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Old 12-17-2006, 01:06 AM   #1
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Question Pie Experts Please Help!

Hi, My apple pies always sink a bit in the middle after they've been baked. Does anyone know why and how I can prevent it? I don't just toss the apples in like some, I try to layer it (think tart but not as exact or pretty). I was thinking maybe I need to stack a bunch of extra in the middle to accomodate this. But I'm afraid it won't cook evenly if I put more apples in the middle and less on the outer part.

And other times, when the crust doesn't sink, the apples get cooked and shrink up and there is a big air gap from the top of the apples to the crust. Got any suggestions for this one either???

Thank you!!

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Old 12-17-2006, 01:23 AM   #2
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Expert maybe not, but I make a nice pie. However, I have to admit that your problem just seems to be the nature of the beast if we're talking apple pie. I admit that compared to other types of pies it might be weird and undesirable, but after awhile if all the great apple pies you've had include that odd air gap between apples and upper crust, you (well, me) just accept it as part of the unique aspects of a great apple pie, and love it all the more for its oddities. However ... that's me and you want it nice and neat. Hmmm, as you already figured out, it has to do with the apples getting softer and therefore fitting together better and lower. Frankly, I can't think of anything else you could do other than very neatly and tightly layering them. That or maybe change apples you use -- to one that's still suitable for baking but happens to hold onto its shape a bit better once cooked ... My vote is still to accept it for what it is -- an apple pie with a 'sunken' middle shouts 'homemade' to me which usually translates to real and delicious. That's a really GOOD thing! Besides, 9 times out of 10 they look like h**l once cut and served so concentrate on flavor rather than appearance. (Then again, if you have to have a very presentable pie, try rimming the edge with a design of overlapping leaves -- easy to cut and place and really pretty once baked. That will detract from the sunken center you don't like!)
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Old 12-17-2006, 01:39 AM   #3
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yup, the apples in an apple pie always shrink. no two ways about it.

i pile up a huge mountain, to about 3 times the height of the pie pan, until i can't fit any more on top. i also don't cut my apples in wedges. after peeling, i cut the apples so that, looking down at the top of the apple, i cut the shape you would draw for tic-tac-toe, leaving the core and cutting fairly thick slices. besides being a faster way to get through a case of apples, you can really pack them in the pie, especially if you layer them. i prefer the apples to be somewhat al dente, not soft, so even with this amount of apples, i cook my pies no longer than normal, perhaps rather less. when they're done, there's a gap between the crust and apples, but not much. the apples are still about double the height of the pan or so.

boy do i hate mushy, under-filled apple pie. especially if the crust is no good.
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:44 AM   #4
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Hi, thanks for the post. I use Granny Smith apples which are my favorite for apple pie. I know I can use others, so maybe I'll try a mix. The taste of my pies (for me) are perfect. I like my crust and the flavor/texture of the apples.

I just wonder why home made pies have the gap and sink, but I don't think I've noticed that store bought or frozen pies have the gap. (Though I have to admit I don't buy many pies).
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Old 12-17-2006, 02:19 PM   #5
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"nature of a the beast"....yeah buddy!
the uglier they are the better......

not normally done on apple pies...but you might try a lattice top.
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Old 12-17-2006, 03:37 PM   #6
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You could try par cooking the apples a bit before putting them into the pie...They won't shrink as much the second time you bake them.
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:21 PM   #7
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Vera, how would I cook them the first time? In a casserole dish and bake? I wouldn't mind giving that a try. I've really got the apple pie down and now am just working on improving the looks. Thanks!
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:35 PM   #8
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htc, to eliminate the gap between filling and pastry pat the top layer of pastry down on top of the filling. It will sort of stick to the apples and the gap is a thing of the past.

For the sinking issue, just do as philso said and pile the filling as high as you can. It will sink, but who cares?
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Old 12-18-2006, 01:20 AM   #9
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i'm generally right in sync with vera but, this time i'm gonna say,

"don't parboil them!"

unless, that is, getting rid of the apple/crust gap (hereafter known as a/cg) is your over-riding concern. if your idea of a great apple filling is like the stuff that comes out of a can, fine & well. but parboiling them leaches away flavor and you can forget about retaining any kind of crispiness. if you do, they will fit in better so there will be less a/cg, but i think you'll be sacrificing too much taste and mouth feel.

where most apple pies need improving is, in my opinion:

- apples tend to be overcooked
- crusts are not flaky at all
- crusts are not tasty; i sometimes wonder if there are people who prefer buttering their toast with crisco. enough said.
- crusts are cut off at the edge of the pan and mashed together with a fork. try this: leave at least an inch or so of both top and bottom crust beyond the edge of the pie pan. fold this under, so that top top crust is tucked in, touching the top of the pan. flute by hand. if your crust is good, this is almost the best part of the pie.
- few people bother to gild their crusts.

good luck with your pies. send me one when you think you've got it close to what you want, and i'll send you a professional critique.
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Old 12-18-2006, 01:23 AM   #10
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by the way, great looking halloween cake there. post a pic next time you make a pie and i'll take a look.
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