Pie scares me. I’ve only ever made one pie from scratch before. A chocolate pie using a recipe. It wasn’t bad. But I haven’t made a pie since. It’s probably been about 15 years.
Now that I’ve been ratio baking, I’ve been trying to work my way through all the ratios. Of course there must be a ratio for pie dough. I wish there were one for pie fillings, too. Sadly, it does not look like there is. Fortunately, there are quite a few different kinds of filling. Or maybe that should be unfortunately.
My favorite apple is the Pink Lady, but the rest of my family loves Granny Smith. We always seem to have green apples rolling around everywhere. So, why not try making an apple pie? I do have people willing to eat what I bake now, so, even though apple pie isn’t something I would willingly eat, especially not over chocolate, why not?
There’s so much I don’t know about making pie, but so much I know about what a pie crust should taste like. I love pie crust. It’s my favorite part of the pie. Whenever I eat a pumpkin pie, or any kind of pie, I must eat the filling first just so I can savor the crust. So I know it should be flaky and buttery. How to create that beautiful crust just eluded me.
The ratio for pie dough is 3:2:1, flour to fat to liquid. I’ve learned the fat must be cold and the liquid is usually ice water. This is probably one of the few things you can make on a whim because there aren’t any butter or eggs that need to be warmed to room temperature. I like to fantasize about deciding to bake something and then just taking everything out of the fridge and getting right to work. Of course I know pie is a little more complex than that, but I still think it’s a nice thought.
Anyways, I learned that the rule of thumb is one ounce of dough for each inch of your pie tin. So if you have a 9 inch pie dish, you’ll need 9 ounces of dough. I’m not very good with math, so my weights are little more than guesses, though my first attempt wasn’t too terrible. My husband asked for a lattice top, so I needed to make a little more than 9 ounces of dough. I still have no idea how much, so please don’t ask. I’m still not even sure how I did all the math, but I somehow had enough dough, and then a bit more.
So making the dough wasn’t that hard. It took me about 9 minutes. I know it’s possible to make the dough using a food processor, but mine is just too cumbersome for me to take out and I didn’t want more dishes to clean, so I mixed the flour and butter together by hand. Then I added the water, mixed by hand, and was a little worried about how wet it felt, so I added about a spoonful of flour. I’m not sure if that was okay or not.
Pie dough needs to be chilled. For about an hour. Of course I forgot that and started on my filling first. I was about three-quarters of the way through slicing all the apples when I remembered I needed to chill the dough. Whoops.
I had to read a whole bunch of pie recipes to figure out the general idea to making apple pie filling. In addition to the fruit, I needed a thickener, some sugar, and spices. I had cornstarch and made some apple pie spice.
I prefer to cut my apples into eighths. I’m not very good at slicing apples, especially not for a pie, but I sliced four apples and hoped it would be enough. It wasn’t quite, but I was told it was still good. To the apples, I tossed in about a tablespoon and a half of cornstarch, a half cup of brown sugar, and a couple of teaspoons of apple pie spice. I made funny faces while doing it because I had no clue what I was doing.
Of course, since I started on the filling first, I still had about 45 minutes before my dough would be ready, so I shoved the bowl of apples into the fridge and walked off.
I have no clue how thin the pie dough should be rolled. I still have no idea. So it was with a great deal of apprehension that I rolled it out into a rough circle so it was about the same size as the pie tin and draped it over the tin. It was hilariously uneven, but at least it had a bottom and sides.
I considered just dumping in the apples, but decided that, since my husband was going to be taking it in to work, I would try to arrange the slices nicely. I was about three-quarters successful. Artfully arranging anything is not my forte. Neither is decorating cakes, but that’s another story.
In theory, making a lattice top seemed quite simple. I rolled the dough out to the same approximate thickness as the crust and then cut it into an even number of strips. They were quite uneven, especially since I can’t actually do much of anything in a straight line. It adds character. Or so I like to tell myself. Three strips went on at even intervals, then I gently wove in three more, while pleading my dough to not break or tear.
Baking temperatures ranged between 350 and 400 degrees. Since I didn’t know what I was doing, I opted to start at a lower temperature. After all, I wouldn’t want to burn my pie! Not after all the hard guess work I did. From what I read, pie could take about an hour or more to bake, so I just peeked in every once in a while. I did end up turning the temperature up to 375 degrees. I wasn’t keen on staying up all night just to get a pie to bake.
It took about an hour and fifteen minutes before the pie looked decently baked. The crust was golden brown, but the filling was not bubbling as it should have been. I was using a foil pie tin from the market, so I couldn’t see the bottom. I took out the pie hoping it would be fully baked.
My husband took the pie to work. I didn’t get to taste it. I just know it didn’t look pretty. I was kind of hoping he would come home with some of it so I could try it, but free food is free food. He was charged with bringing home as much feedback as possible so I could work on my technique and flavors.
Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t too helpful. “It’s perfect.” Thanks, but not exactly helpful. Was the crust fully baked? Was it flaky? Was it buttery? “It was perfect.” How was the filling? Were the apples fully baked? Was it sweet enough? “It was perfect, but maybe just a little more sugar, like three-quarters cup.” Was the bottom fully baked or was it raw? Was it burnt? “It was perfect.”
See? Not helpful. I guess I’ll have to make another one and actually eat it myself. Good thing my husband likes apple pie.