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This floral take on a classic apple pie from Back in the Day Bakery owner Cheryl Day may be new to many, but the use of rose water here is rooted in American history. “Before vanilla extract was widely available, the most popular flavoring in America was rose water,” Day writes in her newest cookbook, Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking. “This recipe brings the lovely taste of rose water back to apple pie.” Plan to mix the filling at least 4 hours ahead so the accumulated juices can be reduced before you assemble and bake the pie. While the pie pictured has a layered top crust to create a floral effect, here we call for a simple rolled-out top crust with a few vents, which does the job nicely.

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8 Servings



Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

cups (313 g) all-purpose flour


Tbsp. granulated sugar


tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt


tsp. baking powder


cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling and assembly


lb. firm baking apples (such as Pink Lady or Granny Smith; about 6), peeled, cored, thinly sliced


cup (50 g) granulated sugar


cup (packed; 50 g) light brown sugar


Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces


Tbsp. fresh lemon juice


tsp. ground cinnamon


tsp. freshly grated nutmeg


tsp. ground cardamom


tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt


Tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

tsp. rose water, divided


Tbsp. plus 1 cup heavy cream, divided


Tbsp. powdered sugar

special equipment

A mini cookie cutter



Step 1

Combine vinegar and ½ cup cold water in a measuring glass. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add butter and toss to coat. Working quickly and using a pastry blender or 2 butter knives, cut butter into flour to create large shaggy pieces of dough (you want some pea-size pieces of butter and some that are large and chunky). Drizzle half of the vinegar mixture over; stir with a fork until dough starts to come together (it should look a little dry, but add remaining vinegar mixture by the tablespoonful if needed).

Step 2

Transfer dough to a surface; gather into a ball. Using the heel of your hand, smear dough across surface by a full arm’s length to flatten. Using a bench scraper, gather back into a ball. Smear and regather 2 more times. Cut dough in half. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic; flatten into a disk. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 week ahead. Keep chilled or freeze up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.

Filling and assembly

Step 3

Toss apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, 2 Tbsp. flour, and 1 tsp. rose water in a large bowl until evenly coated. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours.

Step 4

Drain apples in a sieve set over a small saucepan; transfer apples back to bowl. Bring liquid to a boil over medium heat and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Pour sauce over apples; toss to combine.

Step 5

Let dough sit at room temperature 5 minutes, then roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12″ round. Transfer to a standard 9″-diameter pie dish, then lift edges and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about a ½” overhang; chill while you roll out remaining dough disk to a 10″ round. Using cookie cutter, punch out 4–8 vents in second round. Spoon apple filling, including any juices, into pie dish. Place second dough round over filling. Trim, leaving a 1″ overhang. Press crusts together and fold over to seal. Crimp edges; decorate with cutout dough pieces as desired. Chill pie in freezer 20 minutes.

Step 6

Meanwhile, place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400°.

Step 7

Place pie on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet; brush crust with 2 Tbsp. cream. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375° and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and juices are thick and bubbling, 60–80 minutes longer. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool at least 3 hours.

Step 8

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, remaining 1 cup cream, and remaining ½ tsp. rose water in a small bowl until cream begins to thicken. Reduce speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form.

Step 9

Serve slices of pie with whipped cream.

Do ahead: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

cheryl day.jpg

Recipes adapted with permission from ‘Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking’ by Cheryl Day (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021.

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