Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Perfect Apple Pie Lessons with Jon Rowley


You know how *I* am. Right? Well, I don't remember how this all came about other than me seeing that Jon Rowley made an incredible apple pie out of heirloom apples. I never have made a fruit pie before. I have made rabbit pie. I have made crumbles. I have made stuff. Truth be told I am a horrible baker. I think I hate it because I don't like baked goods. HOWEVER... I love apple pie. My grandmother used to make the best apple pie and I wanted one that tasted like hers.

So who better to learn how to make "The Quintessential American Apple Pie" from than Jon Rowley. I am not going to go into his credentials here. He is the master of taste. He is the guy *I* want to learn from. So, when he asked me if I wanted to learn how to make the perfect Apple pie you can bet my answer was YES!

So through tweets, emails and phone conversation, Jon taught me how to make my very first apple pie.

The conversation first went something like this:

Jon: Is your leaf lard rendered?
Me: Yup
Jon: What kind of butter do you have?
Me: I have plugra, Amish roll butter, and grocery store stuff
Jon: I use Kerrygold

Ok, so I went and got Kerrygold. I wanted to make this pie exactly like Jon did. I put everything in the freezer (except the apples) so that they would be ice cold to make the dough.

It was time to go get apples at the farm. Being the lard ass I am I didn't feel like picking them myself so I bought them at the farm store. Jon had advised me to buy about 7-10 heirloom apples. Me being me grabbed 8 different varieties of apples and just hoped that some were heirloom. Of course when Jon was on the phone with me and asked what varieties I got I pulled a "Janis" and said "Um, I don't know. I didn't write em down". I think he chuckled but it could have been a groan. Ok, ok. I did a little remembering and looking and found out I had:

Crimson Crisp
Cripps Pink

People! I am no longer a fool. It is ALL about the apples. How could I not have realized that? Other than the apples it is just CRUST. What I mean is that the fruit is the STAR. Ok, we will get into this later.





I sent him a picture on my phone.



At this point I had the apples cut and was waiting for my next instructions. I might have been pacing at this point. I think I yelled at the phone "RING DAMNIT RING. JON ROWLEY I NEED YOU to CALL!" My apples were waiting! Tick Toc Tick Toc...

So the phone rang and it was Jon. He was on the road and instructing me how to finish this up. I got step by step instructions how to roll the dough out (and learned a thing or two). I was instructed to cut the dough into two. I took one piece and put back in the refidge and rolled out the other.

The conversation might have gone something like this at this point:

Jon: Rolling it out? Ok how thick is it and what is the diameter?

Me: It is 14" and about 1/4" thick

Jon: It can't be 1/4" thick. Something is wrong

Me: I am pretty sure it is 1/4" but let me get a ruler

Jon: (he didn't really say this but I had my own internal picture of what was going on in his head - This woman is an idiot.) What is it? It should be about 1.75"

Me: Rich can you come here and tell me how thick this is?

Rich: About 1/4"

Jon: Ok, don't worry. Lets put that crust into the dish.

Me: Ok, done

Jon: Now load some of the apples into the dish. Then find a bowl that fits over the apples (of course I was crashing around kitchen trying to find the right size bowl because the proper way to do it is to load apples, put dish over apples and press down to compact, add more apples, repeat) Ok, nevermind just put the apples in the dish and roll out the other ball of dough.

Me: Ok, this one is bigger.


I don't remember exactly what else went on but before I knew it I had built a pie.

It went in at 20 minutes in a 425 oven and then 40 minutes at 370. I didn't open the door or peek or nothin.



I did it. The pie was really good but there were a few problems because of me being a pie novice.


Thank you Jon. With a little practice I will be able to have this guy tell everyone that HIS grammy makes the best Apple Pie in the world.


Remember it IS all about the Apples.

Jon Rowley's Heritage Apple Pie

2-½ cups cold all purpose King Arthur flour
8 Tablespoons leaf lard
8 Tablespoons KerryGold butter
1 teaspoon of salt
8 Tablespoons ice water (more may be needed)

The butter and lard are cut into the flour. The pieces of shortening should become smallish. Then add 8 Tbl very cold water. Mix until it all comes together (but do NOT over handle). Wrap ball of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour and up to overnight.


5/8 C Sugar
2Tbl flour
1 Tbl Cinnamon
Smidgen allspice
Pinch of nutmeg
1 Tbl unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl butter cut into pieces
Few Tbl Calvados (optional)

Sugar to sprinkle on top
1 egg white for wash

Add everything but sugar and egg and mix with wooden spoon.

Cut dough into 2 pieces. Roll out one of the pieces (put the other piece in refridge while you are doing this). Put into pie pan. Add a heap of apples. Take a bowl that will fit over apples and press down. Add more apples and press down again.

Roll out second piece of dough and lay over filling (crimp and cut steam holes). Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 425 for 20 minutes then Bake 370 for 40 minutes more.


  1. It looked beautiful. Was there any solution to the over juiceyness of the pie?

  2. Was there any solution given to the over juiciness of the pie? It looks gorgeous!

  3. I am proud of you for not peeking. I know you probably wanted to. It looks like it came out great :)

  4. I believe it was from them macerating while waiting for next instruction.

  5. Way to go Janis. I love the pie...perfectly browned and flaky. I wish I had a slice right now!!

  6. Looks beautiful to me...and I LOVE that he doesn't peel the apples. I never do but thought myself the only person in the world who would not bother. I'll sleep better at night now knowing I'm not alone!

    Can;t wait for episode 2...I'll know you'll have it down pat.

  7. Re: juice. This is what I learned in culinary school and seems to be foolproof, and believe me when I say I am a baking fool. When you make a fruit pie, coat the fruit with the sugar and spices and let it sit for a half hour-3 hours w/ a 1tbsp of lemon juice added. Then strain the fruit over a pan.... all of the excess sugar, lemon juice, fruit juice comes out, add a little butter. Saute that it until it becomes a little caramel-y. Put the fruit in the bottom crust, then drizzle the hot mixture over the fruit and cover.

  8. also, you can use beer/liquor instead of lemon juice.

  9. BEAUTIFUL pie, Janis!! I've been to the Rowley Long Distance School of the Quintessential American Apple Pie, also, and I adore this pie method. I also love leaving on the peels for all of the great color and texture it adds to the pie. Way to go! Lovely. And that is one of the cutest kiddos ever.

  10. Aw, thank you sweetie.

  11. Thanks Jessie. Good tip. Mwah.

  12. Your pie is beautiful, but Grandma's pie crust was like a big sugar cookie...it tasted like the cookies she made that she scored with a fork.