For many of us fortunate enough to have a large family, memories sprinkled with food and laughter only start to sum up our childhood. As adults we reminisce the good ‘ol days, and wish fervently for simpler times. Thumbing through an old album or finding a handwritten recipe card usually will flood our consciousness with days of our past. Having finally acquired this recipe for Farm Grandma’s Apple Pie, I’m reminded of her and time spent together as I indulge in each delicious bite. It’s a slice of yesterday served up with a big heaping side of memories.
For my bridal shower, my mom asked each of the attendees for family recipes. I was in awe that so many of my honored guests would share a part of their rich food history. The variety of recipes was everything from appetizers to desserts. Yet, when I thumbed through all of them, one in particular stood out as it tugged at my own personal heartstrings. As you can guess, that recipe was for Farm Grandma’s Apple Pie. While nuptials, buying a house and getting a puppy all got in the way of reminiscing and baking, I finally set out to make the apple pie of my childhood.
So who is Farm Grandma? It’s hard to put into words, but as you can imagine she was our grandmother who lived on a farm. She was an epic woman who formed the matriarch of our family. While not actually blood related to me, she was still a huge part of our childhood. She always greeted you with a smile, unconditional love and unyielding kindness. I, along with my siblings and her hoard of grandkids, great grandkids and great great grandkids, each remember grandma for very special reasons near and dear to us.
My family would go down to grandma’s farm where our days where filled with fishing for perch, walking the trails and gravel roads, sledding, playing board games, and even battling it out on Donkey Kong with Grandma. In the summertime, the Sobieraj clan would have birthday parties and holiday celebrations where we would eat, drink and be merry. At every occasion Grandma would captivate our limited attention span to see how we were and what we were up to.
In addition to being a stellar grandmother, Farm Grandma’s food portfolio was vast and delicious. For special occasions she would dish up Polish delicacies such as Chruschiki and Borscht. But the mainstay in her recipe arsenal, and what we all collectively remember most fondly, is her apple pie. Baked in a cookie sheet, the crust to apples ratio is 2:1 with all the flavors balancing seamlessly. While my young mind couldn’t begin to grasp just how rock solid this recipe was (and is), tasting a bite of it today brings me back to my childhood while I fully appreciate it with my evolved palate. All that aside, I find the true magic of making this recipe to come when I bring it out and share it with my “new” family. Every slice is gobbled up promptly, with little to no words spoken as everyone indulges. Thus we create new memories just as we used to.
The crust uses Crisco, or vegetable shortening which used to be used as a mainstay in baking back in the day. While less common today, it is what makes such a clean and delicious crust. And yes, at 21 tablespoons, it’s exact amount replicates the pie just as Grandma made it. There were a lot of dashes of this, and sprinkles of that in the recipe I received, but I think I have captured all that into quantifiable amounts to come up with THE recipe.
While the days of Farm Grandma have come and gone, I am blessed to know her legacy lives on, one pie at a time. It’s amazing how a seemingly simple dish can bring together family and friends through many generations.
To full plates and eating your tarte out,
- 3 cups of flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 21 tablespoons of vegetable shortening
- 3/4 cup of sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided
- 4 Granny Smith apples
- 2 Cortland apples
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 teaspoons of cinnamon, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- Sift together flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and salt.
- Add shortening to dry ingredients, mixing with pastry cutter or fork until mixture is in pea sized pieces.
- Sprinkle in one tablespoon of ice water at a time, mixing after each addition until dough just comes together.
- Divide in half, and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
- In the meantime, peel, core and slice your apples. Add in 1/4 cup of sugar, two teaspoons of cinnamon, and the lemon juice. Let sit until dough is ready.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay out a 9 x 13” cookie sheet.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface. If dough is crumbly, press into an even layer on the cookie sheet. Otherwise, place bottom half of crust onto the ungreased cookie sheet. Trim or crimp the edges. Roll out the second layer of pie crust for the top, or cut into enough cookie cutter shapes to cover the top. Set aside.
- Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar onto the bottom layer of pie crust. Lay out the apples in an even layer atop the sugar.
- Break apart the butter into small cubes, and distribute over the apples. Sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Line your top layer of crust over the apples. Trim or crimp edges as desired. Cut holes into the top layer of crust to allow for ventilation. If using cookie cutouts of the pie crust, there is no need to cut holes in the top layer. Simply place on top of the apple layer in any sort of pattern.
- Sprinkle your last remaining tablespoon of sugar onto the top layer.
- Bake at 425 degrees for fifteen minutes. Without removing the pie, lower the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for fifteen minutes. Lower the temperature again, and bake additionally for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. If bottom of pan is browning too quickly, lower your last temperature setting to 325 degrees.