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Old 08-28-2013, 05:25 AM   #11
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Doesn't much matter what the exact recipes are - but there are a couple of little tricks that can make a real difference.

First, use a pie crust mix - I don't mean a bought one, but take your favorite pie dough recipe and mix up the fats and dry (flour, salt, whatever) - I make a triple recipe (assuming a double crust pie). Cut everything together and stop before adding the liquids. Put in a Ziploc freezer bag and store in the fridge or freezer. The exact same recipe works better for me this way, mostly, I believe, because all ingredients are thoroughly chilled and just mixing in the cold liquids doesn't give it much time to warm up. Super flaky crusts!

Second - take your apples and mix thoroughly with the dry ingredients, the only difference is cut flour out entirely and use only about 1 to 2 T of cornstarch - it actually isn't really necessary but it does hurry the next step and I am impatient.

Let the apple mixture macerate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible. Longer than about 24 hours reaps no further rewards.

Parcook the apples (I zap in the microwave for 3 to 4 mins). Pour off all the liquid and cook it down, either by zapping it for short bursts in the microwave or cook it in a small pan on the stovetop. I won't give times because microwaves vary so much in power, and it depends on how much juice there is - but when it gets close to thickening, it will proceed very rapidly at the end.

This is a variation of making boiled cider. If you go a bit too far and end up with cider jelly, no worries - add some water to thin it back down just a bit. Cooking cider or apple juice down to make a thick jelly like substance was one way to preserve it back in the days before even canning, let alone refrigeration and freezing. Boiled cider or cider jelly is usually pretty tart; this will not be so tart because of the sugar used.

Lay the parcooked apples into the prepared pie crust and pour this very thick apple syrup over the top. Your pie will NOT be soggy, guaranteed, and cooking the juices down to a syrup greatly enhances the apple flavor.

I prefer to top with a streusel topping

Here are exact recipes if you prefer:

Pie Crust Mix

Apple Pie Filling

2 ways to make a streusel topping

How they do it in a professional bakery

Uber Easy streusel for the lazy lazy baker
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:30 PM   #12
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IMHO no pie can be "the best" without a great crust. I have tried for at least 30 years to get a great crust and I finally managed it a while back. The crust I make uses Half butter and half lard...yes lard. It also uses a tablespoon of vinegar. But I think the real secret has to be attributed to A l t o n Brown. He says to use vodka instead of water so that mixing won't develop glutens which make the crust tough. I'll be darned if he wasn't right. Try it yourself. Now all my crusts are both flavorful and tender. Man I love a great crust!
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:36 PM   #13
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I make what I consider a decent pie crust, but not my ideal. I hope to remedy that soon!
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:13 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by joesfolk View Post
IMHO no pie can be "the best" without a great crust. I have tried for at least 30 years to get a great crust and I finally managed it a while back. The crust I make uses Half butter and half lard...yes lard. It also uses a tablespoon of vinegar. But I think the real secret has to be attributed to A l t o n Brown. He says to use vodka instead of water so that mixing won't develop glutens which make the crust tough. I'll be darned if he wasn't right. Try it yourself. Now all my crusts are both flavorful and tender. Man I love a great crust!
ATK says the same thing about the vodka. It is no longer a big secret.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:19 AM   #15
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I use water and always have a super flaky and tender crust. Vodka isn't essential. Plus, I hate the flavor of alcohol, and if any didn't evaporate away, it would ruin the crust for me.

I sometimes flavor my crusts with soup base, such as chicken or beef, to enhance the savory fillings. I also have added sugar and cinnamon to the dough, with fruit-filled pies. Like most cooing techniques and recipes, once you understand the dynamics of the ingredients, you can get very creative, and change the recipe at will.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:26 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
I use water and always have a super flaky and tender crust. Vodka isn't essential. Plus, I hate the flavor of alcohol, and if any didn't evaporate away, it would ruin the crust for me.

I sometimes flavor my crusts with soup base, such as chicken or beef, to enhance the savory fillings. I also have added sugar and cinnamon to the dough, with fruit-filled pies. Like most cooing techniques and recipes, once you understand the dynamics of the ingredients, you can get very creative, and change the recipe at will.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
The reason vodka is used is because it lacks flavor. I've used it many times and you'd never know it was there! Of course it's not essential but having a bit more liquid in there makes it very easy to roll, kinda like cookie dough.
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by bakechef View Post
The reason vodka is used is because it lacks flavor. I've used it many times and you'd never know it was there! Of course it's not essential but having a bit more liquid in there makes it very easy to roll, kinda like cookie dough.
I know the drill. "Try vodka in your mixed drink. You won't even taste it."

That's what I was told as a young man, trying to develop a taste for alcoholic beverages. I tried about every form of alcoholic drink I could find. Every one of them gave me an extremely disagreeable taste. Finally, I decided that i wasn't going to use something that tasted so bad to me, even if I was teased, or harassed about it. I wan't going to have my life dictated to me. 40+ years later, I still can't stomach the flavor. And yes, I've tried cooking with various spirits. And I still don't like the flavor.

I know that my flavor sensitivities are different from most. But for whatever reason, I taste the alcohol, even when cooked. And again, it's my personal choice. If it works for you, then by all means, use it.

Then again, I'll put my pie crust up against any and all challengers. Water works, if the dough is prepared properly.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
I know the drill. "Try vodka in your mixed drink. You won't even taste it."

That's what I was told as a young man, trying to develop a taste for alcoholic beverages. I tried about every form of alcoholic drink I could find. Every one of them gave me an extremely disagreeable taste. Finally, I decided that i wasn't going to use something that tasted so bad to me, even if I was teased, or harassed about it. I wan't going to have my life dictated to me. 40+ years later, I still can't stomach the flavor. And yes, I've tried cooking with various spirits. And I still don't like the flavor.

I know that my flavor sensitivities are different from most. But for whatever reason, I taste the alcohol, even when cooked. And again, it's my personal choice. If it works for you, then by all means, use it.

Then again, I'll put my pie crust up against any and all challengers. Water works, if the dough is prepared properly.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
A friend of mine has tastebuds that are sensitive to alcohol. A little cooked out is OK, but if he tastes alcohol at all he wants nothing to do with it.

The pie crust recipe is one of those "if it aint broke, don't fix it" I think that the vodka trick would be great for beginners, but definitely not for everyone. Vodka has no flavor, but tastebuds definitely pick up the alcohol sensation which can be offensive to some
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:46 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
I know the drill. "Try vodka in your mixed drink. You won't even taste it."

That's what I was told as a young man, trying to develop a taste for alcoholic beverages. I tried about every form of alcoholic drink I could find. Every one of them gave me an extremely disagreeable taste. Finally, I decided that i wasn't going to use something that tasted so bad to me, even if I was teased, or harassed about it. I wan't going to have my life dictated to me. 40+ years later, I still can't stomach the flavor. And yes, I've tried cooking with various spirits. And I still don't like the flavor.

I know that my flavor sensitivities are different from most. But for whatever reason, I taste the alcohol, even when cooked. And again, it's my personal choice. If it works for you, then by all means, use it.

Then again, I'll put my pie crust up against any and all challengers. Water works, if the dough is prepared properly.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
Same here Chief. I CAN taste the alcohol. There may be a science to using alcohol in cooking. But there is a science to the way my taste buds work also. And science has shown that all the alcohol "does not" evaporate completely. I no longer order Shrimp Scampi because as a rule the kitchen adds the alcohol at the end and does not even give it a chance to begin to evaporate. I have never had an alcoholic drink in my life. So I am very sensitive to when it is in food. And I do not like the taste. One bite is all it takes. And if there is a lot of it in the food, I will spit it right back out onto the plate. So much for table manners.

I have often thought, "if there is this much alcohol in the food, how much is in the cook."
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitchen Barbarian View Post
Doesn't much matter what the exact recipes are - but there are a couple of little tricks that can make a real difference.

First, use a pie crust mix - I don't mean a bought one, but take your favorite pie dough recipe and mix up the fats and dry (flour, salt, whatever) - I make a triple recipe (assuming a double crust pie). Cut everything together and stop before adding the liquids. Put in a Ziploc freezer bag and store in the fridge or freezer. The exact same recipe works better for me this way, mostly, I believe, because all ingredients are thoroughly chilled and just mixing in the cold liquids doesn't give it much time to warm up. Super flaky crusts!

Second - take your apples and mix thoroughly with the dry ingredients, the only difference is cut flour out entirely and use only about 1 to 2 T of cornstarch - it actually isn't really necessary but it does hurry the next step and I am impatient.

Let the apple mixture macerate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible. Longer than about 24 hours reaps no further rewards.

Parcook the apples (I zap in the microwave for 3 to 4 mins). Pour off all the liquid and cook it down, either by zapping it for short bursts in the microwave or cook it in a small pan on the stovetop. I won't give times because microwaves vary so much in power, and it depends on how much juice there is - but when it gets close to thickening, it will proceed very rapidly at the end.

This is a variation of making boiled cider. If you go a bit too far and end up with cider jelly, no worries - add some water to thin it back down just a bit. Cooking cider or apple juice down to make a thick jelly like substance was one way to preserve it back in the days before even canning, let alone refrigeration and freezing. Boiled cider or cider jelly is usually pretty tart; this will not be so tart because of the sugar used.

Lay the parcooked apples into the prepared pie crust and pour this very thick apple syrup over the top. Your pie will NOT be soggy, guaranteed, and cooking the juices down to a syrup greatly enhances the apple flavor.

I prefer to top with a streusel topping

Here are exact recipes if you prefer:

Pie Crust Mix

Apple Pie Filling

2 ways to make a streusel topping

How they do it in a professional bakery

Uber Easy streusel for the lazy lazy baker
I've been working with this pie crust "mix" and it's a good recipe, nice, tender, flaky no nonsense crust. I'm going to try adding a bit of vodka to make it an easy to roll out dough. I hate rolling out pie crust, but I hate pre-made refrigerated pie crust more.
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