Of Apple Pie, Thanksgiving, and Little White Lies
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,
tell our listeners what sort of apple pie you'll be baking for Thanksgiving
I'll bet it's one of your favorites."
read the article and recipe
A Festive Apple Pie for the Holidays
Having immersed myself in the subject of apple pie for the last few years,
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
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
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
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
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
Apple Cobbler Pie
Harvest Pie with Autumn
Apple Raisin Gingerbread
Logging Road Blackberry
Shaker Boiled Apple
Wine Country Green Grape
and Apple Pie
Apple Cheesecake Pie
Maple Apple Pie with
a Very Pecan Crumb Crust
Rum Raisin Apple Pie
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
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
cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick)
cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
About 3 tablespoons
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.
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.
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
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
1/2 cup sliced
1/2 cup flaked
6 tablespoons cold,
unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon milk or light cream
If you haven't already, prepare
the pastry and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, about 1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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