Paper Bag Apple Pie

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Yield: 9" pie, 8 to 10 servings

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This unusual baking method for apple pie caught our eye years ago, when it arrived via e-mail from reader Kathleen Johnstone. Pie baked in a bag? Hmmm... We baked the pie — a bit skeptically, perhaps — but found it to be beautifully golden brown, and perfectly cooked: toothsome yet tender apples, golden brown crust, light brown streusel topping. As Kathleen commented in her accompanying note, "Very good, and all the mess is inside the paper bag." Which it was, we're 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.

Paper Bag Apple Pie

star rating (35) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 9" pie, 8 to 10 servings
Published: 08/15/2011

Ingredients

Crust

  • 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
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced; enough to make 8 cups sliced apples
  • 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
  • 3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or ¼ cup Pie Filling Enhancer

Streusel topping

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

Tips from our bakers

  • If you have ANY hesitation about baking in a paper bag, substitute parchment paper, stapling two pieces together to fashion a bag. Make sure to use a pie pan with a narrow rather than wide rim, so it fits in your parchment "bag."

Directions

see this recipe's blog »

1) To make the crust: Whisk together the flour and salt, then work in the shortening until everything is well combined.

2) Work in the butter until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; some pieces of butter can be left a bit larger than the others.

3) Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing as you sprinkle the water onto the flour/fat.

4) When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough three or four times to bring it together, then pat it into a thick disk. Roll the disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges. This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, without a lot of cracks and splits at the edges later. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes, while you make the filling.

5) To make the filling: Put the sliced apples in a big microwave-safe bowl, and stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, lemon juice, and boiled cider.

6) 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 we think it helps.

7) Stir in the flour or Pie Filling Enhancer.

8) Preheat the oven to 425°F.

9) Remove the crust from the refrigerator. If it's been chilling longer than 30 minutes, give it 10 minutes or so to warm up a bit. Roll it into a 12 1/2" to 13" circle.

10) Lightly grease a 9" pie pan, preferably one that's at least 1 1/2" deep, and lay the crust in the pan, settling it into place gently. Don't tug at it or stretch it; this could cause it to shrink as it bakes.

11) Spoon the filling into the crust.

11) To make the topping: Combine the sugar, flour, and butter, working them together until crumbly. Don't over-mix; you don't want the streusel to turn into a solid mass.

13) Spread the streusel atop the filling.

14) Place the pie in a brown paper grocery bag. If you're nervous about baking in a paper bag, see our tip about baking in parchment, above. Secure the bag closed; staples or uncoated paper clips work well for a paper bag. Place the pie in its bag on a baking sheet, which will make it easier to handle.

15) Bake the pie for 1 hour.

16) Remove the pie from the oven, and carefully open it, avoiding any steam. Remove the pie, and set it on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Yield: one 9" pie, 8 to 10 servings.

Reviews

1 234  All  
  • star rating 03/02/2015
  • Hillary from Portland, Oregon
  • This is a fabulous pie! Thanks for sharing KAF.
  • star rating 12/30/2014
  • Bonnie S from Minnesota
  • I was a bit hesitant to try this bag method at first, but I'm glad I did. I've made this recipe 3 times now & it's turned out excellent each time. I don't know if I'll ever make an apple pie any other way again. I also used KA Boiled Cider each time so that probably added to the success.
  • star rating 11/28/2014
  • Nancy from Philadelphia, PA
  • This recipe was awesome. I modified the recipe using the KAF no roll pie dough and I increased the cinnamon to 2 tbsp. Everyone raved about it!! I added this to our usual Thanksgiving pie mix and it was a hit. I will definitely be making this again. Btw, after the first 15 minutes that the smell of the paper print tapered off some.
  • star rating 11/24/2014
  • Sharon A from Minocqua, WI
  • I tried this yesterday with my gluten free apple pie. I used parchment to make the "bag." The 425 degree temperature is a bit too hot. The one hour baking time at this high heat caused my crust and crumble topping to get too brown - almost burnt. I plan to try this again, but will lower the temperature, will try 400 degrees. Because it is in the "bag" you cannot judge the doneness by eye. I know my oven temp is accurate since I have checked it with an oven thermometer. We're sorry this didn't work out as well as hoped. You're on the right track with reducing the heat. This may be the first posting using the gluten free pie dough with it, so thank you for the feedback. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF
  • star rating 12/08/2013
  • kathwohl from KAF Community
  • Fabulous recipe! I boiled down my own apple cider to make a light syrup. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly (except for using my own pie crust recipe). Backed it in a brown paper bag (no handles, minimal writing) and it cooked beautifully. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
  • star rating 12/02/2013
  • Josie from Iowa
  • I made this recipe for Thanksgiving. I am not a pie maker and the worst at pie crust making but this recipe worked great. I was told I nailed it with this recipe. My husband said it wasn't too sweet and you could taste the apples. Everyone liked the crumb topping - it really made the pie. I may prebake the bottom crust for 15 minutes next time because it was a little limp but my apples were very juicy which could have caused the limp crust. The few leftovers were great for breakfast.
  • star rating 11/28/2013
  • Lisa from Tulsa, OK
  • I made this for Thanksgiving. It is the best apple pie ever! I will definitely be making this again!
  • star rating 09/28/2013
  • Robin from Pennsylvania
  • Just took this out of the oven; it looks great and smells divine. Only thing that went wrong was the bag. Don't use a bag that has handles glued on; my smoke detector went off within 2 minutes of going into the oven. I removed the handles, cut away the glue area, and re-stapled, but the smell from the bag (the printing?? it was a Trader Joe's bag) was very strong, and I was concerned the pie would take on that odor. So I removed the pie from the bag and covered it in foil since I did not have parchment. Seems to have worked since it looks great. I would like to try this again, but with a bag that does not have handles or any graphics.
  • star rating 08/27/2013
  • Halle from Roachdale, IN
  • This recipe is fabulous. The pie looks beautiful and the topping tastes wonderful and crisp - not soggy. I will use this method from now on when doing a crumb-topped pie. QUESTION for KAF - Do you think I could use the same recipe for the topping and the same method (brown bag, 1 hour baking..) for peach pies? I would alter the filling recipe, but I am a little hesitant b/c peach is juicier. I wouldn't want the topping to fall into the filling and become doughy and dense.
    I think it is worth a try. Another option is to add the topping 20 minutes into the bake. Good luck! We are getting a lot of questions about peaches. It is the season! Elisabeth
  • star rating 05/06/2013
  • Nancy from Parma, Ohio
  • I have been making Brown Bag Apple Pie for years ever since I tasted it at the Amish Door Restaurant in Wilmot, Ohio. It is the best apple pie I have made or tasted. At the Amish Door they call it Katie's Brown Bag Apple Pie.
1 234  All  
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