Friday, October 21, 2011


by Sheila Connolly

Oh, no, not another apple pie! you cry.  Sorry—in Massachusetts the harvest season is in full swing, and I've got a couple of dozen apples begging to be used, and this recipe's different.  Honest.

This is one of those cases where choosing the right apple is important.  I bought some Baldwins at an orchard last week, because I wanted to try them.  Baldwins used to be the primary apple in Massachusetts—it was the first true commercial apple in the state, popularized by Loammi Baldwin (another ancestor of some distant sort) in the mid-18th century.  Mind you, he didn't create the variety, but he promoted the heck out of it.  Its popularity survived into the early years of the 20th century, but the variety was dealt a death blow by the winter storms of 1938.  When farmers replanted, it was usually with the dependable McIntosh.

I had never actually eaten a Baldwin, so of course when I found them at a local orchard I bought a bag (also a bag of Northern Spy and a bag of Roxbury Russet—see why I have a surfeit of apples?). As an eating apple it was less than exciting, but it's an excellent pie apple, becoming soft in cooking without losing its shape. 

So here's another recipe for Apple Pie, if you're in the mood for something just a little different.

1 pie crust (homemade or packaged
Cooking spray

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 ½ Tblsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

5 cups peeled and slices apples
2 Tblsp butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tblsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°.

Roll dough into a 14" circle, and fit into a 9" deep dish pie plate, coated with cooking spray (the crust will be thin, and the cooking spray helps if you need to move it to fit).  Fold under the edges and flute. Place it in refrigerator until ready to use.

Streusel: Combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Cut in butter with a food processor/pastry blender/pair of knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Place in refrigerator.

Apples: Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet and melt it.  Add sugar and cinnamon and mix with the butter, then add the apples, and cook over medium heat until the apple slices are tender, five to 10 minutes.  Spoon into prepared crust.

Custard: Whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and eggs.  Stir in buttermilk and vanilla.  Pour over the apples.

Bake at 325° for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle streusel over the pie and reduce temperature to 300°.  Bake for an additional 40 minutes or until set but not firm.  Let stand 1 hour before serving (but it is good served slightly warm).

When you first fill the crust and add the apples and custard, the apples disappear.  But in cooking they manage to distribute themselves throughout the custard.  The whole thing will be a bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven, but that's fine.

One final note:  this is not a good keeper.  When you make it, plan to serve it the same day.


  1. Oh yum. No problems about eating it all in one day, Sheila. :) Thanks for sharing this one.

  2. We've got a ton of local apples, too and I'm bout to embark on a 4th dessert with them after making a pie, a brown betty, and a crisp not to mention drying 7 of them. Your pie looks scrumptious!

  3. Sheila, I'm always a sucker for apple pie, and this with the streusel and custard sounds divine. Of course, I'll have to try it GF, but usually pies work well and a streusel doesn't need to "rise," so thanks for another. I don't know the Baldwin apple. Don't see it in California. Can you compare it to another for the West Coast? Tart, mild? I'm assuming it's firm.



  4. This recipe is similar to one of the best pies I've ever had in a life, a rhubarb custard pie. Yum!

  5. Avery, that's a hard question (although a large percentage of apples in this country now come from Washington state and Oregon), and people's lists of what apples work best for what purpose can be all over the place. My favorite book on apple varieties, called Apples, by Roger Yepsen (with his own delightful illustrations) gives a list of 19 good pie apples, but you're most likely to find Granny Smith, Jonathan or Macoun near you (hmmm, he also recommends Northern Spy, and I just happen to have a bagful--another pie in my future?).

    Just don't try to use McIntosh or Red Delicious--they'll turn to mush.

    Sonia, I saw strings of apples hanging up to dry at Old Sturbridge Village recently, and now I'm tempted to try it. Simple: peel, core, slice into rings, and string them up (that's the old way--I don't have a modern fruit dryer).

  6. Today's post has me so happy I had to share it with all my friends LOL Thank you for the wonderfulness today Sheila. I think I just might even try the stringing of apples as well.

  7. Fascinating recipe, Sheila. Love the custard on the apples. I'm just getting read to make Apple Spice cupcakes. It's definitely apple season!

    ~ Krista

  8. Apples are everywhere down here in NYC, too. Interesting story on the Baldwins and good suggestion on *not* using RD or McIntosh in a pie. I discovered the mushy reason why one year and learned that lesson well. :) Wonderful apple pie recipe today, Sheila. Like your Orchard Mysteries...keep 'em coming!

    ~ Cleo