I hung that ribbon from the bulletin board in my office with pride. I hadn't won many things in my life and certainly not a baking contest. To me, this was a big win! I was an aspiring baker and my Award-winning Apple Pie Recipe had just won first place in the pie contest!~
Then the Recreation Coordinator breezed by and said, "Okay, can I have that ribbon back now?" I thought she was joking.
"No way," I said, laughing, just a little. She thought I was joking. I wasn't. My apple pie had earned me this blue ribbon and there was no way I was giving it up!
This award-winning apple pie recipe has the perfect balance of tart to sweet with green apples and lemon zest in the filling. But the butter and whipped cream make it extra rich and creamy! I've won quite a few recipe contests in the 18 years since then (see award-winning recipes HERE!) but that apple pie recipe win was truly the sweetest. And it wasn't just because it was my first, but it was because of who the judges were.
The funny thing is that I'm not a very competitive person. That's probably why I never really took to sports or anything else remotely competitive. I guess I just never appreciated the adversarial relationship it created with my fellow man. I prefer harmony. But then I discovered cooking contests....
There's a difference when it's not exactly you that's in competition, but your food. I guess you feel a little removed; a little more insulated. Plus, you hardly ever see your competitors because most cooking contests are virtual. You submit the recipe, someone makes it, a panel judges it and you get notified if you win.
And even if you do ever find yourself in a room with your competitors, they're often very nice to you! I was once in a cook-off that felt NOTHING like a cooking competition. Actually, it was quite the opposite - we were sharing and helping each other. I guess I'd say that it was truly my kind of competition. And I loved that I'd come out of it with an award-winning Apple Pie!
Making apple pie from scratch is easier than you think! All you need for this old-fashioned apple pie is:
- Green Granny Smith apples * These hold their shape better and are the best apples for pie
- white sugar
- brown sugar
- all-purpose flour
- unsalted butter
- lemon zest
- whipped cream
You can use a store-bought pie crust, but my No Fail Pie Crust recipe (Cold Water Crust) is really easy!
- Spray a 9-inch pie dish with nonstick spray and place pie shell inside. Trim edges to fit if using homemade pastry.
- Core and peel apples then slice thinly. In a large bowl, combine sugars, flour, cinnamon, and then mix with apple slices.
Spread apple mixture into the unbaked pastry shell.
Cut butter with pastry cutter or knife. Or grate from frozen (see top tip). *You can also grate refrigerated cold butter, but it's a little messier.
Dot apple mixture with butter and sprinkle with lemon zest.
Dot with whipped cream.
Then cover the bottom crust with top crust, sealing carefully by running water around the rim, then adding crust and using fork to mark and seal.
Make 3 rows of slits (triangles) on the top of the pie to allow steam to escape. 3 in outside rows and 2 in the middle.
Brush on cream, milk, or whipping cream and sprinkle granulated sugar. * I used whipped cream in this photo (I do this instead of the typical egg wash)
⏲️ Baking time
Bake in a hot oven 450 degrees f /232 degrees C for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F/176 degrees C and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes or until apples are cooked (fork can easily go through) and the crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Garnish: Serve this classic apple pie recipe with ice cream, whipped cream with cinnamon sprinkles, or whatever you desire.
💭 Top Tip
So, if you're looking for an apple pie filling with fresh apples, then this is THE ONE! The Secret to Award-winning Apple Pie is the lemon zest, whipped cream, and butter in the filling, as well as the brown sugar and white granulated sugar combination!
The lemon zest balances the sweet and the whipped cream and butter make it rich and creamy, making it the best apple pie in the world!
And one of my 'tricks' is to keep your butter in the freezer and grate it into the pie - it's so much easier and less mess! (This also works very well for pastry, instead of using a pastry blender).
The Judging: I wasn't even around when my apple pie was judged that day and I'm not even exactly sure who my competitors were. I know there were other staff that brought in pie, but I don't know which staff. I was working at a nursing home at the time and the judges were all the seniors.
And believe me, seniors are a tough crowd! I know this very well because I listened to them complain about the food on a monthly basis at the Resident Council meetings. And, more importantly, that generation grew up in a time when everyone baked from scratch. They knew what REALLY GOOD home baking was! And I have no doubt that these seniors knew what a damn good apple pie from scratch tasted like. So I was very honored that they picked mine!
And if your pie is browning too fast (before the apples are cooked) you can use a pie shield (affiliate link) or simply tent the pie using aluminum foil. *Note: I have never had to use either with this recipe
Store leftover apple pie in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can make it in advance and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. as long as you store it in an airtight container.
👪 Serving Size
This Apple pie recipe serves 8. However, you can half, double or triple the recipe by clicking on the blue serving number and selecting the number of servings you'd like. The ingredient quantities will automatically adjust. You will need additional pie plates if you are doubling or tripling the recipe.
Unfortunately, that Recreation Coordinator did come by again and ask for that ribbon back. And as awkward as it was, I wouldn't budge. She clearly didn't get it. I know it was a non-profit nursing home and all and I'm aware that there was a small recreation budget, but really? How much did a ribbon really put them out? And it meant the world to me.
And if you love apple pie, then check out Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie Recipe and my Award-winning Toffee Apple Pie Cookies! They won the Grand Prize in the Home Baking Cookie Category at “Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show 2015”. That contest was also judged by two of my baking/cake decorating heroes - celebrity chef's Anna Olsen & Duff Goldman!
I was also recently selected as a finalist for my Potato Ice Cream - Cookies N' Creamers No Churn Ice Cream by a panel of judges that included celebrity chef Michael Bonacini. And although that was a very high honor, when it comes to judging panels, to this day, having those seniors select my apple pie, deeming it an award-winning apple pie, in that contest all those years ago still feels like my finest hour.
For more award-winning recipes, be sure to check out this post: 40 Award-winning Recipes
So if you're looking for an apple pie filling that will make you feel like the best baker around, then give this Award-winning apple pie a try. Anyone who tries it tells me it's the best apple pie recipe they've ever made!
I was inspired to make a stovetop version of this apple pie filling as well. It replaces canned apple pie filling in any recipe!
Here's what others are saying:
"Thank you for your recipe. I have only made two pies in my life one out of the can cherry pie. And my wife wanted me to make another and I ran across your recipe and thought I could try it. It was the best pie ever! Thank you for making me look like an award winner."⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"Best apple pie I've ever ate!!! "⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"I have made a lot of apple pies but this recipe is the best one I've ever tried. Loved it! "⭐"⭐⭐⭐⭐
📋 Award-winning Apple Pie Recipe
- 3-4 LARGE peeled and cored thinly sliced green Granny Smith apples * like the size of the apple in the lead photo. If your apples are very small, use more
- 6 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoon brown sugar
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 8 dollops whipped cream * can use spray can whipped cream
- 2 -9 inch pie shells (store-bought or homemade)
- 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- 1-2 tablespoon milk, cream or whipping cream
NOTE: The instruction images will NOT print by default. If you want them to print, you'll need to check the box beside "images" on the print page
- Spray a 9"inch pie plate with non stick spray and place pie shell inside. Trim edges to fit if using homemade pastry.
- Core and peel apples then slice thinly. Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon, then mix with apples. Spread apples mixture into unbaked pastry shell.
- Cut butter with pastry cutter or knife. Or grate from frozen (as I do). *You can also grate refrigerated butter, but it's a little messier.
- Dot apple mixture with butter and sprinkle with lemon zest.
- Dab mixture with whipped cream dollops.
- Then cover with top crust, sealing carefully by running water around the rim, then adding crust and using fork to mark and seal.
- Make 3 rows of slits (triangles) to allow steam to escape. 3 in outside rows and 2 in the middle.
- Brush on cream, milk or whipping cream and sprinkle granulated sugar. * I used whipped cream in this photo
- Bake in a hot oven 450 degrees f/232 degrees Cfor 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees F / 176 degrees C and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes or until apples are cooked (fork can easily go through)
- Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream with cinnamon sprinkles or whatever you desire.