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Jessica’s Rustic Apple Pie

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Rustic apple pie.

What makes something “rustic?” Is it unfinished looking? Usually. That’s the case with this apple pie. There are no crimped edges, no perfectly pressed crust. There’s not even a stitch of butter in the crust, which is normally a no-no for me [Jessica]. This pie takes about 15 minutes to throw together, and that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Maddy Lu has an eye for the “rustic” in dessert. It might not be pretty, but I bet it’s one of the best things you’ve ever eaten! Here is my recipe for rustic apple pie. I highly recommend it… and your husband will thank you when he walks in from work and smells the cinnamon. Maybe a back rub is in order?

Preheat Oven to 375…



  • 8 Medium Sized Apples, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • A generous sprinkling of cinnamon
  • 3 TBS Flour


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. To begin, slice and core your apples. This is the time when an apple peeler/corer comes in handy.
  2. Melt a stick of butter on medium heat, once melted, add the flour.
  3. Add the white/brown sugars and the cinnamon.
  4. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. That’s it.
  5. Get that crust prepared- using a pastry cutter or a big fork, cut the flour/salt into the shortening.  Mix in the water with your hands until the dough comes together.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface- you want a big huge pancake.
  7. Lift the dough onto your baking sheet, and dump the apples into the center.
  8. Pull up the edges so they come in about halfway towards the center.
  9. Bake on center rack at 375 or until you can see the apples are bubbling and the crust is browned.

Have This On Hand and A Pie Story

From a triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and peanut butter filling to vanilla sheet cakes to pies, pies, pies.

And pies.

Oh, but I love it.

Pies are truly wonderful and I hope you get your fill (is that possible?) tomorrow. There are so many possibilities with pies, but what makes a pie fantastic is that it is both sweet and savory, no matter what the flavor. Think of your typical apple pie—sweet, chunky, spicy, fruity filling with a rich, buttery, flaky crust.

This is food perfection. Eat it any time and all of the time. And the chicken pie—protein and vegetable goodness in a crust that makes you feel loved. What more could you want?

My little man couldn’t agree more. Mommy and Baby can often be found devouring a pumpkin pie by the light of the open refrigerator.

With the holidays here, pies are necessary and excellent any time of day. There is nothing like a leftover piece of pie first thing in the morning. Or a forkful before a run.

It makes me go faster.

But you may want other breakfast possibilities. I’ve made a routine of making pan bread every other day. We usually work through a loaf in a day and I have another waiting in the freezer. I tried out Nick Malgieri’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread. A toasted slice with my morning latte was quite nice. It’s not a sweet bread, mind you. It’s a nice toasting bread and the cinnamon swirl dresses it up a bit for this time of year.

Cinnamon Swirl Pan Bread

*Adapted from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri.

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 cups warm tap water

5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (substitute some whole wheat flour for all-purpose)

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon honey

5 tablespoons vegetable oil or unsalted butter, melted

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 to 1/2 cup raisins

1. Oil two loaf pans.

2. Whisk the yeast into the water and set aside.

3. Place 5 cups of flour in a mixer with the salt. Add the yeast mixture, honey,  and oil or butter and mix on low with a dough hook for 5 minutes. If the dough is really sticky, you can add some flour one tablespoon at a time.

4. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside, turning it over once to oil it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to double. This takes a little over an hour.

5. Mix together 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons of melted, unsalted butter. Set this aside.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Deflate the dough and divide it in half. Make a clump into a rectangle. Spread half of the cinnamon mixture over the rectangle and sprinkle it with about 1/4 cup of raisins, fold in the short sides and then the long, making a cylinder. Put it in the pan seam side down. Do the same with the other clump. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let the loaves rise for about an hour.

5. When the loaves are about ready, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

7. Unmold and set on racks to cool.

This bread is great warm. Have a loaf today and freeze a loaf for tomorrow. You could also make some wildly good French toast with this stuff.

Thanks Nick!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Cake and Cake

“She’s young, Hoss.” He wasn’t deterred. He was determined to marry her.

It was love at first sight. Or so the story goes. I don’t doubt it. My grandmother is lovely and I’m sure she was just as lovely  that day.

A young girl of sixteen comes into a store to visit  her aunt and the young man behind the counter spots the girl and is won over. He found his wife.

On July 14, 1951, Horst and Jane were married and honeymooned at the Jersey Shore. She was seventeen and he nineteen.

Six children, many grandchildren, and a few great-grandchildren later, Horst and Jane are still happily married. Last Thursday they celebrated sixty years of marriage and Maddy Lu made their cake.

My grandmother has a very clean, vintage-chic sort of style, so we tried to capture that in the look of the cake. At first we thought we’d re-create a wedding cake from 1951, but soon realized that that was not the way to go. An ornate white on white cake with a 1950s cake topper just didn’t seem to suit my grandparents at this time in their lives. We made a 2-tier buttercream cake with vanilla buttercream frosting–one chocolate cake tier, one vanilla cake tier and strawberry-lemon buttercream filling.

It went over very well. The look was just what we were looking for and the taste was just right–moist,flavorful cake with a strikingly delicious and surprisingly refreshing buttercream filling.

Delivering the cake was the scariest part. There could not be any mistakes. And there weren’t but I felt quite ill when we arrived. I don’t think I breathed the entire forty-five minutes.

The next day was Minnie Mouse. Baby Bella turned one and had a Minnie Mouse birthday party.

We did a 2-tier cake–one chocolate layer and one vanilla–with a light buttercream frosting and covered both tiers with marshmallow fondant. We also made cupcakes to match.

Maddy Lu used a lot of black and red food coloring that weekend. My husband is still finding bits of pink fondant.

It was a good time.

I came home with sunburn on my neck only to wrap up my hair, tie my apron around my waist, and get back to work. I was commissioned to make a blueberry pie. I love pies. I can’t find much I don’t like about them. I love to make pies (rolling out a pie crust is very soothing) and I love to eat pies (there’s nothing like cold, next-day pie). This one was a blueberry pie. Next time you make a blueberry pie put in an extra cup of blueberries (six) and add two teaspoons of fresh lemon zest to the mix. You will thank me.

Happy eating.