"Easy as apple pie" - how many times have you heard that? Well now you can make make apple pie like a pro and not have a nervous breakdown in the process! Here are my top ten tips for making the perfect apple pie every time.
1) Apples! Apples! Apples! The most important part of the apple pie is obviously the apples. If you are lucky and live in an area with apple groves then pick a combination of tart and sweet apples and put them in a pie within 24 hours. If you live nowhere near an apple grove I recommend Granny Smith apples for your pie. The tartness combined with the sweetness of the sugar/cinnamon mixture creates an amazing taste. Another combination that works great is McIntosh and Cortland apples but only if the apples are fresh.
2) Don't burn the crust. When baking an apple pie, one of the big problems is burnt edges of the crust. To prevent this problem cover the edges of your pie with tin foil. But don't scrunch it down around the sides. Because the foil reflects the heat, the pastry edges may end up under baked. Or, you can actually purchase an edge guard at your local kitchen supply store that is placed over the edges of the pie to protect them from burning.
3) Taste the apples! Once you add your cinnamon/sugar mixture taste test your apples. Do not be afraid to add more brown sugar and cinnamon to your mixture. You can't spoil something good by adding something good to it!
4) Extra weight is a good thing!! If you bake your pie shell prior to adding the apple filling the pie shell might inflate. To prevent this from happening add dry beans to the bottom of the shell prior to placing it in the oven. Or you can actually purchase weighted beads that can be placed in the bottom of the shell to prevent the pastry from rising.
5) A mountain of apples is a good thing. Always prepare more apples than you think you will need. Make a mountain in the pie shell when you add the apples. Stretch the top pie crust over the mountain of apples as best you can. You will find while the pie bakes the mountain of apples will deflate. You will be left with a pie that has a sufficient amount of apples. Without the mountain you may end up with a caved in pie and few apples per slice.
6) The garnish: Ice cream. Don't forget to offer ice cream with each slice of pie. Be imaginative. Vanilla ice cream is the standard scoop to add to a slice of apple pie. Try cinnamon or butter pecan ice cream instead. Cookies and Cream ice cream works very well, as does Pistachio and Peach ice cream.
7) Apple Pie with a twist! Instead of the standard apple pie, look for variations of the recipe. Try Dutch Apple pie or French Apple pie or apple pie combinations like Rhubarb/Apple or Cranberry-Raisin-Apple pie.
8) Caramel yum!! Instead of ice cream, drizzle melted caramel over your apple pie. This gives your pie an added sweetness that will impress your family and friends.
9) Sweetness other than sugar. If you do not think your apples are sweet enough but you do not want to add sugar, try 1tbsp lemon juice, some finely grated lemon zest, and 2 tbsp melted apple jelly. The addition of the jam adds a special sweetness to the pie.
10) Pretty as a picture. The top of the apple pie must be vented with a few slices of the knife through the top pie shell. Instead of simple slits add a pattern or pretty decoration. Cut your loved one's initials in the pie shell, or a heart, or star. Your imagination is the limit!