Monday, October 02, 2006

Pie Test #1: Apple Pie with a Twist

The first pie tested for the pie contest was a variation on Betty Crocker's classic apple pie recipe. I'd been thinking that Chinese five spice powder would be a nice change for a sweet dish, and took that idea for a test drive.

I also made pie dough from scratch (Martha Stewart's "Perfect Pie Crust"), something I'd never done. It came together rather easily, although I added a couple of more tablespoons of ice water water than the recipe called for (that was the only way I could get the dough to stay together).

The result was tasty, but not a pie contest standout. The apples cooked down a bit, leaving a gap between the top pie crust and the filling. I'll use a smaller pie plate (say 8 inches) in the future. Additionally, the apples -- all Granny Smith -- were too tart, so I'd substitute a few for a few Golden Delicious. As for the Chinese five spice powder, I could taste it, but no one else could. So much for a different slant on things!

The pie crust was gorgeous and delicious -- buttery, flakey, a lovely golden color. That's the definate winner in this recipe. I'll use it with other pie fillings.

Apple Pie with a Twist
Perfect Pie Crust
1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
1/8teaspoon salt
8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (5 Granny Smith; 3 Golden Delicious)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F. Lightly butter the inside of an 8-inch pie plate. Line the bottom of the pie plate with pie dough.

Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Stir in apples. Turn into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot apple mixture with butter. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of plate.

Place other round of pastry on top of apples and cut slits so steam can escape. Trim overhanging edge 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal; flute as desired. Cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Serve warm if desired.

Grade: Pie Filling, B+


emily said...

I like the idea of the five-spice powder - too bad it didn't pull through. At least you got some good crust and a pretty picture out of it . . .
best of luck with the pie baking adventures!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you're familiar with the publication, but Cooks Illustrated has had, over the years, a large number of articles about pies, esp. apple. I believe they've solved the shrinking filling problem as well as the apple variety question. Might be worth a nod--Good luck!

Laura Rebecca said...

Emily, I'd like to try it again in a quick bread. Maybe a nut bread?

You know Annie, I wouldn't have thought of that. I did a quick search and found this (though not from CI): "Slice apples thinly for apple pie. Thick slices promote air space and create a gap between the fruit and the crust."

I've been slicing the apples fairly thickly in the hopes of avoiding that apple sauce texture some pies get. But, I guess I've also been creating a problem with the crust! I'll have to try smaller slices next time.

Lis said...

I think that's a pretty damn good job for the first try - it certainly is one of the prettiest pies I've ever seen! I like the idea of the 5 spice as well.

I've been reading lately, a lot about pairing apples with rosemary - although I haven't tried it yet I like the idea of the two.. would definitely be a twist on conventionally spiced apples.

emily said...

I've also heard pre-cooking apple filling a bit before putting it in the pie helps reduce gap - but I don't remember where unfortunately.
Back to five-spice - the nut bread's a good idea - I could see it in pumpkin bread also.