Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's just pie but it's good.

Yesterday I made this pie in my pastry arts class. Today it's half gone. Was it good? You bet!

Although I won't post this pie recipe, as it's a pretty standard pie recipe, unless you REALLY want it posted, in which case I will.  Instead I will share some tips and tricks for creating a flawless pie.

The course instructor encouraged the use of Tenderflake (lard) instead of butter. It's supposed to be a good stand in for real butter while keeping the costs down. Of course you can also use half butter and half Tenderflake if you prefer a more pronounced buttery flavour.
It was also recommended not to use vegetable shortening because of the water content. Apparently, it makes pie crust shrink in the oven.

Also a must is to use pastry flour to make the pie dough, but to use all purpose flour for dusting and rolling surfaces.

We used Cortland apples as they are apparently one of the best apple choices for making apple pie. Also important is to use a good vegetable peeler to prevent bruising. The apple pie filling called for lemon zest and juice in it as well as cinnamon. The lemon added a lovely subtle tang to the apple pie filling. I think the filling could have used a tad more cinnamon. But I always like to increase the amount of cinnamon in recipes anyway. 

The final touch was to use any leftover dough for making cut-out leaves and apple shapes to "glue" (with egg wash) onto the top of the pie. These add-ons are not mandatory but can, in addition to adding some aesthetics, easily patch up a hole or tear in the crust.

In terms of the egg wash, we added some water (50ml) to a beaten egg to create a seal for the edges, as well as to glaze the top of the pie. Also a must is the hole cut into the top of the pie. This prevents the pie from splitting open and thereby allowing all the pie juice to ooze out.

I've made pie before but never with such great detail and with such scrutiny. This course is forcing me to move slower and take notice of things I otherwise would not be concerned with like neat edges.

I also have a tendency to cut away too much of the apple with the peel or core. It was brought to my attention in class that I should refrain from doing this. I definitely learned a lot during the pie-making process. I probably gained some weight too in the pie-eating process (lard sure makes a good crust) but that's another post altogether.