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Top-ranked recipe named "Ava Jewel's Million Dollar Apple, or Pear Pie"
1. Line a 9" to 10" deep-dish pie plate with one unbaked crust. Preheat oven to 375(F) degrees and lower oven rack to middle position. It wouldn't hurt to line the bottom oven rack with foil just in case it spills over.
2. As you slice the fruit, dip it in or let it sit in a bowl of lemon-lime soda. The citric acid will keep the fruit from turning brown. Once you are ready to mix the filling, drain off the soda and place the fruit in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour over the fruit, mixing well. [note: at this stage, you can freeze the filling in an airtight bag to use in the future.]
4. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Top with brown sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Finally, thinly slice the butter/margarine over the top of the filling.
5. Cover filling with top crust. Turn top crust under the bottom crust, then crimp edges tightly and cut vents in the top crust. Brush the top of the crust with milk, then sprinkle with sugar.
6. Bake at 375(F) degrees for a total of one hour. Because of the length of time, it's easy for the top crust to become overbrowned. I use a metal crust shield or aluminum foil around the rim of the pie - bake with the shield on for about 35-40 minutes, then remove the shield for the remainder of the cooking time.
7. Pie leftovers keep better if refrigerated.
Notes: This recipe is from a book that was given to me as a wedding gift in 1983. It is entitled "The Goodtimes Cookbook of Woods Chapel Baptist Church." This recipe is attributed to Ava Jewell Montgomery, who must have been quite a cook, based on the number of her recipes in the book. You can use any kind of tart baking apple. It is also very good with pears - not as tart, so you might add a little extra lemon juice. Delicious served with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla!
If you have a lot of fruit, you can prepare the filling in advance and freeze it in one-pie batches in heavy ziploc freezer bags. Thaw quickly (in the microwave) to keep fruit from turning brown, then pour into pie crust and resume recipe with step 4.
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