we have more control over the lava hot substance, and it takes less trips from the heat source to the jars. Be sure to tap your jars gently to get out all the air bubbles or stick a utensil down into the jars to free up bubbles.

In The Bath

Add your jars to the hot water bath canner. Wait for the water to boil then set your timer for 20 minutes. Remove your jars and let them cool on a towel. The sound of can lids popping is the best sound in the world!

Happy Applesauce Making!