Monday, April 27, 2015

A story about #pie

I went to a pie making class a few weeks back just to see if there was anything I needed to learn. As a trained pastry chef sometimes it is just good to back out in the land of culinary arts and see if there is something new to learn (as in any field). 

I stood there in a tiny professional kitchen with the other students slightly excited to see what secrets would be revealed to us. I learned nothing new and I didn't correct the teacher when he said things that I didn't agree with. I do enjoy his pie shop and love supporting a local business. 

Last weekend I decided to make the easiest pie out of the little recipe book we received that night of pie class. Who doesn't want to enjoy a pie that looks like you slaved over it but it is super easy?

French Apple:

2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups canola oil
1/4 cup whole milk

Mix all ingredients together. The crust should be soft and feel slightly oily. Do NOT over mix; dough will become elastic if too much gluten has formed. It's okay for there to be a little bit of flour un-incorporated.

Once dough has formed press into a pie pan, making sure the crust comes onto the edge of the pan and isn't too thick. (about 1/4- 1/2 inch thick on the sides and bottom).  

Apple Filling:

6 Granny Smith apples (peeled and cored)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp potato starch
pinch of salt

Toss together all the filling ingredients. (if apples sit for longer then 5 minutes they will expel their juices, that's okay! Don't drain, this process is called maceration). 

Crumble Topping:

1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
pinch of salt

cube butter and add to food processor along with sugar, 2 cups of flour and salt. Pulse until butter and flour form beads.

In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients further by pressing the butter into the other ingredients by hand. This should cause the mix to form a nice crumbly texture. It may be necessary to add more flour to achieve the proper texture.

Pie Assembly:

Add the seasoned apples to the shell.
Cover apples completely with crumble topping. Any exposed apples may turn very dark or burn. So be thorough.
Place on a greased foil lined baking tray and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the juices have thickened and the pie is golden brown.

Sounds straight forward, right? It was. Although making a crust with oil bugged me from the beginning. That isn't a pie crust! The pie looked lovely on the outside but it was so boring to eat. Having only a teaspoon of cinnamon in the entire pie didn't make it stand out or showy.
I pondered the problem for a week and then tried again this past weekend.
 My pie isn't towering over the pie pan like it was before.
What did I do? How did I change it? For starters I made a real pie crust. I then precooked my apples with cinnamon, nutmeg and real chopped up ginger bits. This step means you do not have to add potato starch which will detract from the over flavor of your pie. I then ground of ginger cookies and mixed those with butter to make the topping.

How does it taste? Fabulous of course! 

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