Our tradition of baking apple pie stretches back at least to my Grandmother Hazel’s time. Among my earliest memories are those of her baking and the rest of the family enjoying homemade apple pie. (For some reason, I didn’t come to love apple pie until I was in my 20s.) My father carried on the tradition but took it to another level by planting apple trees especially to supply the fruit for his pies. He chose Gravenstein, a classic tart-tasting, early season baking apple.

Hazel and Oliver Talley

I still get apples from the trees he planted right next to Rosemary’s Vineyard. The pie-baking tradition continues with my daughter Elizabeth, though her recipe for the crust has changed. This recipe is my grandmother’s original, which I wrote down on September 1, 1998, while assisting her in baking the pie. The large quantity of shortening yields a super-flaky crust.

Serves: 6 to 8

Prep time: 2 hours


    • 6 small Gravenstein apples (substitute 4 Pippins or Granny Smiths)
    • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
    • Pinch of Cloves
    • Pinch of Nutmeg
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar, depending on tartness of apples & preference can use up to 1 cup
    • 2 tbsps butter
    • 2 cups Flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 cup shortening
    • 6 tbsps cold water


For the filling, core and peel the apples. Slice into wedges about ½ inch thick. Mix in a bowl with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, flour, and sugar. Let the mixture steep while you prepare the crust. It should be somewhat juicy when you pour it into the pie crust.
Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F degrees.

For the crust, mix flour and salt. Cut shortening into the flour mixture with a shortening cutter or 2 knives until the mixture has the consistency of very coarse meal. Don’t overwork it. Add just enough water to incorporate. Knead only enough so that the mixture comes together in a ball. Let rest.
Divide the dough into 2 not quite even portions. Choose the slightly bigger half as the bottom crust, and roll out as thinly as possible on a pie cloth. The crust should be larger than the pan. This crust is very soft and delicate, so work carefully. Gently fold the crust in half and unfold into the pie pan. Repair any tears in the crust, and push the crust down into the pan. Pour the apple mixture into the pan.  Dot with butter by placing it around the apple mixture evenly.  Roll out the other portion of the dough into a circle bigger than the pan. Fold the top of the crust in half and gently drag it onto the top of the pie. Using scissors, cut away the excess dough that’s hanging over the outside edge of the pan. Using your thumb and fingers, crimp the top and bottom crusts together, forming a decorative edge. Using a sharp knife, gently cut 8 holes in the top crust to allow air to escape during cooking. Place the pie in the oven and bake for about 1 hour. Serve warm.