This reader recipe, by Eugenia W. Bell of Lexington, Kentucky was published in our November 1995 issue as part of a feature on classic holiday desserts. Apple pie might be a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert, but Bell’s creative version is anything but ordinary. The filling, which can be made with any type of cooking apples, also includes bourbon-infused raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, apricot preserves, and chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts. Unlike most apple pie recipes, Bell’s recipe calls for the apple slices to be steamed in a steamer basket, which makes for a more soft and tender filling. To save time, Bell makes the pie with refrigerated piecrusts, which she also uses to make decorative pastry leaves to decorate the top of the pie. Bell writes: “I started making desserts when I was 10 years old. My first was a yellow cake from a baking powder recipe booklet. My uncle wants that cake each year for our reunion. Now, my recipe inspiration comes from travels to bed-and-breakfast and country inns.”
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup bourbon
3 pounds cooking apples
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
2 teaspoons apricot preserves, melted
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar
How to Make It
Combine raisins and bourbon, and let soak at least 2 hours.
Peel apples, and cut into 1/2-inch slices; arrange apple slices in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 10 minutes or until apple slices are tender.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add apple slices, raisin mixture, and pecans, stirring to combine.
Fit 1 piecrust into a 9-inch pieplate according to package directions; brush preserves over piecrust. Spoon apple mixture into piecrust.
Roll remaining piecrust to press out fold lines; cut with a 3-inch leaf-shaped cutter. Mark veins on leaves with a pastry wheel or sharp knife. Arrange pastry leaves over apple mixture; brush leaves with buttermilk, and sprinkle pie with sugar.
Bake at 450° on lower rack of oven 15 minutes. Shield edges of pie with strips of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake at 350° for 30-35 additional minutes.