Apple Pie in a Brown Paper Bag

Today I am making my mother-in-law’s recipe for Apple Pie in brown paper bag.  She was thrilled to hear I was going to make it, but she did say that it will smell like the house is burning down!  I will be keeping close tabs on the situation!  See safety precautions below!

Apple Pie in a Brown Paper Bag

Bottom Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
6 Tbs unsalted butter
2 1/2 Tbs cold water, or more as needed

Pie Filling
3-4  Granny Smith apples (6 cups) – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar

2 12×30-inch pieces of parchment paper

To make the bottom crust, stir the flour and white sugar together in a bowl until well-combined. Rub the unsalted butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle with cold water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing the dough together lightly with a fork until it barely holds together.

Form the dough into a ball and roll it out to a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Gently ease the dough into an 8-inch pie dish. Cut off any excess pastry with a knife. Finish the edge of the crust by gently pressing the tines of a fork into the dough all the way around the edge of the pie dish. Set the crust aside.

To make the pie filling, stir the apples, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and lemon juice together in a large bowl; set aside.

To make the topping, mix 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of softened butter, and the superfine sugar together in a bowl until you have a sticky, moist dough.

To assemble the pie, cover the bottom of the pie crust with a light, even layer of graham cracker crumbs. Fill the pie with the apple mixture, piling it up in a mound shape. Pinch off pieces of the topping mixture, flatten them a little with your fingers, and dot them at random all over the top of the filling, covering as much of the filling as possible.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Tear off 2 30-inch-long pieces of parchment paper and place them in a cross shape on a work surface. Place the filled pie in the center of the two pieces of parchment, bring the paper ends up over the pie and fold and staple the parchment paper over the pie to completely enclose and seal in the pie. The paper should not touch the top or sides of the pie. Place the parchment-wrapped pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Don’t peek inside the parchment paper while baking. Remove from the oven, carefully tear the parchment paper away from the pie, and let cool; serve warm. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Due to food safety concerns with lead from ink, possible contaminants in recycled paper, or fire, it’s better to use parchment paper to bake the pie.

Original Baking Directions: Place pie in a large brown supermarket bag on its side, not standing up, making sure the bag does not touch the top or sides of the pie. Carefully fold over the opening of the bag and staple it closed to seal the pie in. Bake at 425 for one hour. It will smell like the bag is burning in the first 30 minutes of cooking, but then you can smell the pie cooking so don’t worry!

2 thoughts on “Apple Pie in a Brown Paper Bag

  1. I am so intrigued by this recipe! It sounds delicious and I love the addition of graham cracker crumbs on the bottom of the pie which is something I’ve never had in an apple pie before. It sound like it would be such a great addition! And the baking in a paper bag (or parchment), this is the most curious part… what does baking it inside the bag do for the pie? Why is it baked inside a bag versus just the oven? I’m so interested! Love it!

  2. Brown Bag Apple Pie is our son Josh’s favorite. Indeed, I am allowed to make no other. Ours is slightly different, but the bag’s the same. The recipe was given me years and years ago by the beautiful Joyce Lund, secretary in the vice-principal’s office at Wilson HS, LAUSD. Joyce was the only person back in those days of typewriters who ever helped with typing the numerous letters of recommendation required of AP English teachers. I thank her for that and for the recipe.

    And to Kate’s question, the brown bag allows the topping and apples to cook almost to candy without burning. —Though I once did burn a bag in Napa; the oven ran way hot. It was very exciting. The pie survived.

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