Nana’s Apple Pie – an homage.


Growing up, every Sunday we would go to my Nana's for dinner. We would drive downtown to her house around noon on Sunday and my whole extended family on my Dad's side plus some neighbors and friends would crowd around her heavy eight-foot dining room table. This Sunday 'dinner' is not to be confused with 'supper' which happend later at home and usually, on Sundays consisted of popcorn, cheese and apples in front of the TV. This is only really notable because it was the only meal of the week that we were allowed to eat in front of the TV!

The linguistics are not important, and I am not certain that they are regional, but 'dinner' is said to be the large meal you eat in the middle of the day and 'supper' is the smaller meal you eat in the evening. At least that's how my Nana would have told you.

Nana would make a large meal of traditional American classics. A roast or fried chicken sometimes casserole, a vegetable, a starch (her macaroni & cheese was my favorite) and usually a salad and rolls. We passed everything around the table like normal people except the rolls. Nana threw those. She would stand at the head of the table and pitch them to us one by one. You had to be paying attention or else one of the dogs would get lucky. She was 5'10″ and had quite an arm.

I remember everything being delicious (except greenbean casserole, which I still don't like) but my favorite thing that she made was her apple pie. She made it from scratch like everything else and topped it with crumbly streusel that I liked to steal bits of while everyone was setting the table. She didn't write the recipe down, she went from memory, so I never got her exact recipe. I have been trying for awhile now to recreate it. This represents my most recent effort which I would say is my closest to date.

I think part of the problem is that Nana probably used Crisco, and while I have no problem with Crisco as a concept, I prefer not to use it in my cooking if I can help it. I will always err on the side of butter. I am sure there are many bakers that would say they are not interchangable, and I would agree. It might be my final hurdle to perfect Nana-ness, but I am not ready to go there yet. Also, a confession. I bailed and used a store-bought crust. There. I said it. What's worse, I don't regret it. I can only do so much…you know?

So, if you NEED to do it all then Ms. Nigella Lawson has a great and easy crust recipe for you here.

Here's the rest:


2 tbsp. sugar    

2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1tbsp. cinnamon (try Vietnamese cinnamon if you can find it)

1 3/4 lbs of apples – peeled, quartered, cored and sliced thin (not too too thin) – about 5 Macoun apples, but use whatever red apple that is best local to you)

1tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1/2 a lemon

Combine all in a large bowl and let stand while you prepare.


1/2 C. all purpose flour

1/2 C. firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

5 tbsp. butter -chilled (I use salted)

1/2 C. rolled oats

Combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Cut the batter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse until the butter is cut in and the mix has a crumbly texture, 30 sec. to 1 min. Pour mixture into a medium sized bowl and mix in the oats. I find that using my hands here creates the best texture. You want it mealy and crumbly, not like dough, so don't overmix.


Roll out dough on floured surface to a 13-inch round (or pull it out of it's wrapper – tee hee). Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish. Spoon in apple filling. Fill level to the brim with a slight mound. Don't make too much of a hill out of it or the streusel will fall everywhere. Evenly sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples. Fill in big gaps with streusel, but don't fuss too much, it will fill in a bit in the oven.

Bake pie until apples are tender and topping is golden brown (or just a bit lighter). About 45-50 min. Transfer to rack. Eat for breakfast.


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