Recipe Review

I Tried the Reddit-Famous Apple Cream Pie Recipe from 1965 and It’s a New Family Favorite

published Jul 30, 2021
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Credit: Justin Burke

I have a soft spot in my heart for old, forgotten recipes. So when Reddit resurfaced a 1965 recipe for Pillsbury Apple Cream Pie, it stopped me in my tracks. The pie had a mosaic-like pattern of apples, caramelized sugar, and thickened cream nestled in a rustic crust. The comments were filled with readers reminiscing over this pie being one of their family’s favorites — something that their grandma used to make. I knew I had to make it. Here’s how this vintage recipe went when I gave it a try. 

How to Make Pillsbury Apple Cream Pie 

This recipe is super straightforward. First, you’ll make the crust. Whisk together Pillsbury’s Best Flour and cinnamon until evenly combined, then cut in the shortening with a fork or pastry cutter until it is the size of small peas. Slowly add water and bring the mixture together with a fork until the dough comes together (you might not use all the water). Form the dough into a ball and roll out on a floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie pan and roll the edges to form a standing edge, filling in any cracks with excess pie dough. 

Toss together the apples with lemon juice and arrange the fruit, round-side up, in the prepared pie shell. In a different bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle 3/4 cup over the apples. Slowly pour heavy cream over apples, making sure to fill in the gaps between the apples. Top the apples with the remaining brown sugar mixture. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake until golden-brown, bubbly, and the heavy cream has puffed up. 

Credit: Justin Burke

My Honest Review

As much as I tried to keep the caramelized sugar and heavy cream from bubbling over when baking, the fact is you can’t prevent the hot sugar and heavy cream from doing what it wants to do. Don’t mistake the smell of burnt sugar on the baking sheet to mean the pie is done. Since the apples are quartered, the pie will take longer to bake. I had to periodically check the apples by inserting a cake tester into a few. 

The flavor of the pie is as traditional as it gets. The addition of the heavy cream melds with the cinnamon-sugar mixture to make a light caramel sauce, which is a nice addition to the pie. The standout is the pockets of heavy cream that don’t absorb the sugar and instead puff up and thicken while baked. These creamy bites throughout the pie almost taste as if you baked vanilla ice cream into the center. 

As for the crust, I wasn’t the biggest fan. It had a shortbread-like texture that could not compare to a buttery, flaky crust. If I were to make this again, I would use an all-butter crust that I blind-baked before filling. I would also change how the filling is assembled. I would cut the apples into chunks and toss with all of the cinnamon-sugar mixture, and then place into the prepared pie shell, finishing with heavy cream poured on top. One of my biggest pet peeves is when sugar toppings don’t caramelize or melt into nearby liquid, and instead leave dried, slightly burnt sugar on top. Cutting the apples in chunks will decrease the cooking time and evenly bake the apples. 

Regardless of my pickiness, this recipe is delicious and provides an alternative to a traditional apple pie. I can see why so many Reddit readers gushed over this nostalgic recipe; the flavor and aroma from the hot-out-of-the-oven pie is home-baking at its finest. It was a favorite among my family — both my 2-year-old son and my boyfriend gobbled it up and asked for more!

4 Tips for Making Pillsbury Apple Cream Pie

  1. You can use any all-purpose flour. Since this is a Pillsbury recipe, it should come as no surprise that the recipe calls for Pillsbury’s Best Flour. If you don’t have Best Flour, no need to rush out and buy a bag for this recipe, any all-purpose flour will work — the recipe even lists what to add if using flour other than Pillsbury’s. 
  2. Don’t crimp the crust. This isn’t a traditional pie crust, more like shortbread. Avoid the frustration of trying to crimp a beautiful edge into flimsy dough. Instead, roll the edges into itself to make a clean, rounded standing edge. 
  3. Bake the pie on a baking sheet. Once the apples release their juices, combined with hot sugar and heavy cream, the pie will bubble over in places. Prevent a mess at the bottom of your oven by placing the pie on a baking sheet. 
  4. Add the cinnamon-sugar mixture all at once. Skip leaving a 1/4 cup of the cinnamon-sugar mixture to sprinkle on top after pouring the heavy cream into the pie. Adding it all at once with the apples will prevent any portions of the cinnamon-sugar from not absorbing liquid and caramelizing. Otherwise, you’re left with dried, slightly burnt sugar that isn’t pleasant to eat or visually appealing.