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Generally Recognized As True: Puritan apple pie

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Puritan apple pie

Here we have the puritan's apple pie. Why is it puritanical? Because the filling contains nothing other than apples, sugar, and water. And the pastry contains nothing but butter, lard, flour, salt, and water.

I used some old Granny Smith apples. I think these apples must have been 4 or 5 months old. They were sitting in the fridge but were a bit too old to eat, but not "bad". This makes them suitable for pies, I think. I'm not sure it's anything but a recent tradition to use apples that are perfectly good for eating to make a pie. In the past, the old or sub-prime apples would be used for pies because you can't use them for eating so you'd want to find another use for them so as not to waste them, and the freshness is rather irrelevant when you're going to bake them for an hour.

The pastry was a straightforward ordeal -- 1 part fat (half butter, half lard) to 3 parts flour, but all of the rules for good flaky pastry were followed: I used pastry flour, the fats were kept as cold as possible throughout the preparation, I used ice water to bring the dough together, and as little mixing as possible was done. The result seems very good. It's a fragile pastry that falls apart when it hits your tongue. I rolled it very thinly. I found another use for my silicone baking sheets that my Great Aunt from England sent me: I rolled the pastry on the flour-dusted sheet with a towel underneath, meaning I could just lift the whole sheet to rotate the pastry during rolling, rather than having to lift the pastry itself. Silicone baking sheets are like a super-slippery waxed paper (with the same flexibility) that you can put directly in the oven (although I had no use for them in baking a pie).

The filling was prepared with 6 Granny Smith apples, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, and water to a few millimetres depth in the pan. Cooked for about 6-7 minutes in a sauté pan with the lid on for about half the time and disturbed by stirring periodically. I just cut up the apples into pieces around the core, and didn't peel them. I like peels on apple in apple pie -- lots of taste --they soften significantly, and they're good for you, anyway. The cores don't break down so you have to remove them.

I didn't mess around with egg glazes this time: whole milk with a bit of sugar for the glaze.

Baked at 300F, centre rack, for 50-55 minutes.

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