Recipe of the Month – John Carradine’s Washington Apple Pie

One day after living in my rented fourth floor flat in a 1930s block for about 3 years, I thought to myself, “I wonder if I can get to the recycling bins through the back door of the fire escape?”  I opened the back door and it was like this…

there was a beautiful communal garden out there that nobody had told me about!  Oh my word!  We are so very lucky to have it, and once a year Chloe, the Cedar Court Cupid, organises a garden party and it was last Saturday.

I’d got myself into that weird mode of thinking – “I’ve got too much to do, I can’t go, I won’t know anyone, I should’t go…”  But Battenburg Belle coached me out of my funk, and I made myself go, and of course it was loads of fun.  

In short…

Gary and Akiko who live in the OTHER part of Cedar Court scrumped some apples from the garden and gave me some.  I made an apple pie with them and it was GOOD.

Our legendary caretaker Courtney was there.  I think he has the best answerphone message of all time.  He’s Jamaican (I think, but I’m going to ask him to double check) so you have to imagine this being said in a strong accent, very slow and relaxed, when you are phoning him because it is the middle of winter and suddenly the communal heating is broken.  The message goes like this: “Hello… this is Courtney… you’ve got the right number, but it’s the wrong time…”

He had a bit of my apple pie and I said: “What do you think Courtney?” and his response was: “Don’t ask me when I’m eating it, ask me when I’ve finished it!” which cracked me up.

I liked John’s recipe, cooking the apples in pineapple juice seems like a damn fine idea to me.  They came out a bit mushy, but I think Akiko may be right.  Even though the scrumped apples were BIG and they looked like cooking apples, maybe they were actually just large eating apples…

It’s very hard when hearing the name John Carradine not to think of that catchphrase of the 1970s, “ahhhh, grasshopper…”

but that’s DAVID Carradine, son of John.  John appears in House of the Long Shadows with Vincent Price, so this recipe is a good one for the Vincent Price Co*Star book I’m working on with my chum Peter.  I will make it again with Bramley apples and cook them for a little less time.   Mmmmmmm – apple pie!

John Carradine’s Washington Apple Pie

John Carradine’s Washington Apple Pie


  • 1 cup / 250g sugar
  • 1 cup / 235ml canned, unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 6 medium tart apples, pared, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • Unbaked pastry crust and pastry to cover*
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch / cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • small amount of cream or an egg


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F / 230 degrees C / gas mark 8.
  2. Bring sugar and juice to a boil.
  3. Add apples to pineapple syrup. Cook until tender but not mushy. Remove from syrup and place in the unbaked pastry crust.
  4. Dissolve cornstarch in a little water. Add to syrup and cook until thickened.
  5. Add the vanilla and butter to syrup. Stir and pour over apples.
  6. Cover pie with vented top crust or pastry lattice.
  7. Brush with cream or beaten egg mixed with water.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C / gas mark 4 and bake for 35 minutes.
  10. * I don't put pastry top and bottom, I just roll some puff pastry over the top apples in my big pie dish and go with that!
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