From Willow’s Basket: Elderberry Apple Pie

Willow Goodhope has the gift of giving. She finds great pleasure in touching people’s’ lives with the gifts that God puts on her heart to give.

Her favorite resource for her gifts is the common elder, also known as the black elder, the sambucus nigra. She considers the elderberry to be the quintessential “Giving Tree,” and most of her gifts are home-made items in which she uses parts of the elderberry. (It is important to note that ONLY the berries and flowers of the sambucus nigra are edible. Many other sambucus species are, in fact, poisonous. Know your herbs or buy your herbs from a reputable source, such as Mountain Rose Herbs, one of mine and Willow’s favorite online resources.)

Elderberry Croft, Willow Goodhope's Basket of Gifts

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In the third episode of my serial novel, Elderberry Croft, Part 3: March Whispers, Willow pays a visit to Joe Sanderson, bearing an elderberry apple pie in one of her elderberry twig baskets.

“So, Miss Willow, is it time to celebrate?”

She leapt up and crossed to the table, pulling the cloth back to reveal the contents of the basket she’d brought. A golden-crusted pie, the edges rippled and thick, oozing with deep red syrup from the leaf-shaped slits in the top shell. This was no store-bought bakery item; this was the real deal, and so fresh it was still hot enough to warm his hands over.

“What have you gone and made there?”

“Have you ever had elderberry apple pie, Joe? I hope not, because this is one of my specialties, and I want it to be a first for you.” The shadows slipped away, unable to hold their ground in her excitement.

This is Willow’s favorite elderberry apple pie recipe, but you can do a crumb topping, or a lattice top, adjust your berry and apple ratio, even bake it without sauteing the apples in butter–although, I wouldn’t recommend it!

Elderberry Croft: Willow Goodhope's Elderberry Apple Crumb Pie

Willow’s Elderberry Apple Pie

1 c. fresh (washed) elderberries (or 1/2 cup dried, reconstituted – instructions below)
3 tbsp. cornstarch OR tapioca
1/2 c. white sugar
1 TBLS lemon juice
2 1/2 c. thinly sliced tart apples
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter for under top crust

2 Pie Crusts


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Press one crust into bottom of 9 or 10-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • While pie crust is browning, mix cornstarch in a little bit of water (about 1/4 cup – best way to do this is to shake it up in a small jar with a lid.) and add to berries and white sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until desired thickness – like syrup. Add more cornstarch if not thick enough. Remove pan from heat, add lemon juice, and set aside.
  • Saute sliced apples in butter and cinnamon, until tender, but not soft. Add brown sugar at the end and toss the apples to coat.
  • Gently fold berries into apples. Pour into pie pan, but do not overfill, and reserve any syrup for ice cream later! place a few pats of butter on top of berries, if desired. Cover with second crust, cut slits or shapes in crust, seal the edges of the two crusts, and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown, and fruit is bubbling up through slits.
  • NOTE: You might want to put a cookie sheet or tinfoil beneath pie as sometimes this bubbles over.
  • Serve with ice cream and leftover syrup and/or filling on top! Yum.

I hope you’re enjoying getting to know the residents at The Coach House Trailer Park in the first three episodes of Elderberry Croft: January Breeze, February Embers, and March Whispers. April Shadows is next – do come back and meet Shelly Little…and learn a little more about Willow Goodhope.

Last month, Willow shared with us her recipe for elderberry muffins – did anyone try those? And in January, she shared with us her favorite cold and flu season elderberry tea, but it’s a great one for keeping your immune system boosted, too, so you can drink it year-round!

What is your favorite pie?