Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Pies Men Like" and Heirloom Apples

Searching my cookbooks I came upon this 1953 pamphlet published by the "Personnel and Employe [sic] Relations Staff" for "General Motors Men and Women." Mom had this as long as I remember, and I assume my grandfather gave it to her when he worked for GM as an engineer.

The 17 recipes include the most iconic pies of Mid-Century America.

We are approaching the two holidays most associated with pies: Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I thought I would share "Pies Men Like."

Hopefully the ladies will like them too.

Pumpkin Pie
Pastry for a 1-crust 9" pie
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk

Line 9 inch pie pan with pastry.
Mix sugar, flour, salt and spices together in a large bowl. Add pumpkin, molasses and melted butter; blend thoroughly. Beat eggs slightly; add with milk to pumpkin. Pour into pie pan. Bake in hot over, 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
My mother-in-law was a queen of pie making. She always made two pies, including Pecan Pie, her husband's favorite. Everyone looked forward to her pies.

Pecan Pie
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 slightly beaten eggs
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
whole pecan pieces

Chill pie shell thoroughly. Cream butter. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, syrup, salt, vanilla, and chopped nuts. Pour into pie shell. Bake in a moderate over, 375 degrees, for 40 to 45 minutes. Garnish with whole nuts. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
My mother-in-law used the No Fail Pie Crust recipes used in the school kitchen where she worked. It is the only recipe I have ever used. It 'mends' easily. 

Laura's No-Fail Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg
tablespoon vinegar
5 tablespoons water
Cut shortening into flour and salt. Add egg, water and vinegar. Mix. Divide into five sections. Makes five pie crusts. 

I would roll extra crusts out and put them in a pie tin, wrap it in wax paper and tin foil and freeze. The dough can stay in the refrigerator for several days or can freeze for a month.

What is more American than Apple Pie?

Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

6 to 8 large tart apples
Pastry for 2 crust 9" pie
1 cup sugar
2 tsp flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Pare apples and cut into quarters. Remove cores. Slice thin. Line 9" pie pan with half the pastry. Roll out remaining pastry for top crust.

Mix sugar, flour, and spices. Sprinkle a little of the mixture over the bottmn of the pastry-lined pan. Arrange apples in pan and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Dot with butter. Adjust top ctust over apples. Cut slits in pastry. Seal edges and trim and flute. Bake in hot over, 400 degrees, for 50 to 60 minutes, or until apples are tender.

Best Apples for Pies: Tart, crisp winter apples such as Greenings, Rome Beauties, and Baldwins make the best pies. For more mellow apples, such as Red Delicious, McIntosh, Winesap, etc. cut down on sugar about 1/4 to 1/3 cup and add a little lemon juice.
Greenings? Rome Beauties? Baldwins? These are some of the "heirloom" apples that have disappeared. Some times I find an orchard that has Northern Spy or Rome apples. But I have never heard of Greenings or Baldwins. I wanted to find out more. It turns out these were the most popular apples in the Northeast.

Rhode Island Greening apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)
The Rhode Island Greening Apple was "the" apple of Colonial America, reigning for 200 years until the 1960s when they were supplanted by the Granny Smith. They are believed to have originated near Newport, Rhode Island at a location "near Mr. Green's tavern." They keep well and were one of the best pie apples. They have green skin and a tart acidic flavor, with "a hint of green grape and lemon" according to Yankee Magazine at

Baldwin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)
The Baldwin apple, originally called a Woodpecker apple,  was discovered in 1740 in Wilmington, Massachusetts on the farm of John Ball. It was named for Colonel Loammi Baldwin who championed the apple. It has a yellow-orange skin with red stripes, is aromatic with "flavors of spice and ripe apricots", and is tart with sweetness. It holds its shape when cooked. In 1934 a frost wiped out half of the Baldwins, and McIntosh and Cortland apples took over the market.

Read more about these heritage apples at:

Here are some more recipes that "men like."

What pies will you have for the holidays?

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