A few weeks ago my friend Karin Balke posted pictures of her Do-It-Yourself Apple Pie baked in a paper bag. Since her and her family live outside Wisconsin, they can’t enjoy the special treat from the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago, Wis., as frequently. Her pictures were just so gorgeous and the tale of how the recipe came to be just so fun (and perfect for the fall season) that I asked her to share her story with readers.
I hope Karin will come back in the future to share more of her baking and cooking adventures!
Take it away, Karin!
What better to do with those apples than make a pie. And, if you are going to make a pie why not try to make the best…an Elegant Farmer apple pie.
The Elegant Farmer is located in Mukwonago, Wis., and is noted by Gourmet and the Wall Street Journal as having “the best pie in America.” The award-winning Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag has been the farm’s signature item for decades. They bake more than a quarter million pies each year.
After many searches on the Internet to find their “secret recipe,” I came across a few claiming to be it.
Here is one of those recipes…
Download a printer-friendly version of the full recipe.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Pinch salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 9-inch aluminum pie pan
- 1 medium-sized brown paper bag
I have to disclose, I used my own crust recipe that I have been doing for years. Since I made the crust before I looked for recipes, thinking, “How different could it be?”
- Make the crust. In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until pea-sized pieces appear. Add the water and pulse briefly—it will still look crumbly.
- Transfer the crumbs to 2 pieces of parchment paper or foil and form into 2 disks. Wrap the discs with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, roll out 1 disk to a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Keep rolling until the circle is at least 2 inches larger than your pan. Line the pie pan with the
dough, letting the edge hang over a bit. Roll the second disk, place it on a sheet pan and chill it until you’re ready to build your pie.
- Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
- Make the filling. In a medium bowl, toss the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg together.
- Transfer to the pie shell and dot with the butter. Brush the overhanging edges of the dough with water. Carefully cover with the rolled-out top crust and pinch the edges together, turning them under all around to make a thick edge.
- To decorate the rim, press it all around with the back of a fork, or just pinch it to seal. With a scissors, cut a few V-vents in the center.
- Slide the pie into the brown paper bag and fold the top down. Staple bag shut and place it on a sheet pan. Bake for 1 hour.
- Remove the pie from the oven and cut a large circle in top of the bag. Return to the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes more.
- Let the pie cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Well, in the end I wish I would have used their crust recipe because mine only has 2 tablespoons of sugar and this recipe calls for a quarter cup! A bit of a difference that was certainly noticed.
But baking the pie in the paper bag is the winning ticket! Besides thinking it was going to start a fire in my oven, something about that bag makes the apples just perfect and the crust baked superbly! They say the paper bag creates a crunchy top, and a light, flaky old-fashioned bottom crust. It also allows the apples to cook slowly, which makes them soft but helps retain the shape. It was also very nice not having to worry about the crust getting too dark while baking, and struggling with tin foil to cover the edges halfway through the baking process.