by Rebecca Meyer

Apple pie is my saving grace and I will tell you why. It is what I call the ultimate comfort food — the dish that crosses all cultural boundaries. My Italian mom always made a delicious apple pie and it was to die for. Fortunately for me, she gave me the recipe and taught me how to bake the perfect pie. The nice thing about this dessert is that it can be served in many different ways. It is also perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner, your pick.

I personally prefer eating a piece of pie on a pretty plate with a hot cup of coffee at the dining room table where everyone else in my family always loved to sit visiting with each other. 

Interestingly, mom’s apple pie became my favorite recipe of all time because of a speech class I was taking in college. I had to do a demonstrative speech and heard through the grapevine how hard it was. You actually had to perform a task in front of the class and make sure that you didn’t mess it up. Talk about pressure! All I could think of was how much I hated speech class, and yet it was my apple pie recipe that saved the day. I remember being scared to death and so worried about shaking in front of the class and not being able to demonstrate whatever I had to do. I decided to ask my mom what she thought and she gave me the family response to all problems, which was “go to the kitchen, cook and feed them.” She suggested apple pie and told me to bake four apple pies, bring enough plates, forks and napkins along with a gallon of vanilla ice cream and serve it to the class while I spoke.
Of course, I did this since I knew I could bake. When I got to class and it was my turn to speak,

“go to the kitchen, cook and feed them.”

I wheeled the serving cart filled with all the pies and ice cream right in front of the audience. Of course, when I asked if anyone wanted to help me serve, there were more than enough volunteers to help out. While they handed out the dessert, I stood in front of the class and proceeded to tell my classmates all about my apple pie recipe. I showed them step by step how to make the crust and fill it with delicious, fresh, cut up apples. As I demonstrated each phase, I scanned the audience and all I saw were happy faces smiling back at me while they proceeded to stuff their mouths with delicious apple pie and ice cream. I knew they liked it because everyone was asking for one more piece. The final compliment was when they asked for the recipe, which I just happened to have to give out to everyone. My professor seemed to love the dessert and I finished my speech class with an A. I’m convinced to this day that the smell of fresh baked apple pie gave a wonderful scent of happiness and joy throughout the large room and took away any problems or fears from everyone that day. I later called my mom and told her what happened and she was thrilled for me. To this day, this recipe is my husband’s favorite and since summer and the 4th of July are at our door, for the love of apple pie, give it a try! ◆

Maria’s Apple Pie

8-10 large apples

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

4 thin slices butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt 

3/4 cup Crisco shortening

1/4 cup ice water

Slice apples by using an apple cutter, pressing down firmly to allow apples to slice. Peel skin off apple slices and place slices in mixing bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon and butter slices. Mix thoroughly and set aside. 

In another mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and Crisco. Once mixed, slowly add ice water. It’s important to use only ice water and not lukewarm water to have the optimal results for crust consistency. Once mixed, divide dough into two sections. 

Take a rolling pin and sprinkle flour on surface of the pin as well as on the counter to roll out the dough. Use plenty of flour to prevent sticking to surfaces, but be careful not to overuse flour as this will toughen the crust. Put first half of rolled out dough on bottom of 8- or 9-inch pie pan. Pour apple mixture into pie pan. Spread evenly. There will be a mound of apples which makes for a delicious pie. Place remaining section of rolled out dough on top of apples and pinch remaining dough around the edge of the pie pan to seal. 

Using a sharp knife, create four slits on the top of the pie for ventilation. Place pie in preheated oven at 375 degrees. Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes, depending on oven’s efficiency. During the final 15 minutes of baking, remove pie from oven and brush with melted butter. Place pie back in oven and continue baking. Once finished, allow to cool. Serve with ice cream or whipped topping, if desired.