The author used to help her grandmother bake pies each Fall. (Be'chol Lashon)

New Jew Enters New Year with a Slice of Apple Pie

Convert reflects on her eventful first year as a Jew and shares a family recipe.

As Rosh Hashanah approaches I look back on this year with immense gratitude. Last August I converted to Judaism, and 5779 was my first year as a Jew. And a momentous one it was. I celebrated my first High Holidays. I graduated from college. I went on Birthright. I started a new job. I lost my cousin. I traveled with Be’chol Lashon to Uganda to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Abayudaya Jewish community. And I had a blast as a counselor at Camp Be’chol Lashon this summer.

Even as I affirm my Jewish Identity I am wondering how to incorporate the rich legacies I inherited from my Pentecostal family.  Learning to navigate interfaith family life can be challenging, especially around the holidays. It can feel a little lonely to not have a family to celebrate the High Holidays with, in the traditional sense, but I can always count on my family for a lot of love, good food, and good company.

Luckily, at Rosh Hashanah, there is an easy melding of traditions. Every fall in my grandmother’s kitchen was pie season. My siblings and I would help my grandfather harvest fruits and vegetables from the garden and then help my grandmother turn them into pies. 

My favorite pie to help her make was apple pie. My grandmother would sing the most hilarious songs about washing apples, and turned peeling into a competition to see who could peel the most apples continuously without breaking the skin. I never won but my mother, of blessed memory, was the family champion. For this Rosh Hashanah, what could be sweeter than my grandmother’s apple pie?

Barbara Jean McElhaney’s 9-inch Double Crust Apple Pie Recipe (6 servings) 

You will need:

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment 2 mixing bowls 
  • Plastic wrap 
  • Knife 
  • Apple peeler 
  • Spoon 
  • Rolling pin 
  • Pie plate 
  • Aluminum foil



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (high quality parve margarine or vegetable shortening can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (This recipes call for unsalted butter. If you are using salted butter instead, omit the added salt.)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water


  1. Mix dry ingredients: sift flour, sugar, and salt into mixer (paddle attachment- mix for a few seconds and turn off.)
  2. Cut the butter into pieces—Add half the butter pieces to the dry ingredients. Mix on the lowest setting possible for 5 to 10 seconds—pulsing on/off if necessary, so the flour doesn’t fly out of the bowl—then turn off. Add the rest of the butter continue mixing on low setting until the granules are no bigger than the size of peas.
  3. Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting possible, slowly pour in the 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water let the mixer run for a couple more seconds, end the dough should hold together when squeezed, with some dough starting to grab onto the paddle attachment, and few flour streaks on the side of the bowl. If the dough is still powdery and dry in some places and the sides of the bowl are still flour-coated, continue to mix adding another tablespoon of water, (Repeat with more water—conservatively)
  4. Use your hands to gather the dough into two masses and dump onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to form the dough into two balls, then flatten them into a disc with your hands, so the plastic wrap is extremely snug. Use two layers if necessary.
  5.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using, or for up to 2 days. can also be frozen for up to 1 month.



  • ¾ cup sugar 
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour *If using self rising flour, omit salt 
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 6 cups (about 6 medium) thinly sliced pared tart apples *note: if you choose to use very tart apples you might want to add ¼ cup of sugar. If you use sweet apples add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice)
  • 2 tablespoons(1/4cup)  margarine or butter–allow the butter to soften or liquify


  1. Preheat oven to 425 °F and prep pastry: Use your hands to knead both pieces of dough into soft and malleable discs. Roll one ball of dough set the other aside for top crust, adding more flour as necessary under and on top of the dough so it doesn’t stick, into a 13-inch circle. Carefully drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (at least 1-1/2 inches deep). Gently fit the dough into the pan, easing it inwards. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch beyond the lip of the pie pan. Turn the edges under to create a rim on the crust. Press the rim against the lip of the pan, forming  an even edge around. Use any scraps to patch in any tears or thin areas. 
  2. Mix dry ingredients: sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt 
  3. Toss apples in a bowl with the dry ingredients 
  4. Turn apples into pastry-lined pie plate, pour butter over apples *note: if you are using sweet apples mix the butter with the lemon juice and pour it over the apples 
  5. Cover with top crust repeat step 1 and lay crust over apples cut excess crust away. Press top layer edges into bottom layer, cut slits in the middle.
  6. Seal and flute: cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning: remove foil during the last 15 minutes of baking. 
  7. Bake until crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the slits of the crust, 40-50 minutes. 
  8. (optional) When pie is done lightly spread butter on the top crust and dust with ¼  teaspoon each mixture of sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

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