Sunday, March 28, 2010

Applesauce Apple Pie

If you read the previous posts you will see that the journey through the "Pie" recipe book by Ken Haedrich is off to a bumpy start. I was pretty sure that digging into the apple recipes would be a pretty safe start. To date, the recipes have have not only been a bit strange, but one proved inedible.

Applesauce is a staple at our house. Every year in the fall I make about 30 quarts of applesauce which are usually gone by late spring. Never thought of using it in a pie so the Cinnamon Applesauce Pie recipe looked interesting and I hoped it would get me back on track to finding a good pie recipe.

The filling for the pie is made from eggs, egg yolks, sugar (granulated and brown), applesauce butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cinnamon (finally).

Result: Another strange one. I just could not get past the texture/taste combination. A custardy/applesauce texture that I cannot really describe. Try to think of pumpkin pie, but instead you have apple as the flavor. Perhaps more spices would have taken the pie in the right direction, or maybe it's an acquired taste. The pie was completely eaten and I guess for that reason it should be awarded at least two stars out of five.

I usually make a pie a weekend. As a family, we have decided that we need to move off the apple pie recipes as there are only so many consecutive weeks that you can be disappointed by pie. We got to get to something good and we got to get their quick; people are getting restless. Taking a look at the cream pies recipes. They look more like a sure thing.

Bach Journey

Made it through BWV 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 ,26, 30, 31, 35, 36, 37. Nifty organ Concerto and Sinfonia in BWV 35. The Bach to date is faring better than the pies. Bach was definitely no slouch.

Cheddar in the Crust

After the last debacle, any sensible person would shy away from trying to incorporate cheese into a pie. But for the greater good I press on. This time a Cheddar-Crusted Apple Pear Pie. The idea is to bake a bit of cheese into the crust to create the cheddar/apple experience. Additionally, pears are thrown into this recipe which should give an extended depth to the overall taste. The cheddar cheese crust is made by reducing the flour and pulsing shredded cheddar cheese into a traditional pie crust recipe with a food processor. The filling is a pretty standard apple pie filling recipe with sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, apples, and pears.

Result: While unlike the previous recipe, this pie was edible. However, I am done with incorporating cheese directly into recipes. The crust finishes with a cheesy, oily taste that does not match the traditional taste experience of apple pie and cheddar cheese. The pears added nothing special to the filling. The pie was screaming for some additional spices, cinnamon, nutmeg..., something. All in all an odd and uneventful pie. On the 5 star scale - 2 stars.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One For The Record Books

I have only thrown away two pies in my baking career. It's not because I am all that good at it, rather my family has a pretty good tolerance for just about any kind of pie no matter how it comes out. So throwing out a half eaten pie is a pretty serious event.

The pie that went in the trash was an apple pie with a cheddar cracker topping, the next recipe in my the journey through the "Pie" recipe book. Perhaps the thinking behind the recipe came from thinking that if paring a slice of good cheddar cheese with apple pie constitutes a taste treat, integrating cheese into the pie would be a real knockout.

The recipe called for an apple filling of apples, sugar, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cornstarch. Even though it seemed to me to bit of a boring start, I had hopes that the cheddar cracker topping would carry the day.

The topping was made up of Cheez-it crackers ground up in a blender with butter and then combined with sharp cheddar cheese. You baked the pie for about 4o minutes prior to adding the topping.

Result: The Cheez-it crackers should have been the tip off. Baking something that has already been baked is probably never a good idea. The baked twice Cheez-its had an after-taste that I cannot really describe, although burnt tires comes to mind. Additionally the topping and the filling really had no taste connection; a bland, boring filling with a strange burnt cheddar taste mixed in. What were they thinking. Off the charts - Rating - Don't attempt.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Musical Accompaniment

To accompany the baking journey through the recipe book, "Pie", I am attempting to listen to all the recorded Bach Cantatas. It seems to be a perfect artistic bookend to a completist baking activity. Most of my Bach Cantata collection is performed by the Bach-Ensemble conducted by Helmut Rilling with a scattering of recordings with the English Baroque Soloists conducted by John Eliot Gardiner and recordings conducted by Phillipe Herreweghe. As for reviews, I leave that to others far more qualified.

So far have listened to BWV 1,2,3,10, 12, and 13.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rules of the Road

In baking and blogging through the recipe book, "Pie", by Don Haederich, I decided that it would be unfair to list the specifics of each recipe, in essence publishing the recipe. I think that they call that plagiarism. So I will list out the ingredients, not the measurements, and baking instructions of interest. If you want the recipe, buy the recipe book, you won't regret the investment.

The Journey Begins

In the journey of baking through the recipe book "Pie" by Don Haedrich, I had to make some upfront decisions about where to start in the book. The first chapters deal with pie baking basics and crust recipes. While I have not baked all the crust recipes listed, I opted to delve immediately into the pie recipes.

The first pie chapter focuses on summer fruit pies. Mr. Haederich makes good points about using fresh fruit that is in season whenever possible. Being that we are squarely in the middle of Winter here in New Jersey, I decided to move on to Chapter 2 entitled "Make Mine Apple". I skipped the first recipe "Easiest Apple Pie" and moved on to what I considered to be the first real recipe, "Golden Delicious Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping".

This recipe calls for Golden Delicious apples, which, as Mr. Haederich points out, gets a bad wrap mostly because of the quality of apple that you find in the store. For me a really good Golden Delicious has a taste that reminds me of pears yet has a bit of apple bite and tartness. A very interesting combination of taste sensations.

The recipe called for the standard ingredients of sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, and cornstarch. The topping called for rolled oats, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar all held together with butter. Interestingly, you baked the pie for about 30 minutes before adding the topping. Another 30 minutes or so and the pie was ready to take out of the oven.

Results: The oatmeal topping was excellent. It created the effect of having apple crisp in a pie shell. Unlike many recipes that call for a crumb topping, the measurements created an ample topping that nicely buried the apples underneath.

As for the filling, I was a little disappointed. Granted, the quality of the apples could be called into question. However, the filling seemed to lack a certain depth and snap that an apple pie should render. I use Golden Delicious Apples exclusively in a tart recipe that I found in Mark Bitten's NY Times' column and modified a bit. The tart recipe calls for brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I admit that I am used to a certain taste experience that is a result of that recipe. However, if I were to bake this pie again, I think I would replace the ingredients called for in "Pie" with Mr. Bitten's. My guess is that it would give the pie the needed depth and make it a real winner.

Out of a 5 star rating system, I would have to give this one a 3.