American as apple pie!

by Don Bingham

Any time of year is a great time for a good apple pie, and summer will see many fresh apple pies on tables in the 501. 

Whereas, tradition says the apple pie originated in England and was brought to the United States in the 1500s, Americans still claim the bragging rights to the best apple pies available to the discriminating palate. It was during the 1700s that the Pennsylvania Dutch women became experts at preserving apples. The earliest apple pies were not even in crust, but in an inedible casing.

We all gravitate toward our favorite style of apple pies. The recipe included in this article is from Nancy Bingham. It’s a recipe my wife captured originally from Margie Clark, mother of former Conway School District superintendent James Clark.

Some apple pies have double crusts, and some are served with ice cream or cheddar cheese. The sky is the limit, but we have found the simpler enhancement of the apple, the better the apple pie.

Cobblers are a Southerner’s true love. The cooking procedure may seem unorthodox in the included apple cobbler recipe, but the self-rising flour is the trick. The baking powder in this recipe causes the batter to rise up and around the fruit.

Though apple pies were brought to the United States in the form of apple tarts, apple in a coffin, apple tortes, stewed apples and many more, the apple pie has survived the top of the preference list at our house. We especially like the crumble “Dutch Apple Topping” in a pastry crust, and a tart apple is our apple of choice for apple pies.

Nancy’s Apple Pie

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3-4 tablespoons cold water

4-6 apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar (varies according to sweetness of apples)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter

For crust: Mix flour, salt and shortening until it reaches cornmeal consistency. Add water; mix lightly. Roll out. Makes one pie crust.
For filling: Place apples and sugar into unbaked pie crust. Sprinkle cinnamon and nuts on top of sugared apples.
For topping: Mix ingredients together to crumble state; sprinkle generously on top of apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until apples are done.

Apple Cobbler

1/2 cup butter
1 cup self-rising soft-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups applesauce
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Place the pan in the oven to melt the butter. 
To make the batter, stir together the flour, milk and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Remove the pan of melted butter from the oven and pour the batter into the pan. Spoon the applesauce evenly over the batter and cover with apple slices. Bake until the batter has risen up around the fruit and is browned, crispy and buttery around the edges. This process will take 30-35 minutes. The cobbler may be served plain, with whipped cream or with ice cream.

Fried Pies

Fruit mixture:
1 seven-ounce package dried apples
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

2 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
Shortening for frying

Put the fruit and water in a medium-size heavy saucepan and let stand for 1 hour or overnight. Cook over low heat until thick enough to cling to a spoon, about 45 minutes. Stir in the sugar.
To make pastry: Place the flour in a small bowl. Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter or fork, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the milk to make a soft but not sticky dough that will roll out without sticking. Add more flour to the dough if necessary. Put enough shortening in a heavy skillet to reach a depth of 1/8 inch when melted, then heat to medium hot. While the shortening is heating, prepare the pies.
Pinch off a piece of dough the size of a small egg. Place it on a well-floured surface and roll into a 5-inch circle. Place about 2 tablespoons of the fruit mixture on the bottom half of the pastry round, and 1/2 inch away from the edge. Fold the top half of the pastry over the fruit, forming a half circle. Trim to within 1/4 inch of the filling. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork, and prick the top of the pastry in several places. Fry on both sides until golden brown, adding more shortening as needed. Repeat until you’ve used all the pastry and fruit mixture. Serve hot.


4 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rum or applejack (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place the apples, nutmeg, water and optional liquor in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. The applesauce should be thick enough to cling to an inverted tablespoon. Remove from the heat, add lemon juice to prevent darkening, and taste for sugar, adding if desired.

Note: Nathalie Dupree was one of the first professional cooks that my wife and I studied with in cooking schools. This applesauce recipe is from Nathalie. She vows that homemade applesauce is 100 percent better than store-bought. It’s good by itself but is also useful in many other recipes.


Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has authored cookbooks, presented television programs and planned elaborate events. Today, he is the administrator for the Governor’s Mansion.


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