Of course, apples are available year ‘round, but the best ones are in the markets in fall and winter. Crisp, crunchy, juicy, and so good for us! Here’s an apple pie recipe that our neighbors in Holland enjoy. It’s a bit more work than plopping sliced apples into a pie crust, but oh-so-worth-it!

Dutch Apple Pie

(one 9-inch pie)

2 cups flourapple

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup cold butter

1 cup raisins

1/4 cup light rum

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp cinnamon

Juice of 2 lemons

Grated rind of 2 lemons

1-1/2 lbs medium cooking apples such as Macintosh (about 9)

3 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
  2. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples. Place in Dutch oven with 3 tablespoons of water, cover, and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes (or until soft), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine flour and 1 cup of the sugar; cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Knead the mixture into a dough ball.
  5. Remove 1/4 cup of the dough and set aside.
  6. Press the remaining dough into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch spring-form pan, pressing the dough up the sides about 1-1/2 inches. Set the pan aside.
  7. Knead the reserved 1/4 cup of dough into a 5 x 4-inch rectangle. Cut into strips 1/4 inch wide, then place the strips on waxed paper and freeze until you’re ready to use them.
  8. Combine the raisins and rum in a medium fry-pan and simmer 8-10 minutes until raisins are soft. Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and rind; simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
  9. Drain liquid from apples, then pour the sugar syrup over the apples, stirring to coat the slices.
  10. Place the apples in the prepared crust and arrange the dough strips in a wheel spoke pattern on top.
  11. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the pie..
  13. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes, then remove to a serving platter, release the rim and continue cooling.


Who would ever have thought of turning fragrant, sweet pears into pie? Somebody did, and after much testing and tasting, I chose this one to share. Truly yummy!

Pear Caramel Pie

(one 9-inch pie)pear

1 double-pie crust (I use Pillsbury refrigerated crusts)

2 lbs fresh Bartlett pears (about 4 large or 5 medium)

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

pinch salt

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp rum

  1. Peal and core the pears and cut into half-inch slices (don’t make them too thin or they turn to mush).
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat and add brown sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  3. Add the pears, lemon juice, and salt. The pears will release a lot of liquid as they cook.
  4. Stirring frequently, simmer the mixture until thickened and the pears are coated in caramel (about 30 minutes for very ripe pears).
  5. Stir in the rum and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  7. Roll bottom crust and line the pie plate. Roll the top crust and cut into strips for lattice covering.
  8. Place pear mixture into the pie plate and make the lattice topping. Seal and flute the edges of the crust.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350˚F and bake for another 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.


What’s more wintery than cranberries? I’d never heard of cranberry pie, but found several that caught my fancy. This one, in particular, is easy to make and delicious.

Nutty Cranberry Pie

(one 9-inch pie)cranberry

1 double-pie crust (I use Pillsbury refrigerated crusts)

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cups water

4 cups fresh cranberries

4 egg yolks (you can use egg substitute)

2-1/2 Tbsp flour

dash of salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 Tbsp butter or margarine

1/2 tsp almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Place bottom crust into pie plate. Make cut-outs from remaining pastry.
  3. Combine sugar, 3/4 cup water, and cranberries in a 2-1/2 quart glass or microwave safe bowl; stir well.
  4. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 9 to 11 minutes, stir once. (Be careful, this can make a real mess if it boils over!) Let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks or substitute, stir in flour and salt.
  6. Take a small amount of the cranberry mixture and beat it into the egg yolks quickly; then stir the yolk mixture into the warm cranberry mixture.
  7. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 4 to 6 minutes or until thick, stirring every 1 minute or so.
  8. Stir in pecans, butter, and almond extract.
  9. Pour into pastry shell and decorate with cut-outs.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden.
  11. Cool before cutting.

A True Surprise

This isn’t really a winter fruit pie, but such a great alternative when looking for something different. This pie recipe intrigued me, but the knee-jerk reaction to the term “fruitcake” almost kept me from trying it (and it's probably the ugliest pie I ever saw). What a fabulous concoction, almost like candy! If you serve it, be sure to name it something else so your guests don't run screaming from the room!

Fruitcake Piefruitcake

(one 10-inch pie)

1 single pie crust

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped candied cherries, red

1/4 cup chopped candied pineapple

6 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Dash of salt

candied cherries and pecans for decoration

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Line a 10-inch pie pan with pastry and flute the edges. Set aside.
  3. Combine the nuts, dates, and candied fruit; sprinkle over the pie shell.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light; add eggs, corn syrup, spices, and salt.
  5. Beat at medium speed until blended.
  6. Pour filling over the fruit mixture.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Add the decorations to the top* and continue baking an additional 10-12 minutes, or until the filling is set.
  8. Cool completely before cutting.

*the cherries and pecans disappear into the filling if you put them on before baking.

Now I’ll have to find some low calorie recipes to counteract the effects of all this goodness! Enjoy.

Photos: Toni Leland

Recipes adapted from 1903 versions