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May 16, 2005 12:48 PM

Results: My First Pie!

  • d

Well I finally did it!! After getting all excited about the a Sour Cherry post on the L.A. board (The season is almost here!) I began to search for Cherry Pie recipes and I found this one on Epicurious for an Apple Cherry Pie…

It just sounded perfect for me to get my feet wet with this pie thing, so off I went to get provisions (gosh, the cardamom was expensive!) and set aside a Sunday to make that pie!!

Now, first thing I did was read up all your advice from my post about a month ago. I also did some studying up with some of my cook books (Including Alton Browns new baking guide!). First off, made the pastry dough from the recipe for the crust… It actually was very simple to prepare. My only 'issues' were that my tub of Crisco did not freeze HARD (it was very cold) after a 6 hours (Should I have stuck it in the freezer over night?) and I misunderstood the directions and went ahead and went ahead and rolled out the crusts before chilling. In the end though, I was glad to have the crusts all ready to go when I finally put together the pie…

As for the filling recipe, it called for 3lbs+ of apples, which seemed a bit much for me (And again, rather pricy) so I got just under 3lbs of LARGE granny smiths. It also took quite a while to peel them (I waited last minute because I didn't want them to brown…) Well, I'm glad went under weight because using a Marie Callenders Pie tin made for a small pie and I had to carefully arrange a MOUNTAIN of apples!

Nevertheless I finished assembling the pie, put it in the oven and so began my baking worries… The one reason I've always shyed away from baking is the lack of control you have over the actual process of the item cooking. When you cook on a stove you can constantly taste, adjust, experiment while the item is in progress. With baking, you prepare and then leave to God. To me it's a bit nerve racking as I wondered if my pie was going to boil over… if the apples were going to be cooked enough…I began to question using an egg wash on the bottom crust…

I kept on peering into my lighted oven through the window. A little under the hour mark, I began to worry that my crust was looking a little TOO brown and I flung open the oven and pulled out the rack… but where the apples still raw inside? How could I check!?!! Then, it hit me, when I panicked about my first Lasagna a few months ago, I used a tooth pick. Well with his mountainous pie I needed a LONG tooth pick… so I got one of my chopsticks, pushed it through the hole and the apples were still firm, but the Chopstick when through…. So I turned off the oven and let the residual heat of the oven further soften up my apples and went to bed…

So this morning, I packed up the pie and took it to work. Before I set it out in the break room though, I had to have the first slice… just in case… And it was AMAZING!!! The crust was perfectly done, very flakey and light. The apples and cherries played off together wonderfully! The apples had fallen quite a bit (Which left with an impressive looking dome crust! :)) but they were slight slightly firm enough to be enjoyed… And now my co-workers are raving! :
So thanks again hounds for all your help! I feel REALLY empowered with this under my belt (And am definably going to be making this pie again!) and now I'm off to my next challenge… MUFFINS!!!


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  1. Congratulations! There's little in the world as satisfying as a well-made pie. (I would put it right below jars of jam and right abobve a perfect roast). And once you've got the basic technique down, the world of pie is open to you. Can't wait to hear what you make next.

    1. Congratulations.

      I highly recommend trying an all butter crust, or a partial butter crust, as you become more comfortable with pie making. It is much more difficult to work with but the flavor it must better.

      Also, buy a real pie plate. Pyrex is fine. It will help you avoid the dreaded pretty pie that when cut, reveals a diminished interior.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JudiAU

        Thanks Judi! :)

        The crust I did use have quite a bit of butter (3/4 cup and 1/4 cup shortening). Here is the direct link...

        But if you have another recipe, please share! I do want to try my hand at a full cherry pie once I find those sours! :) And seeing as how the experiment was a success, I plan to stop by Surfas and get myself a real pie tin! :)


        1. re: Dommy!

          Ah. A mixture of fats is good. I prefer all butter but almost all authorities tell you to include crisco as well.

          I almost use pyrex, mostly because I love the 10 inch size and I have a large collection of them. They are hard to find.

          However, I *love* the small Emile Henry pie dishes. I freeze pie all summer and then my husband eats it all winter. They don't take as long to bake so his desire for pie ---> eating pie ---> appreciation of wife occurs in the correct time frame. I don't have any particular love for the large pie dish but the little ones are great.

          On Epi, there is a good recipe for apple cranberry pie with an unusual cornmeal buttermilk crust. Excellent, although I reduce the sugar. It tastes like Thanksgiving. The crust is difficult to work and the decorative shape is mostly to accommodate the fragile dough but it worth the effort.

      2. Congrats, Dommy! Thanks for the follow up.

        A few thoughts for you to consider for next time:

        1. I've used some Crisco in my crusts before and never needed to have it ice cold. Agree w/ JudiAu that butter will improve flavor, if you didn't use it this time. I like 3:1 butter to shortening.

        2. Chilling the dough for at least 30 min. before rolling is important for glutens to relax and makes dough easier to work with.

        3. Def. get a better, deeper pie pan. I hate shallow pies and prefer deep dish. If I'm going to go to the trouble of making pie, I want ALOT of it!

        4. Slicing the apples more thinly will decrease baking time a bit and also minimize the hollow cavity that is left after baking. The thicker the slices, the larger the gap. I hate apples that are too thinly sliced though (like how the food processor does them), as I want some good texture. Bottom line: how thickly you slice your fruit makes a difference so play w/ the thickness and see what you like.

        5. To prevent your crust from burning if the filling needs more time, just take a few foil strips and cling around rim of pan to shield top of crust from direct heat.

        6. Lastly, I love the combo of cherries w/ peaches or apricots during the summer!

        10 Replies
        1. re: Carb Lover

          In general agreement with your recs, particularly regarding foil-edging, deep-dish pans, and chilling the dough. A few quibbles:

          I do like freezing lard or, when I used to use it, Crisco. I think the crust stays flakier - or at least it's more difficult to mess up. I used iced water, too.

          I don't think the thickness of the apple slices has much bearing on the "hollow dome" problem. I like my apples sliced large - eighths usually. I haven't had that problem with any apple pies made from Northern Spies, my preferred pie apple. But I've noticed certain types of apple (my mom uses Macs, which I just don't understand in a pie) really shrink. I think the shrinkage has more to do with variety than with thickness of slice.

          1. re: curiousbaker

            Re: apple shrinkage, you're right, variety is definitely a factor. Seems like golden delicious, granny smiths, and red delicious have alot of water content, whereas the firmer apples have less (half statement/half question). I usually use a combo of 3 or 4 apples: grannies, braeburn, fuji. Never tried the northern spies or pink ladies (?), but would like to one day.

            Based on my experience though, the thicker I've sliced the apples, the more hollow dome I get. Just seems harder to nestle the apples together tightly. It may just have to do w/ making sure the apples lay as closely together as possible.

            Question: How do you determine when a pie is "done" inside? I usually take it out when the juices start to bubble, but I'm wondering now if that's too late or if there's a better method? Thanks.

            1. re: Carb Lover

              I go by juices bubbling, a knife slipping in and out of the apple slices easily, and the bottom being brown. Usually, I find the filling is done before the bottom is as dark as I like it. This is why I end up using Pyrex pans instead of metal ones, although I know dark metal are supposed to be best. With Pyrex, I can lift my pie up and peek underneath.

              By the way, I did make the raisin pie this weekend. It was quite good, but very sweet. Would have been nice to cut it with some unsweetened whipped cream, but I couldn't justify any more calories. I'll try to remember to post the recipe tomorrow.

              1. re: curiousbaker

                Wow, I never even thought about the bottom being a factor so much. Where do you place your oven rack for baking pies? I just bake mine in the middle, but seems like one notch lower might be better?

                1. re: Carb Lover
                  Caitlin McGrath

                  Or, if you have a baking stone, you can start it out on that to get the bottom crisping, then move it up to an oven rack after, say, 20 minutes.

              2. re: Carb Lover

                I also hate the "hollow dome" effect. What I do:

                1. Cook the apples, sugar, butter, lemon juice and spices in a pot until they're soft around the edges but still a little crunchy in the centre (takes about 15 minutes over medium heat in my large pot).

                2. When they simmer, put in the flour so that they thicken somewhat.

                3. Spread them out in a jelly-roll or half-sheet pan and let them cool completely.

                4. Put them in the (unbaked, docked) bottom pie shell and arrange your top shell on top (and, bonus, you can use a lattice top for this if you like).

                5. Bake at 25 degrees hotter than the recipe says (I usually do mine at 425°) just until the crust reaches that perfect golden brown.

                Since you've already cooked the juice out and thickened it somewhat, it won't shrink... you can also use almost any apple (except Red Delicious) to bake this pie, just adjust the sugar and citrus juice.

                I make apple pie in my ten-inch cast-iron skillet and it takes twelve pounds of apples to make a pie.

                As for how to tell when the interior is done, use a probe thermometre. When the centre of the pie is 190°F you are done, pull the pie -- carryover from a normal glass or porcelain pie tin will carry it to 200°. If you're using cast iron, pull it at 175° because cast iron takes FOREVER to cool down.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Thanks for your post...the most intriguing pie recipe I've seen in a long time! 12 lbs. of apples must make a whopper of a pie!

                  Really like the cast iron skillet idea for even baking and presentation. This should crisp up the bottom crust nicely. Reminds me of old country chuckwagon cooking. I have one skillet that would be the perfect size for a pie. Will try this out and report back on results. Thanks again.

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    Just bear in mind that you'll want to divide your double-crust pie dough recipe two-thirds and one-third, because you'll need extra dough to come up the sides of the skillet, and you won't need as much dough for the top because it isn't going to expand from steam (and then set, thus creating the dreaded hollow dome of doom).

              3. re: curiousbaker

                I saw a clever idea on one of the cooking shows - freezing the butter and then grating it (the side with the bigger round holes on it) into the flour.

                1. re: Peter Y.

                  This actually produces a flakier pastry, almost like puff pastry. It's something I learnt from one of Delia Smith's cookbooks.

            2. for the best price on cardamom try indian, pakistani, or persian markets. you can buy whole pods and grind as needed for freshness.

              1 Reply
              1. re: petradish
                Caitlin McGrath

                Congratulations! Sounds like a great pie. If you see pie baking in your future, I recommend the following ~$10 investment: Pyrex pie plate (usually around $4) and a pie crust shield ($5; see link for a picture, but available at many kitchenware stores). The Pyrex pan performs very well, and the pie crust shield keeps the edges of your crust from overbrowning and is so much easier to deal with than little strips of foil.


              2. j
                JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                Congratulations! I wish I was there to have a taste. After a pie, muffins will be a snap; mix, pour, bake, YUM. I have this recipe for savory cheddar/dijon mustard muffins with scallions and red peppers that was to die for, but I have no idea what I did with it :-(