Monday, May 23, 2011

Eat Alberta 2011: Apple Pie and Pastry Making

One of the first sessions that I experienced at Eat Alberta was the Apple Pie and Pastry Making 101, which featured the pastry talents of Christian Miller. A pie baking aficionado, Christian first learned how to make pies from her father... and has since catapulted that talent into many trademark pies and culinary creations.

While this session did not mark my first attempt at pie making, I figured that there was plenty to learn. All bakers have a slightly different take on how to best create his or her ideal pastry... and just like traditional family recipes that have been passed through generations, typically each is faithful to their version.

I was challenged to "work the lard hard" and produce a crust in a very different way from what I had in the past... yet equally tasty!

Pastry Ingredients:
This will make enough pastry for 3 pies (tops and bottoms) or 4 pies, if you want your crust to be a bit thinner. 
6 cups flour
1 pound lard
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg lightly beaten
Cold water

Measure your flour, then add the lard to the bowl. Using your hands (yep, you're going to get your hands dirty now), work the flour into the lard until it resembles coarse oatmeal. This is the work the lard hard part! The lard and the flour will meld... the colour will become a deeper and richer beige-tone... just keep mixing past the point where you may have stopped yourself in the past.

In a one cup measuring cup, combine the salt, vinegar and egg, then fill the measure to make 1 cup of liquid. Pour the liquid over the lard mixture. Add enough liquid to make the dough cling together...

Gather the dough into a ball, using only enough pressure to bring everything together. Be gentle here. Then divide the dough into six portions. (You can wrap unneeded portions and refrigerate or freeze for later.)

Chill your crust while you make your filling.

Miller Apple Pie Filling Ingredients:
8 Granny Smith apples per pie
For the Millers, Granny Smith apples are the ONLY logical choice. Whatever you choose... choose a firm, baking apple. Check out this post on Baking Bites for different ideas/opinions.
1/8 - 1/4 cup brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup flour

Peel, core and slice your apples. Watch for and remove any bits of apple core, peel or seeds. Christian had two different apple peeler/corer/slicer for use during the session... what an easy process with those tools!

Once your apples are prepped, then you can season to your particular tastes. Add your brown sugar, bit by bit. Taste test! No batch of apples will share the same sweetness, so you have to taste or you could make your pie too sweet... or not sweet enough. Now, follow the same method to season and taste test with the cinnamon. Christian encouraged Eat Alberta participants to add lots of cinnamon! It should taste like cinnamon without overpowering the apples. Last, mix in the flour based on your assessment of their juiciness. If they are really juicy, then you'll want to add more flour... if not, then you may not want to add the full amount. Set the mixture aside.

Time for the rolling! Lightly flour your work surface. Then roll out your pie crust. I rotate the dough as I roll it, pushing out from the centre. It seems to keep your crust even throughout. You can place your pie plate on top of your rolled dough to see if it is large enough (remember that the pan has a lip, so your dough should be wider than the pan's diameter). Repeat with the top crust.

Use your rolling pin to pick up the crust, by rolling it onto the pin (like wrapping paper around the cardboard tube). Then roll the crust onto your pie plate. Press the dough into the plate, then fill with your seasoned apples.

Brush the edge of the bottom crust with water or milk, then roll your second crust over top of this base. This will act as a glue to keep the top and bottom crusts together. Cut off the excess dough. You can finish the edge with a pinching technique or using a fork, amongst many other decorative options.

Brush the top of your pie with milk or water, then sprinkle sugar on top. Vent the top of the pie with fork holes or use a knife to cut designs. Up to you!

Bake for one hour at 350 F, reduce heat to 325 F and continue to bake for an additional hour. These baking times worked for our mini-pies as well as the larger pies...

I also forgot to top with sugar... sigh.
I was in a *do not pass go, go immediately to pie* mode. 

Don't judge my broken pie here though... my pie lifter was much too big to pull out a tiny piece of mini-pie. It was delicious though! Flaky and sweet (but not too sweet)... sure to please!

1 thought(s):

Liv V. said...

Now that is some damn fine pie :)

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