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Ken Haedrich
Home Kitchen Archives Growers Orchard Trail Apple Kids
 Apple Pie Perfect

 Ken Haedrich
Ken Haedrich

Ken Haedrich is a former Navy Seabee turned pie aficionado. His new book, Apple Pie Perfect has over 100 recipes ranging from skins-on-the-apples in a whole wheat crust to frozen apple and peanut butter mousse.

Order Apple Pie Perfect


 traditional apple

Traditional Pie Apples:
- Northern Spy
- Cox's Orange Pippin
- Wealthy
- Yellow Bellflower
- Rhode Island Greening
- Bramley's Seedling
- Bightigheimer
- Newtown Pippin
- Holstein
- Calville Blanc
- Summer Rambo
- Jonathon
- Duchess
- Grimes Golden
- Gravenstein
- Winesap
- York Imperial
- King David
- Rome Beauty

Newer Pie Apples:
- Macoun
- Jonagold
- Granny Smith
- Ida Red
- Spigold
- Braeburn

For variety, try:
- Golden Russet
- Tolman Sweet
- Tompkins King
- Haralson
- Honeycrisp
- Swiss Gourmet
- Fuji
- Wolf River
- Baldwin

 Apple Pie Perfect
with Ken Haedrich

Of Apple Pie, Thanksgiving, and Little White Lies
November 2002

The other day I was giving an interview on live radio - about the zillioneth since the release of my new cookbook, Apple Pie Perfect, two months ago - when the show's host said to me: "Ken, since you wrote the book on apple pie, please tell our listeners what sort of apple pie you'll be baking for Thanksgiving this year. I'll bet it's one of your favorites."
read the article and recipe

A Festive Apple Pie for the Holidays
December 2002

Having immersed myself in the subject of apple pie for the last few years, I've developed something of a blind spot to the usual rhythms of the baking year. I know, for instance, that for the coming days and weeks the fragrance of gingerbread men and sugar-dusted stollen should be emanating from my kitchen. But I just can't seem to get apple pie out of my system. One imagines it would be otherwise - that having spent the last three months promoting my new book, Apple Pie Perfect, that I'd have tired of the subject. But the opposite seems to have occured: the more apple pies I make, and the more I talk about apple pie, the smitten I become.
read the article and recipe


Now You Can Make the Perfect Apple Pie, with Apple Pie Perfect

Do you dream of making the perfect apple pie - the sort that makes men and children swoon and women beg for your recipe? Well you can, according to pie expert Ken Haedrich in the introduction to his new book Apple Pie Perfect (Harvard Common Press):

"…as one who has spent a good part of his career writing books and articles devoted to the subject of baking and given numerous baking classes, workshops, and demonstrations, I'm here to tell you that there are many among us who believe that making an apple pie they can be proud of requires a set of skills that's beyond their reach. To which I say, that's a lot of hooey…Put another way, making a gorgeous, delicious apple pie is one of the easiest tricks in the home cook's bag of kitchen skills."

100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America's Favorite Pie

That's the subtitle of Apple Pie Perfect, a book that will teach you, in 11 detailed chapters, how to bake more delectable apple pies than you ever imagined. The first chapter leads off with Ken's favorite ten pastry recipes, including his Best Butter Pastry (recipe follows), All-American Double Crust and Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry.

Here's just a sampling of some of the perfect pies that go into those pastries:

  • My Mom and Dad's Brown Sugar Apple Pie
  • Grated Apple Pie
  • Baked Apple Dumpling Pie
  • Apple Cobbler Pie
  • Harvest Pie with Autumn Leaves
  • Apple Raisin Gingerbread Pie
  • Logging Road Blackberry Apple Pie
  • Shaker Boiled Apple Cider Pie
  • Wine Country Green Grape and Apple Pie
  • Apple Cheesecake Pie
  • Maple Apple Pie with a Very Pecan Crumb Crust
  • Rum Raisin Apple Pie
  • Farm-Style Buttermilk Pie with Fried Apple Rings
  • Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping (recipe follows)

And if that sounds like a lot of good pie-eating to you, you're not alone. We think Chuck Williams, founder of Williams-Sonoma, said it best when he wrote this testimonial for the cover of Apple Pie Perfect:

"To come up with 100 recipes for apple pie, all of them different, is a
feat few could accomplish. Ken Haedrich has done a great job."

Order a Signed Copy of Apple Pie Perfect (and maybe one for Aunt Marge too) and get a free copy of Let's Tailgate!, a $4.95 value.

Best Butter Pie Pastry

Ken suggests:

If your pie making skills are a little rusty, check out my 10 Tips to the Perfect Apple Pie (tips follow).

This is the workhorse of my pie pastry repertoire. It has a great buttery flavor, it's easy to roll, and it holds up beautifully in the pan, remaining firm and distinct rather than turning into mush, as some pastries do. In short, I'm crazy about this pastry and almost reflexively refer to it when I'm going to make a single-crust pie. You can, if you like, make this pastry by hand, but if you have a food processor, I'm not sure why you'd want to. The most important thing to remember about this dough is not to overprocess it, or the butter will warm up and melt into the pastry, with less than desirable results.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • About 3 tablespoons cold water
  1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly - 6 or 7 one-second bursts - until the butter is broken into very small pieces.

  2. Place the egg yolk in a 1-cup glass measure and add just enough of the water to equal 1/4 cup liquid. Using a fork, blend the water and yolk. Remove the lid of the processor and pour the liquid over the entire surface of the dry ingredients. Don't, in other words, pour it into one spot. Pulse the machine again, in short bursts, until the pastry starts to form large clumps. Don't overprocess, or the butter will start to melt rather than stay in small pieces. Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap about 14 inches long and place it nearby.

  3. Empty the crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, pack the dough as you would a snowball. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, right in the bowl. Put the dough in the center of the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disk about 3/4 inch thick. The edges will probably crack slightly; just pinch and mold them back into a smooth disk. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour. Makes enough pastry for one 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping

Sweet summer cherries (or frozen cherries), coconut and almonds make for an irresistible pie combination. I can't get them often, but when I can I like to use sour cherries here, increasing the sugar just slightly. As for pitting the cherries, there are various gadgets for doing so, and I've seen a trick for using a paper clip. But I just put them in a large bowl - to keep the splatter contained - and press down on the end of the cherry (the end opposite the stem) with my thumb. If the cherries are the least bit ripe, the pit will come right out.

1 recipe Best Butter Pie Pastry (above)

Filling

  • 5 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
  • 3 cups pitted, halved cherries (may be frozen)
  • 3 tablespoon amaretto
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Coconut Almond Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon milk or light cream

  1. If you haven't already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

  2. On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the pastry into a 13 -inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch, deep-dish pie pan. Center it, then peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Put the pie shell in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

  3. To make the filling, combine the apples, cherries, amaretto, vanilla and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl; toss well. Mix in 1/2 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cornstarch. Sprinkle over the fruit and toss well. Turn the filling into the frozen pie shell. Smooth the filling with your hands, to even it out. Place directly on the center oven rack and bake for 35 minutes.

  5. While the pie bakes, make the topping. Put the flour, sugar, salt, almonds and coconut in a food processor and pulse several times, to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the milk and pulse again until the crumbs are more gravelly in texture. Refrigerate.

  6. After 35 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and place it on a large, dark baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Carefully dump the crumbs over the center of the pie and spread them evenly over the surface with your hands; press on the crumbs gently to compact them. Put the pie on the baking sheet back in the oven, and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, another 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least one hour before slicing. Makes 8 to 10 servings

10 Tips to the Perfect Apple Pie

What does it take to make the perfect apple pie? That's a question I've asked myself repeatedly over the past several years while writing Apple Pie Perfect. Several hundred apple pie experiments later, here are the ten tips that I think will help you achieve the best apple pie you've ever made.

  1. Mix your pastry with a light hand. Remember, it isn't yeast dough: Kneading, pressing on it repeatedly or other excess handling prior to rolling will only make the crust turn out tough. Just mix it, shape it into a thick disk on a sheet of plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

  2. Yes, refrigerate the dough before rolling. This simple but oft-overlooked step could rescue countless pie pastries that fall apart during rolling. Refrigerating the dough for 50 to 60 minutes firms up the fat and helps hold the pastry together as you roll.

  3. Speaking of rolling, wax paper is an ideal substance to roll on. Just invert the pastry over your pie pan, center it, then peel off the paper.

  4. Use a deep-dish pie pan, one that measures at least 1.5 inches from the inside bottom of the pan to the upper edge. Shallow pans make too skimpy of a pie. A typical 9-inch deep-dish pie pan will hold 7 to 8 cups sliced apples.

  5. As for those apples, here are some of my pie favorites: Northern Spy, Idared, Crispin, Rhode Island Greening, Jonathan, Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Cortland and Granny Smith. (I cover the subject of pie apples in detail in Apple Pie Perfect.)

  6. You say the flavor of your apples is lacking? Instead of adding extra sugar to the filling, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, some finely grated zest (the yellow part of the skin), and 2 tablespoons melted apple jelly.

  7. Bake the pie on the center rack of your oven, no higher or the top of the pie may scorch. Start most apple pies at 400 degrees, then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees for the second half.

  8. At the first sign your pie is getting too brown, lay a large sheet of foil directly over the pie. But don't scrunch it down around the sides. Since foil reflects heat, the edges of the pastry may end up underbaked.

  9. Your pie is done when the juices bubble thickly, which means that your thickening has jelled. You'll most likely see those juices at the edge of the pan, not the center. If you're making a double-crust pie, poke a steam vent in the top crust with a paring knife, near the edge, so you can see the juice.

  10. Cool your pie on a cooling rack for at least 1 to 2 hours before slicing so the juices can firm up. I know: most people can't resist hot pie. But I like the juices to stay put when I cut an apple pie, not run all over the place.

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