How to make apple pie that doesn't suck

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I know, I know. You hear the words "homemade apple pie" and your eyes begin darting around, searching for the nearest rock to hide under. I feel your pain. I used to be one of those people. For all my baking awesomeness, pies (and pie crusts) had long been a low point for me.

After pleading my case to my grandma, the Queen of Apple Pie herself, she took me under her wing, and gave me the lesson of a lifetime in pie-making expertise. And because I fully subscribe to the notion of sharing the wealth, I've compiled a easy to remember collect of tips and tricks for making apple pie that doesn't suck.

USE TWO KINDS OF APPLES I can't begin to tell you how frustrating it is when I hear so-called foodies spouting the erroneous message that you're only supposed to use one type of apple when making an apple pie. While it's true that some apples are far better for baking than others, that doesn't mean that you've got to limit yourself to just one type of apple. I almost always use Granny Smith and McIntosh apples because they both hold their texture well, and they both have great, full flavours.

PRE-COOK YOUR APPLES I know what you're thinking, and I promise, I thought the same thing when I first heard this tip. However, I promise your apples will not resemble soggy cardboard if you pre-cook them. I double promise. The trick is to throw your sliced apples into a pot with sugar and spice, cover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender. Easy, right? And believe me when I tell you that you'll notice a difference in the way your pie tastes. (Here's a quick reference recipe for pre-cooking your apples)

DEEP DISH OR GTFO What's the best part of a pie? The filling. What do you get with a deep dish pie? MOAR FILLING. 'Nuff said.

MAKE YOUR OWN CRUST, WITH ICE COLD INGREDIENTS If there's one thing that raw dough likes to be, it's cold. Keep your butter and/or lard in the refrigerator until the moment you need it, and always use ice water to moisten the flour/butter mixture. Also, after you've rolled your dough out and fitted it into your pie plate, let it sit covered in the fridge for 30 minutes before filling it with your pie filling. If the fats warm inside the dough before you cook it, your crust will turn out tough and cardboard like. Yuck.

USE INSTANT TAPIOCA Wait... what? Seriously. Don't adjust your monitor. You read that correctly. By sprinkling about a teaspoon onto the bottom of the crust, and a teaspoon over top of the filling before covering it with the top crust, you're doing your pie and anyone eating your pie a huge solid. Just that tiny bit of instant tapioca, entirely undetectable after baking, ensures that your pie's filling has a smooth yet firm texture that stays between the crusts, even if you slice into it's while it's still warm. Now stop looking at me like I'm a weirdo, and just try it.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. If you don't experience pie ecstasy after following these tips and tricks for making apple pie, then you're still doing it wrong.

Do you have any pie making tricks? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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