Fall leaves coming in and those scents you love, but what is the best things about fall besides pumpkin spice? Apple Pie! Warm, gooey fresh apple pie with the hint of spices. Time to EAT!
In a beautifully written and handsomely illustrated book called Old Southern Apples, Creighton Lee Calhoun tells the story of what apples and apple trees have meant in Southern life over centuries, up until just a few generations ago. Though the book is out of print, it’s worth seeking out in used bookstores, libraries or from online sources, for its fine illustrations, history of Southern food and agricultural traditions, and details about heirloom apple varieties, some of which survive and some of which have disappeared from the landscape as farmland dwindled away.
Rural families often had not one apple tree or two, but a whole orchard’s worth, coming ripe from August through November, and each variety of apple tree with its own purpose. Some made briskly sweet cider, some were suited for apple butter and apple sauce, some were for pies or drying for wintertime use, and a few were for the least important purpose, eating out of hand. Mr. Calhoun lives here in Piedmont North Carolina, and I had the pleasure of visiting him and interviewing him several years ago.
Read the story I wrote about Mr. Calhoun in 2008 for Edible Piedmont Magazine , if you’re hungry for more on apples on Southern farms and tables. Or go find some apples and treat yourself to the sweet and satisfying fall indulgence, apple pie. For my pie I used a combination of granny smiths, jonagolds, golden delicious, and macintosh, and the fragrance from the oven about halfway through the baking time floated through the house. Apple pie suits me on days when I don’t want to pay a lot of attention to my pie work — once you’ve made an apple pie or two or three, you’ll most likely need no measuring and recipes at all, and you can vary this simple standard formula to suit yourself — more spice? less sugar? a squeeze of lemon or a splash of cider or water to juice things up? It’s all up to you and your apple pie attitude.
Nancie's Everyday Apple Pie
- Pastry for a double-crust pie
- 8 cups peeled and sliced apples (about 8 good-sized apples)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small bits
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Line a pie pan with one sheet of piecrust, leaving about 1 1/2 inches overlapping the edges of the pie pan. Place the apples in a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and stir with a fork to mix everything together well.
- Pour the sugar-spice mixture over the apples, and use your hands or a large spoon to toss them gently, so that the apples are seasoned fairly evenly.
- Pour the apples into the piecrust, and pile them up so that they peak in the middle. Sprinkle the butter all over the apples so that it's evenly distributed.
- Carefully drape the top crust over the apples, and then press it gently around the inside edge of the pie pan, covering the apples well. Fold the bottom crust up and over the edges of the top crust and press to seal them together well.
- Using the tines of a fork or your fingers, press the crust into a handsome edge for the pie. (If you have lots of crust, trim it so that you have plenty to enclose and seal up the pie, but not a great excess of dough.)
- Using a butter knife, cut small steam vents in the top crust. Place the pie in the 425 degree oven and bake until the apples have softened, the pie is fragrant, the crust is handsomely browned, and a thick shiny syrup is bubbling up here and there around the pie, 40 to 55 minutes.
- Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool for an hour or so. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 266Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 13mgSodium 224mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 4gSugar 41gProtein 2g
Martha Jo Locke
I live in Daytona Beach , Fl. Back in the 50’s thru the 70’s there was a restaurant on the corner of Magnolia and South Palmetto Av. The name of the restaurant was Creighton’s. They were famous for their Creighton’s Hot Apple Pie. It was a very deep dish pie, approximately 6″ deep and was served with a hot apple juice cinnamon sauce. It was absolutely the most wonderful pie I have ever eaten. You could special order a pie to take home and they sold like hot cakes. They were pricey for that era but worth every cent. I have been looking all these years for any kind of similar recipe without any success. When I came across the name Creighton associated with apple pie my heart raced and my mouth watered remembering that wonder pie from so long ago. Do you know if there is such a pie receipt in this book Old Southern Apple?
Hi, Martha Jo Locke!
What a wonderful memory and I sure wish I had been able to try that pie back in the day! Sorry to say that the book does not really have recipes — it is all about the trees and the apples, the old varieties and what they were used for. A few ‘recipes’ in the introduction, more advice on making apple butter and drying apples. Since “Creighton” is the author’s first name, maybe no connection. He was living in NC when he wrote the book years ago, but not sure if he is an NC native or not. BUT it could be a family /surname, which becomes a first name to carry it on. I will keep an eye out for any information on that. I’m fascinated and would love to know more.
Hello Martha Jo! I’m so slow to respond, my apologies. I love knowing about Creighton’s Hot Apple Pie. I’m sorry to say that the book “Old Southern Apples” is about the apple varieties and their history, with glorious illustrations from governmental archives, and has very few recipes. The ones it has are extremely simple — apple butter made in a slow cooker; how to dry apples. No pies at all, so not a source for this treasure you seek. If I find reference or recipe I will let you know!
You had me at “apple pie!” This takes me back to my childhood days when I spent my summers in Mississippi with my grandparents. Thanks for the memories Nancie.
Creighton Lee Calhoun is publishing a revised edition of Old Southern Apples in December (Chelsea Green Publishing). It will have more illustrations than the first edition, and will bring his apple researches up to date — many of the varieties he considered “lost” have been found since, largely owing to the inspiration others have derived from his book.
@George, thank you for letting me know this piece of news, how delicious and wonderful! I will put that at the top of my Christmas wish list. And how sweet to know that thanks all the good work that the Calhouns have done for decades, many lost apples turn out to have merely been misplaced, overlooked, and unnoticed. You’ve made my day. I think I need to check in with them and see if they have a Southern apple pie recipe to share for pie month!