Paper Bag Apple Pie: a real (tasty) bag job

paper bag apple pie

Apple pie baked… how?

In a paper bag.

And why?

Proponents say it yields a gorgeous flaky crust, and perfectly cooked filling.

True? Well, it worked for me; but I’ll let you be the judge…

As it turns out, this isn’t a novel way to bake an apple pie. Why, books have been written about it… well, maybe just ONE book.

Still, this old-fashioned, brown paper bag method is still employed by America’s most famous paper bag apple pie bakers.

The bakers at The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, have been featured on none other than Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. And their apple pie has been named “best pie in America” by the Wall Street Journal, Gourmet, and Food Network.

Wall Street Journal? Food Network?

That’s famous.

This unusual baking method for apple pie actually caught my eye years ago, when it arrived via e-mail from reader Kathleen Johnstone.

I’d heard of turkey baked in a bag, but pie? Nope.

I eagerly read through the recipe… and noticed that my computer and Kathleen’s were on different wavelengths; a good number of the ingredient amounts were blank.

Well, after trying different ways of sending an attached document, Kathleen finally gave up and just sent me the ingredient amounts in an e-mail (the subject line of which was “Apple Pie for the 8th Time” — never say die!).

I baked the pie – a bit skeptically, I must say – but found it to be beautifully golden brown and deliciously comforting. I also enjoyed the streusel topping, which strikes me as rather easier than rolling out a top crust.

As Kathleen commented in her accompanying note, “Very good, and all the mess is inside the paper bag.” Which it was, I’m pleased to say.

If you’re not quite happy with your own apple pie recipe; or have a chronic problem with bubbly apple pie and the subsequent mess and smoke it makes, we recommend the following recipe highly.

A good crust is the root of all pie satisfaction. The crust below is my current favorite. If you have a recipe of your own, one you love – stick with it.

Hear ye, hear ye! THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WHERE PIE CRUST IS CONCERNED.

However you make your crust – if you like it, it’s PERFECT.

“Can’t,” “shouldn’t,” “only,” “always,” and “never” are not in my pie vocabulary.

If you’re a pie crust purist (and will use ONLY lard, or NEVER vinegar, or ALWAYS butter…), that’s fine; and you’re welcome to share your thoughts here.

We can agree to disagree in an agreeable way.

(Can you tell that some previous pie blog posts have generated, shall we say, “high feelings” among my fellow pie bakers out there?)

Let’s start with the crust – yours, your mom’s, mine… even store-bought frozen, if that’s your favorite.

Though I hope to talk you into homemade with the following…

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1 1/4 cups King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Mix to combine.

Add 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. You can use a pastry blender or mixer to do this, but really, your fingers are the best tools for the task.

Add 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork as you sprinkle the water into the dough.

When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it, transfer it to a piece of parchment, or a lightly floured surface.

Gently pat it into a smooth disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

While the dough is in the fridge, make the filling.

You’ll need 8 cups sliced apples, which translates to about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds purchased weight.

I’m using Granny Smiths here, because my favorite Northern Spy apples weren’t yet in season when I test-baked this pie.

Peel and core the apples; our apple peeler/corer/slicer can ready an apple in under 10 seconds.

All you have to do is cut the slices into smaller pieces.

One apple; 10 seconds. I kid you not!

Put the apples in a big microwave-safe bowl, and add the following:

¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons boiled cider, optional but tasty

Stir until the spices are fully distributed. Microwave the filling, uncovered, for 5 minutes. This softens the apples just a bit, and gets their juices flowing. Skip this step if you like; it’s not critical, though I think it helps.

Add 3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or ¼ cup Pie Filling Enhancer. Stir to combine.

Start preheating your oven to 425°F.

Next, spray a 9″ pie pan, one that’s about 1 1/2″ deep, with non-stick pan spray.

Why the spray? It makes it easier to get slices out intact, and helps counteract the stickiness of any potential filling leaks.

Take the dough out of the fridge. If it’s been chilling longer than 30 minutes, give it 10 minutes or so to warm up a bit.

Place the dough on a well-floured surface; a rolling mat works well here, and makes cleanup a breeze.

Roll the dough into a circle, making sure to keep the underside well-floured to prevent sticking. A giant spatula is a big (well, a giant!) help here.

Roll the crust until it’s between 12″ and 13″ diameter.

In hindsight, I should have rolled this crust a big bigger. Oh well… a top crust (or in this case, streusel) will hide a multitude of sins!

Transfer the crust to the pan. Again, that giant spatula comes in handy.

Settle it gently into the pan, without stretching.

Did you know that stretching your pie crust is one of the reasons a crust sometimes shrinks as it bakes? It pays to be gentle.

Gather up the overhang, and crimp the crust nicely.

Do as I say, not as I do. I was in a hurry, and this crimp is U-G-L-Y.

See previous advice about hiding your sins…

…with streusel!

Mix the following until crumbly:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into pats

Spoon the apple filling into the crust.

Spread the streusel on top.

Ah, here comes the paper bag part. Put the pie in a large brown grocery bag. Paper, not plastic!!!

Fold the opening closed, and secure it with staples or paper clips.

Note: If you have ANY hesitation at all about doing this – contaminants in recycled paper, lead-based inks, you’re afraid of the bag catching on fire, whatever – substitute parchment paper. Staple two pieces together to fashion a bag; you’ll want to make sure your pie pan doesn’t have an overly wide rim, so it fits in the “bag.”

I baked the pie a paper grocery bag, and it turned out fine. This doesn’t guarantee results for everyone. As I said – any hesitation, use parchment, OK?

Put the pie in its bag (paper, or parchment) on a baking sheet.

Bake the pie in a preheated 425°F oven for 1 hour.

Remove the baking sheet and pie from the oven, and carefully slit the bag open, watching out for steam.

See? The bag caught the drips…

…and the pie baked perfectly. Golden crust, light-gold streusel…

…and apples with just enough bite to let you know you’re eating an apple pie, not applesauce.

As I mentioned, you can bake the pie in a parchment bag, if you’re afraid of baking in paper.

Here, I’ve simply stapled two pieces of parchment together.

For best results, cut 3 or 4 large slits (or 7 or 8 smaller ones) in the parchment; parchment isn’t as porous as paper, and your pie runs the risk of being soggy unless you allow some of the steam to escape.

Bake at 425°F for 1 hour, and tear open to reveal…

…a lovely, golden apple pie.

Let the pie cool for an hour or so before cutting. Serve it warm, or at room temperature.

Vanilla ice cream is always welcome. I’m guessing those folks at The Elegant Farmer, out there in the Dairy State, aren’t afraid of a big scoop of ice cream on their paper bag apple pie…

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Paper Bag Apple Pie.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. sandra Alicante

    I can’t say I ever have a problem with apple pie (apart from wanting to eat it whenever I pass the plate) but I may have to try this just for the fun of it. Now I really want one of those peelers- I put it on my christmas list but it was ignored. Guess I shall have to do some VERY heavy hinting this year!

    sandrascookbook.com

    Reply
  2. "Bakers Fancy"

    I am sorry to be a spoil sport but I have genuine concerns about using brown paper bags for the reasons explained in this article: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Food-Safety-Issues-767/Cooking-Turkey-Brown-Paper.htm. I used to let my Christmas cookies on the bags when I was knee deep in Holiday baking but was advised against that years ago. Unfortunately the use of chemicals, metal shavings, etc. render these bags unusable in food preparation. I like your idea of using an improvised parchment bag though.

    Thanks for your feedback – that’s exactly why I tell people, “If you have ANY hesitation at all, use parchment.” Luckily, we’re all free to make our own decisions; thanks for providing the information here to help others make theirs. PJH

    Reply
  3. hobby baker

    Hey, I saw that episode and remember being intrigued by the bag idea. Never tried it though. Maybe for the Labor day weekend! I gotta say though, your boiled apple cider is my secret ingredient for getting pies to turn out “as good as mom’s”.

    I’m with you re: boiled cider. I drizzle it into SOOO many apple dishes… PJH

    Reply
  4. JuliaJ

    Yum! I always hesitate to make pie as making the crust and the filling seems like twice the work of making a cake, but will have to try this!

    But I think I’ll double the crust recipe and stash half the crust dough in the fridge for a second pie. How long will the pie dough keep refrigerated? A couple of days? (The first pie will likely be GONE in a few days!)

    Julia, crust will be good for a couple of days in the fridge, longer in the freezer – couple of months, probably, well wrapped. I agree – if you’re making one crust, might as well make four. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  5. aoifeofcheminnoir

    I like the idea very much, but the places I shop don’t have paper bags any more. Guess we’ll have to use parchment or find a roll of brown wrapping paper.. I’m so glad I bought a apple peeler/corer a couple of years ago…they’re wonderful!

    Parchment would be a good plan – not sure if brown wrapping paper would be heavy enough… It’s getting harder and harder to find paper bags, isn’t it? I use cloth bags myself; and I’ve heard that plastic is actually MORE ecologically friendly than paper, due to what they have to do to wood to turn it into paper… PJH

    Reply
  6. Caroline

    Anything baked “en papillote,” in a paper or foil pouch, will bake more evenly and will also retain a lot of its moisture. I use this technique for things like fish and vegetables (even lasagna when I cover it with foil while baking) but never considered it for sweet baked goods. It’s probably a great method for anything that doesn’t require the release of moisture or a browned top, but maybe not a good idea for anything that relies on a leavening agent, yeast, or steam to make it rise. In that respect I can see how a pie would be an ideal choice.

    Reply
  7. PatriciaSeasons

    Our very famous apples, Gravensteins, are just finishing so I guess I am going to have to make pies this weekend. Sounds good to me.
    I have never done a turkey in a bag but I have done lamb shanks and they were delicious! I now use a Romertoff… wonder if they might make one for pies???

    Hmmm, I’ve never seen a Romertopf for pies… might be a swell idea, though! :) PJH

    Reply
  8. Cyn

    OK, I just made this pie, and I don’t think I’ll ever return to the traditional apple pie! It’s gorgeous and the scent is incredible. I sprinkled a little extra cinnamon on top of the streusel, and added chopped pecans to the top just b/c I love that combo in apple crisp. Thank you, PJ! And, thanks for the photo of that cookbook of paper bag cookery…isn’t it interesting that the more things change, etc., etc.?

    Happy Labor Day holiday to you and yours!

    Reply
  9. lauried

    Another option might be extra-large heavy-duty foil. It might take a little work to get it tented up and over the pie. On the positive side–no staples needed.

    Reply
  10. hickeyja

    PJ, Thanks for the rundown on the pies, but I don’t think I will be trying this–since I can stop at Elegant Farmer on my way home from work and pick up one that is ready to eat!

    BTW, they will ship the pies anywhere in the country. I occassionally send my Dad, in TX, a pie for a special treat.
    http://www.elegantfarmer.com/index.html

    The pies are very good. They also make the pies in a variety of fruit/apple combos. Jan

    Reply
  11. hickeyja

    The bags they use at the Elegant Farmer are not as heavy as a regular grocery bag. They are about the weight of parchment, tho made of a different type of paper. Wonderful pies, though. It is great to be able to stop there on the way home and pick up a pie for dessert. We especially like the apple/cranberry version.

    Reply
  12. Cindy

    PJ, try a scant half tsp of buttery sweet dough flavoring in the ice water- terrific!
    A little bit of vanilla crush or vanilla bean paste in the apples is a nice addition, too.
    And I’m with you, I’m waiting for Spies.
    I really want one of those corers!

    Reply
  13. BluebonnetBaker

    Oh Miss PJ, you always have perfectly timed posts! I just got Boiled Cider in my latest KAF shipment, and I’m headed to the farmer’s market this morning where they will have both paper bags AND apples. It’s kismet, I tell you.

    Reply
  14. Brenda

    My grandmother always made apple pie in a paper bag. It was always my favorite but I haven’t been able to find her recipe in the boxes of recipes I inherited. Thanks for this one!

    Reply
  15. "Cookie Munster"

    Working on this now; it looks so good! I am out of pie enhancer (great product) and wonder if Instant Clear Jel can be substituted in equal measure?

    Awhile back, I made an apple topping to serve with a bundt spice cake. Again out of sugar, I grabbed Lyle’s Golden Syrup and boiled cider- fantastic results! Now if I could only recall the proportions as I could see it in an apple raisin or apple almond pie :o)

    If replacing Pie Enhancer with Instant ClearGel, use half the amount and blend the ClearGel with the sugar before adding to the fruit. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  16. sherri

    I just remembered that you make two flours, one with gluten and one without. Thank God I didn’t try the recipe until I checked for gluten free adaptations!

    Reply
  17. Stephanie

    I’ve always been fascinated this method. Does the bottom of the crust bake evenly (i.e. not doughy, pale, etc.)?

    Stephanie, that would depend on your pan and where you put it in the oven more than anything else. I like to use a metal pan, dark rather than shiny if possible. A cast iron skillet makes a wonderful pie, as a matter of fact. Put the pie on a lower rack of the oven (which you’ll have to, if you bake in a bag – since the bag is tall). My bottom crusts seem to do well when baked with these two things in mind… Good luk! PJH

    Reply
  18. shofur4two

    The pie is awesome, crispy crust bottom and streusel top. I forgot to lightly grease my pie pan, but there was enough in the crust I guess as it still did not stick. I also put about 1 tbsp of the butter that I took away from the streusel topping and melted it and lined the bottom so that it provided a small barrier for all that juice. Must say tho, that I still ended up with a mess on the bottom of the oven. So next time a pan underneath despite the paper bag. Thanks again for a great recipe.
    This recipe is simple and quick and I used my homegrown Mutsu apples!
    Thank you for trying this recipe. I bet those homegrown apples were delicious! Elisabeth

    Reply
  19. seashops

    I made this last night and it is hands down the best apple pie I’ve ever made, and I’ve been making pies for over 40 years! So glad you posted this recipe. The paper bag did catch the mess.

    Reply
  20. anne_meanders

    It is still really hot here near Charlotte, NC – so no pie baking yet. But, this is going on the list! We did head to Henderson County, NC (near Asheville) on Saturday for apples. They are the largest apple producing county in NC, and NC is the 7th largest apple producing state. :-) We bought a peck of wonderful Honey Crisp for eating out of hand, and my DH bought a gigantic bag of three other varieties for his applesauce. (He has been on a fruit cooking kick – made peach chutney, peach butter, and peach preserves last week!) Yay fruit!
    We do hope you enjoy it when the time’s right! ;) ~Jessica

    Reply
  21. tracyk

    The Elegant Farmer has quite a wholesale operation and their pies are available at more than a few grocery stores close to Wisconsin. We once sent apple pies as Thanksgiving gifts to Massachusetts, but that gets mighty expensive because they ship outside Wisconsin by second-day air…and the pies are heavy. Their crust is more like a sugar cookie–very sweet, as is the pie itself. It does bake up quite crunchy…but is nearly impossible to get out of the pan. They use aluminum pie pans, which get stuck to the bag by the bubbling filling and the expanding crust edge. When you cut them (the suggestion on the box is to use an electric knife) you invariably slice right through the pan. We’re never able to get ‘beauty slices’, but the resulting blob on the plate is still quite tasty. The bubbling filling also permeates the sugar of the pie crust, so the edges of the pie can be tooth breakers.
    We hope this blog inspires you to give it a go yourself, sans the mess and blobs (tasty as they were)! ~Jessica

    Reply
  22. Maureen R

    Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October. I would love to have a few of these put away in the freezer in advance. Would it be best to freeze before or after baking? Any other hints to maintain the best quality possible?

    I love your products, your recipes and this blog! Pumpkin scones might appear on our Thanksgiving table also.

    Maureen, read our blog post on how to make, freeze, and bake fruit pies. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  23. LynnCoop

    Is this safe baked in a gas stove? I would love to try it, apple pie is my favorite.

    if it works in an electric oven, it should work in a gas oven. Frank @ KAF.

    Not sure about that open flame… I wouldn’t try it. PJH

    Reply
  24. mafaeth

    After forty years of baking- I made my first “from scratch” pie crust today, as I followed this recipe exactly. I’m feeling pretty smug, and wondering why I waited so long! This was the best apple pie, I’ve ever made – juicy, fragrant, flaky crust with just the right amount of struesel topping. I enjoyed using my new apple peeler/corer/slicer, which made the prep much easier. Next time, I think I’ll try tenting some non-stick aluminum foil instead of the paper bag. It worked well, but I now have some sticky, charred brown paper stuck to the bottom of my pie plate. With a pie this good, I’ll scrub up without complaint!

    Reply
  25. Rockycat

    I tried the paper bag technique (not the actual recipe) yesterday and while I was very happy with how my pie turned out, I was really freaking out while it was baking. The smell that was coming out of my oven was appalling. I actually spent the entire hour that the pie was baking sitting in the kitchen to make sure that nothing untoward happened. I also made sure to have the fire extinguisher more close at hand than usual. I don’t know if the smell was from the dyes that my grocery stores uses to print their bags or from the glue that they use to attach the paper handles (most likely the latter), but the chemical/plastic/burning smell, even with the exhaust fan running, was pretty awful. The pie was good, though.

    Btw PJ, just what is the best apple thing you’ve ever put into your mouth, as per last night’s tweet? There was no link attached.

    Rocky, I agree – the bag can smell pretty odd… Glad it worked out for you, though. Darn, no link with the tweet? It’s the Apple Upside Down Cake I blogged today… sorry ’bout that! PJH

    Reply
  26. jlbaughn2

    What a surprise seeing this in my e-mail today. My mother made this exact pie when I was growing up in the 1960’s. We all loved it. There is something about the combination of ingredients, especially the strudel topping, and the baking method that make an exceptional pie. I could never find her recipe for this after she passed away. Thank you so much for bringing back a childhood favorite.
    We are glad to have created a reunion here! :) ~Amy

    Reply
  27. VIRGINIA ROMAINE

    I had in past years made the paper bag pie and THANK YOU for the tip to use parchment instead of the store bag; I always used the plain bag with no printing on it but still had the most acrid, strong, eye-stinging chemical smell during the baking process. For that reason, I discontinued using the paper bag method. It really is a great way to make a pie. I will try the parchment which already makes a lot of sense!

    Reply
  28. cake

    I do not own a microwave. Could you please advise on what to do if you don’t use the microwave. I want to make this tonight…Thanks so much.
    By the way, I love the historic aspect. It gives me a birds eye view of what people ate and, in many respects, how they lived.
    You can omit the microwave step, it is not necessary for the recipe. If you want to give the apples a quick saute in a pan, that is also an option. ~Amy

    Reply
  29. alaskalynn

    I mixed up enough apple mixture for 2 pies. One of the pies went into the paper bag and one was bagless. I baked them exactly the same. Three people tested the pies and could tell no difference between the two as far as taste goes. They looked the same as well. The only difference I found was that any spill overs stayed in the bag, but I bake pies on a pan to hold spill overs…
    It is an extra step to find the paper bags to bake the pies in and one step I do not feel is necessary to bake a good apple pie.

    Reply
  30. Pat

    I have used this recipe for 50 years. My Husband’s FAVORITE
    PIE.
    Our family loves this pie & all 3 of our children make it.
    Delicious !!!!

    Reply
  31. amazonium

    I had completely forgotten about using a paper bag- for years it was the only way I made apple pies, thanks to the recipe from my mom-in-law. Funny how we ‘lose’ recipes that we have committed to memory, eh? I will definitely be searching for a paper bag to use the next time I make an apple pie- not an easy thing to find where I live!
    You guys rock, as usual!

    June

    Reply
  32. AmericanGirlinQuebec

    This is the only way my mom made apple pie while I was growing up. It turned out fantastic every time up until the last time she baked it this way. It was that last time that the bag was too tall and accidentally touched the top of the oven causing it to catch on fire. Thankfully quick work with a fire extinguisher put it out with no major damage except to the door of the microwave situated above the oven unit. Needless to say I don’t think my mom has attempted a brown-bag apple pie ever since. While nostalgia makes me want to locate a brown bag and give them a try, I think I may go the parchment paper route myself. Excited to try the streusal topping, that’s for sure! :)

    Reply
  33. Niamh

    I prefer a top crust to streusel. Do you know if a regular two crust pie work well with this method too?
    This should work, though I imagine you may need to pull the pie out of the bag toward the end of the baking time in order to give the top crust a chance to brown completely. ~Amy

    Reply
  34. Kirkendall

    Concerning cooking turkeys in bags; Absolutely fall-off-the-bone tenderness is achieved using a broiler bag available in grocery stores. I recommend using a remote thermometer with the cable coming out of the oven door for perfect doneness. The reason is that roasting time is much reduced due to zero need to open the oven door to baste. My twenty-two pound birds are therefore done in two hours and fifteen minutes. No drying out of the breast meat at all !

    Reply
  35. dmurray407

    I might have to give this a try tomorrow-I have a big bag of Zestar apples I just got at the orchard yesterday. They are an early apple here in MN and I find them to be a bit softer and juicier than my favorite cooking apples-Haralsons or even Honeycrisp. Would you recommend using a little extra Pie Filling Enhancer or Clear Jel to combat the extra juice?
    Thanks!
    Zestar. Now that’s a variety I haven’t yet tried. Apples are very high in pectin, so they don’t need a whole lot of thickening power. I think you should be fine with the recipe as is, but you can add an extra1/8-1/4 tsp if you’d like for reassurance. ~Amy

    Reply
  36. jbolthuis

    Having lived in Milwaukee for 18 years, I enjoyed many Elegant Farmer Apple Pies. You could buy them already baked, or take one home and bake it yourself. It really is the best apple pie ever!! I don’t know what is in it, but their top crust is incredible! It is almost like eating a sugar cookie.

    Reply
  37. bones

    I’m making this pies in my mini pie pans..Do I need to make an adjustment to the baking time?
    Thanks!

    Yes, a smaller pie will bake a bit faster. The first one will need to be an experiment. Try baking for 3/4 of the time of a full size pie. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  38. myra11109

    Fascinating recipe – I plan to make it tomorrow. One question, though – Is it possible to double the crust recipe and make a traditional 2-crust pie this way, using the paper bag? I’m going to start with the streusel topping this time, but was wondering for future pies….Thanks for your help.

    Yes indeed, Myra; you’ll probably want to take the pie out of the oven at about 50 minutes, and cut a big hole in the top so the top crust will brown; return to the oven until the top crust is brown. PJH

    Reply
  39. "bev unruh"

    I made this pie this evening. My husband says this pie is wonderful. It was delicious. I will make it again. I did not use the paper bag because I was using a small oven. It was awesome anyway.

    Reply
  40. blueskylad

    Really enjoyed the paper bag apple pie. But I did it without the bag. Just didn’t have any in the house. It came out perfect anyhow! But I will try the next time with a paper bag. It’s just a wonderful tender pie!

    Reply
  41. bigfoot8mycat

    Just tried this pie and it turned out really well. I used a paper grocery bag and was really surprised at how evenly it cooked. We always used brown paper cut from bags when I was a child to line the outside of our christmas cake tins because the cakes could scorch from the fluctuation in gas pressure and temperature in our old Irish houses.
    I deviated from the filling in the recipe in that I had a jar of leftover mincemeat (for Christmas mince pies) and I lined my pastry base with that. I added a jar of my homemade apple preserve on top, squirt of lemon juice and then the crumble topping. I’m Irish and at home we make our apple tarts more on the tangy side, as opposed to the sweetness of American Pie so I thought I’d try a hybrid here. We have an apple in Ireland called a cooking apple, very, very sour, too sour to eat, so our apple tarts tend to be on the tart-sweet side. I have never been able to find cooking apples in America.
    I love the pastry mix, it’s crumbly, slightly salty but with a nice bite to it, yum! I just sent a picture to my hubby and told him to bring home some fresh cream so I can whip it up for the pie! I wish we could upload our photos so we could all share our successes (and failures) to further our discussions. I really enjoyed reading the other bakers comments on their pies :)

    Reply
  42. susan riser

    If I had 5 cents for every apple pie I’ve baked I’d be a very rich woman. This is hands down the best apple pie i’ve ever made. Couldn’t believe how crisp the bottom crust was after having all that warm juice poured on it. I put my paper bag on a cookie sheet, but ther was no mess on it. Don’t think I’ll ever bake an apple pie any other way. Also I thought the crust recipe was very good. I had decided that an egg yolk and vinegar was the only way to go, but this changed my mind.

    Wow, Susan, thanks for your kind words – we’re flattered! Glad you enjoyed it… PJH

    Reply
  43. tisa

    I just made this for the 5th time since you posted it, and it has been voted by my family the best apple pie in the world. I live in Sonoma County, CA and love making this with the local Gravensteins. I surreptitiously stop by an orchard owned by a local business near my dogwalking route where no one ever harvests the apples. Five minutes work gleaned enough windfall apples for two pies! I do have a question: the recipe says “3.5 to 4 lbs. or 8 cups of apples.” I weighed them as I worked, and 4 lbs. of peeled, sliced apples yielded over 16 cups, or 2 pies’ worth. What’s up with that? And now that I have a second pie’s worth of filling, is it better to make up the pie and freeze it unbaked, or just freeze the filling by itself, then put it in a shell when I am ready to bake it?

    WOW, windfall apples – you’re lucky! The 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of apples is before they’re peeled and cored; that’s part of the discrepancy, I’d wager. The other part may be how packed the apples are in the measuring cup. I’d go by weight rather than volume, as it’s much less variable. And, when I freeze a pie I like to make the whole thing – filling in crust – then freeze. You can certainly do it the other way, but it’s just so darned easy to pop a completely prepared pie into the oven to bake… Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  44. narfing

    Has anyone tried baking this without a paper bag or parchment like a normal pie? What happens? Just curious.
    Although I haven’t tried baking this without a paper bag or parchment, I would think you’ll definitely need to lower the oven temperature and perhaps adjust total cooking time. The paper bag creates steam which allows the apples to cook, but also stay moist. Baking at 425 in that steamy environment works great, but as I said, you’ll probably need to slightly lower the temperature to avoid burning the streusel and allowing the apples to cook through. ~Mel

    Reply
  45. Elizabeth Harris

    Well KAF,
    You finally did it. I’ve shied away from attempting to bake a pie with a decent crust for 25 years but thought I’d give it another shot with this recipe. It looked fun and since it was just a single crust, I felt like I couldn’t mess it up too bad. Well! The results were amazing! My oven runs a little hot, evidently, so I’ll cook it for 5 or 10 minutes less next time, but man oh man, what a flavor! Apples had some texture, filling not too sweet, crust was super ( I ended up using lard instead of veg shortening) and the streusel was good (I may experiment with that some more, wasn’t very crumbly). It made my whole house smell great, too.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Congratulations Elizabeth! I’m a lard in the pie crust gal myself too. Your description is wonderful, I can almost smell the pie from here. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  46. kathleen

    I made this today, following the recipe exactly as given. I baked it in a parchment bag. It was the best apple pie I have ever eaten in my life. This will be a new tradition for Thanksgiving. I used Granny Smith apples and 7 of them made the 8 cups I needed.

    Reply
  47. Mary

    Im attempting this right now!! Its in the oven as I type this. I changed the recipe around a little bit, but not much. I live a few miles from the Elegant Farmer and LOVE the regular cookie type crust, so that is what I am trying to do rather than the crumble topping. I also used 7 granny smiths. Ive never baked anything in a brown bag before, and Im noticing an odd smell. I assume its the inks on the bag. I cant wait to see how this turns out! If its a success, Ill make it for Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  48. christopher jones

    for the brown bag apple pie use a pastry brush and brush the bag with vegetable oil to coat the bag and it wont catch on fire.

    Reply
  49. Katherine

    I have been baking apple pies in paper bags since I could cook and I’m 55. My grandmother was doing it for years! My mother also baked in paper bags. The recipe was handed down for 3 generations. I’m very picky about apple pie and never order it out, I know they can’t compare to mine. I only eat my apple pies and everyone I cook it for loves it. I bake mine for 60 min. @ 425 and take it out of the bag the last 10 min. to brown the top. Make sure you use good heavy paper bags as the thin cheap ones well catch on fire. Never walk away and leave it unattended.

    Thanks for the good tips, Katherine – doesn’t this method make the BEST apple pie? :) PJH

    Reply
  50. kelly

    Hi, I noticed the 2nd pie that you baked in the parchment had a streusel topping that looked much crispier and more of a “crust”… can you tell me if this was because you used parchment or if it was just baked longer? or did you use more butter in the streusel topping on that 2nd one?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Both pies actually used the same recipe and baking time and temperature! As such, I would say the parchment must have made the difference.-Jon

  51. "meg krantz"

    I’m trying this method today for the first time. All smells well so far! Can a double crust pie also be baked in a paper bag?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Meg, a double crust vents the filling’s steam much less readily than a crumb crust; I’m afraid the filling might not thicken sufficiently, given the top crust AND the bag. But give it a try – you might simply have to bake longer… Let us know how it comes out if you do, OK? PJH

  52. Anne

    I have never made my own crust but I am determined to do it this holiday season. What is lard and where is it found? Why does it make a better crust? Is crisco the same thing?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Lard is pig fat and was traditionally used in pie crusts. It is less common now, but certainly still has its fans. It is touted as producing a particularly flaky crust. You can often find it in the supermarket near the butter. Crisco is a vegetable shortening.

    2. Susan Reid

      Hi, Anne. The best lard is rendered from the fat behind a pig’s kidneys. It’s slowly rendered and strained. In the grocery store, lard is usually found near the butter. There are two companies that manufacture lard: Armour and Snow Cap. Armour’s box is white with red and green, and Snow Cap is blue. Both of these kinds of lard are now hydrogenated. The fat crystals in lard have a higher melting point than butter. The same is true for Crisco, which is made from vegetable oil. This higher melting temperature helps crusts hold their shape a little better in the oven. Hope this helps. Susan Reid

  53. Laurel

    One of my most favorite pies as a child was my Mom’s paper bag plum pie. It too had a streusel topping and was just to die for. Thanks for the reminder, I’m going to dig that recipe out. So glad I have it, it’s a wonderful childhood memory. I’ll have to try your apple pie as well.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Laurel, I’ve never had a plum pie – it sounds luscious. I’m betting the filling becomes kind of “jammy,” like preserves. A local store sells a delicious plum-rum jam; wonder if you might try “spiking” your pie with the tiniest hint of rum sometime? :) PJH

  54. Virginia

    Hi — This pie looks great. Can this method of baking be done successfully with the Gluten Free crust?? Will the gluten free crust bake all the way through in the paper bag? Thanks

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Sorry Virginia, we haven’t tried it with a GF crust, so we don’t have any first hand experience to share. If you do give it a try, we’d love to hear how it goes!~ MJ

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Give it a try – but I think the porousness of the bag has something to do with it. You don’t want the pie to be steamed, as it might be in a covered dutch oven; you just want it to stay moist. Let us know how it comes out if you try the dutch oven – PJH

  55. Jerry Davis

    Give me a break! Apple pie in a paper bag? Can anyone explain what the bag does that has anything to do with an apple pie. Common sense says Zero. Reminds me of the Beverly Hillbilly’s when Granny cooked up a sure remedy to cure a common cold. Just consume it and wait 10 days and the cold will be gone. Snake Oil, If you believe it, it will convince you its true. Anyway, paper bags are flameable just like Christmas trees. If you ever see a house burnt to the ground by a Christmas tree you will not put another one in your house. Paper bags are also made from trees. I also remember car oil filters that used toilet paper rolls. A lot of people got suckered into that one until they discovered toilet paper dissolves in liquid and then guess what happens. Buy a new engine. Okay enough. Learn how to make a good Apple pie and forget the paper bag. Amen P.S. I just discovered how to double your paper money in one hour. Put all you have in a paper bag and bake it in the oven at 425 degrees for one hour. Don’t call me if you have problems.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Gosh, Jerry – sounds like you have some pretty strong opinions about apple pie baked in a paper bag. Have you ever tried it? I was surprised, it DOES make a noticeable difference; the crust is a bit “softer” without being mushy, and the apples seem to be cooked just right – juicy and nicely thickened. I’ve made the same recipe without the bag, and it IS different. We’ll just have to disagree agreeably here, eh? PJH

  56. Ruth

    The pie was beautiful but… I must have spilled some of the juice as I put it in the bag because I had a ton of burned spills (on a foil lined cookie sheet) and a pie that tasted smoky. My Guests thought it tasted great but I only liked it with ice cream.

    Reply
  57. britta from CA

    Best ever apple pie! I added nuts to the streusel for extra flavor and it worked out really well. We opted for the parchment bag (with a few holes for venting) instead of paper. Used a stapler along the one side first, then slipped the pie into the open bag and then stapled the other sides closed. Onto a sheet and into the oven. Since using convection also reduced the heat by 10 degrees. This worked out very well. The only downside of the bag method is that you can’t look and pull out the pie when it’s golden. if your oven temperature isn’t calibrated, you might encounter over baking.
    The crust was wonderfully crisp and flaky; the apple filling delicious and had excellent flavor, yet bite without being mushy (we used Honey Crisp – a super choice for Apple Pie); the streusel added a great nuttiness to it all. We’ll make it again soon. It was a real winner.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I love Honey Crisp apples. Hopefully our two trees will start producing next year, then I can have pie ALL the time! ~ MJ

  58. Theresa

    Baked this for friends over the weekend with very high hopes after having some from Elegant Farmer while on vacation in Aug. I have to say, I was really disappointed. I used Granny Smiths and followed the recipe exactly, including microwaving the filling for 5 minutes. It was my first time making crust and from that standpoint I was ecstatic, the crust was perfect. The rest, not so much. It was very tart and soupy, I was expecting a stand up filling like the farmer but I was already worried when microwaving it left A LOT of liquid and the flour didn’t do a lot to absorb it. I debated not putting the liquid into the pie but the recipe didn’t say to drain it and it was full of all the sugar and spices so in it went. The filling didn’t hold together, it overflowed something awful (the bag was great for catching all the “drips”) and it was really tart. Did I do something wrong? Should I just not microwave it next time? Help.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Theresa, was your pie pan at least 1 1/2″ deep? A shallow pie pan might have been part of the problem. Your apples may have been particularly juicy, as well, but you did the right thing – you’re not supposed to drain the liquid (since, as you say, it has all the spices/sugar in it). Getting the amount of thickener correct for fruit pies is always a challenge, as fruit varies a huge amount in how juicy it is. I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you; please call our hotline, 855-371-BAKE (2253), if you’d like to discuss this in more depth, OK? PJH

  59. Stephanie Harrison

    Firstly, I love this recipe. I’ve made it several times and it’s always a hit!

    Question: Do you think it could be made and then tightly wrapped, frozen, thawed, and baked?

    Reply
  60. Julie D

    I have been wanting to try using this recipe and baking an apple pie in a paper bag for awhile now so, decided to try it out for dessert for Christmas. I got all kinds of stares when I put it in the oven, not to mention the comments about whether or not the bag would catch on fire. I ignored those negative Nelly’s and did it anyway. My husband is picky and opinionated about his desserts, and especially apple pie. He prefers crumb crust on top over a crust. My vindication came when we all sat down to dessert and everyone started shoveling bites of a perfectly golden brown crust, topping and tender apple filling into their mouths. I thought I was going to pass out when my husband said….and I quote, “this is THE BEST apple pie I have ever eaten”. I have to say…..it was…..IT WAS!!!!!!!

    Reply
  61. Lyyn

    I have a frozen apple pie which I made and plan to bake it tomorrow. Is it OK to put it into the paper bag frozen or is it necessary to thaw it first. Thanks for your advice.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sorry for the late reply, Lyyn. You can do either, though please keep in mind that the pie will take 10-15 minutes longer to bake if frozen. Jon@KAF

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *