by John Lehndorff
American Pie Council
Making pie crust is so simple. Just mix four ingredients—flour, shortening, salt and water—form it in a ball, roll it out and bake it. That's all. Do it perfectly and the result is the uniquely American, melt-in-your-mouth flaky crust. However, all too often pie pastry ends up burnt, tough, soggy, grainy or bland.
The trick, says veteran piemaker Irene Brock, is make a lot of pies. Brock is a veteran competitor and two-time Utah State pie champion who has gone on to national competitions. When she started baking seriously a few years back, she says she did the only sensible thing: she practiced.
"I made a pie every day for a year until I mastered pie crust. Dessert pies. meat pies. All kinds," says Brock. The experience was a revelation.
"After eight months, I knew beyond a fact that any one of the ingredients being out of order can ruin it. Too much salt is wrong but so is too little. Too much flour and you don't get the right ratio. Everything affects it. Different flour or the same flour from a drought year might have a different moisture content."
Here are some tips from Irene Brock—echoed by the other winning piemakers—on how to make a memorable pie crust:
Provided by American Pie Council
To Keep'em Crisp, Keep'em Cool
Since apples lose their crispness 10 times faster at room temperature than at 32 degrees F., refrigerate them as soon as possible.
Store apples in plastic bags in your refrigerator or in closed boxes in a cooler. Keep them away from strong-odored foods such as onions, cabbage, and broccoli.
Handle apples as little as possible to avoid bruising or damage. They should be handled like eggs!
To minimize browning, apple dishes should be served soon after preparing. Protect cut apples from browning by dipping them into a solution of one part citrus juice and three parts water.
Of the more than 7,500 varieties of apples grown worldwide, only the best survive in the commercial orchards of Washington state. Each year, growers try new and promising varieties from around the world. Of these varieties, Red Delicious has become the most popular, followed by Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. Upland coming varieties like Braeburn, Gala, and Fuji have begun to catch on.
Red Delicious: Crisp, sweet, and juicy, it's America's favorite snacking apple.
Gala: Crisp, crunchy, juicy, and sweet really sweet! Just bite in and enjoy.
Jonagold: A tangy sweet blend of the Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples offering a tangy sweet flavor.
Golden Delicious: Sweet, mellow flavor, with thin, delicate skin and firm flesh great for snacking and cooking.
Granny Smith Whether you bake, sauté, or just eat a Granny Smith, the tart, tangy flavor always comes through.
Braeburn: High impact flavor. Sweet, tart, crisp, aromatic and as juicy as they come.
Roma Beauty: This sweet "beauty" grows sweeter and richer when baked or sautéed. It's called the "baker's buddy."
Washington state apples are carefully layer-packed by hand in a strong fiberboard boxes to protect them during shipping and storage. A standard box weighs 10 pounds and contains a bushel of apples. Uniformly-sized boxes are packed by the count of the apples contained, therefore, the fewer apples in a box, the larger the size of each apple. For example, a size 100 box contains 100 smaller-sized apples of equal size, whereas a size 48 box contains 48 larger sized apples of equal size. Standard packs range from 48 to 216 apples per box. Half and third boxes are available.
Provided by The Growers of Washington State Apples
Apples and Cheddar cheese have been natural dessert partners for centuries, and you'll understand why this is a match made in heaven after you've tasted one of the season's traditional favorites, Apple Pie with Cheddar Pastry.
Crust: Sift together flour and salt. Stir in cheese until thoroughly mixed. Dice butter, working into flour until texture resembles corn meal. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until all flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl. Divide dough in half. Shape into 2 flattened rounds. Roll on a lightly floured surface 2 inches larger than inverted pie pan. Line 9-inch pan with one crust, reserving other for top. Fill pastry-lined pan with filling. Cover with upper crust and cut slits so steam can escape. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes.
Filling: Place apples in large bowl. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in small bowl. Gently stir sugar mixture with apples until well-coated. Place apples in layers in pastry-lined pan. Dot with butter.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional Information Per Serving : Calories- 384, Fat- 20 G, Sat. Carbohydrate- 46 G, Protein- 6 G, Sodium- 342 Mg, Calcium- 116 Mg, % Calories from Fat- 47%, Cholesterol- 56 Mg.
Provided by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Fill your home with the welcoming aroma of freshly baked pie.
In large bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, flour, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add apples; toss to coat apples. Place one crust in 9-inch pie pan. Layer apples in pan. Moisten outside edges of crust with water. Top with second crust, fold edges under edges of lower crust; flatten with fork or pinch together tightly to seal. Cut air vents in top. Lightly brush top with water and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F; bake 30 to 40 minutes longer or until golden and bubbly. If top begins to get too brown, loosely cover with foil.
Makes 8 servings
Note: Tears in the dough can be repaired by moistening edges with water and pressing together to seal.
Per Serving: 360 calories; 3 g protein; 54 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 15 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 276 mg sodium.
An irresistible pairing of apples and almonds.
In food processor, with metal blade in place, grind almonds with sugar. Mix in butter, eggs and almond extract until thoroughly combined. Blend in flour. Spoon mixture into pie shell. Peel apples. Cut in half lengthwise and remove cores. Slice apple halves crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Arrange over almond filling. Bake pie at 375 degrees 50 minutes to 1 hour, until center is set and crust is golden brown. Cool.
Makes 8 servings
*Spread almonds in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Place in cold oven; toast at 350 degrees 8 to 12 minutes for whole almonds (5 to 10 minutes for sliced, slivered and chopped almonds), stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Remove from pan to cool.
Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until particles are size of peas. Stir in milk, blending just until mixture starts to form a ball. On floured surface, roll dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place in 9-inch pie plate. Turn edges under and flute.
Makes one 9-inch pie shell
Provided by Ketchum Kitchen
This page originally published as a FoodDay article (circa 1997).
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This page modified February 2007
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