Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Apple Pie Tips

Apple pie is a once a year endeavor in my house. It is a more labor intensive dessert than my usual favorites, but it is absolutely delicious and perfect when made from beautiful, hand picked apples from our favorite orchard every fall. The smell of this pie baking fills up my whole house with the most incredible, warm and homey smell you can imagine. Top this baby with french vanilla ice cream and you are in for a treat! The tips below will ensure that your pie is a winner, but check back in on Thursday for my Caramel Apple Pie recipe!

1. Vent your crust
You want to make sure that the steam that builds up during the baking process has a way to escape. There are all sorts of cute little ways to vent the top of a pie, but my favorite is to carve an initial of a loved one. As you can see in the picture from this post, I carved an "L" for my sweet daughter. Next time I think I'll go a little crazy and upgrade to a cursive L :)

2. Make sure your top crust is golden and sweet
Brush your sealed, vented crust with egg yolk and sprinkle on a combination of cinnamon and sugar (try 1/4 tsp. cinnamon to 1/4 cup sugar...use the leftovers on buttered toast). Your pie crust will be golden and sparkly; it will also taste amazing!

3. Use a baking sheet under your pie pan
A good rule of thumb when baking anything from quiche to pies is to place a baking sheet underneath your pie pan to catch any juices that might spill out during baking. Even if you have a wonderful self-cleaning oven, dried gunk on the bottom of your oven is still a big mess!
4. Crimp your edges
This skill has taken me a long time to master! My trick is to cut the top layer a little longer than the bottom and fold the top behind the bottom as you go. Next, use your fingers to crimp the edges. I didn't use this technique on my previous pies, so when my husband saw this last one he was surprised that I'd done the crimping myself!

5. Choose the right apple
A sturdy, flavorful apple is best in pie. I suggest Jonathan or, my favorite, Jonagold. Honeycrisp apples are the absolute most delicious apple I've ever tasted, but they can get pricey. I would save those for snacking!
6. Use the right amount of apples
The apples will shrink down in size during the cooking process, so I would suggest using a little bit more apple than you think you would need. I typically use about 7-8 good sized apples in my pies.

7. Bake high then reduce your heat
Baking for about 10-15 minutes at 450 then reducing to 350 for the rest (about 45 minutes) will ensure that you get a beautiful, golden crust with a perfectly cooked pie.

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