Cortland apples

Cortland apples

It’s really Fall here now: 60-degree days, an earthy scent in the air, the first red and orange leaves showing up against bright blue skies. Just in case I haven’t mentioned it before (ha!), this is my favorite season. I love sweaters and leaf piles and apples and all things that herald the changing season.

A recent road trip sent Mr. K and me through the apple valleys of Massachusetts and green mountains of Vermont. I came home with maple syrup and cider donuts and a beautiful peck of Cortland apples. I’m undecided about which apple I prefer for pies: Cortland or Macintosh. Cortlands are more tart and break down as they cook, making for a sweet-tart pie with a soft filling. Macintosh are a little sweeter and hold their shape more, so less sugar is needed and individual apple slices layer the pie. Mr. K seems to prefer the Cortlands. I may lean towards Macintosh, although I have yet to meet an apple pie not worth having for breakfast the next morning.

This time of year I revisit apple books and look for new ones. I pull Wine of Angels and Ida B off the shelf. I read recipes and history and contemplate back yards roomy enough for a few apple trees. These two books are on their way:

Apples of Uncommon CharacterApple Picking Time

While I polish off the last slice of pie and wait for my new apple reads to arrive, I thought it would be fun to share my classic apple pie recipe. Enjoy!

Classic Apple Pie

While I enjoy the occasional fancy pie with cranberries or brandy or cheddar cheese, I’m a basic pie girl at heart. Apples, sugar, a few spices, homemade crust. In my house we serve apple pie with coffee ice cream, not vanilla. It’s delicious, I promise.


  • 8 Macintosh, Cortland, or other baking apples
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c sugar, or to taste (tart apples may need more sugar)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 8 tbsp ice water

For the filling: Peel, core, and slice the apples. In a large bowl, combine apples, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Toss to combine and set aside.

For the crust: Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the flour, sugar, and butter on low until the butter is cut into pea-sized chunks. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, mixing between additions. When the dough just holds together, stop adding water and turn off the mixer. (You may not need all 8 tablespoons of water to get to this point.) Remove the dough, form it into two balls, and flatten into 1/2″ thick disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly dust your kitchen counter or rolling surface with flour. Place one piece of dough on the counter, dust lightly with more flour, and use a rolling pin to create an approximate 16″ circle. Flip the dough over every 5-6 rolls so it doesn’t stick tightly to the counter. I keep a plastic spatula handy to gently loosen the dough if it sticks. Place the rolled dough into a pie pan, pressing lightly into place. Fill with the sliced apples, including the juices in the bottom of the bowl.

Roll the second piece of dough, again aiming for an approximate 16″ circle. Place the dough over the apples. Trim the excess dough and pinch the top and bottom crust edges together to seal. Using a fork, prick a few holes in the top of the pie so steam can escape. If you like, sprinkle a little sugar on top for decoration and added crunch.

Bake for approximately one hour, or until the pie top is golden and the apples are tender. Let cool 20 minutes before serving so the apples can set.

Tip: I place a baking sheet on the next rack down in the oven to catch the occasional juice overflow.