I spent a glorious long weekend back in Iowa, with family love, ripe apples, and the smell of fall. When home, I asked my sweet grandma to teach me her “Blue Ribbon” pie recipe, and I mean “Blue Ribbon” quite literally–she’s won numerous for this pie at the Iowa State Fair. This pie is neither gluten nor calorie free–in fact, its secret ingredient is lard–but the thing about Grandma’s Apple Pie is that none of that matters. It’s just sheer delicious flakey goodness made with my uncle’s home-grown apples that tastes like love any way you slice it.
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
2/3 c lard
5 T ice cold water
1/2 t vinegar
6 cups peeled and cored apples
1/2 c sugar
1 T cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
3 T butter
In a bowl, first mix together the flour and salt. Next, add half the lard with a pastry blender to make fine crumbs. Then add the rest of the lard to make crumbs the size of peas (see picture above). As my grandma says, “If you have bigger crumbs in the second blending, the flakier the crust will be.” Next add the vinegar to the water, and add the water to the flour mixture a little at a time, blending about a tablespoon at a time with a fork all along the edge of the bowl.
Next, lightly coat hands with flour, and separate dough into two balls, being careful to not over-mix or over-handle. Just put the ball together lightly. Put each loose ball in saran wrap, and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Turn on your oven to 425 degrees now. While waiting, peal and chop your apples. (Apples should be the good sturdy kind, that holds up to baking.) Put in a bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix together.
Take one ball of dough out of the fridge, and place on a lightly floured hard surface. Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper larger than the size of the pie pan, and place over the flour. Roll in one direction gradually coming out from all sides. Do not over-roll! If the dough appears to be sticking, use a long knife (or cake decorating icing knife) to dislodge the dough from the top and bottom. Roll again, until the dough is large enough to fit in the lightly greased pie pan. Once large enough, unstick from the bottom and use your hand on the parchment to guide the dough onto the pan. Put the dough-side down, and slowly take the parchment apart from the dough on the top. Lightly pat down into the shape of the pan. Cut the dough off around the exterior and set aside in flat pieces. If there are holes or tears in the dough, fill a small bowl with water and dip your finger in to wet the edges of the tear. Use an extra piece that was cut off the edges to patch the hole. Then add your apple mixture to the pie. Cut the tablespoons of butter into small pats, and place inside the
For the top, roll out the same as you did the inner section. Once finished, lay over the apples in the pan. Cut the extras around the exterior, and patch in the same way you patched the interior crust. Pinch the edges by using a thumb and index finger in one hand with your index finger in your other to make the crimp. Cut any design on the top you’d like.
Add a little bit of cream to a bowl, then using your fingers, dab the top. (When asked if I should use my fingers, Grandma said, sure, they were made before spoons.) Sprinkle the cream dabbed top with a little sugar.
Cover the entire pie loosely with foil, and carefully cut out the center leaving the crust covered in foil. This will prevent the crust from becoming too done too early. Bake for around 40-50 minutes, or until the apple mixture starts bubbling out of the cut areas in the top crust. If the center looks like it’s getting too brown, put the center foil ring you cut out on top. Around 40 minutes, you may want to reverse the foil, too; take off the foil on the crust, and put the center ring on the area where it has been without foil.
Eat with vanilla ice cream and dear folks who love you.