Dutch Apple Pie- from my Grandma’s 1909 diary

I was recently going through some old family papers and found my grandmother’s diary from 1909. The diary wasn’t bound in a fancy book, it was simply 50 loose pages of paper that thankfully stayed in tact after more than 100 years.

Grandma was a farmer’s wife- she and Grandpa lived on a farm in Payne’s Point, Illinois near Rockford. She had a rather hard life, complaining of having to clean the thick grease off the kitchen walls and of the terrible headaches that made her bedridden for days on end. But Grandma played a very important role on her farm, preparing three meals a day for her family and the hungry farmhands who worked at threshing time.

One diary entry describes the amount of food she had to cook for the threshers:

August 11, 1909

Had threshers for dinner. Anna and I worked like dogs all day: 4 Dutch Apple pies, 4 cakes, doughnuts, bread, 4 chickens and 2 kettles of potatoes. Had lots of stuff left, all ready for supper. Had some terrible hot weather the last three weeks, everything dried up and dusty.

One thing that struck me in her food entries was the important role that pie played in her cooking. Pie was a way to provide comfort and happiness to her family and farmhands  at the end of a long day- it also provided a feeling of community and a sense of being home. I can just picture my Grandma’s table over a hundred years ago: spread with chickens, corn cobs, bread, doughnuts, potatoes and vegetables. But it was the pie at the end of the meal that probably sent each person away with a little more happiness.

As Beth Howard says in her book Ms. American Pie:

There is always someone who could use a homemade pie to remind them that life still holds some hope, promise, and a little taste of happiness. And so I get busy baking …

In order to honor the spirit of my grandma’s love of Dutch Apple Pie, I am providing a recipe adapted from Beth Howard’s book. There is nothing better than Dutch Apple pie- if you like apple crisp or apple crumble, you’ll like this pie!

Here are a few helpful hints about making pie:

  • pie is not complicated- if our grandmothers, pilgrims and pioneers could make pies (with no electric stoves or refrigerators available), we can too!
  • don’t be afraid to ‘get you hands dirty’ when making pies- use your bare hands to mold the butter into the flour to make the dough.
  • Be a little flexible and don’t worry about measuring things precisely. If your dough is a little too dry, then try adding a little more cold water, etc.
  • For more tips on pie crust making, refer to my post on Pumpkin Bourbon Pecan Pie.

 

Dutch Apple Pie
Serves 8
Traditional Apple Pie topped with a cinnamon apple crumble that melts in your mouth!
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For the pie crust
  1. 2 1/2 cups (300 g) white flour
  2. 11 tbsps (150 g) cold butter, cubed
  3. 1 1/2 eggs
  4. 2 - 3 tbsp. cold water
For the pie filling
  1. 7 to 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (number of apples depends on the size of your pie)
  2. ½ tsp salt
  3. 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon
  4. ¾ cup sugar
  5. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  6. ¼ cup corn starch
For the crumble topping
  1. 1 cup (120 g) flour
  2. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into marble-sized chunks
  3. ½ cup brown sugar
  4. ¼ cup pecans, crushed (optional)
To prepare the pie crust
  1. Place flour in large bowl. Add cold butter cubes and rub mixture with palms and finger tips until mixture resembles fine sand. Alternatively, place flour and butter in food processor bowl and pulse until mixture resembles texture of fine sand.
  2. Add 1 1/2 eggs and stir until mixture starts to form a ball. If required, add 2-3 tbsps. of ice cold water and mix until dough hangs together in firm ball shape.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times until it forms a firm ball. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 15 minutes. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it measures about 1.5 inches larger than the dimensions of your pie pan. Trim the dough using kitchen scissors so that 1 inch of dough overhangs the pie pan. Tuck the edges of the dough under at the edges and then form into fluted edges. Set the dough aside.
For the pie filling
  1. Peel, core and slice the apples into pieces about 1 inch long. In a large bowl, combine the apples, salt, cinnamon, lemon juice and corn starch.
For the crumble topping
  1. In a separate bowl, rub the chilled butter, flour, brown sugar and crushed pecans (optional) together with your fingers until the texture resembles marbles. (If the butter becomes too soft, the mixture will become like a ‘melted, sticky glob.’ In this case, place the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes until the butter hardens again).
  2. Pour the apple filling into the prepared pie dough until it reaches the rim of the pie pan. Top with the crumble mixture. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 F (220 C) for 10 minutes, then reduce to 375 F (190 C) for another approximate 25 minutes, or until the apples turn soft when inserted with a fork or probe. If the crust starts to burn, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time. Cool slightly and serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.
Notes
  1. The crushed pecans are optional but they do add a bit of added texture to the crumble topping.
Adapted from Beth Howard's 'Ms. American Pie' recipe book
Adapted from Beth Howard's 'Ms. American Pie' recipe book
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk and Ginger

 

Sweet Potato Soup

I belong to a Cookbook Club at my local library (do people go to libraries any more)? Every month the members meet and share a recipe from one of their favorite cookbooks: this month everyone brought along a sample of their favorite soup and the accompanying cookbook recipe. First, everyone sat around a table and talked about their soup recipe, followed by mass tastings and slurpings of the featured soups.

I was really bowled over by the Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk and Ginger that one person brought along to the group- so creamy and smooth with the underlying zing of the ginger and subtle addition of the cayenne pepper. I added some shallots and garlic to my variation of this soup in order to add more depth. I also added a bit of thick cream at the end to cut the ginger taste a bit and to take this recipe to the next level of ‘manna from heaven’. Yes, you won’t be bored with this soup!

Note: I added some chopped chiles and a few basil leaves as garnish for my soup, but those are optional.

I can’t wait until next month’s meeting, which will feature PIE recipes. I’m already thumbing through my favorite pie cookbook, Ms. American Pie by Beth Howard, to pick my next recipe (should I choose Mississippi Mud or Cherry Pie?) The only drawback to my Cookbook Club is I always wind up buying one or two new cookbooks (although I guess I should check them out from the library-  that’s what libraries are for, right?

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day!

Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut and Ginger
Serves 4
A creamy sweet potato soup with an underlying 'zing' from the fresh ginger
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  2. 2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  4. 1 tbsp. fresh ginger
  5. 1 can (14 oz/400 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
  6. 3 cups chicken stock, salt reduced
  7. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  8. salt and black pepper to taste
  9. 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  10. 3 tbsp. thickened cream
Instructions
  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot, along with the chopped shallots, garlic, ginger, coconut milk and chicken stock, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes soften.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender, and in batches, purée the mixture until smooth. Add the lime juice and cream and adjust the seasoning (salt, pepper, cayenne) if necessary. Garnish with several basil leaves (optional).
Notes
  1. Increase the amount of ginger and/or cayenne pepper in this recipe if you desire a more spicy taste.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/