It is with pleasure that I introduce a guest post by my husband, the resident pie-baker!

I grew up in Michigan, and in my family it was always cherry pie in the summertime, made with the best tart cherries from the northern lower peninsula.  It’s really the cherry capital of the US, second to none, especially for sweet cherries.  I never cared too much about apple pie, until I went off to Notre Dame and had an incredible piece of apple-walnut pie at The Carriage House in S. Bend, Indiana. The building is a white-plank siding, green trimmed rectangle in the northern Indiana farmland, at that time owned and operated by Evelyn George, a proprietaire of great style, class, taste, beauty and charm.   Unfortunately, Evelyn died in 2000, but her daughter carries on the culinary tradition.  Inside, a variety of simple pleasures, native and imported,  may be found, including the apple-walnut pie.  That pie stuck in my mind for fifteen years, until I tried to duplicate it.  Last weekend I made it again.  This time I was spurred to action by a big box of apples sitting next to the entry door of my building, underneath a hand-written sign stating “Northern Spy apples – best pie apple.”  Talk about throwing down the gauntlet!

Having before baked many berry pies, to approximate the Carriage House pie I went back, back, to the 1st edition of the Joy of Cooking,  and made a few modifications to tweak the outcome in Ms. George’s direction.   Once we got to know the Carriage House we enjoyed many, many fine meals therein, and it gives me  pleasure to remember it and make this pie in memory of the lovely Evelyn George.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

1 recipe for double crust pie dough (we used this one)

for the filling:
6 Northern Spy apples or other tart apples — peeled, cored, & sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 Tablespoon lemon juice — freshly squeezed
3/4 cup walnuts — coarsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg — freshly grated
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoons butter — melted

for the frosting
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Make a pie crust of your choice. No pre-baking necessary.

Make the filling:   I’ve used Jona  Gold and Granny Smith apples in the past, but the Northern Spy apples of Kansas were outstanding this time.  Tey were another gift from a colleague of ours, the great gardener behind that big box of raspberries in our recent past.

Squeeze the lemon over the apple slices. Brown the chopped walnuts in the olive oil over medium heat, and lightly salt the nuts. Reserve. Mix the sugars with the corn starch, cinnamon, and nutmeg, sprinkle over the apples and mix gently.  Add the golden raisins.

Roll out the pie crust and cover the bottom of a pie dish. Fill the pie crust shell with the apple mixture, arranging the slices into layers that completely fill the pie.  Dot the layers with thin slices of butter, up to 1 + 1/2 tablespoon.  Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on the top of the filling.  Melt the 2 tablespoons of  butter and drizzle it over the filling.

Make a lattice top of from the second disk of pie dough, and cover the pie with it. For Northern Spy apples, bake at 450 degrees F for 10 min, then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for 65-70 min more.  Cover the crust with aluminum foil if it seems to be browning too much at the end of the cooking time.  The Northern Spy apples are very juicy and resilient and will remain firm even after a long baking.   For Jona Gold apples,  bake about 10 min less.

While the pie is baking, make the frosting by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl.   This should be thin enough to pour but thick enough to stay together when you drizzle it on the pie; add more sugar or water as necessary to get a good consistency.  After the pie cools drizzle some the frosting over the pie, and into the holes of the lattice.  Not too much, just enough to pump it up “a tiny notch.”


to print the recipe, click here

Here’s one last small story about Evelyn George.  On one occasion we asked for her recommendation on wine (she was a true connaisseur of fine wine), and she suggested to us a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer chardonnay, with the additional tip “..I like it served ice-cold.”  I was skeptical, but accepted her suggestion and drank the wine fully chilled on ice.  It was the most luscious, silky and perfectly fruity chardonnay that I ever tasted.  From that day forward, I prefer my chardonnay ice-cold!

Comments from Sally:  I don’t know that many guys who can face making an apple pie on a Sunday night, after a weekend that was pretty charged with stuff to do, both at home and in the lab.  My contribution was to make the pie dough early in the morning, and roll out the dough for the base.  The lattice work could only be made by someone with that certain type of patience found in golfers.   ;-)   We took the pie to the department after lunch on Monday, and by 2:30pm only crumbs were left on the plate.

As to The Carriage House, we only once had the opportunity of having dinner there together, and I was blown away by the place! That particular evening they had Beef Wellington on the menu, and of course it was our choice.  Spectacular dinner, in a very romantic setting.  If you live in the area, or you are passing through the Bend on I80,  it’s worth a visit for that special occasion.

ONE YEAR AGO: Chicken Marsala

TWO YEARS AGO: Home, Sweet Home (we still miss you, Pits!)

THREE YEARS AGO: Brazilian Black Beans

35 thoughts on “CARRIAGE HOUSE APPLE-WALNUT PIE… from Northern Spies

  1. Lovely recipe, Phil and Sally! I too admired the weaving of the pie top – I tend to just lay the strips one way and then the other, but weaving them in and over each other is indeed an act of great patience! The filling sounds lovely – there was a heated debate at our dinner table recently about whether a pie filling should be precooked or not. We make our apple pies without precooking, like yours, but my mother was adamant that the filling should be cooked down first. Each to their own, I guess!🙂


    • Celia, I think that it probably depends on the type of apple – these Northern Spies hold their shape surprisingly well, so who knows? Maybe pre-cooking would be an option. But I can tell you that the pie, made the way he did it, was outstanding!


      • Ditto on the tradition of few pies as well. My mom DID make a loose batter which she laid down in the bottom of 9×13″ in pan, sprinkled with grated apples flavoured with sugar and cinnamon and then covered with the approximately 1/4 leftover batter in blobs and baked. Not overly sweet but quite tasty. More batter than fruit in the resulting sweet dish.


  2. Now that is some pie! Your lattice topping is fabulous Phil and I love the idea of incorporating nuts right into the pie… something I don’t think I’ve ever done (but I can’t imagine why not). The Carriage House looks so inviting with its warming lights and clearly the best pie in town! Seasonal perfection. Funny too that you mention cherry pie in the summertime… cherry is my all-round favourite pie… I hope you’ll consider coming back to do another guest post in the summer featuring that pie as well!😉.


    • Kelly, the addition of nuts on top was something that Phil perfected just on this version – from his memory, the thing that made that pie so great was the crunch of the walnut. When he made it before, he mixed the nuts with all the filling, and they lost some of that bite. Now he placed them on top and it was closer to what he remembers.

      by the way, I am all up for a cherry pie in the summer -I will have to convince hubby to buy cherries from elsewhere, even though he looks down on them. Maybe in a pie it won’t be too problematic to use less than stellar fruit? 😉


  3. oh that looks so yummy and i’m not even someone who likes pie. with the walnuts, rasins and spices it actually reminds me more of the mincement as is commonly found now. I think i might need to make some of that filling and heat over ice cream or perhaps just with a spoon. thanks for both the memory and the recipe.


  4. First off, I , too, am a big fan of Michigan’s tart cherries! I’ve been known to drive around this end of The Lake and up into Michigan’s fruit belt to retrieve the red gems for myself and my neighbors. Bing cherries are good; tart are better.
    Your pie looks like the perfect Autumn treat. If I cannot have a piece of tart cherry pie, I’ll happily ask for apple and I’d be more than pleased to find a piece of this one set before me. The walnuts, the Northern Spy apples, the lattice top. This is one terrific pie!


    • Yes, I am a lucky lady! 😉 We alternate cooking, one day he is in charge, the other day I do it, so it is never too heavy on either of us the routine of preparing a meal after work.


  5. My grandfather was the pie baker in his house. We would go every Sunday for a Sunday roast with the entire family. Grandma cooked the meal but grandpa made the pies and then made rounders for we kids (leftover dough rolled flat, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and rolled together, sliced and baked. We looked forward to those rounders every Sunday.


    • Phil is always trying to make the rounders you described! I am the one who asks him not to do it, believe it or not. I always say we don’t need the extra temptation, one pie is more than enough! 😉


    • Phil is pretty good at this type of stuff. He has the patience of a monk, I would rip the whole crust into pieces, pout, leave the kitchen enraged, and end up with an open pie… It is called the Brazilian temper😉


  6. Holy cow this has me written all over it. My husband doesn’t like walnuts and so I’ve spent years substituting pecans, but…wow. I have to make this. And my niece when to Notre Dame — just graduated last spring. Was on their softball team!


    • Well, you MUST make this one then, with apologies to your hubby… I used not to like Brazil nuts (interesting, coming from a Brazilian), but now I like them. Like cheese, I never met a nut I didn’t like (doesn’t that sound funny? 😉


  7. Apple pie is classic in our family. We probably make two dozen a year. So I’m always excited to see different takes on our favorite dessert. And now with a bit cooler weather….well, I”m going to have to try to replicate your lovely lattice. Thank you for sharing, my friend!


    • Two dozen a year! WOW, we area talking to an expert here! 🙂 I know you will have no trouble with the lattice, so I’ll be tuned to your site when you post about your masterpiece…😉


  8. I see a visit to South Bend in our future! It’s too close not to go! Phil beautiful job on the pie. You did those apples and Ms. George justice! I’m going to need an apple pie soon for sure!


    • You should definitely go there, they do have a very active page on Facebook too, I noticed. Some comments about dishes they are optimizing to put on the menu, special events…. stuff like that


  9. Oh, Sally!! I don’t know what happened to me (well, work happened) but I am so glad to be hear catching up on your blog this morning! What an incredible pie and incredible husband!! Just imagining the trip to this wonderful Carriage House has me longing for that sort of vacation. Any place that leaves an indelible memory like this is the sort of place I’d love to visit! xx Off to find some of my own spies.. would love to find them next to my door this morning.. wishing.. wishing..


    • Good to see you back! Unfortunately, that was the last batch of “free” apples – but we found out (get this!) that the trees in front of our home are Northern Spy apples too! They produced a bit this year, but mostly Phil ate them fresh. Next year, knowing they are the same special apples, we’ll cook up a storm


  10. Pingback: The Hunt for the Great Northern Spy (Apple Pie) « Journeying Beyond the Ashes

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