Apple Pie in a Bag

Apple Pie baked in a brown paper bag

Apple Pie baked in a brown paper bag

It’s getting closer to the big day, you know what day I’m talking about, right? Thanksgiving, of course. It’s my most special meal, well it seems every meal is my most special meal, but this one definitely is. In fact, I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.  It’s the one day I will eat with reckless abandon. For me it’s a food version of a perfect storm. Every food I consider to be one of my favorites will make an appearance at my Thanksgiving table.

I embrace this holiday not just for the food, but for the fact that I truly am thankful for the food, and for my family.

I was speaking to my sister-in-law, Wanda the other day and she told me about a pie she makes that is my brother’s favorite. Since Apple Pie is a requisite for any Thanksgiving dinner I thought I would try it out before the big day. I was intrigued because this pie was baked in a brown paper grocery bag. She said that the bag kept the crust from over browning and that the apples became soft and tender and stayed juicy. Hmmmm, sounds like Mama needed to give this a try. Well Wanda, I was quite pleased with the results. I used a pre-made crust for this pie, but hey, if you’ve got the energy then go ahead and make your own crust.

Apple Pie baked in a bag

Apple Pie baked in a bag

Apple Pie in a Bag 

  • 7 crisp, tart apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sugar – divided
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick, unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 box pre-made refrigerated pie crust, 2-9″ crusts
  • 1 large brown paper grocery bag

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.  Peel, core and thinly slice your apples placing them in a large bowl. As you slice them, sprinkle a teaspoon or so of the sugar mixture over the apples to coat them so they won’t turn brown as you slice them. When all the apples are sliced and in the bowl, spoon in the remainder of the sugar mixture and toss to coat all the apples.
  2. Place one of the 9″ crusts into a 9″ pie dish. You may need to roll it out a little, so you should do that on a piece of parchment paper.  Spoon the apple mixture on top of the crust.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 stick of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Pour this mixture over the apple mixture.
  4. Place the remaining crust on top of the pie. You may have to roll it out a little so that it fits over the pie. Seal the edges of the 2 crusts together. With a sharp pairing knife, poke 5-6 slits on top of crust so that the steam can escape.
  5. Place the pie into a large brown paper grocery bag and then staple the ends shut.
  6. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Leave pie in bag for 5 minutes after removing from the oven.
Apple Pie baked in a bag

Apple Pie baked in a bag

Mama’s Tips

I sprinkled my apples with a teaspoon of the sugar mixture as I sliced them. The sugar mixture kept the apples from turning brown.

When pie is done baking, if you like a browner pie crust, remove the pie from bag and bake a few minutes more til browned on top.

Place bagged pie on a cookie sheet to avoid messy spills in the oven while baking.

Removing Apple Pie from the paper bag

Removing Apple Pie from the paper bag

Recipe: Easy


Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

Tradition is a funny thing. You don’t mess with it, that’s how something becomes a tradition. You do it over and over. It is rituals that are handed down from one generation to the next. Thanksgiving is the most important and revered tradition in my family. It’s been an American tradition for a couple hundred years, but  for my family in particular, it began with my grandparents. It’s a day that my whole family now waits for all year, and it’s all about the food.

In my house I’m known as the CEO of Thanksgiving, the Titan of Turkey and the Potentate of Potatoes. I rule this holiday with an iron fist. I make the same meal year after year. So, after 27 years of making this particular meal, I have in fact perfected it. My turkey is worthy of any glossy food magazine, my potatoes glisten in buttery goodness, and my cranberry sauce has just the right amount of tart and sweetness. My mother however is the VP of stuffing. For 27 years that has been her contribution, and she nails it every time.

However, sometimes traditions have to change. In with the new, and out with the old. In this case, I’m the old. My son graduated culinary school over 2 years ago, and he has been working as a chef in a fine dining restaurant. Last night he approached me and said that he would like to make the turkey and mashed potatoes this year for our dinner. I was stunned at first. Was he trying to yank control of this holiday out of my hands? When I gained my composure I realized that it may be time to hand the baton over to the next generation. Yes, I guess it was time to pass the tradition on.

Mini Apple Pies

So, now that I didn’t have to worry about the main course, I could focus on the really important aspect of the dinner; dessert. I decided to go very traditional, and serve a trio of desserts. I’m going to do mini pumpkin cheesecakes with praline topping, vanilla bean ice cream and these mini apple pies. Here’s to tradition.

Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

Apple Filling

  • 2 pounds tart apples, (I used Granny Smith, Jonagold & Fuji) peeld, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices small enough to fit into each cupcake opening)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground if that’s what you have)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Directions
  1. In a large pot or a Dutch oven, stir together the apples, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch.
  2. Cook covered over medium heat stirring occasionally until apples are tender, about 18 minutes.
  3. Uncover and cook until the liquid has thickened, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

The pies will be perfectly delicious if you use store-bought pie crust. I prefer to make the dough myself and below is the recipe I use to make a light, flakey pie crust.
Piecrust
From the Silver Palate Cookbook
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 5-6 tablespoons ice water, as needed
Directions
  1. Sift flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add chilled butter and shortening. Working quickly and using your fingertips, rub or cut the fats into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Sprinkle on ice water, 2-3 tablespoons at a time, and toss with a fork. Turn dough out onto your work surface and using the heel of your hand, smear dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape it up into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Chill for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  4. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured work surface. Lightly spray the cavities of the cupcake pan. Cut circles, using a round cookie cutter or glass larger than the size of the cupcake opening. 
  5. Gently fit the circles into the cupcake cavities. Spoon in the apple mixture, mounding it in the center. (the mixture will shrink so you’ll need to fill it generously). Dot the top of apple mixture with a small piece of butter.
  6. If you want a top crust, you can create a lattice top or another circular piece of crust on top. Using a fork I made sure that the top crust was connected to the bottom crust, trying to seal the two together so when they came out of the pan it did not separate.
  7. Brush the top crust with an egg wash – 1 egg and a tablespoon of cold water whisked together.  Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of each crust.
  8. Bake until crust is lightly golden brown and apple mixture is bubbling. (Place a cookie sheet under the cupcake pan to catch splatter).
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges of cupcake cavities to loosen pies and using a spoon gently ease pies out of pan. 
Makes 8 mini pies

Recipe: Intermediate