If there is one thing you probably do not see a lot here on Love From The Oven, it’s pie. Pie has always been a bit intimidating to me. But the variety and options that you can create with pie are almost endless (and my husband LOVES it), so I need to kick my pie making into a higher gear. It’s something I’ve been reading up on and learning more about and starting to branch out into more.
I think the go to guy for pie is, without a doubt, Ken Haedrich. Ken is an award winning author of many cookbooks, including two dedicated completely to pie, Pie and Apple Pie. Last year I reviewed his book, Pie, here on the site, and fell in love with Ken’s writing style. He made everything seem so approachable and easy to understand. Reading Ken’s book I wondered why I always found pie so intimidating, because they way he explained it, it actually seemed easy. He is an author and a baker who I truly admire and look up to. I also think he needs his own show on the Food Network.
Ken has recently started a website, The Pie Academy, that is an amazing resource for pie bakers of any experience level It is packed full of recipes, training and the tools you need to make your own pies. Ken has generously offered to share one of his recipes (with SIX great variations!) and some of his expertise with us here at Love From The Oven. I am so excited to have him share his wisdom, as well one of his delicious recipes. I can’t thank him enough for sharing with us. Now I will let Ken take over…
One Great Apple Pie, Six Sensational Variations
Everything I ever needed to learn about apple pie I learned from my dad, a weekend baker whose magical way with pie Iʼve spent the better part of my life trying to emulate. Like myself, dad was a self-taught baker who took great joy in the simple act of creating something delicious out of everyday ingredients.
Dad made his pastry by hand, so I canʼt be entirely sure how he would have felt about the food processor recipe Iʼve come to like so much. I suspect he would have liked it. Dad was a woodworker and he had great respect for his tools. He would have appreciated the way the food processor makes a great pie dough in short order.
I think you will, too, which is why Iʼve included it. Any of your favorite pastry recipes will work here, but if you havenʼt made pie dough with a food processor, I hope youʼll try it. The key is to always use short bursts when youʼre mixing pie dough, little one-half- to one-second pulses.
Once you add the water, pulse the machine just until the dough forms clumpy crumbs like these. Donʼt let the dough ball up around the blade.
Incidentally, if youʼre baking a pie that requires a top and bottom crust, prepare the dough twice rather than making a double batch in the processor all at once. It can be done, but most processors are cramped with a double batch and you donʼt get a nice, evenly mixed dough. It will only take a minutes to make a second batch.
Turn those crumbs out onto your counter, pack them into a ball, and flatten it into a 3/4”- thick disk on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap, then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before rolling. Chilling is important. If gives the fat time to firm up and makes the dough much easier to roll.
Notice that I roll the dough onto a sheet of lightly-floured wax paper. I use a silicone baking mat below it, to keep the paper from sliding around on my counter. By the way, the pin closest to the pastry is my French pin, which I typically use when I start rolling the dough because it gives me good control. I finish with the larger pin, which is covered with a rolling pin cloth that helps prevent sticking.
I like wax paper because itʼs 12” wide so I know – for my typical 9” deep-dish pie pan – I need to roll the pastry into a circle about 13” across. So when my pastry hangs just a little off each side of the paper, Iʼm good. Then I flip the paper over my pan, center the pastry, and carefully peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan without stretching it, and let the dough hang over the edge for now.
If youʼre adding a crumb topping and not a top crust, trim the dough so the overhang is about 1/2” – 3/4” all around, then shape into an upstanding edge. Make a ruffled edge, if desired. If youʼre adding a top crust, just let the overhang hang there. Refrigerate while you slice your apples and prepare your filling.
Hereʼs our apple filling in the shell, below. I use 7 cups of sliced apples for a 9” or 9 1/2-” deep-dish pie pan; if your pan is smaller, 6 cups will probably be enough. One little trick that helps me fit more apple slices in the pie is microwaving the apples in a large bowl for about 3 minutes. Thatʼs not long enough to cook the apples, but it does soften and compact them just a bit.
Spread the apples in the pastry shell. Then roll the top pastry, moisten the edge of the shell, and flip the second pastry on top. Press along the edge, to seal, and then – using a butter knife – trim the pastry flush with the edge of the pan. (Save the trimmings and pack together. You can refrigerate or freeze this dough to make another small pie shell later, or pie crust “cookies” brushed with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and baked.) Seal the edge with a fork. There are fancier ways to make an edge, but I like the rustic look of this fork-crimped edge, made with my big pastry fork.
While youʼre at it, poke a few steam vents in the top pastry with your fork. Put a couple of them near the edge: when you see thick juice bubbling up there late in the baking, youʼll know your pie is done.
Bake your fruit pies in a preheated oven, on the center rack. I usually start them at 400° for about 25 minutes, then lower to 375° and bake for another 25 minutes or so. If Iʼm adding a crumb topping, that goes on during the second half of the baking. Just slide the pie out of the oven, carefully dump the crumbs over the pie, then rake them around with a fork to spread them out.
And hereʼs a slice of our finished pie – the apple-pear variation youʼll find below. The pears are a really neat surprise and Iʼve never served this to anyone who didnʼt go nuts for the combination. As for the crust, look at the flakiness – thatʼs the hallmark of fabulous homemade pastry.
So give it a try and let me know how it turns out. And if youʼd like to learn more about pie making, head on over to The Pie Academy and sign up for great recipes, pie making videos, and weekly pie updates. Itʼs free.
Thank you SO much to Ken for sharing with us! He truly is a master baker and a wealth of baking knowledge. I could go for a slice of that apple pie right now! I have the vanilla ice cream ready and waiting in the freezer. Make sure to head over to The Pie Academy as well as Ken’s Facebook page. Now here are your recipes from Ken, enjoy!