Saturday, October 20, 2007

Flag-Raising Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

I'm practicing for the upcoming Slow Food Pittsburgh apple pie contest. It's difficult; apple pie has so many variables and i've never actually had one I really, truly liked. For me, key factors are:

1. crispy crust that has flavor (ie- plain shortening won't cut it.)
2. properly cooked apples
3. doesn't turn into a mess when you cut into it
4. doesn't have an inch of liquid in the bottom.

I've always loved my mother's apple pie. She uses gala apples and butter flavored shortening. The problem is a lot of people hate butter flavored shortening.

I don't think a fancy tart crust ala Maury Rubin or Pierre Herme suits apple pie. I like a rustic quality- something closer to a crostata.

I've had crusts made with oil or melted butter that tasted pretty good. Some suggest pre-cooking the crust and the filling. I'm starting to think this might be a good technique. There's also some interesting recipes for dutch apple pie that involve making a caramel/cooked apple mix that gets tossed with the sliced apples.

This first attempt is Flo Braker's "Flag Raising Apple Pie" from The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. The streusel recipe was so simple: butter, sugar, and flour. I thought it'd be boring, but it's fantastic.

The crust recipe was crunchy, but relatively flavorless. It contrasted well with the streusel though. Unforunately, the bottom crust was a disaster. I put too many apples in the pie and they released too much liquid. The bottom crust was beyond soggy, and the apples were undercooked.

I think cornstarch would be a better thickener this time. Flour just doesn't work as well.

Hopefully i'll find a good recipe in time. I'm going to experiment with some other crusts and apples and i'll keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

To avoid a soggy bottom crust brush it with egg white before adding the filling. This has always worked for me. Using a glass pie plate helps produce a browned crust, also. Your pie looks delicious, by the way. Auntie

zhao-zhuxi said...

Well, I always wanted to make a simple american apple pie. And now I think i'm finally making it today :]

Melinda said...

Lisa, I posted last week about a excellent apple pie that I made. The pie crust was from Dorie Greenspan and was a mixture of butter and shortening. I tell you, it was so good. In the apples...oh, just read the post! To say the least I was very happy with everything. No soggy bottom and too much liquid.
Having said that...your pie looks the ticket.
Glad to read you are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I just missed the deadline for my little Chicago neighborhood apple pie contest, so I've got an entire YEAR to perfect a pie... but it's funny to run into others with the same quest!

I think I've perfected a filling -- very simple with a mix of Pink Lady & Macintosh apples. But I called my mother this weekend hoping to get her crust recipe (which is actually my great grandmothers) because it has ALWAYS been my favorite pie crust. Guess what I found out are the secret ingredients? Bacon grease & LARD. Lord, help me. Can you believe it?

gnuf said...

I've made that pie before too and liked it. But my all-time favourite apple pie was this one which featured a precooked apple filling.

On the weekend, I made the pie from the current issue of Cook's Illustrated and it was fantastic, and it also used precooked filling.

More tips from the magazine for a crisp crust: preheat a baking sheet and place your glass pie plate right on it; place your oven rack in the lowest position.

Irene said...

I think cooking the filling over the stove then cooling it always makes the best non soggy apple pie.
And a crust with both butter and shortening works best for me.
Good luck!

Kim said...

This probably comes from my interest in Apple Pie as a breakfast food but I made one once with shredded cheddar baked into the crust. Cold, in the morning, it was amazing.

If you like it warm, with vanilla ice cream this probably isn't the way to go.

Lauren said...

Hi Lisa,
I can't wait to meet you at the Apple Pie contest this weekend! I'm looking forward to meeting lots of other Pittsburgh food bloggers... and what better to bring us together than pie?