Grandma's Apple Pie, a true story

Welcome to Our Sunday Café, we are pleased you stopped by for a visit. Today we are offering another delicious recipe. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did…

My Grandmother is on the right...
Sunday, September 12, 2010, was Grandparents Day. This is a relatively new holiday, not one I celebrated officially when I was a kid. However, I had a wonderful Grandmother, and time with her was always a celebration. Our grandmother was one in a million. She was always happy, made the best of any situation, and could make you feel like a million bucks when you were in her company. I got to spend time with her only infrequently, as we moved or she was on the move!

She was a sharp dresser and a lover of hats. The picture I share is from my memories book, a sweet gift from my sister. It has copies of all the important pictures. You know the ones, where you are just a family, doing what families do. When our Mother wanted to "stage" a photograph, she would say, "OK you kids, stand close together" and if we had had a particularly hectic day, she would add "and act like you care about each other".

My grandmother Carter was born in 1900. She came across the prairie in a covered wagon when she was a young girl to live in California. She went to work in the lumber camps in Northern California at the age of 13. As the camp cook! She cooked for a group of hungry loggers, their job was to log off the trees with hand-drawn saws. Needless to say, they would be ravenous at mealtime. One day she had a bit of extra time and a few apples, so she made an apple pie. Well, that did it.....

Her duties were expanded to include making one pie a day, for each logger. At that point, she needed some help. A cooks helper was brought in to be of help, so she could accomplish it all. Imagine, here was this 13-year-old young woman, with her own helper, working as the head cook, in the lumber camp. From there she never stopped cooking! Grandmother went on to marry and raise a family. Later she would work out of the home, then semi-retired and cook as a hobby and raise a little cash when she got bored. Then finally retire to travel a bit, but she never ever stopped cooking...

This is my grandmother's cookbook she used when she started cooking again after raising a family. Her cooking took her many places. But she always came back home to see her family. The book was full, so Grandmother did the frugal and the sensible, she added some pages for the handwritten notes. This book is my treasure.

I have so many great memories of my grandmother. And of course, she was not only my grandmother. I got to share her with a lot of other siblings and cousins. But the memories that I adore are mine, and firmly planted in my heart. I hope that my siblings and cousins feel the same way, about our grandmother.

My family.

As I recall, this is supposed to be about pie. I should get back on track, and start talking pie, apple pie.

Real old fashioned apple pie
Apple Pie, made with love!
Grandmother was the best pie baker! She always put a lot of love into her cooking, and by the sheer volume of food cooked through the years, a lot of skill as well. In my family, we all love pie. Because of that love, we also tend to be good pie bakers. In my opinion, there is nothing as delicious as homemade pie. I have stopped ordering pie in a cafe or restaurant because it is always just a bit disappointing. Probably because the secret ingredient, is missing.

Grandmother baked a pie by touch, and with a lot of love. Honestly, I am not that good. I usually follow this recipe. Tailored from my memories of grandmother, baking together through the years. As I remember those times, I can still hear her saying, " work the flour and fat together, with your hands", "don't add to much water, you only want it to cling together", and of course " treat it gentle, if you want a tender crust".

As a young girl, I would listen intently and in awe, right there by her elbow as she worked and I stood at the corner edge of the table. Then before I knew it, a beautiful pie would come out of her oven. This pie is from my Grandmother's oven and my own memories, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Grandmother's Handmade Apple Pie, seasoned with love (the true secret ingredient)
by the seat of my pants!
Makes 1 large pie

Start with the apples:
7 large apples - peeled and sliced thin
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T flour
1 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt
1 1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg

Peel apples, quarter and core, the apple quarters will measure approximately 8 cups.

Rinse, slice into a large bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients and stir into apples to coat well.

Prepare apples correctly for a full of fruit pie.
Season your apples and let them sit while you make the pie crust dough. That is the secret to a pie that is full of fruit after baking. 
Let apples sit and "juice" while you make the pastry. The "juicing" process will shrink the apples slightly. This shrinking will happen before baking, not during the baking. The pie will be full of fruit, with less of an air pocket right under the top crust.

400-degree oven to start, reduce to 350-degrees 

ice water - place 2 or 3 ice cubes into measuring cup, add 1 c water, place in the fridge

2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
3/4 c chilled butter, lard or coconut oil, cut into small dice

additional flour for rolling out the dough
minute tapioca, to sprinkle in the bottom crust

Prepare ice water.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl, cut the fat in with a pastry cutter (my preference) or work the fat into the flour with your hands.

When fat is cut into flour and there is an overall even look to the mixture of flour and fat, begin working in the water. Only use a T measuring spoon to add water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Important:  Do Not Use More Than 8 T of Water - Total. The dough will come together with some assistance, gently use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball.

On a floured surface, roll dough in flour to coat. Cut into 2 pieces.

Using one-half of the dough, roll evenly into a 10inch circle. The easiest way to do this is to stand at the corner of your work area, roll the rolling pin North and South gently a couple of times, then East and West a couple of times. Continue rolling in this manner evenly until dough is the correct size for your pie pan.

Use the rolling pin to roll the dough onto, lift the dough onto the top of the pie pan and unroll the pie crust dough over the pie pan. Use your hands to "fit" the dough down into the pan and shift it if necessary to fit the pan evenly, in order to seal the edge when the top crust goes on.

Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with the minute tapioca.

Add the apples, using your hands to "fit" and arrange the apple slices in the crust.  Roll out the top crust, and again, use the rolling pin to support the dough and bring it over the apples, and unroll.

Don't over stretch the dough to keep the crust tender.
Always treat the crust dough with careful handling to keep it tender.

Adjust the top crust, and seal the edges. Make one small hole in the top crust, and put in a vent so that you do not lose the good juices onto the bottom of the oven floor. I prefer a small stainless steel funnel. Having the vent allows the juices to boil in the crust, and cook the pie completely, without a lot of mess. There are also ceramic pie birds that work well, they are much cuter, but I am partial to my funnel, it comes out clean when the baking is over.

Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, reduce heat to 350 and bake 45 - 55 minutes more or until fruit is cooked and pie is done, in your oven.
Remove and let cool before slicing and serving.

My grandmother was the driving force in our Sunday dinners we enjoyed as a family. When I married, I carried on this tradition. And it is just as strong in me today, as it was 60+ years ago as I sat around the family table and we began passing bowls and platters of food. Today when I cook my own Sunday dinners, there are four generations in my kitchen. My Grandmother (always present in my heart), myself, my own children, and now, grandchildren.

Thank you, one and all. Sunday dinner will live on, I just know it!


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  1. I love this post! Recipes are such a wonderful way to remember loved ones that have passed on. One of my grandmothers passed away last year, and I too, cherish her recipes. Mine was known for her oatmeal cookies, and I am working on framing her recipe in my kitchen.

    On the apple pie note - that looks sooo sooo good. I am writing it down, & planning on making it soon. We are taking a homeschool field trip to the apple orchard soon, so I will make it with the apples I bring back. Thank you!

  2. What a lovely post! As I read it, I thought back to my own beloved Grandmother and how much I loved her and especially being in the kitchen with her. I am now on the quest to become that Grandmother to Baby, who just turned one year old. Oh, yes, the apple pie is an added bonus.

  3. What a lovely post - I aspire to be a grandmother like you had!! Oh, and how I would love to be able to cook like her! Thanks for sharing the recipe but more importantly the memories with us at HearthnSoul!

  4. Melynda! I really want to thank you for entering this post into Hearth and Soul because it embodies the spirit of our mission at the blog hop. It was wonderful to read all about your Grandma and how her memories make your pie so much sweeter!

  5. Melly, I cant even type I am crying so very hard at the LOVE you have given to us by sharing your granny with us! OH MY GOD this is so good and as Butter said, THIS is EXACTLY what we are talking about at Hearth n Soul! I cannot thank you enough for sharing this with us! I am totally gonna share this on my thoughts on friday blog hop highlights so please stop by friday and say hi! YOu my dear are such a treasure and I am so glad to share the food love with you! Thanks for posting on the hearth n soul hop! BIG HUGS! alex

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. It reminds me of my own very-much-loved grandmother. And the apple pie sounds wonderful.

  7. I love family food history! Thank you so much for sharing your story about your Grandmother and all she taught you about making apple pie - and also for the recipe and tips which I am looking forward to trying!

  8. Happy Grandparents' Day to you! Sounds like a lot of wonderful memories. I've been thinking a lot about Nana recently so this is lovely timing.

    Your pie looks wonderful. I adore a good apple pie. It's the stuff of the heavens!

  9. A pie a day per man! Wow! Your pie looks fantastic. Thanks for linking up!

  10. Such a beautiful post!! Love is definitely the most important part of any recipe =) Love the funnel trick, too. Thanks so much for sharing w/ hearth 'n soul this week.

  11. Oh, yum! Sweet post! I love love this time of year for apple pie! You look so much like a woman I used to work with!
    And grandparents it. It was grandparents day the year Lala was born, the first grandchild. That is the year it came onto my radar.

  12. This is a wonderful post about your grandmother. Memories are the best treasures of all! The apple pie sounds lovely, thank you for sharing this treasured recipe! Have a lovely day.

  13. Melynda - I've been thinking of your post all week long because it touched me so deeply. And that's exactly what the Hearth and Soul blog hop is all about, that cozy spot where memories meet cooking. And that's why I've chosen your story and recipe to be featured in my Best of the Blog Hop post this week! Thank you!

  14. What a wonderful story and memory about your grandmother. Women of that era did so much for us to enjoy the lives we do now! Thank you for sharing! ~Alison

  15. Great post and darn good-looking pie. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories.

  16. Melly! I am making your granny's pie for my thanksgiving! Rendering the lard today. Question, Why do I need minute tapioca? what is it? Where do I get it? Lemme know! Also, can I make this pie the day before and reheat? I will have an oven full of other stuff to cook on THE day! Tons of love! Alex

  17. Hi Alex, sent you a reply through your blog. Enjoy!

  18. I am sharing this on I made it at a moderate life tomorrow! It came out GREAT! thanks so much Melly baby!

  19. What great memories you recorded. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Musical Snow Globe is my blue post this week.

  20. This post is so old that I thought it was an error!

    Happy Blue Monday.

  21. I adored my grandmother, too. As a matter of fact, I wrote a post about her I haven't published yet. My grandmother was known for all of her sweets, but my favorite were her cupcakes. I could eat a dozen right now! :-)

    Happy Blue MOnday...


    Sheila :-)

  22. Grandmothers are wonderful! I have cookbooks and recipes and great memories from both of mine-- And of course, I still make their recipes.

    What a wonderfully sentimental post!

    The pie looks great-- I've not heard of sprinkling tapioca on the bottom crust-- What is that for?

  23. I loved this post so much!! My Mama was born in 1901. She too, cooked and baked all her life. When you described the way your Grandma made the pie crust it was exactly the same method my Mama did. With her hands!! Never a pastry blender. During my adult life I have made many a pie, but none quite so good as my Mama's.

  24. What wonderful traditions are being passed on.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing your story and this delicious recipe! But I have one question, you said to reduce heat but to what? 350? 300? I can't wait to make this pie but I'm scared that I won't lower the temp correctly. I hope one day I can be like your grandmother, if there were far more of her around the world would be a better place! God bless and please don't stop posting such wonderful recipes <3


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