Saturday, October 20, 2007
Flag-Raising 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.
at 10:34 AM