Apple Profile

Northern Spy

Such an intriguing name for a sought-after apple!  Northern Spy is a professional baker’s dream.

The Spy is an heirloom, all-American variety originating in New England in the 1800s, when it was called the Northern Spie.  It entered commercial channels in the 1840s has remained popular because of tart, acidic properties.

An irregularly shaped large dull-green apple with red blush and stripes, the Spy is sometimes called a winter apple.  It contains more solids than many varieties, which means it retains texture in cooking applesauce, baking pies and other dishes.

Northern Spy is a hard apple that ripens late and stores well.  The Spy’s thin skin makes it difficult to handle through normal packing and shipping, turning it into a nearly gourmet variety not commonly found in stores.

In a 2005 Canadian study, Northern Spy was identified as one of three apple varieties with the highest levels of health-promoting antioxidants.

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Yankee Spy Pie

Crust Ingredients:


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup ICE cold water

Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 large Michigan Northern Spy apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup flour

Crust Directions:

Cut shortening into flour and salt, until particles are the size of small peas.  Sprinkle with water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, tossing with fork until flour is moistened and pastry cleans sides of bowl.  Add additional water if necessary.  Divide dough in half.  Roll to size.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Filling Directions:

Combine ingredients and add to pie shell. Top with dough and crimp sides. Moisten top of pie and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350F for 1 1/4 hours. Cover with pie shield after 15 minutes.

I Spy a Michigan Pie

Pastry Crust Ingredients:


  • 2 1/4 cups pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Pie Filling Ingredients :

  • 8-10 Michigan Northern Spy apples
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • scant amount of half- and-half
  • sprinkling of extra cinnamon/sugar

Michigan Maple Whipped Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Pastry Directions:

Measure pastry flour and salt together with a pastry blender.  Then add shortening and continue until pea-sized morsels form.  Sprinkle water about a Tbsp. at a time and toss with a fork until it holds together.  Divide into two equal portions and shape each into a ball.  Flatten each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic or wax paper.  Chill dough for about 30 minutes.  Roll out first disk and fit into pie plate.  Crimp edges then add prepared filling.  Roll out second disk and use it to cover the filled pie.  Take a pastry brush and lightly brush half-and-half over the pie. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top.

Filling Directions:

Peel and slice the Northern Spy apples.  Take about 3 cups of the apples and place in a saucepan with the bourbon.  Cook over medium heat stirring often until bourbon is diminished and apples are soft.  Set aside.  Toss remaining apples with the all-purpose flour, sugar and cinnamon.  Add the bourbon-apples and quickly place in prepared pie pan.

After pie is filled and topped make sure you cover the edges before baking.  Place pie on a cookie sheet with edges and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer.

Michigan Maple Syrup Whipped Cream Directions:

Place heavy whipping cream in a well-chilled mixer bowl with a well-chilled wire whip beater.  Beat on medium speed until cream begins to thicken, then on high speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in syrup and cinnamon, scraping the bowl once, until blended and stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate till pie time!

How to make a Michigan Apple pie featuring
Chef Tommy FitzGerald