Turn apple-picking excursions into apple pies


— Certain activities are unique to autumn, and apple-picking certainly falls into that category. Many families look forward to their annual trips to nearby apple orchards, where they can spend beautiful autumn afternoons picking fresh apples everyone can’t wait to take a bite out of.

While fresh apples are a delight on their own, few apple afficionados can resist the temptation to make apple pie. If homemade apple pie is on your agenda this year, consider the following recipe for “French Apple Pie” from Mollie Cox Bryan’s “Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies” (Ten Speed Press).

French Apple Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 recipe Plain Pie Pastry (see below)

Raisin Filling

2⁄3 cup raisins

6 tablespoons water

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice

1⁄4 cup light corn syrup

11⁄2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

11⁄2 teaspoons sugar

2 apples (preferably a tart variety)

1⁄4 cup brown sugar

1⁄2 cup sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

11⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch


1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon butter, softened

To make the raisin filling, combine the raisins, water and lemon juice in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the raisins are plump, about 15 minutes.

Separately, combine the corn syrup, flour and sugar and mix well, then add to the raisins and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool until the mixture is just warm, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a 9-inch pie plate with 1 rolled-out crust.

Peel the apples, cut them into thin wedges, and put them in a large bowl. Separately, combine the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch, then add to the apples and gently stir until evenly mixed.

Spread the apple mixture in the crust in an even layer, then spread the raisin filling evenly over the apples. Brush the rim of the crust with water, cover with the second rolled-out crust, seal and flute or crimp the edges, and cut a steam vent in the center.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hours, until completely cool.

To make the icing, combine the sugar and water and mix well. Add the butter and mix until smooth. Brush over the top of the cooled pie before serving.

Plain Pie Pastry

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2⁄3 cup vegetable shortening

5 to 7 tablespoons cold milk

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until it is the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the milk over part of the flour mixture. Gently toss with a fork and push to the side of the bowl. Sprinkle another tablespoon of milk over another dry part, toss with a fork and push to the side of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining milk until all of the flour mixture is moistened.

Press the dough together to form 2 equal balls, then flatten into disks. Roll out the crusts right away, or wrap the dough tightly, smoothing out any little wrinkles or air pockets and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball to a thickness of 1⁄8 inch. Use a light touch and handle the dough as little as possible.