As a new bride, I was reluctant to start making pies because my mother made such great pies. When I worked up the courage, I started with the American classic, Apple Pie. After all, at my Grandma’s house, the rule seemed to be that it was okay to have more than one kind of pie for dessert, as long as one of them was apple. When I baked my apple pie, I relied on my American classic cook book, Joy of Cooking.
For a long time, apple pie was about the only pie I made. I finally braved the wilds of other types of pies, and am still experimenting with new twists on old favorites. This caramel apple pie with pecan crumb topping melds the original Joy of Cooking apple pie recipe, with a technique I saw mentioned in a Facebook pie baking group. Then I borrowed the crumb topping recipe from another vintage cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens, and gave it a different twist.
The first challenge with the seemingly simple apple pie is deciding which of hundreds of kinds of apples to use. Most older cookbooks recommend Granny Smith, however, people are gravitating toward sweeter apples, and I found that Honeycrisp makes a very good pie. Just be sure to adjust your sugar depending on how sweet the apple is. Here’s a chart to help you decide.
Here is my cobbled together recipe–for two smaller pies so you have one to eat and one to share. I hope you like it.
New twist on America's favorite: Apple Pie. Recipe for two pies–one to share.
Keyword apple, pie, vintage
Prep Time 40 minutesminutes
Cook Time 45 minutesminutes
Total Time 11 hourshours25 minutesminutes
Author Vera Marie Badertscher
2 Disposable pie pans
8-10ApplesPeeled, cored and sliced. See Notes
Pie Dough for two shells
1 1/2tspPenzey's Apple Pie SpiceSee Notes
Mix brown sugar, salt, corn starch and spices. Pour over Apples and place them in refrigerator over night.
The next day, heat oven to 400 degrees.
When ready to bake, strain off liquid and boil until reduced to thin syrup. Let cool slightly before adding back and mixing with apples.
Line two 8" pie pans with dough, and heap half of the apples in each.
To make Topping, mix sugar, flour and butter, and pulse a few times in food processors, just until there are no large clumps. Add pecans and three to four times more to incorporate pecans.
Scatter topping on apples in pans. Apples should barely show.
Put pie pans on cookie sheet and insert in 400 degree oven. Bake 45-50 minutes, until topping begins to brown. Check after 30 minutes and cover edge if it is browning too fast.
Serve pie with ice cream or whipped cream.
If you have very sweet apples, you can cut back on the sugar used. If your apples are not juicy, you may want to add some water or bottled apple juice when you are boiling down the juice.Of course, I recommend my Perfect Pie Crust, however, feel free to use whatever pie shell you prefer. The topping is the star in this pie.I specified Penzey’s Apple Pie Spice in the recipe, but if you don’t have any, you can substitute 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon; 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp cardamon (if you have it on hand). The Penzey’s mix is very nice and I have found that I use it in a lot of ways besides apple pie–other fruit pies, cinnamon/sugar toast, baked puddings, etc.
You can find several versions of a “Swedish Apple Pie” on the internet. Most of them look like fruit crumbles, rather than pie. This one has no bottom crust, but has a top crust that resembles a large cookie rather than pie crust. The result is a very easy, very delicious, but very ugly “pie.”
A caveat–I do not have Swedish ancestors, unless you count some stray Vikings who attacked and maybe bedded my Scottish or English distant ancestors. I do have a Swedish sister-in-law, and through her some Swedish acquaintances.
My Swedish friend tells me that she has not seen this “Swedish Apple Pie” in Sweden. They are more likely, she says, to make a dessert with oats that looks like a crumble.
Even though I constantly remind you of my Perfect Pie Crust recipe, sometimes there is a reason to use something different.
But sometimes taste wins out over authenticity, ya know? It took my husband and I about 36 hours to devour this delicious dessert–call it what you will.
In the recipe, I have included a link to the web source of the recipe that I adapted. There you can also find the recipe for traditional Swedish vanilla cream sauce, which really is Swedish, and might be served on this dessert if this were a Swedish dessert.
An easy, delicious, ugly "pie" with a cookie crust.
Keyword apple, fruit, pie
Prep Time 15 minutesminutes
Cook Time 1 hourhour8 minutesminutes
Author Vera Marie Badertscher
4-6Cupsapplespeeled, cored, and sliced 1/4" thick
3/4cupchopped walnuts or pecansOptional
3/4cupunsalted butter melted
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a pie plate and set aside.
Mix the 3 Tablespoons of sugar and spices and pour over sliced apples. Stir well.
Spread apples in pie plate. Level them out.
Whisk together flour, the one cup of sugar, salt and spices.
Stir in melted butter. Add lightly beaten egg and stir until blended.
Pour the crust mixture over the apples and spread evenly, keeping 1/8-1/4 inch away from edge. Scatter nuts on top.
Place pie plate on cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake pie for one hour, or until crust is a golden brown, like a finished sugar cookie. (It took an extra 15 minutes in my oven.)
When done, cool on cooling rack. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream if you wish.
While my Swedish friend says this is not really the way that the dessert is made in Sweden–where it is more of a crumble made with oatmeal– this dessert is delicious. If you want to make it a bit more Swedish, you can use the traditional Swedish topping, Vanilla Cream Sauce. You can find the recipe for Vanilla Sauce where I got the basic recipe for this “pie” at That’s Some Good Cooking.I added nuts to the recipe because I thought it would up the flavor, and also perhaps improve the looks a bit. Unfortunately, I only have a picture of the original–without nuts.Note for the Minority of Us Who Do Not Have Microwave OvensMicrowaves are great for melting butter, but I do not have a microwave oven (and don’t miss it). I have discovered an easy way to melt butter if you have an oven that is under the range of your stove. I turn on the oven, and then put the butter in a small pyrex dish or spare measuring cup on the top of the stove. The butter melts from the oven heat while I am setting out ingredients, greasing the pan, peeling the apples, etc. Of course this doesn’t work if you have a built-in wall oven. You can also put the dish with butter in the oven, but keep a close eye so it doesn’t start boiling and spattering!
Recently, I posted on Facebook a picture of a loaf of bread that I made with a recipe from Ken’s maternal grandmother, Helen Kohler. Bless Social Media. The picture of the loaf of bread led me to a batch of Chocolate Drop Cookies.
Do you remember the 3-way bread recipe that I published nearly 3 years ago? Check back to see the recipe that can be used for free-form bread, rolls, or coffee cake. Later I used an adaptation of the recipe to make Swiss New Year’s Bread. Last week I used the same recipe to make two loaf pans of bread. So now it is a 5-way recipe! This is still my favorite bread recipe. Thank you Grandma Kohler. And thank you Kay Badertscher Bass for passing the recipe on to me.
And thanks to Facebook for allowing this conversation between Ken’s cousins, reminiscing about their Grandma’s cooking. Someone mentioned Chocolate Drop Cookies that Grandma kept in a big blue enameled pan. Several others remembered them. Then Beth posted the recipe card. She didn’t remember where she got it, but it is labeled “Grandma Kohler,” and meets the criteria that everyone remembered of the Chocolate Drop Cookies that Grandma frosted with confectioners sugar.
I cheated a little on the authenticity of my husband’s cousins’ memories. I frosted half the cookies in a simple confectioner’s sugar white frosting, and half in the same frosting with cocoa powder added. Apologies to Grandma Kohler, but I never get enough chocolate.
In the recipe below, I have expanded on some of the sketchy directions, but stuck to the recipe. They bake up puffy and soft and they are unlike any cookies that I have made before. I am so grateful to Kay for sharing the post on Facebook and thus starting the conversation, and for Beth providing the precious recipe.
A favorite cookie of my husband's cousins when they went to Grandma's house, Chocolate Drop Cookies is an authentic vintage recipe.
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword cookie, chocolate, vintage recipe, Helen Kohler
Prep Time 15 minutesminutes
Cook Time 12 minutesminutes
Author Vera Marie Badertscher
1CupBrown sugar Sieved so there are no lumps
1/2Cupsour milkRoom temperature (See Note)
2 squareschocolateMelted and brought to room temperature
1 1/2CupCake flour(See Note)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line with parchment paper, two cookie pans.
Melt chocolate in microwave (See Note for alternate method). Set aside to cool
Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift together into medium bowl.
Cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth
Beat egg into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in sour milk, then stir in cooled, melted chocolate.
Fold in dry ingredients only until well blended. Do not overbeat.
Drop by tablespoon, 1" apart on cookie sheets.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Test by touching top of cookie. It should still be soft but no leave an indentation.
Cool on pan for ten minutes and remove to cooling rack.
When totally cool, frost with confectioners sugar frosting of your choice.
When sour milk is called for, you can use regular whole or 2% milk and add vinegar. For 1/2 cup sour milk, add 1/2 Tablespoon of vinegar to the 1/2 cup milk and let stand 5 minutes. If you do not want to bother with this, it is perfectly acceptable to substitute 1/2 cup of sour cream or buttermilk. Plain yogurt will work as well. Just be sure it is not flavored.Melting chocolate. The chocolate will melt more quickly and evenly if you chop it with a large knife before melting. I do not have a microwave so I had to come up with a different way to melt chocolate. I put the chopped chocolate in a small pyrex dish and set it on top of my electric stove where the hot air from the oven comes through. This recipe calls for such a small amount of chocolate that it melts very quickly.
Now that I am well stocked with cookies, I need to get back to the complex research of Obadiah Stout and his family’s wanderings through the west. See you next week.