Mom’s Apple Pie

I had Easter dinner at my mother’s house this past weekend. It was a particularly auspicious occasion since all three of my sisters were there with their families, and it’s fairly rare these days for all four of us to be in one place at the same time.

So of course, my mom had made pie. Four pies, actually.

Much like Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, believing he was ready to face Darth Vader even though incomplete was his training, I swaggered into my mom’s house ready to taste test. I thought, hey, I’ve been making pies for four months now, I’ve got it. I’m ready to see how I stack up against the real thing.

And I got served. Pun intended. I was lucky to emerge without being frozen in carbonite.

My mother’s pie is way, way, way, way better than mine. Sir Monkeypants and I both were like, OH RIGHT, this is how pie is supposed to be! How silly of us.

On Sunday, I talked my mom into making yet another pie with me and I learned about a thousand things I have been doing wrong. She makes her pastry with milk, not water; she bakes her pies at 400 degrees, not 375; she greases the pie plate before loading in the pastry (doh, that seems so obvious now!).

The biggest difference, though, is that she uses much more liquid in her pastry mix than I have been. She freaked me out by dumping at least a half cup of milk in there all at once, and then mixing it up to a nice soft lump like PlayDoh. I’ve been under the impression that the least amount of liquid, the better, and I painstakingly measure out two scant tablespoons of water each time and sprinkle the water ever-so-delicately over the entire thing, until it barely clings together. Apparently, wrong. At least, according to Yoda.

Also my rolling methods leave a lot to be desired, not a surprise. And I don’t use enough sugar in my apple pie filling. And I should use water to seal the edges of the pie, and my mom’s style of crimping is way more effective and faster, and I need to work on my vent cutting technique.


So I made an apple pie with my mom, and it was thisclose to being as good as hers, with her close supervision, of course. Here it is (with leftover cherry and apple pie in the background from the previous night’s dinner):

Mom's Apple Pie

I like it that my mom cuts a 9-inch pie into only six pieces. Because that’s the way pie should clearly be served. Testify!

So my mother remains the master, and I’m back in basic training. I’m smarting, but I’ll be making another pie this week anyway and we’ll see how it turns out.

17 thoughts on “Mom’s Apple Pie

  1. those look like some mighty fine pies. look at it this way, at least you have now learn and everything will be easier and better the next time. i think it’s a step forward, not back since now you are that much more ahead of making the perfect pie. tes-ti-fy!

  2. Yum! It is good to take wisdom from the elders. It takes many years to make a Jedi . I’m sure I could come up with many more Star Wars encouraging mediphors but I will spare you my butchering of the classic. As long as you are enjoying the process, then that is what matters most.

    Just reminded me of my mom and how we joke about her pie making abilities. She does make a decent pie (apple and pumpkin only) but it is an ordeal to her. Then of course these pies only get served on special occasions when we have cameras out. So we have lots of pictures of her with her pies. “My, how she loved to bake a pie” is how we snicker that we will always remember her when she goes to that great kitchen in the sky.

  3. Oooh….I follow some of the tricks your mom does, but not all. I have to try using milk instead of water in the crust.

    I do grease the plate, bake at 400, and use water to seal the edges, though. Those tricks I learned from my mom, another pie baker extraordinaire. (Though as good as my moms pies are, her buttertarts are even better.)

    Out of curiosity, what kind of rolling pin does she use? A good ol’ fashioned wooden one? I had a wooden one that kinda fell apart recently and ended up buying a fancy-schmancy silicone rubber one I found on sale. Not sure I like it as much as my old fashioned wooden one, though. I’ve seen marble rolling pins, too, but I’ve never used one.

    1. My mom uses your basic wood rolling pin. I busted mine several months ago and have been making do with just the middle part, rolling it like it was a stick with no handles. Maybe this is why I am having trouble rolling, OY VEY.

      1. rheostaticsfan

        You might be pleased to know that cooksillustrated (my favorite cooking website and IMHO the authority on all things cooking) find the one piece pins to be the best overall. Granted, they use rolling pins that are MEANT to be one piece. The features they liked were a large cylindrical region plus a taper at the ends for maneuverability.

        1. Interesting…again, I’ve seen the one piece pins, but I’ve never used one.

          Do you have any of the Cooks Illustrated cookbooks? They’re fabulous. The instructions sometimes get a bit too ridiculously complicated, but I love how they go into so much detail about why they use certain ingredients and cooking methods over others.

          And Lynn, if you’re making this much pie, you definitely deserve a new rolling pin!

  4. Isn’t it nice to know that you can still learn things from your mom all these many years later? And that maybe you’ll still have things to teach your kids long after they’ve had kids of their own?

  5. Damn! Those are some good lookin’ pies! Where does your mom buy her cherries for the cherry pie? I can’t seem to find decent ones for pastry anywhere!

    1. Okay, here’s one reason I’ll never make a pie as good as my mom’s — she CANS HER OWN cherries. I KNOW. In the summer she gets a whole bunch from the farmer’s market and then she cans them in some sort of sugar solution for pie making.

      In the fall you can sometimes buy a big pail of pie cherries that are President’s Choice brand. She used them once or twice when she needed to make a large number of pies for something. I’m pretty sure they aren’t available all year round, though.

      Oh, the hours I have spent sitting at the kitchen table with a cherry pitter, then working over a hot pot of boiling water as the cans sealed. Sheesh!

  6. Worry not, Skywalker. Make the perfect pie you will someday.


    My Mom makes great pies. Sometimes. The biggest problem is that she’s never satisfied with finding one great recipe/method and sticking with it — she always tries to get creative. Once she used fresh pumpkin and didn’t puree it…enough, if at all. My husband, who’s been around for long enough not to be polite anymore, took a bite and said, with a dismayed look.. “and you didn’t purée it…why?”

  7. ohhh those pies look good. You still haven’t taken me up on that “invite me over to taste test!” idea I had. What are you waiting for!

  8. My mom is not a pie maker, but my grandmother was. It sounds like I might need to spend some time at your mother’s house next Easter testing out pies 🙂

    BTW, left you an award on my blog!!

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