July 17, 2009

the truth about apple pie

Folks, I've told you before that I make a pretty mean apple pie. But in the last year, I think I've been taking one very, very bad shortcut: I've been taking the pie out of the oven way too soon. 

For Father's Day (yes, I'm aware that was almost a month ago...), I made my dad an apple pie, as is tradition, and it wasn't quite up to par. All the flavors were there, but--and this is a BIG but--the apples were a little on the crunchy side. 

And let me impart something to all you fine folks out there: that is NOT how you want the apples to be for a supposedly fantastic pie. 

I'm planning on entering our church's pie contest in early August, so I have some time to perfect my recipe. Normally, my crust recipe goes like this:
(Makes 2 crusts)
approx. 1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup shortening 
pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk
1 tbls apple cider vinegar (in a pinch, white vinegar works too)

Cut together flour and shortening with two knives or a potato masher. You want the shortening to be in pea-sized bits, as this will make the crust flaky.  Mix milk and vinegar, and pour into flour mixture, gently folding in with a fork. Add more milk as needed to wet all the dough. Roll out to about 1/8", using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. To transfer the crust to your pie dish, place the rolling pin at one end, and gently roll the crust over the pin. Move it over the dish, and unroll. 

(For a glazed top, baste with one egg. If you don't have a basting brush, fold a paper towel like a fan and use one end to dip in the egg and paint it on. Cut slits in the top. You can use the extra dough to make designs on the top.)
Just for kicks, though, I'm planning on trying a different recipe tested by the fine folks at America's Test Kitchen over the weekend, and working on my baking times to perfect my not-so-perfect apple pie. 

Does anyone have some good pie tips they'd like to share? I am totally open for (and asking for) hints, tips, tricks, and answers. :)


goodness said...

SHORTENING?! I almost choked! I HIGHLY recommend a butter crust. The secret: cut the butter into little cubes and freeze for ~10 minutes before adding them to the mix. The butter needs to stay cold for the whole thing to work.
Good luck with the contest!

Jess said...

I'm with "goodness" on this one, I can't STAND shortening in pie crust. You'll get better flavor and texture with butter. I use a great pate brise recipe from an old Martha Stewart magazine. It's literally flour, sugar, salt, butter and ice water. I don't freeze my butter, as long as it's cold out of the fridge. And if I do say so myself, I make a MEAN raspberry rhubarb pie. Flaky crust and everything. :)

Jess said...

p.s My mom has used a version your recipe for pie crust for years, including the vinegar and an egg yolk. It works, but it's not as tender as it could be... I'll stop analyzing now. ;)

amber said...

Haha, I have to say, after these comments I will be trying a butter crust. Truth is, my recipe came from a highly influential person in my life, and I honestly never questioned his use of shortening!

BUT like I said, I'm open for new ideas and I'm going to make a butter crust this weekend, just for y'all. Headed to the FM now to pick some fruit!

Anonymous said...

I have to say...your apple pie is "da bomb"- and yes I'm still young enough to say that! :).

I've had the pleasure of trying this pie for a few years now and the ONLY thing I like better in an apple pie, are thinner slices of apple. Wouldn't that solve the crispy issue?

Dangit...now I want rustic peach tart, apple pie, and zucchini bread! Sorry for my lack of readership lately...