CUSTAR – When Beth Nagel makes her Slab Apple Pie, it reminds her of baking with her grandma.
She and her grandma, Estella (Bechstein) Chamberlain, would spend days peeling apples picked from the various trees on the farm and making apple pie to put in the freezer. They would make 13-14 pies a day that also included peach from the trees on the farm.
“All winter long, when you had a potluck, you pulled a pie out,” Nagel said.
She used Granny Smith, Northern Spy and Jonagold in the Slap Apple Pie she made for this cook’s corner.
“The mixture of apples gives it more flavor,” Nagel said.
For instance, Red Delicious doesn’t bake well, she said. Macintosh and Jonathan, on the other hand, do.
“I pack them really tight so if you use apples that are actually baking apples, they bake down better.”
She said the recipe should not be used to make a traditional apple pie as there are too many apples to fit into a pie pan.
Nagel was introduced to Slab Apple Pie at a American Legion auxiliary meeting, when a friend brought one, then found the recipe online.
At first, she thought it was too difficult. She said the original recipe called for a homemade crust, which she changed to store bought. Nagel added a little more lemon juice and uses a different variety of apples.
Nagel, who is a substitute in the vo-ag department at Elmwood High School, takes the apples left over from the FFA fruit sale.
She told the kids that if they behaved, she’d make something for them.
“I had to make a lot of these to feed 85 kids,” Nagel said.
The farm where Nagel now lives has been in the family for generations.
The peach trees grew after her grandmother threw the peach pits to the chickens. When she died, every peach tree died.
“I could do that forever and I’d never get a peach tree,” she said about tossing the pits.
Nagel uses her Great-Grandma Bechstein’s rolling pin with the burn mark from the wood stove.
Her mom, Barb Chamberlain, did not teach her to cook.
“Grandma taught me. Grandma taught me to can.”
Nagel said that she doesn’t cook much.
“I’m not very creative with recipes, I don’t go online and look for recipes.”
She has had some happy accidents: A peach jam recipe called for a pound of peaches with bourbon added. She didn’t have a pound, so the end result was runny. It was used as ice cream topping.
Nagel cans jams with any available fruit, including peach and blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb and red raspberry.
She also cans cucumber salad and gives everything away for Christmas presents, as well as mini loaves of bread.
The 1975 Bowling Green High School graduate coordinated the National Tractor Pulling Championships from 1979-89.
Nagel worked at Bowling Green State University, first as a temp while attending classes there, then as a special events coordinator. She got that job due to her tractor pull experience.
She ended her 30-year career at BGSU in April 2019 as assistant director of purchasing and started subbing at Elmwood in August 2019.
Nagel and husband Ron have been married for 44 years. They have two children. Ron plans to retire as an ICU nurse at Wood County Hospital at the end of the year.
Slab Apple Pie
Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
8 cups apples (a variety works best), peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks about 1/8 inch thick
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or real lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.
In a large mixing bowl, toss apples with both sugars, butter, lemon juice, vanilla and spices. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough halves into a circle. Transfer to the prepared pan.
Roll the second half of the dough into a large rectangle. Wet the outer edges of the bottom crust with water. Drape the dough over the filling and fold the bottom crust’s overhang over the edges, sealing them together. Crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp knife, cut small slits over the top of the crust, making sure to go all the way through the top crust.
Pour some milk into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the milk over the top and edges of the crust. Sprinkle with sugar.
Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let stand 20-30 minutes before serving.
Cook’s notes: Nagel likes to use Macintosh and Granny Smith apples. The pie crust can be made from scratch and the recipe works well using Swerve sugar replacement and Truvia brown sugar blend if the pie is made for a diabetic.