I am engaged to the beautiful and wonderful Tara Cleaver!

Apple Pie

February 23rd, 2010 6

It’s been a busy few months. A lot has happened. Also, I decided to make apple pie.


I haven’t tried to make a sweet pie since I [left Seattle](http://uwmike.com/articles/2008/10/13/the-piemaker/). I had enthusiastically bought a pie plate upon my return, but some mixed results with quiches left me a bit discouraged. Pie is a lot of work, and it can be hard to find the motivation if it’s not a 100% sure thing. A few weeks ago, though, I tried again, and found success making the [cauliflower cheese pie](http://www.recipesource.com/main-dishes/dinner-pies/cauliflower-cheese1.html) from Moosewood, and practiced doing a pastry crust rather than the healthier shredded potato shell that is recommended.

This success inspired me to try another dessert pie, and as apples are the fruit of winter, why not an apple pie?

The directions I followed are those which appear in the fruit pies section of the 75th Anniversary [Joy of Cooking](http://www.amazon.com/Joy-Cooking-75th-Anniversary-2006/dp/0743246268). I don’t use the Joy nearly as often as I should, but I really appreciate how much more it is than just recipes—it doesn’t only tell you what to add and when, it explains the philosophy and history of the dish, and why and how it works the way it does. With pastry, it gives recommended proportions of flour, fat, and water, and also tells you what the consequences will be if there is too much or too little of any of the three.

pastry ingredients

pastry blending

The Joy’s suggested pastry is a mixed-fat one—about one part butter to four parts shortening. I was a little nervous about this, as my previous attempts with butter have been inconsistent. The taste is definitely superior, but it’s harder to work with; my best-ever crust was a mixed-fat one, but so was my worst. My most reliable results with pastry have been when using all shortening.

I also ended up being interrupted at this point and had to leave the dough in two plastic-wrapped balls in the fridge for about two hours. The Joy actually recommends this for flavouring reasons, but I have found this makes it too difficult to work with. In the future, I will be avoiding refrigerating pastry before use.

Upon my return, I rolled out the dough, and began preparing the apples.

peeled apples

sliced apples

apple chunks

Now coat them with the sugar and cinnamon mixture, and load that goodness into the pie.

cinnamon sugar apples

loaded up pie

Like I said, I had difficulty rolling out the crust this time, so it’s a little sketchy around the edges. This is also the first time I’ve tried a covered pie. But it worked out well.

uncooked pie

Here’s the final result. To get everything cooked properly, you first bake at high heat for half an hour to brown the crust, then you put a cookie sheet under it to prevent scorching, lower the heat, and bake another half hour to cook the fruit through. I also covered the edges with aluminum foil for this second phase, as it was looking like they might end up pretty brown when all was said and done.

cooked pie

crust detail

pie slice

I call that a success. A sugary, delicious success.


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  1. Mmmm! It looks delicious. :)

    Posted at 1:32 pm on February 23rd by Tara.

  2. Very nice! If you’re looking for more pies, I recommend pot pies. The meat is relatively inexpensive if you go get chicken carcasses at market, and then rescue the scraps after making broth.

    And how on EARTH did you not end up with an unholy mess despite not making vents in your top? I get a mess when I DO make vents, it looks like you’re stealing my lack-of-mess.

    Posted at 6:40 pm on February 23rd by Christine.

  3. Tara: Thanks! I look forward to trying it together sometime. :)

    Christine: I have actually made chicken pot pie twice recently—both times quite successfully following Michael Chu’s recipe, and putting biscuits on top. Now, both times I made it with fresh breast meat (on special at Zehrs, but still expensive!); next time, I’m thinking of trying it with the turkey scraps Jeff froze for me from Christmas.

    Regarding the top crust, I did actually think of vents after it had already been in the oven a few minutes and added them, though you can’t really see in the pictures. In reality, I think it was just that the top was so tattered and ripped already that there were plenty of other places for the steam to escape.

    Posted at 8:51 pm on February 23rd by Mike Purvis.

  4. i have finally not quite mastered but become comfortable enough with making pie crust that i will do it on a semi-regular basis. it works pretty much every time and is just the right amount of flaky for me. i go all butter (cannot deal with shortening. even if it makes things easier to work with, the taste of butter is infinitely better and i am all about taste). since i don’t have a food processor right now and kind of hate the pastry cutter, i keep my pie butter in the freezer and when i’m ready to go, i grate as much as i need (usually about a cup, for a double crust pie or two bottom crusts) on a big hole box grater. i learned this from an alton brown book and it works AMAZINGLY WELL. then i whisk that in with the flour/salt mixture, and gradually mix in my iced water. my go to recipe is martha stewart’s pâte brisée (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/pate-brisee-pie-dough) and i can’t recommend it enough!
    i’ve also heard that using some vodka instead of water helps with keeping your dough not-tough, but i only did that once so i can’t really comment on how well it works. (gluten does not form in alcohol or something)
    hopefully you’re still reading comments on this super old post! that’s my two cents on pie.

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