Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 27, 2009 03:45 PM

Your Best Apple Pie and also How to blind bake for a pumpkin pie?

Now that I know how to make a crust, thanks to CH rec of CI vodka recipe, I really need to know the right way to blind bake a crust -- mine was pitiful. I salvaged it and made a "fancy" recipe for pumpkin pie but it was not sweet enough -- only called for 1/2 cup of brown sugar. I think I prefer the recipe on the Libby's can, even though it uses evaporated milk. (I also did those fancy leaf cut outs for on top -- I baked them separately. Should I have sprinkled sugar on them before baking?)

Also, how to I bake an apple pie so that there is not a gap between the apples and pie crust? What's your favorite type of apple?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For Apple Pie with no gap between the apples and crust, America's Test Kitchen (Cook's Illustrated) partially cooks the apples before putting them into the pie -- this eliminates some of the liqud and fruit volume and sets the pectin in the apples. I am not a big baker so I have not used this technique but my sister now swears by it, For more info, check out this recipe at the following link:

    1. I don't understand why people are against the gap. To me the gap has always signified a bona fide home-baked apple pie, which usually equals deliciousness. Sort of like imperfect cookies, or cake frosting where you can see the knife marks, or those lovely cracked cheesecakes my mother used to make. Mm-mm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: visciole

        I'm with you. I don't understand what the issue with the gap is. It doesn't affect the taste at all.
        Also, if you let the pie cool fully (or even wait til the next day) the top slumps a little and the gap lessens.

        But I also don't understand the mania for apples that hold their shape in a pie. I honestly don't care, as long as it all tastes good.

      2. I never have trouble with a big gap in the crust, and I think this is because I use a lot of apples and heap them up high. The crust then settles down nicely over them. I do agree with the other comments, though. Who cares about gaps and apple consistency as long as it all tastes good. That said, I always use Granny Smith apples - just the right amount of tartness

        1. My experience with the vodka crust is that it is the easiest, flakiest crust I have ever worked with. However, it doesn't hold a crimp, flute, or other decorative shaping worth a darn. And because it's so flaky and tender, it slumps in the pan when baked blind. To partially resolve it, I freeze the crust before putting it in the oven and use a lot of pie weights to help support the sides. Not perfect, but it produces an acceptable blind baked crust. Some folks have reported that adding extra flour stiffens the dough a bit and produces a crust that holds its shape a little bit better.

          As for the apples, I use the CI method-- slice apples and toss with sugar/cornstarch/cinnamon/salt and microwave in 3 minute increments (stirring between blasts) until the apples are slightly softened, the edges are starting to go translucent, and the juices are thickened and glossy. Cool to room temp and put in (chilled) crust. I usually use a crumb topping because I'm lazy and I like the crunch, but when I've used a pastry crust, there is no crust dome since the apples are already collapsed.

          The science of the method is not clear to me, but CI reports that the initial cooking "sets the pectins" in the apples, which prevents the apples from disintegrating into mush in the oven. Don't know how it works, but it really works well-- the apples are tender but not applesauce. I use mostly fuji apples and sometimes will use a mix (60:40) of fuji apples and bosc pears.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chococat

            So, when using pie weights, do you use parchment paper or foil before putting in the weights? What about beaten egg white? Mine looked so perfect before I put it in the oven but I used a recipe that said to just fit in 2 pieces of heavy duty foil and then remove it after 5 min -- that's when it became a problem and I hurried up and poured what beans I had into pie crust but it was still falling down the sides. I'd only chilled mine in fridge before oven.

            I don't have any of the CI books -- which one(s) should I buy?

            1. re: walker

              I use foil-- if my brain is working that day, I try to remember to take a sheet of foil (fold so it's double thickness) and shape it tightly around the outside of the pie plate, then remove it and set it aside. Once the crust is in the pie plate, I put it in the freezer for a few minutes to harden. When I'm ready to blind bake, I drop the pre-molded foil into the pastry and gently drop in the weights. The pre-molded foil is important so that the foil really hugs the sides of the crust-- otherwise the crust will slump where the foil/weights aren't supporting the pastry (which happens if you try to "freehand it" by forming the foil on top of the pastry... which always sustains collateral damage from my foil origami attempts). I almost fill the crust with weights and try to make sure the weights come almost up to the top of the crust around the edges. Unfortunately, getting the hot weights OUT of the crust can be challenging-- I try to use the foil as a sling to lift them out, which works around 75% of the time. Mostly I've just given up on making a beautiful crust since the crust is so flaky and tender and easy to work with!

              All of the CI books are quite good. The New Best Recipe is fairly comprehensive but not totally up to date (no vodka crust recipe). You might try buying access to the website for a year since most of the CI recipes are online, and you'll also have access to videos and reviews.

          2. I don't partially cook the apples first, but I do macerate them (put sliced apples and spices/sugar in a big ziploc bag) for a few hours in the fridge. They give off a ton of juice, which I then boil in a saucepan till it reduces and thickens. Takes care of the moisture problem and I don't get the gap (which doesn't bother me anyway). Before filling I also coat the crust with a thin layer of melted white chocolate - seals the crust from the fruit juice, stays crispy for a very long time.