Perfectly Imperfect Apple Pie
Photo: Liz Rueven

Perfectly Imperfect Apple Pie

The first words of wisdom Ronnie offered as I arrived in her sunny CT kitchen for a pie baking tutorial were, “Don’t pummel the dough”. I’ve heard that sage advice before but still, I was surprised at how gently she handled the soft mounds of future pie crust.

Thanksgiving pie bakers, you’ve been advised by an expert. Don’t overwork your dough.

Ronnie Fein is the quintessential apple pie maker, baking and freezing over 15 pies each autumn. She shares them with friends (lucky me!) and indulges in about one a month with her own family.

She still follows her Mom’s advice about not mauling the dough. She recalls Lily’s apple preferences and goes out of her way to find them (see recipe notes). She dabs the top crust directly with her milky fingertips, just like her Mom did. I saw the results. Randomly dabbed milk, does indeed, elicit glowing bronze crusts.

She bakes full sized pies (9 inches) and mini-pies (both 7 inches and 5 inches), all the same recipe, all baked in glass pans and redolent of butter with perfectly browned crusts. She doesn’t often use margarine*, choosing instead to serve these dairy-rich pies in the afternoon with tea, as a fine finish to brunch or just because.

kosher apple pie
photo: Liz Rueven

Butter. Only butter. And in combination with chilled vegetable shortening for the most tender and enviably flaky crust.

In a a word, Ronnie helped me to embrace the art of whipping up perfectly imperfect crusts for this traditional and easy-to-bake apple pie.

Patching together the crust is ok. Uneven edges are ok. These are the signals that a pie is homemade. “Frankly, a pie that looks too beautiful and uniform has been played with too much and the dough will be tough,” she assured me.

The only thing not ok is killing the dough.


Apple pie and Ronnie Fein
Ronnie Fein with pie; Photo: Liz Rueven

*This dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe uses Earth Balance in the pareve crust. Find the recipe here. If you’re more apple cake than apple pie lovers, try this easy to make, super moist, dairy-free apple cake .

Follow Ronnie Fein on her blog here. Find her on instagram @RonnieVFein.

When I first met Ronnie I was already a fan of her cookbooks and owned them both. We bonded over our love of seasonal, local and kosher recipes and our love of the CT landscape. Find Hip Kosher and The Modern Kosher Kitchen at your local bookstore or on Amazon.

Disclosure: When readers purchase items through some of the links in this post Kosher Like Me may benefit by receiving a small percentage of that sale. There is no cost for the buyer. Thanks for supporting this blogging habit of mine.


  1. My mother is smiling somewhere. Her pies were always perfect but I actually love your words better. Perfectly imperfect: Pies that show work and love like homemade should. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Thank you. Thank you.

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