Apple of My Eye

In July of this year, I was asked to be a judge for a neighborhood picnic pie contest. There were fruit pies, chocolate pies, cream pies... all kinds of pies melting in the summer heat.

Myself and two other qualified culinary professionals from the neighborhood cut, tasted, swooned & rated each of the entrants' pies. I believe there were 7 or 8 pies in attendance. We came up with our own rubric system (I led the process by stating my previous experience in judging food contests) and announced a winner.

To be honest, I don't remember the winning pie. But I remember the 2nd place pie. I loved it. I loved the way it looked, the way it tasted, and I searched for the owner of the pie only to find out it was the creation of the Neighborhood Association's president. He revealed that the pie is to be baked in a brown paper bag. I couldn't WAIT to get my hot hands on this recipe!

Fresh, hot brown paper bag apple pie

Mark's response to me via email:
"I used to use old fashioned Macintosh apples for this recipe because they cooked down almost to apple sauce. Those apples are no longer available (at least I cannot find them) so I do not currently have a particular type that I use. I do not have the original source for this recipe. It is lost in time. For the pseudo streusel topping, the recipe calls for 1 stick butter, ½ C sugar and ½ C flour. I use 1/3 C each of sugar and flour to give a little more volume. I also use freshly ground nutmeg. "

Since it's Fall and all, I thought it appropriate to post this creation. And for the record, I used a mixture of Pink Lady and Gala apples for this pie.

Paper-bag Apple Pie
Serves 6 to 8

6 to 7 cups peeled, sliced apples
1 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar, divided
1/2 cup flour + 2 T
1/2 tsp nutmeg
unbaked 9-inch pie shell
2 T lemon juice
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine

Combine apple slices, 1/2 cup of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the flour; add nutmeg and toss well to mix. turn into the pie shell and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the remaining 1/2 cup flour, rub in the butter, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Place pie in large, heavy paper bag. Fold end over twice and fasten with paper clips.
Place bag on a cookie sheet. Bake in 425 oven for 1 hour. Split bag open and remove pie to cool. Serve warm with good regional cheddar 'store' cheese.

I had to put the paper bag on the floor as to not disturb the mound of topping.

30 seconds after ripping open the hot, brown paper bag
The pie was sweet, tart and the apples were still firm, yet soft enough to melt in my mouth while eating them. The streusel topping did not turn out as I'd expected because I did not use enough butter, but it was just as sweet and crunchy as I remembered in July. A sprinkling of course sugar on top would be a welcome addition, I'm sure.
I did not use enough butter on the top. I eyeballed it and my eyeball was a little small.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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