This Week’s Recipe: Apple Pie ’63
(Adapted from Pillsbury to reduce sugar and increase walnuts)
The winner of the 14th Pillsbury Bake-Off contest was Mrs. Erwin (Julia) Smogor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her recipe was published as “Apple Pie ’63.” My mother baked it for my father that year, who pronounced it his favorite dessert ever. For the next 50 years, my mother, my sisters and I made the pie for Dad as a special treat, especially on Dec. 25, my father’s birthday.
Gerald Orth was born during the Depression in St. Louis, and remembered some very hard times as a boy, times when grease on bread was a substantial meal. He had a sweet tooth as an adult. My mother kept soda pop and junk food out the house, but we knew if we joined Dad on a trip to the hardware store that at some point a bag of candy would appear–black or red licorice, gum drops, circus peanuts, taffy–he seemed to prefer candy that was chewy and sticky.
He loved this caramel-apple pie. This will be our first Christmas without him; I’ve made the pie in his honor. Hug your family tightly when you serve it, and happy holidays.
2 1/2 cups white or wheat flour or blend
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick cold butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cold water
6 cups thinly sliced apples-I use organic, unpeeled Granny Smith
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
35 caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup evaporated milk
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened–I use Neufchâtel
1/3 cup sugar
Walnuts-about 1 cup, chopped
In a small saucepan, combine caramels with milk, and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Keep warm.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt, and cut in the butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add oil, water and egg; mix well.
Using a rolling pin and fingers, spread the dough evenly across the bottom of a shallow 10 by 15 baking dish or on a baking sheet covered with a larger sheet of foil turned up around the edges at least one inch high.
In the same large bowl used to mix the dough (no need to wash), stir the zest into the flour, add the sugar, juice and apple slices and toss well. Spread the apple mixture across the dough. Spoon or drizzle the caramel sauce and the cheese sauce in diagonal stripes across the apples. Sprinkle the walnuts across the top of it all.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until the cheese stripes are toast-colored and the caramel is bubbling around the edges. Cool and cut into squares to serve. Makes 16-18 generous squares.
Felicia Orth is a local home cook and can be reached at email@example.com.