After what I would consider a successful first venture into my John Wayne Family Cookbook with last week’s Mexican Chicken Noodle Soup, this week I thought I would go for something on the sweet side. Many of my family members are fans of apple pie and this cookbook has a slightly different version of this popular dessert. And of course, I will let my family judge this one because they will definitely let me know if I have ruined their favorite pie.
In all the John Wayne movies I have watched, I don’t recall any big pie-eating moments. The only reference I can quickly come up with that might suggest Wayne had a sweet tooth was a scene in his movie Big Jake (one of my favorites) when he is eating a can of peaches and says he’s been hooked on them for years. I realize this is a pretty lame reference, but I just watched the movie again last weekend and I thought of it. Anyway, I can only believe he did like his desserts or the family wouldn’t have included so many recipes in the family cookbook. So, here we go with All-American Apple Pie!
The first step of this recipe is to make the pie crust, which is one of the things that makes this pie different from all other apple pies I have made. This one has a graham cracker crust instead of a traditional flaky pie crust. To start the process, I crushed up graham crackers in my mini chopper, which is very handy. If you don’t have a chopper, a gallon bag and a rolling pin will work also. I then mixed the cracker crumbs with some butter and honey (how can that be bad) and pressed it all into a 9-inch pie plate that I had sprayed with baking spray. Then I baked it for 10 minutes and took it back out for filling.
The filling of the pie is pretty traditional with sliced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a couple more ingredients. After I mixed the filling together and arranged in the pie crust, it was time to make the topping, which is another thing that makes this pie unique. I have made pie with crumb topping before, but not one that included graham cracker crumbs and almonds. But hey, it sounds good, right?
After I put the topping on, I baked the pie for about 75 minutes. After 45 minutes, I was supposed to cover the pie with foil to keep it from browning too much. When I went to put the foil over the pie, it was already starting to burn in a few places, so if I make this again, I will be sure to cover it sooner. In the end, it came out of the oven looking pretty good…and I hoped it tasted that way.
My sister and her husband were the lucky family members chosen to review my latest creation. They both agreed the pie filling was delicious and not overly sweet, but there was a split decision on the pie crust. My sister thought the sweetness of the pie crust complimented the filling, but my brother-in-law wasn’t sold on it. He thought the almond topping didn’t do anything to enhance the pie, and since apple pie is his favorite, he still prefers the traditional flaky crust. However, he did like this new version well enough that I left him an extra slice for the next day. As for me, I really liked it. The honey in the pie crust was a nice addition but not too sweet. The apples were a little tart, so the crust and topping helped balance out the sweetness level. And most of all, I loved the crunch of the almonds in the topping.
Overall, I would say this is another winning recipe, but I would make three small changes. First, I would slice another apple and make the filling slightly thicker. Then I would cut back on the topping. I mixed up what the recipe called for, but I didn’t use it all because I thought it was too much. And finally, as I mentioned before, I would cover the pie with foil sooner to keep it from burning.
Now…what should I make next?
2 cups graham-style crumbs, divided
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. honey
4 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
¾ cup brown sugar, divided
½ lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup sliced almonds
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Recipe from the John Wayne Family Cookbook.