24 October 2007

I did it! I made an Apple Pie!

That's right folks, I overcame the intimidation and launched myself head-first in to my first pie-baking experience. It may be lumpy, torn and a bit ugly, but the final product miraculously looked and tasted suspiciously like... a real apple pie!
I have a theory that pie-bakers ferociously attempt to defend their territory by circulating horror stories of rubbery or leathery crusts that can absolutely ruin an otherwise-delicious pie. Everywhere I turned, there was a demoralizing tale of "impossible to work" dough which baked in to a horrifying excuse for a pie shell. At first, I was daunted. I put aside all pie-baking delusions for a week or so, before I came to a shocking conclusion: I have never met an apple pie I did not like. I have never used the words "rubbery" nor "leathery" to describe a pie crust, in fact, I have never even attempted to describe a pie crust, I was always too engrossed in eating and enjoying it. So I left the paranoia to the pie-connoisseurs, made an amateur apple pie, and loved it.
I followed the Cook's Illustrated recipe for "Foolproof Pie Dough." The title captured me and it used vodka as a key ingredient, so why not? The only problem was that it called for shortening, which I couldn't find here, so I substituted two full sticks of butter, certainly a recipe for disaster, I feared. It turned out delicious, however, and no one accused my crust of being leathery. Phew! I did roll it a bit too thin, which accounts for the overall torn and lumpy aspect of the pie however.
For the filling I used a mixture of several different recipes, as usual. I mostly used Kim's recipe and another Cook's Illustrated recipe. That was definitely the easiest and most fun part of the whole ordeal.

Laurel's Amateur Apple Pie:

Crust: Follow Foolproof Pie Dough recipe
4 Granny Smith Apples
4 Other apples (I used Fuji because they were all I could find)
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 egg white , beaten lightly
1 Tbsp sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and core apples, cut in to 1/2-to-3/4-inch slices. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the sugar, lemon juice and zest, salt and spices. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center. Sprinkle with the tablespoon of flour, distribute the butter chunks. Roll out second dough ball and lay it over the filling. You should have at least an inch of overhang. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
Bake at 425° until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce to 375°; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Pull that baby out of the oven and let it cool a bit. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream, of course.

photo by Emi


LaLaLaLeah said...

OK. So I wanted to leave you this message immediately after reading this post for the first time...but I didn't.
I AM SO IMPRESSED! Even I, Dr. Leah Claire Baker Extraordinaire, have never ATTEMPTED to make a pie. I too have been scared away by the pie-bakers' tales of CRUSTS-GONE-WRONG. Sounds like it's bordering a conspiracy, huh? Your success story has inspired me to get over my fears and just do it, just bake a pie for god's sake. Though I must admit, when I bake I do it to ensure the end product is sinful, and pies, when you stop and think about it, are almost vegetables with all that fruit... That said, I do like that they are a great way to show off fine, seasonal produce. And there really isn't a more appropriate way of claiming your American roots than baking an apple pie. It's settled: a pie is in my future. Perhaps a will create a recipe for a pie called, "Pie in the Sky." Any recommendations from you blog readers as to what ingredients the Pie in the Sky should include?

laurel said...

I think a pie in the sky would have to include pigeon as a key ingredient.