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Today's Case

Centenarian Bakers' Apple Pie

Re: Centenarian Apple Pie Bakers
From: rob
Date: 8/16/2023, 9:46 AM
To: Phaedrus 

On 8/15/2023 7:48 PM, rob wrote:

Dear Uncle Phaedrus,
Back in the mid 1980s, an article ran in one of the insert "magazines" in 
the local newspaper about the following:
There were two centenarian ladies in the North Eastern U.S./New England area, 
and they might have been sisters, I don't remember, but they won an apple pie 
baking contest. One of the ladies was like, 102, or so - over a hundred, it 
seems like. They said their secret was simple: experience. 
The article might have been titled something like, "Veteran Bakers", or "Veteran 
Pie Bakers win Contest", - but that also might or might not be the name. 
The magazine was either Parade, or Punch, or USA Weekend, or something like that. 
I would like to find that article and, more so, the RECIPES from these two ladies! 
I saw where there is a Great New England Apple Pie Contest and one from the Salem 
Cross Inn, but I don't know if it ran in the 80s or not. Any help you or the readers 
could offer would be appreciated.


Hello Rob,

I had no success with this. I tried searches using every possible combination of keywords from your email, but I got nothing - just a few facts that were not helpful: the "Great New England Apple Pie Contest" had it's first contest in 2009 - too recent, I am familiar with inserts called "Parade Magazine", "Family Weekly", "USA Weekend", and "the Sunday Supplement", but none of those brought results.

This sounds like the type of search that my readers score a win on. I'll post it and see.


Hello Rob,

With a little assistance from Janet, one of my readers, I was able to find some additional information about this apple pie.

It appears that the centenarian bakers were Louise Waid & Tillie Bothwell, residents of the Quaboag Nursing Home in West Brookfield, MA. Their pie won the 1987 Grand Prize in Salem Cross Inn's Annual Beehive Oven Apple Pie Contest in West Brookfield. Their ingredients included cinnamon, sugar, butter, flour, and granny smith apples. The pie was cooked in a beehive oven.

A Google search reveals a blurb about an Associated Press article from 1987:

AP News
Veteran Bakers Win Apple Pie Contest | AP News (1987)
WEST BROOKFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Two centenarians combined their years of experience with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon Sunday to create what was judged the best apple pie in New England. Louise Waid, 105, and Tillie Bothwell, 101, residents of the Quaboag Nursing Home in West Brookfield, said they had been baking pies since they were teen-agers. They baked their contest-winner in a beehive ...

However, that's all there is. I could not find the remainder of that AP article. The link brings you to an AP page that says "Page Unavailable", and I could not find a recipe anywhere that was connected to the 1987 contest winning pie or to the ladies who baked it or to their nursing home.


Subject: centenarian apple pie
From: Kristin 
Date: 8/23/2023, 6:48 PM

Hi Uncle Phaedrus- unfortunately this woman said she "tweaked" recipe 
but not sure how or what. Maybe it's just like the original I don't know. 
Her page is defunct I used wayback machine to find it: September's Classic Apple Pie
September 8, 2017
Sandra W.

I have been making this pie for over 25 years. I believe that I clipped 
this recipe from a magazine in the late 80s.  I don't remember which 
magazine now.  I wrote down the history of this classic apple pie, 
because I thought it was really interesting and special.

"This old-fashioned apple-pie recipe won the 1987 Grand Prize in Salem 
Cross Inn's Annual Beehive Oven bake-off. Creators Lillie Bothwell 
(102 years old) and Louise Waid (106 years old), both residents of the 
Quaboag Nursing Home, credit their success to years of experience.  
They placed in the year before and decided not to enter in 1988 in order 
to give the younger folks a chance."

I've tweaked this recipe a little bit over the years to my tastes and 
every time that I serve it to people they tell me it is the best apple 
pie they ever had.  I hope you enjoy this pie as much as my family has 
over the years, and I hope that it becomes a centerpiece in your baking 
as much as it has in mine.

Bon Appetit!


I have always used granny smith apples. If for some reason these apples 
are unavailable, any firm, tart apple will work.

Before baking the pie, you may want to brush (with a pastry brush) the 
top pastry dough with a beaten egg.  This will give the pie a nice sheen.

Preparation time is 50 minutes.  Bake time is 50 minutes.  Total time is 
about 1 hour and 45 minutes.


    6 to 7 Granny Smith Apples
    1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup flour
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 1/2 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
    Pastry dough for double crust pie


Peel, core, and slice apples; toss with lemon juice if desired.  In a medium bowl, 
combine the sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon.  Add flour mixture to the sliced apples, 
and toss to combine.  Let the apples sit for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring a couple times 
before placing them in the pastry shell.  Place the sliced apples in a 9 inch pastry 
lined pie plate, arranging slices so they fit compactly.  Dot with butter. 

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the remaining pastry dough over sliced apples; crimp 
edges.  Cut several slits in the crust to allow the steam to escape. Place pie on a 
rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until the crust is 
browned and juices bubble up.  Remove to wire rack.  Cool completely before cutting.  
Serves 8.

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