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.

The Best Blueberry Pie & The Secret To Perfect Pie With Frozen Berries

Little O Sneaking Some Blueberry Pie
Little O sneaking some blueberry pie with whole wheat crust.

July is blueberry month. Those tasty blue orbs that they call a super fruit are finally back. I remember when my Grandparents got me and my sister so excited to go blueberry picking in Paw Paw Michigan. We were going to stuff our faces with blueberries then head to Lake Michigan and swim and try to climb the dunes. It sounded like so much fun!! If you have never picked blueberries, well you are in for a treat, let me tell ya. One of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, put it something like this: “Picking blueberries isn’t like picking pumpkins,” and he’s right. We were out in the blueberry patch on the hottest flippin’ day of the year picking blueberries all afternoon and I swear we never even ended up with a quart of stinkin’ berries. See, they send you out into the part of the patch that has already been picked over by the machine and about 100 other kids being tortured by their lying “this will be so much fun” grandparents. That was the last time we did that. And by God we earned that trip to the lake.

These days my grandparents still make that trip to Paw Paw every year but they buy us a 10lb box of blueberries and we laugh remembering blueberry-picking hell. Even though I could sit down and mow down that whole box of blueberries with the boys I have to preserve some by freezing for the dead of winter when we need a little sunshine.

To Freeze Blueberries:
1. Wash berries thoroughly; you can use a fruit wash, but I just dump them into a sink full of water and white vinegar and swish them around.
2. Line cookie sheets with freezer paper waxy side up
3. Drain blueberries and spread evenly over cookie sheet. Avoid clumping. Nothing is worse than a blueberry brick.
4. Put in freezer for about two-three hours or overnight
5. Put in freezer safe containers in portions of your choosing marked with the date. Store in freezer.

I like to freeze my berries in pie and muffin recipe sizes so I don’t have to mess around measuring.

Frozen Or Fresh Blueberry Pie Recipe

The trick to a great blueberry pie with frozen berries is allowing the berries to thaw and draining the excess liquid from them before beginning. You will want to measure your berries while they are still frozen, then allow them to thaw.  The same applies for muffins and anything else you want to bake with frozen blueberries.

The Crust:
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Crisco (or lard/fat of choice)
1/3 cup cold butter
1/4 cup cold water

Place dry ingredients in food processor and slowly add water while pulsing the mixture. Pulse until dough looks crumbly, you may need to add a teeny bit more water. Dump contents of bowl onto plastic wrap or into a bowl and form into a ball. Allow to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. (I let mine chill for as long as it takes for my berries to thaw. Also I always double this crust recipe so I have extra for making pretty pie tops)

The Filling:
4 cups blueberries (if using frozen berries, thaw before use)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons tapioca powder (I use pearls, they work just fine)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg beaten for brushing crust.

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix all wet ingredients in a large bowl, add cinnamon and tapioca whisk thoroughly. Fold in thawed or fresh berries until they are coated, let rest for 10 min. Pour filling into prepared pie crust. Add top crust if you wish. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 min. Reduce heat to 375F and continue baking for 30-45 min or until filling is bubbling. Allow it to cool before digging in. It’s always a good idea to put a pan under your pie as it’s baking to catch any spill overs.