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NO APPLE PIES IN MY FUTURE

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Despite all of your good advice, I'm a bust at apple pies. I was trying to make a good one with the vodka pie crust (should have just drunk the vodka, eaten an apple and called it good).

First I made the crust early yesterday. Had forgotten to take butter out of the freezer so tried to make it with frozen butter. Threw that away and tried again after the butter had thawed, I thought. It was better, but I still had too many larger chunks of butter in it.

Then I drove to OZ and bought half Macintosh and half Granny Smiths, used mostly Ina Garten's apple pie recipe except I used brown sugar and cut it to two tablespoons. I made an egg wash for outside and dusted the crust with brown sanding sugar (it looked pretty).

I put the pie on a sheet of foil to catch drips and put a cookie sheet on the rack below for the same thing. Cooked it an hour and 15 minutes at 400 degrees and DH let it sit for at least an hour.

His evaluation: crust too thin and bottom crust still not cooked. He thought the runny one I made before was better.

I have made apple tarts with homemade puff pastry and they come out beautifully although I worry a little about too much juice there.

I am a bust at double crust pies.

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  1. I feel your pain. I will be watching this thread. I too have tried to make double crust pies when I am feeling brave yet somehow just miss the mark. I don't seem to have a problem with the inside apple juices/texture-just the crust. The best one I have made so far does not use vodka though but I think the devil is the details of the butter temp and how quickly the pie dough is mixed. Mine gets tough not flaky because I think I "play" with it too much.

    1. I would highly recommend that you check out the recipe for deep dish apple pie on the americas test kitchen site (www.americastestkitchen.com - it's free). The crust is really pretty simple to make - you just need to follow the instructions (this one doesn't use vodka). The recipe also gives you the secret to cooking an apple pie without having the apples collapse and leave a big space under the crust (pre cook the apples - works like magic). I have actually modified their recipe by using all Gala apples instead of a mix; I use a bit more sugar and spices and I DO NOT pour off all of the juices as they recommend (too dry). I am not a particularly great baker, but I have won 1st and 2nd place in my local pie bake-off the past two years with this. My daughter made it from my email instructions and it turned out great. You do need to keep an eye on the pie, depending on your oven. It never takes as long as the recipe states for the pie to get very nicely browned and done. Good luck!

      1 Reply
      1. re: bnemes3343

        I agree about NOT draining the juices!!! Way too dry. Otherwise, great pie - and AMAZING crust!

      2. Aww, dutch, everyone goes through this. I sure made a lot of messes before I got the result I wanted, and even then, sometimes the outcome is best, broken up, stirred about, and eaten in a bowl with ice cream on top. It takes awhile to find the method and recipe that you want.

        I always use Mutsus and/or Northern Spies. NEVER Macs...they are an eating apple, and go mushy. Cortlands are not too bad, but too fine a texture for me for me. I make an adapted pate brisee et sucree, and I use an adapted "Candied Apple Pie" from the Mennononite Community Cookbook. And I prefer an open pie. See? It must have taken me 3 years of trying, and even so, there were never leftovers. Some just turn out better than others. Each aspect of the pie takes some practise. Simply rolling the pastry is a skill unto itself, happily honed by making rolled cookies, as they give you practise with a dough that's very forgiving. Even try making pie pastry "cookies", to get some practise working with it. (Make the pastry, and handle as you would to prepare for a pie, sprinkle and press into the pastry: sugar or cinnamon sugar or sugar mixed with grated lemon or orange zest, slice into straws, twist, and bake)

        Brilliance takes awhile: perfection takes a little longer. Relax, make note of the results: what you liked and disliked about it, why you think it went wrong, and enjoy the results
        along the way. Think about it and try again.

        AnnieG

        3 Replies
        1. re: violabratsche

          When I started making bread as a twenty two year old, I boiled the water for the yeast (I am smart. I swear. I have gone to college and won) for years. I eventually learned how to do it, so I won't quit. The test kitchen pie sounds really promising. DH is leaving town for a week (after he finishes my last failure --- you're all right about that --- they get eaten). I do think that cooking the apples ahead would make a difference big time. I'll keep watching this for your other great suggestions and take heart. I'll report after the next attempt. Maybe I'll make a pie to welcome him home.

          1. re: violabratsche

            Really good advice. I couldn't agree more. I've been trying for years to find the ideal (for me) pie crust and I do believe I have found it with the vodka crust. I suffered through the failures and frustrations - non of which were so bad as to be inedible.

            Good luck dutchdot

            1. re: violabratsche

              I like the advice to practice. Although this doesn't address all the variables, you could make apple crostatas, which would allow you to practice making pastry and see how different apple varieties cook.
              I made an apple pie a month or so ago which was fine but not perfection. (Mostly due to my lack of precision in shaping the crust.) A couple weeks later, I made an apple-cranberry crostata that was terrific; I wondered why had even bothered with the double-crust pie!

            2. I heartily second the recommendation to pre-cook the apples. It has made a big difference in my apple pies, no gap under the top crust. I like to cook the apples until just barely soft on the outside and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and reduce the remaining juice by about half and add it back to the apples. That way your pie isn't too soupy, but it isn't too dry either.

              Also...as for your frozen butter, the best tip I've seen lately (on CH...but I forget who said it) was to grate frozen butter and just mix that into the flour. Tada! Perfectly sized butter peices with no 'cutting in' or guessing when the pieces are small enough. Toss grated butter in the dry ingredients, add ICE water till it will just hold together and then form into a disk and chill.

              Oh...and I agree. No Macs. The apples have to be tartish and have a good amount of crisp to them, and macs just don't hold up well enough for my taste.

              And keep trying! As long as the attempts get eaten, there's no reason not to keep making them.

              6 Replies
              1. re: wawajb

                Hmm, pre-cooking the apples, I've never done, but you WOULD be able to control the amount of liquid. You wouldn't have to guess if it'd turn out watery or not. That's something for me to consider! How do you cook them? Steam? and what do you do with the apple-y cooking or steaming liquid?...hey, I know...make applesauce! (another of today's threads)....Add it to a pork stew, or a winter root veg stew...hmm, the mind reels....

                AnnieG

                1. re: violabratsche

                  Well, I've never pre-cooked my apples, the only apple I don't use is Red Delicious, and I never roll out my bottom crust, I pat it in the pan.

                  I mix butter and Crisco, and follow the sugar and baking instructions from good old Betty Crocker. An hour, I believe, at 425 degrees.

                  As to the frozen butter, couldn't you have nuked it to soften it?

                  1. re: dolores

                    I agree with dolores. I've been making the Betty Crocker pie for 20 years with nary a mishap. I include a variety of apples so that some are hard and some are crisp, and all taste a little different. No butter, just Crisco, though I do add the butter under the crust as per the recipe. It's pretty easy to do and received with considerable fanfare. Here's the link: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/r...

                  2. re: violabratsche

                    I saute my apples in butter first till just al dente, then add spices, and fill pie.

                  3. re: wawajb

                    Toss the sliced apples with the sugar and spices and then cook them over med heat in a dutch oven (covered, but stir every few mintues) for 15 - 18 minutes until they are tender but not mushy. What ends up happening is that you change the structure of the apples so that they will not 'cook down' when you put them in the pie and bake. (I'm sure Alton Brown could give us the chemistry behind this)...

                    I really like the suggestion to the remove the apples and 'reduce' the liquid. I would imagine this would intensify the flavors in addition to keeping the pie from being too wet.

                    1. re: bnemes3343

                      Don't reduce too much though. i did this for Thanksgiving, but ended up with a dry (albeit tastey pie). There is a happy medium. I reduced it to a syrup.

                  4. No expert here, but.... If you mix it in the food processor with the chopping blade, not the dough blade, frozen butter won't matter. If your top crust collapses, make a Dutch Apple Pie with a streusel topping, in stead.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: yayadave

                      Did do it in the food processor with the chopping blade, thinking like you, that it wouldn't matter that it was frozen. It did matter -- took too much processing to get the pieces small enough. It would be tricky to nuke butter for pastry. I should have just left it out to thaw or, better yet, checked the pantry ahead of time (I've suggested that to others). I'm almost ready to think that, like puff pastry, the absolutely cold may not be best. I do think that grating the butter, as someone suggested, is excellent, but I also had crisco in this one and Crisco needs the food processor or pastry blade.

                      Wonder what would happen to mix the crisco in the processor and then put it all into a bowl and grate frozen butter in and proceed per vodka crust. I really liked the frozen grated butter idea Everyone has been so upbeat about the vodka pastry that I want to try it.

                      I am definitely going to cook the apples ahead of time and readjust the kinds of apples. No more macs, I got that.

                      I tested the top crust this morning and still think it's excellent. Hubby's idea that it was too think doesn't ring true for me.

                      1. re: dutchdot

                        Wasn't there something on one of these threads about coating the bottom crust with egg wash to keep it from getting soggy?

                        Anybody?

                        1. re: yayadave

                          Yes, you can do that - a very thin coating of egg white (I do this for quiche). But the best thing to do is just to put the pie on the bottom of the oven, and have the oven really hot when the pie first goes in.

                          I've never had the "apple gap" problem - I don't think that happens if the apples are the right sort (don't cook down too much - Northern Spies are my favorite, though hard to find), and enough vents are put into the top crust.

                          1. re: curiousbaker

                            Thanks for the reassurance!!

                            1. re: curiousbaker

                              Nor have I ever had the "apple gap" problem (in~60 years of making apple pies), and I wouldn't dream of pre-cooking my apples. Apple pies should be easy so you don't get depressed at the thought of making them. Get an old BH&G cookbook and look up the "Perfect Apple Pie". It is just that, dead-easy, the only recipe I've ever used. Northern Spies are the best pie apple, else a mix of Cortlands/Grannies/Macs (or Crispin/Greening/Pippin/Jonathan/Winesap/Jonagold......3 very different varieties if possible so they fill in each other's gaps). Re: crust. The absolutely best homemade crust I've ever tasted is the Egg & White Vinegar crust, but I always keep a box or two of IGA pie crust sheets in the freezer. They are the very best--no "box" taste, slightly (1 oz.) bigger than Pillsbury, easy to handle, nice and crunchy if you take a few pains w/them and bake them right. The foil under your pie, BTW, might be the reason it was undercooked. Set your pie on a dark baking sheet or stone near the bottom of the oven. If necessary, move it up to brown the top the last few minutes. Get a pie ring to protect the edge from over-browning and lay a small (just big enough to cover the center of the pie) piece of foil on top if necessary, BUT DO NOT TAKE THE PIE OUT OF THE OVEN UNTIL JUICE IS BUBBLING OUT THE SLITS AND THE WHOLE THING IS DEEP GOLDEN BROWN.

                              1. re: SallyMcP

                                I have had the gap problem i precooked my apples this time and it was awesome you only have to bake it for the crust to cook. the apples precooked mean you can put more apples in the pies.. I love to bake i bake often and i love precooking my apples it was a wonderful way to make a stuffed apple pie

                                1. re: PITAmommy

                                  Yes, that is the benefit of slight precooking - more apples, cooked thoroughly in a luscious pie.

                          2. re: dutchdot

                            Did you cut the frozen butter into pieces before putting it into the processor? Because I start with frozen butter every time, and just cut it into small pieces (and it's very easy to cut, with a knife dipped in hot water), and it works great. Though I do like the grating idea...

                            1. re: JasmineG

                              I cut it into teensy tiny pieces and just processed the first one to death. After I threw that out, the second one did better when the butter was, I thought, thawed and cold, I didn't process it into trash. The pieces of butter were still too big. I'll let you know after I grate the one. Doesn't grating sound like a cool (pun!) idea?

                              1. re: dutchdot

                                Actually, I found grating a pain. The heat from my hand softened the butter and it got slippery and I was trying to grate it with-out getting knuckles in it and auuugh!!

                                I cut my stick of butter in half, lengthwise. Then turn it on it's side and cut it in half lengthwise again. Then chop it into 1/2 inch pieces. After that, it goes in a cup and into the freezer. If that helps. I don't plan to freeze it, just to get it good and hard.

                                1. re: yayadave

                                  As cool as I thought the grating was last time I tried it...the last 2 inches of the stick are indeed a hazard. I ended up just cutting that final knob up with a knife. My plan for next time is to set up my food processor with the grating disk, but have the flour in the body of the machine to "catch" the grated butter. I'll probably have to stop halfway through the stick to mix the already grated pieces around in the flour so they don't all clump back together, but I think that will work with no danger of knuckle grating. If anybody tries it, please let me know how it works!

                                  1. re: wawajb

                                    I had sorta mulled that over in my head, thinking of heat from hands and bleeding knuckles. That's what I'll do. I'm doing this next week and will report ad naseum. I had done the finely cut up in my second attempt at the pie and it did not work for me. That's the one with the too big lumps, not the one I just plain pitched.

                                    1. re: dutchdot

                                      "In a chilled stainless-steel mixing bowl, toss together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the cold butter into 1/4 inch cubes and add it to the flour mixture. Using two knives, a pastry blender or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, chop and toss the butter until all the chunks are coated in flour and smashed up a bit. Do not keep cutting and tossing the butter so that the butter chunks all become pea sized. The butter chunks should mostly remain a bit larger than peas and vary in size, ranging from lima bean size to pea size, as in this photo:"

                                      That quote about the size is from this place:
                                      http://www.katezuckerman.com/thesweet...

                                      You don't want them too fine.

                                      While we're on the subject, have you looked here?
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/457042

                                    2. re: wawajb

                                      Just last night I finally put together an all-butter crust recipe and method that is going to work for me.

                                      I grated the frozen butter with no grazed knuckles, I just keep turning the pieces and grating off the sides that get a little soft from my hands. My recipe (made 2 9" crusts or a top and bottom crust) was off an epicurious pie recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... . After I stirred in the icewater, I dumped 2 piles of the mixture on 2 pieces of saran wrap, sort of scrunched it into disks, and put it in the fridge. It was still very crumbly and looked like it wouldn't hold together, even when I tested a handful by squeezing it. About an hour later, I rolled them out right on the same saran wrap (had to go out over the edges a little bit), and put them in the pie pans. They held together very well, and the saran wrap made it a breeze to get it in the pan. I left the saran wrap on them and put them back in the fridge after I'd trimmed the edges. Judging from the scraps I baked (with cinnamon and sugar, yum), it turned out very flaky and buttery, and was not at all hard to handle. Can't help you with the apple part, but I feel like I'm getting somewhere with the crust!

                          3. I feel your pain - or at least my neighbor does. The night before Thanksgiving I was having a casual dinner out with a few friends when my phone rang. I excused myself, answered the phone, and heard my neighbor saying very distinctly, "FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS MAKE APPLE PIES!" I calmed her down and promised I'd be over as soon as I got home (and stopped laughing).

                            Long story short, it all worked out fine and her family liked her pie. Still...

                            1. I must be in the minority here because I've never used butter in my pie crusts. I've always used shortening, maybe it's the butter that's the problem.

                              1. I actually saw a chef on TV freeze the butter before using it. He then took the butter and grated it to use in his pastry.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sweetie

                                  greetings sweetie, that's the method I've used for thousands of pies (one stick per cup of flour per crust + flour to roll with +ice water just sufficient to bind, about 2 tbsp. per crust, of course 2x everything for a two crust pie). In the J.Wayne movie "the cowboys" Roscoe Lee Browne is interviewing for the job as trail cook and succinctly recites his recipe for campfire apple pie and it's not too different (nothing forzen of course). cheers

                                2. I hate to be difficult, but I disagree with cooking the apples ahead of time. If you leave enough slits in the top crust, the air can move and the crust won't create a hot air pocket. That's what makes the crust so high.

                                  Regarding the undercooked bottom crust, I actually think the two sheets under it may have caused the problem. Unless you have a convection oven, the extra objects under the pie are going to disrupt the movement of the hot air, and will prevent the bottom from cooking properly. Try it without. To avoid a mess, you just need to not make the pie too big for the pan.

                                  32 Replies
                                  1. re: katecm

                                    greetings katecm, you're correct on both counts. Precooking the filling might be preferred by those who like an applesauce/babyfood consistency; I like a little firmness. For the little overflow of juice I put aluminum foil on the oven base. Not being bashful with the temp. control is the key to both transforming that cold butter in the pastry and cooking through the fruit.

                                    1. re: moto

                                      I made a deep dish crumb apple pie for Thanksgiving and did precook the apples. They were not the least bit mushy, yummy carmelized flavor, but were a bit dry. So I wouldn't drain off the liquid again - I agree. The key is getting apples that remain firm, and the precooking doesn't turn to mush at all - not even close.

                                      1. re: moto

                                        I'm with jsaimd...I precook my apples but they certainly don't come out mushy. I only cook them until they just barely start to go soft on the outside. They still have a bit of snap to them at the center when they go into the pie, and they don't come out of the oven anything like applesauce or babyfood. That would just be gross.

                                        And honestly, the top pocket isn't the main reason I precook, though it is nice, I precook so that I can get the apples to give up some of their juice ahead of time and then reduce it down and add it back in. The first time I did that it was because I was developing a caramel apple pie, but I realized that it eliminated the juice puddle at the bottom of my pie and started doing it for all of them.

                                        1. re: wawajb

                                          I think barely cooking them is the key to firm, not mushy apples. At least that's what Cook's Illustrated said and I found it was true. I just barely cooked the outsides to sort of set them and then reduced the juice.

                                          That said, it's a pain for me to do and I"m lazy. My family is content with the apple pie I make using uncooked apples. Yeah the pie shrinks but I do fill it really high so that's fine.

                                          As for the juice puddle at the bottom, you could put a layer of flour/spice/sugar/butter mix on the bottom crust. That was suggested to me. I haven't tried it yet.

                                        2. re: moto

                                          Sorry, but you just don't have the science right. NOT pre-cooking can result in the apple-sauce consistency, whereas precooking will allow them to retain their size and texture. Here is the reason, as explained by ATK/CI:

                                          "When raw apples are used in a deep-dish pie, they shrink to almost nothing, leaving a huge gap between the top crust and filling. Precooking the apples eliminates the shrinking problem and actually helps the apples hold their shape once baked in the pie.

                                          This seems counterintuitive, but here's what happens: When the apples are gently heated, their pectin is converted to a heat-stable form that prevents the apples from becoming mushy when cooked further in the oven. The key is to keep the temperature of the apples below 140 degrees during this precooking stage. Rather than cooking the apples in a skillet (where they are likely to become too hot), it's best to gently heat the apples and seasonings in a large covered Dutch oven.

                                          1. re: bnemes3343

                                            Wow, bnemes3343, I have to disagree with science and with ATK/CI.

                                            I have baked apple pies for over 40 years, and just made one for Christmas. No precooking, no gap, no applesauce consistency, no rolling out the bottom crust, and used the bread wrapper to roll out the top crust.

                                            The pie was delicious, if I do say so myself.

                                            1. re: dolores

                                              I'm sure it was delicious! But pre-cooking the apples is what any professional baker will tell you as well. Science is science... Maybe the skepticism on pre-cooking is why my pies win the local pie cook offs and the veteran pie bakers don't...

                                              1. re: bnemes3343

                                                But you note this:

                                                >>When raw apples are used in a deep-dish pie, they shrink to almost nothing, leaving a huge gap between the top crust and filling.

                                                and I have never had it happen. Never.

                                                So no, science isn't science, and I'm not about to precook my apples because ATK/CI doesn't know how to make an apple pie.

                                                1. re: dolores

                                                  maybe it depends on the apples? Also, my apples shrink sometimes but mostly when i'm not doing a good job packing the slices in.

                                                  1. re: choctastic

                                                    I don't know, choctastic. I had some hand picked apples that I used this time, and noticed that they were all quite soft. I usually use Macintosh and Granny Smith and Gala, if I find them. And you're right, that's why I use my (impeccably clean, per Julia) hand to mix the filling in the bowl and to smoosh it into the pie crust.

                                                    I was just trying to encourage dutchdot to keep at it, and for myself, I've never varied from making them the same way. I wouldn't try vinegar in my crust anymore than I'd precook the apples.

                                                    But, as I should have told myself early on, salsiccia his own.

                                                  2. re: dolores

                                                    This will definitely be my last post on this subject, as I don't want it to get mean spirited.

                                                    First of all, I doubt that anyone on this thread makes a 'bad' applie pie. After all, you're cooking apples, sugar and spices and then wrapping it in a nice butter/shortening/flour dough. It would be more difficult to make this taste bad than to make it good.

                                                    However, to suggest that you can cook raw apples in a pie and not have them cook down is silly on the surface. Are these 'magic' apples? Of course they lose volume when baking. And when they do, one of two things happen: either the crust stays where it was and you have a gap (which has nothing to do with how delicious the end-product will be), or the crust lowers to the apples (and if you've piled them up enough ahead of time, this is fine. But if you want us to believe they don't cook down, tune in to the Roger Clemens interview next week...

                                                    Now, the main reason the pre-cooking to about 140 is a good approach is that you change the structure of the pectin in the apples so that they will not cook down any more once you bake them. You can bake them for hours if you so choose and they will remain semi-firm with the volume they had when you put them in. If you cook with raw apples (besides dealing with the 'gap'), you need to be much more careful about how long you cook your pie. Too short a time and you have applies that are undercooked. Too long and they're sauce. So, you've unecessarily added risk to the reward. This is how I get five pounds of apples in a pie and a nice mounded crust with no gap. Because, sorry, science is science.

                                                    1. re: bnemes3343

                                                      Where did I say they didn't 'cook down'? I said that I don't and won't precook my apples and I've never, ever had a gap between the crust and the apples.

                                                      1. re: bnemes3343

                                                        "However, to suggest that you can cook raw apples in a pie and not have them cook down is silly on the surface."
                                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                        I don't think most of us were saying they *don't* cook down; however, depending on how the apple chunks or slices are put into the pie (loosely or packed very well) and the type of apple used (watery, soft Macs or firm, crisp Macouns/Granny Smiths, et al), they don't cook down so much as to cause a complete collapse of the top pie crust.

                                                        Regardless of whether science is science, I've never precooked the apples, and would never do it. I usually don't have the time or the inclination to do so. I've been baking apple pies for 35 years, and have really only had one pie completely collapse on me - and that's because the apples were way too watery and soft and they dissolved into virtual nothingness in the bottom crust. Lesson learned never to use those apples again.

                                                        So while your suggested pre-cooking method might work for some should they choose to take the extra time, I find no need to do so, and my family and coworkers and I (and everyone else who's had a slice of my apple pie) think my pies are just fine as they are and have always been made.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          No, we're not. And science may be science, but I have never and never will precook my apples. I've never had a gap in my pies.

                                                          Although I haven't won any awards, my pies are good.

                                                          As I tried to say before, dutchdot will act accordingly to all the good advice here.

                                                          1. re: dolores

                                                            I do have a little gap even when I pack the apples well, but not the cavernous hole that people seem to allude to. I use about 6 apples for a 9 inch pie. My pies tend to be packed pretty high. I cook for about 1 hour so the crust is pretty browned and the apples are cooked through. I usually have about a one and half inch gap between apple and crust. I guess I don't think that's such a huge gap but apparently others do? When I precooked the apples, I didn't notice any improvement in the taste so I stopped doing it.

                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                              I have to agree with the NOT precooking crowd. I've been baking for many years and never had a problem with my pies. In fact, I would think that by precooking you would be more apt to have mushy apples. I would never pretend to be a "professional", but I've also never had a complaint about my pies. Let's all agree to disagree!

                                                              1. re: Pegmeister

                                                                Well, I did bake professionally for a while, and I've got to say, we never pre-cooked the apples.

                                              2. re: katecm

                                                No problem being diffiucult... let me be a little bit as well. Pre-cooking the apples is absolutely the only way to go. The 'airplane hangar' above the apples that you get otherwise is not caused by the crust rising, but by the apples shrinking down. Pre cooking them correctly will prevent this - once pre-cooked they will not cook down when baked. I have spoken with professional bakers who confirm this.

                                                1. re: bnemes3343

                                                  Just for another perspective, I actually like when the top crust stays nicely shaped up high even when the apples shrink down inside. It gives a pretty shape to the pie and when you cut it, the crust comes down for each piece anyway. I've never pre-cooked my apples and always had delicious pies.

                                                  1. re: seattledebs

                                                    I've never precooked my apples and never have the giant air pocket above the apples either.

                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                      And I never pre-cook the apples (never heard of it!) and really pack the apples in there tightly, using a wooden spoon to make sure they're packed well. When the crust is laid over the top of the apples, they end up staying there, not sinking down. I've only once had the air pocket because the apples cooked down - and that was because of the type of apple I used - they were too juicy, and cooked down way too much, leaving the mounded crust sitting over nothing - and it eventually collapsed.

                                                      So firm, tart apples are the way to go, and pack them in there (if the recipe calls for 7-8 apples, I always use 8-9 very large ones to make sure there's a good mound of apples before the top crust goes on).

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        Exactly, LindaWhit. I have to laugh at those who say 'THIS' is the way to do it. They scare potential bakers. There IS no one way to do anything, especially in pie making. Practice makes perfect, and a good baker can figure out their own 'feel' for baking, especially pies, and make baking their own.

                                                        I do the same, I pack them in tightly, smooshing them together with my hand, and cut LARGE slits (sometimes mimicking the cutting of the pie, sometimes an 'A') in the top of the pie.

                                                        My husband is an apple pie fanatic, and loves mine.

                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                          Ok, so one last post. The intent is exactly the opposite of scaring potential bakers. In fact, it is just the opposite. The purpose of this technique is to allow someone hasn't been cooking for 30+ years to make a great, fool-proof, apple pie right out of the gate. I have entered mylocal pie bake off exactly two years (2006 and 2007). My first two entries (and I am by now means someone who's baked for all that long). Both won 1st place, so there must be something to the science...

                                                          1. re: bnemes3343

                                                            When you cook the apples in the dutch oven do you add the seasonings and sugar then or do you add it when you put the apples in the crust? I'm willing to give precooking another try.

                                                            1. re: choctastic

                                                              You cook the apples with the spices and sugars in a heavy dutch oven over med. height for 18 - 20 minutes. Cover them, but give a good stir every few minutes. The reciple calls for you to draing all of the juice off, but the pie is too dry that way. One suggestion (which I haven't tried was to reduce the juices some (concentrate them). That seems like a good idea. Let me know how you do. Just make sure you get them to 140 degrees. No matter how you stack/cram them uncooked, you are still going to have to deal with redistribution. Also, I hate to be dictated to by the recipe to have to use all tart apples. It isn't necessary.

                                                              1. re: choctastic

                                                                Also, use a full five pounds of apples (10 or so large ones) - they will fit just fine in the pie once they've been pre-cooded.

                                                                1. re: bnemes3343

                                                                  Thanks! I'll give it a try and report back.

                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                            I think you are onto something LW that jfood has noticed as well. It's the type of apples and how they are packed. So jfood is in the "it depends" bucket versus the always and never bucket as well.

                                                            As jfood is learning the baking stuff he noticed that just dumping irregular cubes into the pie crust and placingthe second crust atop created "opportunity" for the apples to move a little, causing the air gap (which was one of the reasons he switch from two crust to crumb topping, OK he likes the crumb stuff better as well).

                                                            Then two weeks ago he used macouns in a apple/pear crisp, cut them more regularly with the pears and pushed them into the pyrex. Very little shrinkage.

                                                            Maybe we should start a thread on the types of apples and the shrinkage factor. Tonight jfood is using some fujis and boscs for the apple/pear crisp for tomorrow night for little jfood's b'friend dinner.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              BINGO on the "just dumping irregular cubes" of apples creating the perfect opp for gaps between apples and causing a crust collapse, jfood!

                                                              I always try to slice the apples in pretty uniform slices (and have trained my brother and mother to do the same thing, who help with the peeling/slicing while I'm making the crust from a 1976 BH&G recipe I've used since I was 14yo). Toss the apple slices with a couple of tsp. of lemon juice, and then the sugar/spice mixture (which always includes a couple Tbsp. of flour), and then carefully put them into the bottom of the pie crust to ensure even coverage and few gaps.

                                                              And yes - definitely the type of apples make a difference - Macouns, Granny Smiths, Baldwins, Mutsus (sometimes), Cortlands - any of the firm, tart apples are the way I go. Have never, ever used Macs, as their water content is just way too high (plus I find them tasteless - I want to taste APPLE in my apple pie!)

                                                              Here's my go-to link for types of apples and their uses:

                                                              http://www.applejournal.com/use001.htm

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                TY so much for the Mac answer, they are the culprits. Jfood used MAcs and the thing basically collapsed, macouns were better.

                                                                So jfood mystery is solved.

                                                                Have a great holiday.

                                                              2. re: jfood

                                                                I would hate to be dicated to use a certain kind of apples (that I might not like) when I can easily elliminate the problem. I use all Gala apples, that are pretty sweet and moist.

                                                                1. re: bnemes3343

                                                                  Well, maybe that's it. I hate sweet apples in pie - I want the tart puckery apple flavor to contrast with the sweetness of the brown sugar and sweet spices. The sweet apples do seem to be the ones that cook down more - the tart cooking apples tend to hold their shape.

                                                                  I'm sure that precooking works, but pie is enough effort anyway without adding an extra step if it isn't absolutely necessary. I like ATK, but I sometimes find they create problems that I don't see, then solve them with seemingly unnecessary complications. My pie bible is the Little Pie Company of the Big Apple's Pies and Other Desserts and they don't precook.

                                                    2. For someone like yourself and most of the posters here this may sound horrible but I use Pillsbury refridgerated crusts. There I said it ! I bake and freeze 20-30 apple pies each fall. The bottom crust is never soggy. I bake at 425 for most of the time - finish lower temp if needed. I prefer glass plates, but I freeze most of mine in disposables.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: chowmel

                                                        Whatever works and anyone who bakes 20-30 apple pies each fall is a prince or princess in my book! That's a lot of apples!

                                                        I think that a lot of us are after the thrill of the chase (IF I ever master this, I'll make four or five pies a year) and that's the reason we do it. No stupid pie is going to conquer me!

                                                        I am going to do this again next week and will report when I do. I have so many good suggestions from the guys and gals on the thread. I think I'm going to do all granny smiths because I'm going to cook them a bit and then cook the juices down a lot. DH likes his pies tart anyway --- I had an earlier problem when I forgot all the sugar and that did not bother him a bit. I'm going to get rid of the cookie sheet on the lower rack and just not over fill, but will put foil around the bottom of the pie pan.

                                                        I really want to do the vodka crust so I'm going to mix it through the crisco in the processor and then grate the frozen butter into the mix ---- I loved that idea. I will mostly follow the Test Kitchen recipe (except for throwing out all the juice and the pie crust recipe and I won't do as much sugar).

                                                        I'll keep reading this to see what you guys say, but I will report.

                                                        Thank you all so much for your kind advice.

                                                        1. re: dutchdot

                                                          I'm coming in late on this thread, but a couple of other quick suggestions, if I may...

                                                          * You can freeze the Crisco, as well as the butter; even if it doesn't grate as nicely as the butter (mine never does), the colder everything is the better off you'll be.

                                                          * If you have a pizza stone, you can preheat that in your oven for 30 minutes and set the pie dish on it; this will get the bottom of your pie pan hotter, and help getting a baked-through and unsoggy crust.

                                                          * I second (third?) whomever mentioned cranking the heat up a bit - I usually do 425 for the first 15 minutes, and then turn down to 400. (Though I wouldn't do this if you're using the pizza stone - that might end up being too much.)

                                                        2. re: chowmel

                                                          good golly! do you have a huge freezer? (I've always wanted one)

                                                        3. I've been making apple pies my whole life, and so have my mother and grandmother. I've never had a problem. A few tips:

                                                          - pre-bake your bottom crust
                                                          - slice your apples very thinly
                                                          - use good apples (tart, good flavor, get very soft but hold their shape. Rhode Island Greenings are my favorite)
                                                          - when your crust misbehaves, just patch it and move on
                                                          - use lots of butter
                                                          - don't use a lot of sugar
                                                          - only flavors: cinnamon, sugar, lemon, apples

                                                          My recipe and directions are here: http://web.mac.com/seattledebs/gofrol...

                                                          1. Hello,
                                                            Just signed up. I use only Macs for my pie. Once you slice your apples, sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar (according to your recipe) and lemon juice (just a dribble) to help get the juices going.
                                                            Let them sit 15 min and stir at least thrice. Sprinkle with AP flour, 1/4 cup at a time. Stir and allow to sit a couple minutes between each addition. Once the juice/flour mix reaches the consistancy of approximately loose ketchup, add to crust.
                                                            One thing a recipe can't tell you is how much juice your apples contain. Juice content has many varying factors that a recipe cannot account for.
                                                            It may take a few tries to get accustomed to not using a recipe and your elevation may play a factor in the process.
                                                            Try topping your apple pie with crisp topping, (1c each flour and brown sugar, 1/2 cup cool butter cut in till crumbly) and remember that there is no such thing as a "bad" apple pie.
                                                            Good luck.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: happycooker

                                                              Just out of curiosity, has anyone used Fuji apples? If so, how did that turn out?

                                                              1. re: Joebob

                                                                yes, mixed with braeburns. juicy, but not too much so. I like to make "deep dish" apple pies with a rather thick top crust, as I've never liked the flavor of bottom crust as well as the top and EDGES.

                                                            2. I feel your pain, dutchdot...but am happy to see that your title is not true and that there will be more apple pies in your future. A future w/o homemade apple pie is bleak...

                                                              I've probably made about 10 apple pies in my lifetime but it's not been until recently that I've had the desire to perfect my apple pie. While I love the look and taste of a double crust pie, single crust w/ crumb topping also has its own merit so don't rule them out. I don't have much sage advice to add except for keep at it! Apple pie seems deceptively simple, but as others have noted, there are different variables to attend to and the nature of the main ingredient (the apples) changes every time even if you stick to the same type of apple.

                                                              Last month I made two apple pies. The first was from The Best Recipe by the Cook's Illustrated/ATK people. I'm not sure if it's the same recipe on the ATK website. The crust was a blend of butter and shortening, and I opted for a combo of apples (I think pippin and braeburn). It called for A LOT of sugar in the filling so I halved that amount but followed the rest of the recipe. It looked beautiful, like your textbook double crust pie w/ a puffy and flaky golden dome. Too bad I didn't take a picture. Unfortunately, below it was a core of mostly mushy apples and a bottom crust that had sort of disappeared into the apples. Deflating but it all got happily eaten w/ vanilla ice cream.

                                                              The second was a sour cream apple pie for Thanksgiving using this recipe:
                                                              http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives...

                                                              This one only has one crust w/ a streusel topping and doesn't call for a huge mound of apples. Overall, I and my family enjoyed this pie but my critical eye was bummed by two elements--the granny smiths were a bit too firm (the opposite of my first pie) and the bottom crust once again was soggy (but not as bad as the first pe). I was sitting there analyzing what went wrong while my BIL helped himself to a hefty second piece, so again, it all gets happily eaten.

                                                              I'm in the mood for making a double crust apple pie soon and may finally try the pre-cooking method that others have suggested. No matter what, everyone appreciates a homemade apple pie made w/ love and care. Please report back on your future efforts and I'll do the same...

                                                              I do have a burning question to all apple pie bakers out there: thickener in filling or not? I used to put a little flour in my filling but I've been reading about how it can take away from the apple flavor so didn't use it for the double crust pie. But seems like flour would help w/ the too juicy/soggy crust problem and even Rose Levy Beranbaum uses some cornstarch in her recipe: http://www.ochef.com/r126.htm

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                I use flour in my apple filling and it turns out just fine.

                                                                And, since there seems to be so much trepidation on rolling out a pie crust, I'll again offer up not rolling out the bottom crust but just patting it in the pan.

                                                                In fact, I have taken to rolling/patting my top crust now too. It has worked quite well.

                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                  I have always used flour in my apple pie - not a lot, just a couple T's. My spices include a little clove, I think it might be a MS recipe from her website. I don't use her dough recipe though. I use a recipe from epicurious that calls for butter, shortening and a little apple cider vinegar. The cider vinegar is supposed to make it easier to roll out and I think it does work. This is my go-to pie dough recipe.

                                                                  I always end up with the high top crust and while I find the concept of pre-cooking the apples interesting, I don't think I would bother.

                                                                  I have been experimenting with different kinds of apples. Last time, I used a combination of golden delicious and granny smith and that made a pretty good pie.

                                                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                    I'm certainly not going to get in the middle of this pre-baking discussion with all these experts involved, but it does seem to answer your "burning question." Some place in this thread the suggested method is to pre-cook the apples, then remove them and let the juices reduce. This both concentrates the flavor and thickens the juice.

                                                                    On my journey to making the perfect apple pie, I'm with jfood. I always liked "Dutch" apple pies.

                                                                  2. I just read this thread for the first time, and thought I would throw in my two cents. I have made almost every type of apple pie/crust/crumb topping/cook/no cook variation you can think of. Although I consider myself something of a traditionalist by nature, I also do not reject out of hand tips and tricks that make great pies. After all, it is all about the pie.

                                                                    A pie is two things - crust and filling, and depending on a lot of variables, on any given day you will have a winner or possible loser.

                                                                    Re: The crust. For many years I have been making a recipe, given to me by mother-in-law who is in my opinion the queen of all Yankee piebakers. It is a straightforward crisco type crust with one HUGE difference... You combine a large quantity (enough to make several crusts) of the dry ingredients and shortening and refrigerate this until you are ready to use, then you measure out enough for your crusts and use ice water to make the dough. This way you can use your crust immediately, no chilling necessary because it is already cold.

                                                                    When I posted this recipe several years ago on e-gullet, it was met with absolute scorn and ridicule by so-called pastry chefs who said chilling the dry ingredients combined with the shortening would never work right...then a couple years ago Alton Brown came up with pretty much the same idea... and voila, this practice is now widely accepted.

                                                                    I have also used the "No-Fail" crust that involves a bit of vinegar and egg. This is what my mother taught me when I was a kid. There were seven kids in our house and we each had our own rolling pins, and this crust stood up well to a lot of rolling and handling. As I grew older I preferred a flakier less dense crust, so I started using my mother in law's recipe more often. I still use the no-fail recipe with the Youth Group at our church to make dozens of pies for Thanksgiving. It works very well.

                                                                    I have also made all butter and all lard crusts with mixed thoughts and results. I actually found those crusts a bit rich for an apple pie. Much preferred a base that was flaky and less obtrusive to the filling. Kind of how I like a crepe to be plain so it allows the filling to shine.

                                                                    Still, I have had slices of butter/lard crusts that have been quite good.

                                                                    I do not prebake my apple pie crust. Although I once made a pie where the filling was very watery and I thought maybe it was the crust, but I realize now it was the thickening that was the problem.

                                                                    The Filling:

                                                                    Agree with those who said type of apple and how they are sliced matters.

                                                                    If you can slice razor thin slices then I wouldn't pre-cook. But if your slices are chunky then some pre-cooking, or as I prefer to say, par-cook, does not hurt. Just don't overcook, the apples should still should not be cooked through when added to the crust. Also, I use a microwave to par cook, and just for a very short time.

                                                                    Also press the apples down after putting inside the crust, to remove some air pockets.

                                                                    And another tip, I use tapioca to thicken. I let the apples sit in sugar/spices/lemon juice and tapioca for several minutes before adding the filling to the crust. It draws out the juices (which I use in the pie, never throw out) and the results are very consistent, and no more watery pie. The color also is nice and clear, never muddy or gummy.

                                                                    I am seriously considering creating a thread called "How to make an apple pie," and include photos at each step... Any interest in this, anyone else want to do the same so we can share results???

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                      Brilliant reply T. Thanks so much and if you could post any additional information or recipes that would be very appreciated.

                                                                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                        Good reply.

                                                                        Apple pie, or any baking, is specific to the person doing the baking. The original science of it leads a person to begin baking, and then the person makes the recipe their own, over time.

                                                                        Trish, I'm sure your advice would be a welcome addition.

                                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                                          Okay, two say yes, and that's enough for me! ;-)

                                                                          Since I have time this weekend because of the holiday, I am going to make an apple pie....take copious pictures..... and afterwards will create a thread that will include the recipe, instructions, details and my thoughts along the way.

                                                                          Will probably be able to write it out and post it late next week or the week after ...depends on my work schedule.

                                                                          If anyone else wants to join in, and make a pie and take pix, great!

                                                                          My intention: To make a standard Two-Crust Apple Pie, demonstrate crust prep, rolling, filling prep, baking, and final results.

                                                                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                            I'm very much looking forward to your report! I'm particularly curious to see how much tapioca starch you use in your filling.

                                                                            I'd like to join in by making my own double-crust pie and taking photos, but it will have to wait till Feb. when I've returned from a two-week vacation.

                                                                        2. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                          Trish....I really like your post!! My Dad was a chef by profession and he made pie crust as your MIL did. His thickener was always tapioca. He always received nothing but compliments on his pie baking! He also made wonderful peach pies!

                                                                          Your idea on a thread for apple pie baking is a really good one. This is how we learn and perfect any recipe....by trying, and trying again, and listening to other tips, ideas and results. Reading and researching.

                                                                          On TV, I heard one of the master chefs say that "with each failure we become that much closer to perfection".

                                                                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                            great post. I also use tapioca starch but some people like the heavier taste of flour so sometimes i put in both. I stopped using lemon juice because nobody seemed to notice it was gone and also the acid interfered with the thickening action. I also stopped using lemon zest (Cooks Illustrated recipe had this) because it tasted weird. Like you, I let the apples sit in the sugar/spice mixture for a bit, usually I toss them before rolling out the crust. I do chunky slices and never have a problem with wateriness, wonder if the fact that I let them sit is why. The only spice I use is cinnamon. I stopped using all other spices because nobody liked them. Oh yeah, and I also mix in a pat of soft salted butter into the sugar and spice before I coat my apples with it.

                                                                            What you're saying about parcooking makes sense. I don't want my apples to be mush but definitely want them to soften. Hmm, I guess I will have to experiment with various types of precooking to determine what is best for the chunky sliced, mile high apple pies that my family likes.

                                                                          2. I do some things that are a bit complicated but make a big difference.

                                                                            I do use the vodka crust now -- but need to use more flour than the recipe calls for or it falls apart (and I use all butter). I coat the bottom crust (and up the sides) with white chocolate melted with butter -- very thin coat. This creates an absolute moisture barrier, keeps the crust crispy for days.

                                                                            I don't precook -- but I macerate the peeled and sliced apples in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (just a pinch) for an hour in a large ziploc. Then I drain all the juices into a saucepan, and cook this vigorously to reduce to a syrup. At this point, feel free to turn it into caramel by adding heavy cream (very rich apple pie) or just use it as a syrup. You get the advantage of driving off excess moisture without turning apples to mush.

                                                                            Dump apples into a bowl, add thickener (I use tapioca flour), add the reduced syrup. Now dump into pie, add top crust, slit it, brush with cream, sprinkle on sugar and bake.

                                                                            Finally, I think the "bottom crust not cooked" is a result of not cooking long enough. Don't go by time, and don't go by how dark the crust is. You need to see caramelized (that is, gooey) apple juice bubbling up through the top crust. If it isn't, you're not done. If the crust is getting too dark, cover it with foil -- you'll probably need to cover the edges first, then the rest -- but stick with the juices as your doneness guide.

                                                                            1. Dutchdot, you will not go to hell for using bought pie crust. I had my son making double-crust pies in college, this way: buy a pair of frozen pie crusts, warm to room temperature, put your fruit in one, invert the other one on top, press edges of crust together, perforate top crust a few pokes with a fork, bake pie. Fruit: peel and slice the apples, mix with 1/4 cup flour and 3/4 cup sugar plus cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to taste. Variant: use Pillsbury's refrigerated pie crust. Yes, I have eaten better crust---I have also made better crust---but your time and your sanity are worth something. PS When you go to press the two crusts together, slightly wet the lower crust so the pastry will stick to itself. If you kind of curl the lower crust up over the edge of the top crust and then pinch it shut, the juice can't run over. But just to save cleaning the oven, set the pie on a big flat pan while it's baking. If you lay foil on the pan first you won't have to clean the oven OR the pan.

                                                                              1. I tried precooking the apples for one pie and didn't precook for another pie. I cooked the apples on low heat for 15 minutes and then cooled. Baked both pies same amount of time. I got the same results as I did last time when I precooked my apples, not good. I find the texture of precooked apples weirdly firm. By contrast, with the raw apple pie, the apples were still a little firm but just soft enough to eat and not yet applesauce. I will stick to raw apples for my pies.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                                                  Thanks for sharing your experiment. I never pre-cook my apples and am hesitant to start now (mainly because I am lazy about it and don't think pre-cooking belongs in a "traditional" method). I hope we can keep this thread/topic going on our quest to attain the perfect apple pie, whatever that may be for each of us...

                                                                                2. Okay folks, good news!

                                                                                  On New Year's Eve, my mother-in-law, a/k/a "Awesome Pie Baker" and I made a pie following all her techniques (Came it out great). In addition, I also made a pie with variations. I have about 140 pictures. I am going to spend this weekend creating an easy to follow slideshow (THANK YOU CARB LOVER FOR YOUR ADVICE!!!!).

                                                                                  Hopefully, by Monday, I will be able to post the link to the slideshow in a new thread with the recipes, tips, tricks, and observations (Be warned, some myths WILL be busted!!!)

                                                                                  I must say....this was one sweet project!!! Apple Pie help is on its way!!!!!

                                                                                  Trish

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                    Trish, you're amazing! Looking forward to seeing the slideshow and read how it all went!

                                                                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                      I'm new to this site and although it is many months later, I would like to know if TrishUntrapped got her slide show up and running so I can see it. (There is probably a place to look for this on Chow but I don't know how to do it.)
                                                                                      Thanks.
                                                                                      England

                                                                                      1. re: England

                                                                                        She started a new thread. Look here:
                                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477353

                                                                                        1. re: England

                                                                                          One way to find stuff like this is to use the Search box on the top right of the screen and type in the poster's name.

                                                                                          Here's a link...
                                                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477353

                                                                                      2. Can everyone still view that slideshow???

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                          Came up for me just now.

                                                                                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                            Both slideshow links work fine for me.

                                                                                            1. re: OldDog

                                                                                              Pies were one of the first things I made when I started cooking, and although I don't consider myself to be particularly talented, they always came out good. I guess my basic tips would be 1) use all butter, no crisco. The one pie crust I made with crisco tasted terrible. 2) For God's sake, use the food processor. It makes life so much easier. Toss in the dry ingredients, diced frozen butter, pulse a few times, then slowly add the iced water in steps, again just pulsing between steps. Should be moist enough that you can gather it into a ball. 3) If the dough becomes sticky and unmanageable while you're working it, toss the entire thing, cutting board and all, into the refrigerator or freezer. Even if you can't close the door all the way. 4) Partially pre-bake the shell I don't know if you really need to use those stupid pie weights, but pre-baking the shell will help prevent undercooked bottoms 5) Use a pizza stone! Set at the bottom of the oven. This ensures the bottom crust will cook through, will preventing over-browning of the top crust 6) For apple pies, I use the CI suggestion and use a combination of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples, which are always available in the supermarket.

                                                                                          2. I forget all the time to take the butter out of the freezer. But I read a tip a few years ago, probably in Cook's Illustrated, that said when you do that: grate the frozen butter on the large holes of a 4-sided grater and the butter will be fine for use in a pie crust. I've done that several times since and it worked for me. I also tried, unsuccessfully, for decades to make a decent pie crust, always too thin and usually too dry. Got some professional advice who said if the crust is too thin, add more flour (I now use 2 1/2 cups of flour for a 2-crust pie) and increase the shortening even more so that you have proportionally increased the amount of shortening (now use 17 Tablespoons of shortening in 2 1/2 cups flour). (the pro actually used butter combined with lard for the crust). I still don't find it easy, but my pie crusts are now nice and flexible, tasty and thick enough.

                                                                                            1. Have you tried Wiliams-Sonoma heart or star shaped "pocket pie" molds? You can put refrigerated puff pastry in, filling with sweet or savory filling,freeze, then put eggwash on them and bake....I cant bake pies but these morsels turned out great and get a great response from guests! :)

                                                                                              If youre making traditional pie, do you pre-bake the empty pie shell (prick holes in it first)? This make help with the soggy bottom crust issue. Hope it helps! :)

                                                                                              1. Ok I have been making pies for awhile now i even sell them and i learned that you freeze the butter and then you put it in the fridge for 30 min then you cut into cubes and add the dry ingredients and you just crumble the butter with your fingertips or use a stand mixer. you add just a little water to make it the consistency of slightly wet sad split into two discs wrap in plastic wrap let chill for abt 30 min in the fridge but the longer the better. then roll it out dont roll then freeze then roll it wont be the same once you roll it use it! cover the edges of your pie in foil for first 20 min of baking uncover and finish baking it should work good luck

                                                                                                1. This is an old topic, and I apologise for re-opening it, but a friend found it and called me for advice.

                                                                                                  One of the problems is that people have stopped using enough sugar. I know, I know—everyone wants to taste the apples—but apples are full of pectin, and pectin requires both sugar and acid to set. It's what makes that wonderful (in reasonable quantities) gel. Adding two tablespoons of sugar to, say, a dozen apples won't give the pectin enough sugar to set properly.

                                                                                                  You can get around this by precooking the apples (eventually the sugar in the apples will concentrate enough to set the gel, but you'll still need to add a little acid, which could come in the form of acidulated water as you prep the apples).

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                    Wow. I had forgotten all about this (old age). Das Ubergeek, your logic sounds very good. I do think that coating the bottom crust with an egg white wash (1 egg white and a bit of water) will help seal the crust.

                                                                                                    I tried to use a baking stone and it was a total bust. Just a hot oven and a small prayer seems to work the best.

                                                                                                    I am unfamiliar with acidulated water --- is that just some lemon added?

                                                                                                    1. re: dutchdot

                                                                                                      Yes... it's water with acid added. Lemon is the usual suspect but I love to use apple cider vinegar.

                                                                                                      I've found that home canners (jam makers) make the best fruit pies once they learn to make pie dough... it's because they know the properties of fruit, sugar, pectin and acid so intricately.