I’m the last one in the world to supply a blue-ribbon formula for apple pie — Google’s 9th most popular recipe request. In my 32 years as a professional chef, and as an American housewife, I regret that I have never made an apple pie. Tarte tatins, yes. Apple cake, yes. Fresh apple tarts, yes. Free-form apple galettes, yes. Apple cobblers, too. But never a pie. I don’t know why. Pie was something we ate when we went out. On Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, where we once lived (and Paul Newman lived across the street), was a restaurant serving only pie. Four ‘n Twenty, I believe was its name. My favorite was Apple Crumb Pie. (My mother’s favorite was Nesselrode!) This was decades ago. Now my favorite apple pie is, don’t laugh, the one from Costco — large enough to feed a city block — yet cheaper than any one dessert on any restaurant menu. (I think it’s $8.99). It has a thick lattice top and a gooey, cinnamon-y kind of syrup holding together what seem to be REAL apples. I know there are versions out there that are better, or more suave, but when it comes to sweets, my tastes sometimes skew…big! The appropriate scoop of vanilla ice cream to accompany this giant wedge of pie would be the size of a softball, just in case you were wondering.
But no one at home has a pie tin that big. For more normal-size pies you might want to consult…Google! Simply type in ‘apple pie recipe’ and you will come up with Grandma Ople’s. It has 3621 hits and many rave reviews. Likewise you can consult “James Beard’s American Cookery” (we have a first edition signed to my husband by Beard — they were buddies — in April 1972.) There Beard says, “many old American cookbooks did not bother to give a recipe for apple pie. It was taken for granted that every housewife had her own favorite.” But he supplies two nice-sounding pies: I could be tempted.
But for the time being, my favorite apple pie is a curious one that I feature in Recipes 1-2-3 called Snitz Pie — “snitz” being the name used by the Pennsylvania Dutch for dried apples.
Snitz Apple Pie
A good apple pie goes a long way in assuring domestic tranquility. No one will know that this pie begins with snitz — but everyone will be happy. You can make your own pie crust, purchase a good-quality frozen crust, or use puff pastry.
3 cups dried apple slices
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar or cinnamon sugar
wonderful pastry for a 9-inch two-crust pie
Soak apples overnight in 3 cups water. Cook in soaking liquid, covered for 20 minutes, or until apples are very soft. Mash them coarsely in a pot. Cook 1 minute to let water evaporate. Add 1/2 cup vanilla sugar, mix well and cook another minute or two. Let cool. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Turn apples into a pastry-lined pie tin. Cover with the top crust, and crimp crusts together. Make 3 slits to let the steam escape. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon vanilla sugar. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 30 minutes longer. Let cool completely. Serves 8