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Store-Bought vs. Homemade Apple Pie
 

I was driving to Chicago a few weeks ago with my friend, John and my son, Max. We wanted to buy a gift for friends we were going to visit, so we stopped at a "kitschy" little apple orchard and bought a pre-made pie. The pie looked tasty and we thought our friends would love this "homemade" treat.
We (and the pie) made it safely to Chicago and our friends were happy to see the treat we brought along. We ate the pie after dinner and to our disappointment, the pie was bland and tasteless. Our friends were too polite to say anything, but my son and I felt free to critique, especially since I didn’t make it. The crust was cardboard-like and the filling had no flavor.

I really should know better. Every time I buy a pre-made pie, I am disappointed with the taste and the quality. Even if the pie looks beautiful, it doesn’t meet my expectations. Each time I eat "store-bought" pie, I think, "I can make a pie that tastes much better than this!" And so, I started my quest to make a better apple pie.

If my pie was going to be amazing, I had to find the perfect apples. After researching apples I found an apple orchard near our house. My kids had an extra- day off from school, so they were excited to go to the orchard with me.

We arrived at the orchard and were thrilled to learn that it is also a working farm, complete with goats, chickens, geese, and cows. After spending some time petting animals, we went into the orchard to pick apples. The apples were not only amazing - they were perfect! Apparently the climate here in Minnesota this year was right for apples.

The apples were so beautiful, my kids and I could have picked 100 pounds that day, but decided we should stop at 20 pounds. We picked several varieties, one type that is better for eating, and some that are better for baking.

We brought our apples home and were ready to make our apple pie. The recipe I used is, Apple Ginger Pie. I like this recipe because it uses a standard butter crust and lots of spices in the filling. The recipe may look long, but it really isn’t difficult.

Begin the recipe by preheating the oven to 400°F and gather all of the ingredients together. Combine all the crust ingredients in a bowl, except the butter and cold water.

Measure the butter and cut it into pieces.

Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water with a fork until just combined.

Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it a bit, and place it on a floured surface.

Lightly coat the rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. It doesn’t have to be exact, but get it as close to 12 inches as you can. If the dough feels sticky when you are rolling it, add a little more flour. Add a very small amount of flour at a time. When you have a circle, fold the dough into quarters.

Place the dough in the pie pan, and then unfold it, pressing against the bottom and sides. There are many ways to "crimp or flute" the edges of the crust. The way that works the best for me is to use a fork and press down onto the crust. Continue all the way around the crust. Put the crust aside while you make the filling.

Combine the filling ingredients (except the apples).

Make sure the apples are cored, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch thick slices.

Add the apples to the filling mix, and then stir to coat the apples with the mixture. Spoon the apple mixture into the crust.

Mix the all streusel topping ingredients together, except for the butter. Mix in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is small crumbs.

Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the apples.

Cover the edges with strips of aluminum foil and put the pie into the oven.

Bake the pie for 35 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil. Return the pie to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. When the pie is browned and the apples are fork tender, remove the pie from the oven. Yes, I really do use a fork to test the doneness of the apples.

Let the pie cool for at least an hour, and then serve with your favorite ice cream. We used caramel swirl to top our pie slices.

By the way, this pie makes a great once-in-a-while-after-school snack. While eating the pie, my daughter said, "I think this is my favorite pie ever!"

This pie was not just a "little" better than the pie we bought on our road trip, it was 10 times better. The ginger and cinnamon in the filling and the streusel makes the flavor intense, but not overwhelming. The crust was flaky and light, an ideal match for the flavorful filling.

Next time I’m tempted to buy a pre-made pie, I need to stop and remember how much better the homemade Apple Ginger Pie is. Instead of buying the pie, I will buy the ingredients and make it at home.

Give this homemade apple pie a try, and let me know how it turned out for you.

Come back in a few days when Emily will share a muffin perfect for fall mornings.

Bridget is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.

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• Comments •

What a wounderful experience. Picking your own apples. I live near the orchards in the interior of BritishColumbia. I always want to take my grandaughter to pick the fruit that we cook with. What kind of apples did you end up using?

Posted Sep 28 2011 by Shirley
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

I'm glad you enjoyed reading about this apple experience. The apples used in the pie were Paula Red.
Posted September 28, 2011

Fun pictures, step by step instructions and America's choice of favorite pies----what more could I want from a recipe blog? Thankyou. I am not a crust maker, but I AM going to try your instructions. It looks easy here. Thanks again.

Posted Sep 28 2011 by Jacki E.
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

Thanks for your comments. It was fun making this apple pie. I encourage you to make the crust. I think you will really like it!
Posted September 28, 2011

I can't wait to try this! It's that time of year and I love the streusel on apple pies. Will give it a try this weekend but wanted to say thanks for the excellent photos/instructions!

Posted Sep 28 2011 by Melody S.
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

Thanks! Hope you have a successful pie baking experience this weekend!
Posted September 28, 2011

I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your cinnamon butter. It's great! I have three containers of your very special butter in my refrigerator now. My oldest daughter introduced me to the cinnamon butter and left the container she brought up. I went to the grocer and bought another one and when my daughter came up a couple of weeks later she brought another container. Can't run short on that butter it really is delicious. Josephine

Posted Sep 28 2011 by Jo O.
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

We are glad you like our newest product, Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread. There are a number of great recipes on the web site to use with this product. I hope you try some of them.
Posted September 28, 2011

The bad news is that the only good apples in the United States are NY State McIntosh. No other Macs will do, I tried. Guess that's why Cornell (Ivy) has a pommery school. And no, smaller pieces only make for more work, not better taste.

Posted Sep 28 2011 by em z.
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

Thanks for comments. For this pie I used Paula Red apples. At this time of year there are many great apples at orchards. Each part of the U.S. also may have certain apples as well.
Posted September 28, 2011

What kind of apples? that makes all the difference? They look like Stayman Winesap?

Posted Sep 28 2011 by Sandra W.
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

Actually the apples that were used were Paula Red. I agree it does make a difference what apples are used in a pie.
Posted September 28, 2011

This sounds terrific. I have a problem no one has been able to solve. My pies taste good but the bottom crust is always soggy. We have checked the oven and the stove is maybe 3-4 yrs. old. Can u solve this ?

Posted Sep 27 2011 by Colleen
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

I have some suggestions... Use a glass pie pan and bake the pie on the lowest shelf of the oven. Make sure there are no cracks in the crust for the filling to seep into making it soggy. Chill the pie crust in the pie pan for about one hour before filling the crust. Many pie recipes suggest baking at 425 degrees for the first 15 minutes or so which helps to seal the crust. Hope these tips help you and that you have a success with your pie baking.
Posted September 28, 2011

Hello Bridget,

I used to live where there was this 30' Pear tree. Hard as rocks. So one day my girlfriend & I peeled & sliced about thirty pounds. We discussed using the pears in an apple pie. So we both did one. My Dad & her husband refused to believe that we used PEARS! Recently told a girl friend about it. She told me she had never had such great APPLE pie!! She took it to work. They ate it all. And could not believe it was a pear pie with all the same seasonings used for apple pie. She made (pear) butter, jams. Everything turned out Great! So I hope that timid bakers will give this a try when the pears are in season & the Apples they would rather use are not so great. And I use Land O' Lakes Butter for everything! I have several of their books.

Posted Sep 27 2011 by Denise
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

It is fun to read about your story about pears! Thanks for sharing.
Posted September 28, 2011

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