Other Articles in this Category
Easy as pie: Making the perfect crust
The holiday season is right around the corner. It’s a time for friends, family and, of course, food. Yet our schedules often are too packed to meet the demands of the kitchen so we find places to cut corners.
Not so fast, cautions Donna Poelstra. At least when it comes to pie crusts, a little time can make a world of difference.
“Making pies is really easy and fun,” said Poelstra, who owns Taste of Life Natural Market and Prepared Meals in Monument. “It takes literally five minutes to make a pie crust from scratch. I don’t know why anyone would ever buy ready-made ones.”
Her secret? Vegetable oil.
“This is the pie-crust recipe my mother taught me,” Poelstra said. “I rate a pie by its crust. If it’s thick and tough, it’s not worth the calories. I like a crust that is flaky and lightly browned.”
This time of year, what’s the perfect way to showcase a tender, golden-brown crust? Apples.
Let’s talk about apples. What kinds are best for pie?
According to Susan G. Purdy, author of “Pie in the Sky,” who has baked many apple pies at high altitude, “the secret to a ‘high pie’ is to select the right type of apples.”
Purdy recommends a blend of crisp cooking apples — Granny Smith, Jonathan and Rome Beauty. At 7,000 feet, Golden Delicious, McIntosh or other softer eating apples work well. These usually are considered too soft for sea-level pies but are perfect at high altitude because they bake faster. For firmer, tarter apples, she suggests precooking and cooling them before putting them into the pastry-lined pan.
“Another trick is to add enough moisture to the pie crust,” she said. “At higher elevations, the dry mountain air and faster evaporation means dough usually needs a little extra liquid to remain pliable. Another trick is to cover a partially baked pie with an aluminum foil tent to prevent overbrowning.”
• Use a light touch when mixing the dough. “The less you handle the crust with your hands, the flakier it will be,” Poelstra said.
• Want to keep an eye on the crust? Purdy advises using a glass (Pyrex) plate so you can closely monitor the color of the crust.
• The pie can be made and assembled 24 hours in advance, or even frozen. “The filled, unbaked pie will keep for a day in the refrigerator,” Poelstra said. “Otherwise, the oil in the crust will start to separate. They can be frozen, too. Bake it (frozen) at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, then lower the oven to 350 degrees and continue to bake about 2 hours, or until the apples are very soft.”
TOPPING IT OFF
When you’re ready to serve the warm pie, don’t forget ice cream. Think beyond plain vanilla — try cinnamon or butter pecan ice cream. Or maybe cookies and cream, pistachio or peach.
But wait, we’re not done yet. Caramel is super yummy with apples, too. Instead of ice cream — or in addition to it — drizzle the pie with melted caramel. It’s the best of all worlds: warm, flaky crust with sweet apples oozing with melted ice cream and buttery caramel.
Donna Poelstra offers pie-baking classes at Taste of Life Natural Market & Prepared Meals, 18965 Base Camp Road in Monument, 6-8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 12. You will learn to make her Never-Fail Pie Crust and how to make a custard pie. You also will make your own apple pie to take home. Cost is $20 per person. Call 487-2858 for reservations. The store also sells homemade baked goods and frozen meals, produce, meats from selected farmers and ranchers, and whole grains.
Yield: 1 pie
1 Never-Fail Pie Crust (recipe below)
5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place apples in large bowl. Immediately stir in remaining ingredients.
Prepare Never-Fail Pie Crust. Place bottom crust in 9-inch pie plate. Pour apple mixture into pie crust. Cut butter into four pieces and place on top of apples. Place top crust on pie and crimp edges. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with a slight amount of sugar. Make slits in top crust to allow air to escape. Place a thin strip of foil over edges to avoid overbaking the edges.
Bake 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour. Check doneness of apples by sticking a knife in the air vents to make sure apples are soft.
Never-Fail Pie Crust
Yield: Enough for a 2-crust pie
2 cups flour
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
In medium bowl, mix flour, oil and salt together with a fork. Then add the water and mix with a fork. Divide dough in half and roll into a circle between two pieces of wax paper. Peel off top paper and turn upside down into pie plate. Pour in apple mixture.
Roll second half of dough between two pieces of waxed paper. Peel off top paper the same way and turn upside down over apples. Pinch bottom and top crusts together to make a wall, then crimp to make a pretty edge around pie.
Make slits in top crust; brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Follow baking directions above.
Contact Teresa J. Farney at
636-0271, Twitter @tffoodie,
Facebook Teresa Farney