Apple Pie Times

IT’S NO WONDER that we have felt apple-pie deprived this fall. Consider:

NO EASTERN STATE EXPOSITION (“The Big E”), West Springfield, Massachusetts, where Chris Weeks and others typically bake and serve more than 2,500 single-serving pies over 17 days in September from the New England Apple Association booth in the Massachusetts Building. (Bar Lois Weeks)
NO APPLEFEST at Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, Massachusetts, where we are judges in the Great New England Apple Pie Contest every year for the past decade, sampling up to 50 pies in two hours beneath a tent on a Saturday morning in October. (Bar Lois Weeks)
No sampling Geri Griswold’s six single-variety apple pies (Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Macoun, and McIntosh) at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut, which we have done every other year. (Bar Lois Weeks)
NO SAMPLING Geri Griswold’s six single-variety apple pies (Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Macoun, and McIntosh) at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut, where we make a biennial presentation on New England apples. (Bar Lois Weeks)

FORTUNATELY, Joanne DiNardo and Nina Scott came to the rescue.

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Joanne is president of The Friends of Sholan Farms, a nonprofit organization that manages a 169-acre orchard owned by the city of Leominster, Massachusetts, where John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was born.

In a recent email, Joanne wrote that she was “just creating my grandmother’s famous Baldwin apple pie.” That piqued our interest! She was kind enough to send us the recipe, and photographs of the finished product.

Joanne DiNardo’s grandmother used Baldwin apples in her pie. (Joanne DiNardo)

She begins by making one 9-inch double crust. “I make my own butter crust,” Joanne writes. “My grandmother used lard, and I still prefer it over butter. But butter is delicious, too.”

She makes the crust the day before and refrigerates it overnight. She does the same with the apples, peeling them, sprinkling with lemon juice and storing them in a gallon plastic bag. 

Joanne uses “mostly Baldwin and at least two other types” of apples in her pies. “This time I added an Albemarle PippinRed Rome (Rome Beauty), and Mutsu (Crispin) for additional flavor and texture.”  

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Nina Scott, 83, of Amherst, Massachusetts, wrote after Russell Steven Powell’s recent Zoom presentation to the Amherst Historical Society that “it spurred me on” to Atkins Farms to buy several apple varieties she had never tried before: Gala, Jonagold, and Pink Lady.

She then mentioned the “best tasting pie ever!” She found it in Great Dishes of the World, a 1963 cookbook by Robert Carrier (1923-2006), an American chef who spent much of his life in England.

English Apple Pie. (Russell Steven Powell)

The pie is unusual in that it includes both lemon and orange zest. As Nina put it, the citrus “makes the pie taste as though you had added Cointreau,” the orange-flavored liqueur. 

She won a blue ribbon for her English Apple Pie at the Northampton, Massachusetts, Three County Fair apple pie contest “years ago,” she says, in the ‘fancy apple pie’ category. 

For apples, Nina says McIntosh are a good choice, “as they cook down well.” She prefers using golden raisins because “they plump up beautifully in the various juices while the pie bakes.

“I’m getting hungry just writing it down!”

We used three McIntosh and one each of New England heirlooms Baldwin, Northern Spy, and Rhode Island Greening, plus an old French apple, Calville Blanc d’Hiver. We made a few minor changes for ease of preparation. The pie was delicious!

Team of assembly-line apple pie makers (pre-pandemic) at Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks)

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WITH THANKSGIVING approaching, if you haven’t made a pie or need a refresher, watch this excellent three-part video featuring Andrea Darrow of Green Mountain Orchards, Putney, Vermont:

Grandmother’s Famous Baldwin Apple Pie

From Joanne M DiNardo, President, Friends of Sholan Farms, Leominster, Massachusetts

Preheat oven 425°F

Mix together in large bowl:

10 New England apples, sliced thin

1/4 c apple cider

fresh lemon zest

2 T lemon juice

2 T vanilla extract

1/4 c cornstarch or flour

1/2 t salt

1-1/2 t cinnamon

1 t apple pie spice

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c white sugar

Roll out pastry crusts and fill bottom crust with apple mixture. Dot with a few pats of butter. Cover with top crust, add vents. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar (optional).

Bake 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F. Bake 45-55 minutes more, or until the crust is brown and filling is bubbly.