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Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9 a.m.

Is it magic? Mom's apple pie recipe

By Jessica Webster


There's something magic about this apple pie.

Jessica Webster |

I got my first marriage proposal when I was 16 years old. I'd like to think I earned it with my stunning good looks, my kind heart and my geeky obsession with all things related to jazz. But as anyone who lived through high school knows all too well, geekiness does not generally lead to marriage proposals.

My first marriage proposal had very little to do with me, as it turned out, and everything to do with the apple pie I had brought to a school potluck.

"If you promise to make me this pie anytime I want, I will marry you right here, right now."

I had to shamefacedly admit that it was my mother who had made the pie. The marriage proposal was quickly rescinded, and I later noticed the boy in question chatting up a girl who had brought a delicious devil’s food cake.

I convinced my mom to make me another pie for a gathering a few years later. This too, resulted in a spontaneous marriage proposal.

Nothing that I have ever baked myself has ever earned me the promise of nuptials, or even the offer of dinner and a movie. And frankly, the power of Mom's apple pie has intimidated me more than a little bit. I spent years afraid to make my own pie crusts, convinced that mine could never measure up.

My mom has agreed to let me share her recipe with you. She swears it's not that special. The crust recipe comes from an old friend who copied it out for my mom after a dinner club 40 years ago. The recipe for the filling came from the "Family Fare" recipe booklet distributed by the Department of Agriculture in 1970.

Maybe it's not the recipe that's so special. Maybe my mom just has the propensity to turn a plain recipe into something that has people falling all over themselves. But try it for yourself and see if it doesn't work a little magic for you.

Mom's Apple Pie

Pie Crust - for 2 crust pie

  • 1 cup shortening

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix flour, shortening and salt until crumbly. A pastry blender works well for this. Mix milk and vinegar and add to flour mixture. Mix with a fork just until ingredients hold together. The less you handle the dough, the lighter and flakier the crust will be. With your hands, gently press the dough into two equal balls. If it is too soft to handle, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm again. Roll the balls out on a lightly floured surface. Lay one carefully in a pie pan and save the second for the top.

Apple Pie
From Department of Agriculture "Family Fare" 1970

  • 5 cups pared, sliced tart apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, if desired
  • pastry for a 2-crust 8 inch pie

Prepare unbaked pastry. Mix dry ingredients lightly with apples in a bowl. Put filling into a pastry lined pie plate. Dot with butter, if desired. Top with second crust. Make a few decorative slices Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes, or until filling bubbles and the crust is golden brown. Note: if the apples are sweet, decrease the sugar.
Yield: 1 pie

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for and is considers herself very lucky that her mom still makes her apple pies. You can reach her at



Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

I baked this pie last night and it was first rate. Never used milk in a crust before, and I bake 15 or 20 pies a year. This dough was very easily handled. Used pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon. Thanks.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

Beautiful pie. Looks delicious, like my mom used to make. The photograph makes it look scrumptious!

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It's also hard to beat an apple pie for any occasion. But most importantly, it's simply the love that Mom infuses the ingredients with that makes the pie extraordinary ... :)


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

Now I love a story like this one; especially the chatting up of a girl who'd made devil's food cake. I could see myself wanting to marry someone who could make great desserts! I am printing this off and plan on making it over the holidays, that's how confident I feel about a story like this--this is truly how great recipes get passed along. I was further convinced when I read that her Mother said, "it's not that special". Thanks for sharing.