Friday, September 11, 2015

Midweek Roundup: "More Than Marvelous"

Photo by Joan
Alpha Baker Joan Blog

For a long time, I thought I was the only person who had pie problems.  But then I realized that I wasn't.  So I asked myself what was there about all these wonderful bakers who thought nothing of making the most complicated cake decorations and who still quivered at the thought of pie.  I finally decided it was because there are so many things that can go wrong with a pie, and each of these things can cause complete ruination.

I found a little article in Huffington Post called "Twelve Ways to Avoid Messing Up Your Pies This Summer."  Well, that's the optimistic way of putting it.  Another title might be "Twelve Terrible Things that Can Go Wrong With Your Pies."  And each of these things can make your pie inedible:  tough crust, burned crust, soggy bottom, mushy filling.  Ugh.  No wonder people--with some notable exceptions--eye the pie with some trepidation.

It was only because she had all of Rose's pie-making equipment that Joan found the courage to bake this pie.  And then she discovered that she "had very little problem...actually no problem at all in baking a wonderful-looking apple pie."  Even her cat agrees.

And Rachel's "cream cheese crust making technique is definitely improving."  It turned into a "pretty good-looking dough." She had "pie for breakfast."  (That's really no worse than having an apple danish, is it?)  Whatever meal it was served at, it was "very tasty."

As usual, Kim is determined to make her pastry by hand rather than use her food processor--no short cuts for her!  Well, she did use a pastry cutter, so maybe it's only electric appliances that she's opposed to.  (For herself, that is--there is no hint of a lecture for the lazier ones among us--or maybe there's just one lazy one.  Naming no names).  To say she was happy with the result is putting it mildly:  "This was the best apple pie I've ever had.  It was intense, juicy, and delicious.  The pastry was great.  Hands down, the best apple pie I ever had.  The best."

Nancy, joining us again this week, posted about the apple pie she made way back in November, as a Thanksgiving alternative to pecan or pumpkin.  Modest Nancy claims she's not the "greatest at pie pastry making," but "this one was still reasonably flaky despite my skill level with it."  And the filling was "indeed luscious."

Rose's pie had heavy competition in Milagritos's since apple pie is one of their favorite desserts, and Milagritos has a favorite (it's really an amalgamation of a number of favorite recipes).  Did the Luscious pie measure up?  It sounds like the answer is "almost," although both Milagritos and her husband prefer apple pies where the apples are cooked a little longer and have a little softer texture.  (I should mention that this was really the only complaint that I can remember reading--not a unanimous complaint by any means, but some people said the apples could have been cooked longer).  I wonder if the fruit could be pre-cooked a bit, since the juices are cooked in order to reduce them.  Anyway, the texture grew on Milagritos, and her husband?  Well, let's just say "the more pie he eats, the rosier his outlook."

Katya made the pie, but hasn't blogged about it since she's also moving.  Here's a link to a Facebook post, which may or may not work.  (It worked for me).  Her mother reports that "the innards are better than the crust," which I guess is one vote for the not-so-soft apple filling.

Jen, who suffers from Rose's "Fear of Pie-ing" almost as much as I do, but you wouldn't know it to look at the gorgeous finished product.  Oh, maybe there was a little complaining about the pie being an all-day affair, but in the end, "once the pie is baked, and the heavenly aroma of applies and cinnamon fill the house, the all-day pie project seems totally worth it."  "We are in love with this pie."

Everything seemed fine with Vicki's pie until she put it in the oven.  Then it sort of stopped.  She "baked and baked and baked"--"a full hour after Rose's time," but the juices were still not bubbling through the cracks.  She was afraid the cornstarch wouldn't get hot enough to thicken, and, sure enough, she ended up with "apple pie soup."  It was very good pie soup ("amazing" even), (and the apples were definitely done), but "it doesn't exactly look pretty."  It looks pretty before it was sliced, Vicki, and pie that smells and tastes this good doesn't need to be beautiful.

Orin's previous ventures into apple pie baking had been of the "soggy bottom" variety (see above for all the things that can go wrong with pie), so she pretty much stayed away.  Now that she's made Rose's pie crust a few times, she's started to gain confidence so she decided to give it a go.  Maybe a little too much confidence?  Whatever the cause, she completely forgot to add the cider.  Of the people who tasted the pie, no one said, "This pie would be a lot better if it had some cider in it."  No, they said "this is absolutely the only apple pie that I'm eating," and encouraged her to give them more.  She's going to make it again for the upcoming holidays, so perhaps she'll report on whether the cider addition improves on perfection.

Now Faithy is not afraid of pie.  If you'll remember, she's the one who brought two perfect pies to a church get-together and caused everyone to line up at her pie booth instead of saving dessert for last.  And, of course, her pie looks beautiful, with her heart cut-outs, flaky crust, and sugary top.  But she wasn't happy because the apples were still a bit "crunchy"  she figured she should have baked it for 10 minutes longer.  Also, the church social must have done her in because when she saw that apple pie was next up, she said to herself, "Oh no, not pie again!"  But it looks very tempting.

Aimee got her blog post done just under the wire because she took a "semi-spontaneous" trip to Cape Cod last weekend, and tried, but failed, to complete her post at the motel.  (When I first read her post, I thought she'd said she had tried to bake the pie at the motel, and I was astounded!)  She picked up a "display mini-pie maker" for a song, and so, of course, had to make mini pies.  She said the gadget (I remind you that it was dirt-cheap) wasn't really made for homemade pie crust, which is more fragile than the refrigerated stuff, and you only bake the mini-pies for 10 minutes, so the apples were still crunchy.  Still, "the pies were really good!  And very cute."  Yes and yes.

Next week:  Woody's famous pepparkakors.  (I recommend the variation with added cayenne).  I think of these as Christmas cookies, but I decided there would be a mass rebellion if I assigned cookies throughout November and December, and I've tried to have only one cookie recipe a month.  But these are fun to make and will taste good in the first cool days of autumn.


1 comment:

  1. Such a pretty kitty and pie! The Huffington Post article is good. The best tip I've gotten in all this is Nancy grating frozen butter into the flour. Completely did the trick for me to tackle pie crust without anxiety. I will never undercook filling again!