Heirloom Recipes: My Apple Pie


Thanks to all of you who followed our Twitter launch this past weekend! Laura had a great time at Music City Eats, and she shared some of the highlights from our handle @TheTableBlog. In the Friday post, she’ll give us an overview of the event, including celeb chef sightings and updates from the Nashville food scene. Now, on to your regularly scheduled Monday post…

Photos in this post have been taken by the fantastic Nashville-based photographer Melissa Madison Fuller. Check her out her work here!


Now, there are family recipes and then there are heirloom recipes.

Family recipes are the ones your mom or dad threw together on weeknights and you remember with some degree of fondness just because they were always there. They’re dishes like spaghetti or tacos. Family recipes might be for dinners that you still joke about, like my dad’s creamed tuna fish on toast. (Yes, it’s as awful as it sounds, and yes, we did have to eat it growing up. I survived, although it was iffy there for a while.)

But heirloom recipes are altogether different.

These are the recipes that have been passed down for several generations. They’ve been slightly tweaked here and there as ingredients and kitchen technologies change, but the dishes are so good that the recipes are essentially unchanged. These recipes have a certain warmth and depth, perhaps because of all the memories attached to them. In my family, heirloom recipes are valued just as much as antique jewelry or Nana’s teacup collection.

Here at The Table we’re starting an occasional series called Heirloom Recipes to share these special dishes with you. My Apple Pie seemed like the best place for me to start. It was my maternal grandmother’s apple pie. Then it became my mom’s apple pie, and now it’s also mine. This is the pie we’ve had every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember- and it’s the go-to pie on pretty much every other occasion.

You can make My Apple Pie with Granny Smith apples, but it’s leaps and bounds better if you can find Jonathans. I’ve tried other apple varieties, and they just don’t stack up. Jonathans are by far the best choice. My grandma decreed it, my mom agrees, and so do I.

I know that everyone has a favorite way to eat apple pie, but we eat it the *right* way in my family: in a bowl with milk poured over the top. The cool milk tempers the hot pie and balances the sweet-tart filling. It’s seriously sublime. Pie-and-milk is arguably the best breakfast on God’s fantastic green earth. But only if you wake up early enough to get to the leftovers first.

My Apple Pie*

For the crust:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup + 2 tbs. shortening (like butter-flavored crisco)
3-4 tbs. ice water

For the filling:
8-10 Jonathan apples
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. lemon juice

1) Preheat the oven to 425 F. Make the crust: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or a fork. Add just enough ice water to moisten the dough so that it holds together. Divide the dough into two balls, with one just slightly bigger than the other for the bottom crust. Roll out the larger ball of dough and transfer to a 10-inch pie pan. The rolled-out dough should be about one inch bigger than the pan. (As I’ve said in the past, I like to roll out pie dough between two pieces of wax paper. This makes it easier to transfer the dough to the pie pan, and it keeps the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.)

2) Make the filling: Peel, core, and slice the apples. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the apples with the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the apples into the prepared pie pan. Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples, and dot the top of the pie with small chunks of the butter.

3) Roll out the remaining dough, place it over the top, and crimp the edges. Cut a couple of vents at intervals in the top of the pie. Moisten the high places on the crust with water, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes at 425 F, then turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Check the pie occasionally to be sure that the crust isn’t burning. It it looks like it’s getting too brown, loosely cover the edges or the top with aluminum foil. Also, you may want to put a baking sheet or a drip pan (like these) under the pie in case it bubbles over. The pie is done when you can see the filling bubbling through the vent in the middle.

* This pie uses the same crust as the fresh strawberry pie that we posted back in June. The crust is vegan, and you could make the entire pie vegan if you substitute in a different kind of fat for the butter in the apple filling.