Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh My Pie!

Who says I can’t bake a fruit pie? Well, me, actually. Pies are the one thing I’ve always had difficulty with in the kitchen. They are always runny. Apple pies, blueberry pies, peach pies. All runny. I don’t have issues with other kinds of pies, like pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, pecan pie. Just those darn fruit ones!

I’ve made this Caramel Apple Pie II recipe from allrecipes.com several times over the years. Everyone always raves about it, but I knew that it could be improved. My complaints are that it always comes out runny and the bottom crust is soggy and underdone. When my sister-in-law requested I make it again for the holidays this year, I decided to see if I could fix it, and finally conquer this fruit pie difficulty that I have.

I started doing internet research and found out I’m not alone in my quest for “non-runny” apple pies. Sure, there were plenty of people out there that said, “Oh, I just toss the apples with a little flour and my pies always turn out great.” Yeah, believe me, I’ve tried that and “just a little flour” does not combat all of the juice that seeps out of those fruits. With the caramel apple pie, even more moisture is added with the toffee addition, so I knew I had to try something else. Further research gave me several options. I read that Cooks Illustrated had made over the classic apple pie and solved the problem of soupy fillings (September 2005 issue). Hey, if the folks at Cooks Illustrated have trouble with the standard apple pie recipe too, then I know I’m in good company! They recommended pre-cooking the apples. Another option I found was using tapioca as a thickener. I kind of liked the idea of precooking the apples. That way I had more control over the amount of liquid that was going into the pie.

I increased the amount of apples to 6 cups, to counter anything that might be lost in removing some of the juice. I simmered the apples and sugar on low heat, just until the apples started to soften and a fair amount of juice had been exuded. I drained the apples, reserving the juice, and then added the flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. I then added just enough of the juice back into the mixture to moisten it. I got a little over ½ cup juice from the apples and added about half of it back. Then I just followed the recipe as written.

The only other change I made was the cookie sheet. The recipe says to put the pie on a cookie sheet to bake in the oven. That way if the caramel bakes up and runs over, it will land on the sheet and not your oven. I got to thinking that maybe that was why my bottom crust was always so soggy. The cookie sheet was actually insulating the bottom of the pie from the heat and preventing it from baking. I decided to put the cookie sheet on the rack below the pie, not directly under it. It worked like a charm. Now the heat was actually being reflected and directed at the bottom of the pie, insuring that it baked thoroughly.

I was so proud of my pie! I couldn’t wait to slice into it see if I had achieved caramel apple pie perfection. I had indeed! I could actually slice it into pieces, the filling wasn’t soupy and running all over, and the bottom crust was not soggy. I think it’s one of my proudest baking achievements yet!

Caramel Apple Pie
(this is not a low-FODMAP recipe)
adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients 

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch
double crust deep dish pie
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups thinly sliced apples
2/3 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
20 caramels, halved
2 tablespoons milk


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. To Make Taffy: In a small bowl combine brown sugar, melted butter or margarine, and 1/3 cup flour. Mix well and set aside.
  3. To Make Apple Filling: Place apples and sugar in a large saucepan and gently cook over low heat. Cook just until apples begin to soften and about 1/2 cup juice has been exuded. Drain juice from apples and reserve. Add 3 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Toss until all ingredients are mixed well and apples are thoroughly coated. Add just enough of the reserved juice back into the mixture of moisten it (about half of the juice, or 1/4 cup).
  4. Spoon half of apple filling into pastry-lined deep-dish pan. Top with half of caramels and half of taffy mixture. Repeat process with remaining apple filling, caramels and taffy mixture. Place top pastry over filling and seal well (this is very important--if edges are not sealed, caramel will leak out all over). Cut steam vents and brush top crust with milk or light cream.
  5. Cover pie with foil and place on middle oven rack. Place a baking sheet on the oven rack below the pie. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil from pie and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden.

2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful pie Dianne! I'll have to try your recipe. I always use the famous (2000+ reviews) Apple Pie by Grandma Ople recipe from AR. Although I do change it a bit (a lot);)

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  2. Thanks for the tips, they will sure come in handy when I make an apple pie. I see your weather is 13 degrees but it feels like - 4.....stay warm!

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