Perfect Apple Pie

1,586
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Joined Jan 5, 2001
I need techniques here, not so much recipes... Specifically, how do you prevent a soggy bottom? Also, how do you get a nice softapple filling?

I experimented this weekend with Mutsu (sp?) apples. I sautéed them first with some ginger, vanilla bean and a very strong New-Zeland thyme honey. THe result is the tastiest pie I've ever had. However, I had the two aforementioned problems. I guess I should have sautéed them longer, but most apple pies don't call for sautéing them at all... What's the deal?
 
69
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Joined Oct 8, 2001
I suppose the best way to avoid a soggy bottom is to watch where you are sitting!

Sorry about that but I couldn't resist being childish.

To be serious. I was sent the recipe for Tarte Tatin yesterday which was for publication on my website. I plan having a go tomorrow as it sounds easy (I know ....) but the point is it might be worth you having a go as it is cooked upside down.

First you caramelise your apples in a frying pan and then you put the pastry on top and finish in the oven. There is a bit more to it than that but it does sound a great idea (not a new idea by any means though).

If you want the address for the recipe let me know.
 
4,508
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Joined Jul 31, 2000
Anneke I wish my wife was home because she makes the best Apple pie in the world!!! :)

As to your apples "matsu" Are good,But better eaten out of hand. Being a New Englander I would highly recommend Cortland apples. Tart,sweet,firm and a good starch content. I don't think you need to saute your apples beforehand,Just peel,slice,season,add butter and pack them into a par backed crust,top with more crust and make a slit for the air to excape.

If you find that a little corn starch or flour is needed to help hold things together add alittle,But if you can find cortlands you should be fine. I do like a soft apple in my finished pie,But I also like a little texture as well.
cc
 
1,586
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Joined Jan 5, 2001
Hi David,
I've made Tatin before and LOVE it. But I was aiming for the more traditional double crusted version here...
Good luck with your Tatin!
Oh, and I'll watch where I'm sitting from now on... ;)

CC, I like texture too but I find that they always come out to firm/dry. Even sautéed. Same with granny Smiths. I'll try with Cortlands next time. How long do you pre-bake your crust?

[ October 08, 2001: Message edited by: Anneke ]
 
4,508
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Anneke, I pre bake the crust to a very soft golden brown,Really just to set the crust up.cc
 
2,938
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Joined Mar 4, 2000
Wanna talk about two totally different techniques for apple pie? I never pre bake my crust for a double crusted pie, because the top never adheres well to the bottom that way, and I can't make the fluted edges uniform if only one of the crusts are soft.

I use granny smiths because they hold their shape well after sauteeing (mind you, I do watch them so that they are still al dente when they are cool).

Here is my secret for preventing soggy bottoms: When I slice the apples, I place them in a colander, and toss them in 10x sugar. Then let them drain for about 10 minutes. I cook them with a touch of butter, some brown and granulated sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. A thick slurry really works better than dry coating the apples.

Cool the apples before filling the crust.

Some ovens have lower bottom heat, which prevents the bottom crust from baking completely. If that's the case, I'd pre-bake the cust, then give the pie a crumb topping instead of a top crust.

I like this topic. There are so many ways to make the same thing.
 
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Momoreg,
Do your apples give off enough liquid during the sautéeing process? I've often found that the harder apples didn't have enough liquid, other than that from the lemon juice... You didn't mention lemon; do you use any?

Also, is a glass dish better or worse for getting a properly baked bottom?
 
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Joined Jul 31, 2000
When my wife came home and read my post about pre baking the crust she almost feel off her wagon LOL,Momoreg and my Jillybean are on the money,Anneke..Please excuse my "Incorrect Imformation"on pre baking the dough.Also as Momoreg states..she uses a wet slurry,I have never used a wet slurry when baking an apple pie...But I have learned something here today :) I still say Cortlands are best :D :D
cc
 

isa

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Joined Apr 4, 2000
I made an apple pie this morning. The pie weighted about 9 pounds before baking. It’s one of those deep dish apple pie a present for my father, his birthday is tomorrow.

I always use Cortland apples sugar and spices. The dough is from Baking With Julia. I never have trouble with soggy bottom even with normal size apple pie. I never pre bake the crust or cook the apples first. I bake at 425°F for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350°F.

In Cookwise it is said to put some crumbs on top of a filling before putting the meringue. The same idea could be apply to apple pie. After all if yo add flour or tapioca to a filling why not cake or cookie crumbs.

Sherry Corriher does say to bake the bottom crust, top crust and filling, she use Golden Delicious apples, and assembling just before serving gives crisp non soggy crust.

In The Pie And Pastry Bible it is said to combine the apples with lemon juice, sugars, spice and salt. Toss to mix. Allow the apples to macerate at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of three hours. You then transfer the apples and their juices to a colander suspended over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture will release at least 1/2 cup of liquid. You then add cornstarch to the apples and add the liquid that you have heated to reduce to 1/3 cup.
 
1,586
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I think my oven was too low... maybe that's the ticket. I don't look at books when I bake pies. I guess I should have.
 

kuan

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Brushing the inside of the crust with eggwash might help. There are as many opinions about apple pie as there are recipes for matzoh brei! Don't forget the vanilla ice cream!

Kuan
 
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Glass dishes are ideal, because you can see when the bottom crust is done.

Draining off some of the liquid before sauteeing creates a tighter mixture, which slices more cleanly, and has less moisture to sog the crust. But if you like a goopier filling, then omit that step. That's just a personal preference. Lemon juice--yes, of course. That will heighten the flavors and keep the color bright.
 
1,640
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Joined Mar 6, 2001
My 2 cents.... making a pie with "juicey" apples requires sauteing ahead of time!Because it's very hard to get your flour (thickener) correct, and if you don't put in enough flour you'll have apple soup en-croute and a bottom crust that will never crisp. I also saute a dry apples to give them moisture. By adding more butter and sugar to a dry apple you can get more binder/moisture. Or if I have really dry bad apples I add apple juice and thickened it in addition to the natural juices that should have been there.


Sauteing first gives me more control. I cut them thicker then when baking straight. Use butter to saute, add 50% white sugar and 50% brown sugar (to taste), cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of allspice then off heat when their 'just' al dente (or less) I give it a small splash of vanilla. I set my apples into a strainer, where I drain off my juices and thicken them (in a pan) to my desired consistancy (with flour) and return that to the cooked apples. SO it is a slurry just like Momoreg. Let cool completely, before filling pie crust!

NO LEMON JUICE (I've never found a reason for it!)!!! You should be using tart baking apples.

As for my crust, I use egg wash to bind top crust to bottom. Place the pie on my turn table and trim with sissors and flute.A Slash on top crust is a must to release steam. Then I brush the top crust with my egg wash and sprinkle it with sugar (this gives a nice look to the finished crust). I put my assembled pie into my refrigerator for about 1/2 to 1 hour to completely chill the crust after rolling and filling. A warm crust droops when baked.

Also when using pre-sauteed apples you can put more apples into your filling, since the shrinkage has already taken place. There will be less of an air pocket between your top crust and your filling too.

I prefer clear glass pie plates or those cheap thin foil pans. They cook your crust the best!

I bake at 425 for 30 min. or so then turn down to 375 to finish the bake. Often I have to cover the top with foil for the last 10 min of baking.

Big mistake people make is over baking.....(that's partly due to too juicey of apples that won't let your crust set, saute in advance so you can correct the moisture and sweetness).
 
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Joined Mar 6, 2001
I had apple pie on my mind after seeing your post Anneke, so I made one today with my home grown apples.

Angry really likes this book, Professional baking By Wayne Glissen so I bought it based on her recommendation. Well, I made his pie dough today to experiment. I have to say, "My husband loved it". I have always made my dough with a combo of butter and shortening, his is all shortening...plus he has great info on the whys and problems with making apple pies (a good read for a baker).

His cure for a soggy crust is changing your dough to a "mealy" pie crust instead of a flakie one. It's not a big adjustment, just a little less moisture. He also talks about thickeners....well I'm done using flour, his recipe using cornstarch just retired my recipe.

I was rather supprised that he pre-cooks his apple filling too. I had never read that in a book before. He also sites thickening volume loss as 2 main reasons to pre-cook.

If you want to try his crust recipes I can post it.?
 
1,586
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A 'mealy' crust? I'm not sure I understand what that means...
I always make an all-butter crust because I prefer the flavour. If I were producing commercially, I probably wouldn't. For this last pie I made, I completely forgot to use a thickener, but ultimately it didn't matter because there was virtually no liquid to speak of. I polished off the last piece last night.
.....MMMmmmmmmmmmm Love that ginger-vanilla combo... I nuked it for a minute and it softened the apples right up.

I've never heard of anyone pre-cooking their apples until this year. I thought I was a bit kooky for thinking of doing it that way, but now it seems everybody's doing it. Have apples been getting harder over the years? What's going on?!?!
 

isa

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Good point Wendy. pre cooking the apple to reduce the volume loss is a great idea. It will proove specially useful when making a deep dish apple pie.
 
1,640
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Joined Mar 6, 2001
Being a pastry chef you should know how to bake something as simple as a apple pie. But I have to admit I've had more failures over the years with this item then the most complicated desserts you can think of! One year my apples in my Thanksgiving pies turned out to have so much moisture in them that my thickener couldn't keep-up, I was so embarrassed I could have died! It was too late to fix the problem when I discovered it that year. But since that bad day I've made it my mission to never let that happen to me again.

So I've read and tried many recipes over the years to master this item (although it's always a work in progess). Just recently I bought Wayne Glissens book and he gives more detail then any other source I've found on this topic.

So here's what I've learned from his book:

There are two type of pie doughs. Flaky, where you hardly rub your fat into your flour. Mealy where you blend in the fat until it's like course cornmeal. This makes a VERY SHORT crust, "the baked dough is less likely to absorb moisture from the filling and become soggy". Adding butter or not to your crust, is another topic (I've just change my mind after using his crust). He gives slightly different formulas for each.

What he writes about "The soggy bottom"...

1. Use mealy dough for bottom crusts and flaky for the top.
2. Use high heat, at least at the beginning of baking to set the crust. He uses 425 thru out the bake (I confirm keeping that temp. with my last pie was really successful).
3. Do not add hot fillings to unbaked crusts.
4. You can layer the bottom of the pie shell with cake crumbs.
5. Use dark metal pie tins which absorb more heat.

Here's what he says about the "old-Fashioned method" for apple pie fillings (which is using raw apples in your pie). "This method is commonly used for homemade apple pies and peach pies. However, it is not often used in food service operations because of it's disadvantages. First, the thickening of the juices is more difficult to control. Second, because raw fruit shrinks as it cooks, it is necessary to pile the fruit high in the shell. The fruit then shrinks, often leaving a large air space between the crust and the fruit, and the top crust becomes misshappen. The juices given off are more likely to boil over than when the filling is cooked and the juice thickened before filling the pie.
For these reasons, the cooked fruit method usually gives better results than the old fashioned method." (He also has some other interesting facts/notes but I've already talked too much about this topic....)

I'm so happy I finally read a source that confirms what I kept noticing. I haven't found any other published source that talks about the whys like this.
 
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W., That is the book we are using in Fundamentals of Baking (first semester baking class), and I have made that exact pie you are talking about (the old-fashioned method). It turned out well, both at home and at school, with the liquid nice and thick.
The biggest thing I learned was that our teacher told us that when the pie is ready, you should be able to hold the pie and gently tip it to the side -- if any juice comes out, it's not ready. The liquid was nice and thick, and the apples held their shape (Granny Smiths). We also did it with a streusel topping rather than a top crust.

Anyway, it's good to know that a real, working professional has faith in the books I'm using in school!

I have to make that crust tomorrow for mid-term practicals.

Elsie
 
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I may have seen it mentioned in OTHER not-so-confusing bulletin board (I'm sure I'll get used to this new look) but the Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy B. has a neat way of thickening the apple juices. she lets the apples sit with the sugar and collects the juices and then boils them down. I've tried it and it works well. The main thing it does is help reduce the amount of starch of whatever kind you're using.
The thing with the mealy crust is that you have to make two batches of dough, or remove half from the bowl while the fat is still in large pieces to save for the flaky crust, and rub the fat in further to get the mealy crust in the other half. Then you'd have to either weigh the two, or guess at the water.
I use a hot oven, lots of bottom heat, and pyrex pans. I can see when the bottom crust is done. I also use half shortening and half butter and get good flakiness and flavor.
 
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