Cooks' Exchange: Delicious ways to eat an apple a day

Cooks' Exchange: Delicious ways to eat an apple a day


Welcoming another new season means seeking favorite recipes to prepare, share, and enjoy according to the temperature, where they’ll be served, and why. Many years ago, while spending a few years in Key West, favorite foods and menus rarely changed because temperatures seldom changed. As beautiful as it was amid tropical surroundings, there were no complaints because that’s just the way in the southernmost town in the United States.

Needless to say, as Madison welcomes a chill in the air, it’s also one of many reasons to celebrate Wisconsin’s four seasons. The ripening of apples with recipes to share and enjoy before the snow falls brings back fond childhood memories of the Snow Apple tree we had in the middle of our backyard on Talmadge Street. I climbed it often, sat among its branches with the birds, and enjoyed every slice of pie Mother would bake and serve after supper.

Reader Gary F. recently shared his own memories of the apple pies his mother made about 40 years ago with a flaky crust made with a touch of vinegar. Through the years he hoped to discover something similar only to discover tough crusts, apples either undercooked and crunchy, overcooked and mushy, too much filling or never enough.

Wondering if I had immediate answers to his descriptions, I reached for my “Farmhouse Cookbooks” assuming author Susan Herrmann Loomis had the answers in her 1991 cookbook.

Titled “Best Ever Apple Pie,” the pie used three different kinds of apples for combinations of sweet and tart, crisp and soft, plus additional suggestions using Golden Delicious with a Granny Smith and a Jonagold or two. Other combinations included Cortland, McIntosh, and Melrose. So, for starters Gary, here’s “the best-ever 9-or 10-inch apple pie for 6 to 8 servings.”

Best ever apple pie

Pastry for two 9 to 10 inch pie crusts

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 large egg

2 tablespoons water

8 cups sliced peeled apples (about 3 ½ pounds)

1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon granulated sugar for the crust (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out half the pastry to fit a 9- or 10-inch pie plate and line plate leaving an inch of dough hanging over the edge.

Mix both sugars with the flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together egg and water. Toss apples with lemon juice then sugar mixture, then vanilla in a large bowl. Place apples in the pie plate and dot with butter. Brush edges of the pastry with the egg glaze. Roll out the top pastry with the egg glaze. Roll out the pastry quite thin, and lay it over the apples, pressing it onto the glazed portion of the bottom pastry. Fold edges of bottom pastry over the top edge, and crimp closed. (The egg glaze helps hold the top and bottom pastry together.)

Brush top crust with egg glaze, but don’t attempt to use all of the glaze, or the crust may get soggy. Cut at least 8 slits in the top of the pie, and sprinkle with the sugar if desired.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, and bake it in the bottom third of the oven until the pastry is golden on top and the apples are tender, about 50 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

A week later, Gary’s wife submitted a “flaky pie crust” recipe including a touch of vinegar found in her “ancient” recipe box shared by a cousin in Iowa.

Sissy’s pie crust

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup lard or Crisco

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

¼ cup ice water

1 teaspoon vinegar

Cut together flour, lard, and salt. Add 1 well-beaten egg, water and vinegar. Knead well, but not overly kneaded into a round ball. Divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each ball to a 9- or 10-inch diameter circle, turning and “dusting” dough with flour to keep from sticking to the rolling pin or counter.

Fit the pie crust dough rounds into a 9-inch oven-proof glass pie dish or metal pie tin. Do not “stretch” pie dough up the sides of the pie dish, but rather push the pie dough down into the corners of the pie dish. Finish dough edges by using knuckles or fingers. Prick bottom and sides with a dinner fork, 20-30 times

Bake in 325 degree oven, rotating occasionally, until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

Yield: 3 pie crusts.

Here is another favorite apple recipe from Martha Storey’s “500 Treasured Country Recipes.”

Baked apples

4 medium apples

6 tablespoons butter, cut into bits

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries

½ cup cider or apple juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Core apples and peel 1 inch down from the tops. Cream together two tablespoons of the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Spoon ¼ of the mixture into each apple. Divide the raisins and remaining butter among the apples. Place in a baking dish and add cider to cover the bottom. Bake for 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Yield: 4 servings

This is the recipe my mother made often, clipped back in the 1950s from a Better Homes & Garden magazine and submitted by a Mrs. Sam Johnson, Madison, Wisconsin.

Caramel baked apples

6 to 8 medium apples

½ cup seedless raisins

3 tablespoons flour

¹⁄³ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup chopped California walnuts

½ cup water

½ cup orange juice

Wash apples and core. Pare about one strip around top. Place in deep baking dish. Fill centers with raisins. Combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork. Add walnuts. Sprinkle crumb mixture over apples. Pour over water and orange juice. Bake uncovered in moderate 350 degree oven for 1 hour, basting occasionally. Nice served with cream.

Note: Time varies according to type of apple.

Recent requests: Apple crisps and other favorite apple recipes and “special” baked beans.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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