Sunderland church shares secret recipe for success
Recorder/Paul Franz In this photograph taken last year, Chris Drake checks on apple pies in preparation for a Sunderland Congregational Church pie sale. Purchase photo reprints »
SUNDERLAND — Every November, the church ladies of the First Congregational Church in Sunderland also gather to bake their own version of the tasty dessert.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, the church’s pie sale has become a pre-holiday tradition as the Sunderland church members bake over 300 pies of four varieties — apple, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry and pumpkin — for people to bring home for the holidays.
Last year’s sale marked the church’s 11th anniversary of pie-baking. The sale originally began as a fundraiser for a ramp to be placed at the church’s entrance. Once the church held its first sale, people wanted more.
“People looked forward to it every year,” said Carol Kushi, a First Congregational Church member.
Years later, the sale’s purpose remains the same — to help support church maintenance projects.
Besides a new pie baking machine that rolls out the dough, the method used to bake the pies has not changed. It all begins four days before the pie sale. The church members are separated into stations like a factory assembly line. Some mix the fruit with the sugar and spices, while others roll out and knead the dough. Another places the finished pies into the hot oven. Outside the kitchen, another folds the pie boxes and cuts the apples and carves the pumpkins. They start baking on Tuesday and continue until Friday. Each day is devoted to one of the four types of pies sold.
For the most part, the same 10 women have been baking the pies since the start of the annual sale. Asked why they continue to volunteer, Irene Price said, “because we’re crazy.”
Though the Robbins Memorial Church pie-recipe remains under lock and key, here’s a once-secret recipe used by the First Congregational Church to make apple pie:
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH’S APPLE PIE
2 cups of flour
2∕3 cups of Crisco
1∕2 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of water
Put flour in a mixing bowl, add salt and Crisco. Mix well by hand. Be careful, the longer you mix the dough, the tougher the crust. Add water, mix and roll into a ball. Cut the ball in half, use one half for bottom curst and the other half for the top crust. Roll out the dough between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper.
Ten apples sliced (Cortland, Northern Spy, Baldwin, Granny Smith)
3∕4 cups of sugar
11∕2 teaspoons of cinnamon
Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well before making pie crust.
When the bottom crust is rolled out, place it in the pie plate. Put the apples in and place five pats of margarine on top of the apples.
Moisten the edge of the bottom crust with cold water then put the top crust on. Crimp edges.
Place a pie plate over the top of the pie to prevent it from over browning. Cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until apples are soft when tested with a fork.
— KATHLEEN MCKIERNAN