Monday, September 3, 2012

Miles and Miles of Pies

As you may have noticed, we are on a brief hiatus from cooking lately. Why? Because I've been baking pie...after pie...after pie. I even burned the hell out of my finger today. (Indeed this war is not without battle scars.) But there is a point and I am getting to it. This year, we'll be documenting the journey to the Topsfield Fair with lots of pie practice for their annual apple pie competition. Like a fool, I entered, and hope to avoid embarrassing myself (high probability of serious what were you thinking moment). But we'll have some pie pictures in the next few weeks, and documentation regarding what varieties of apples we're using. 
The recipe for the crust is exactly as we've posted in a previous entry titled "Doing Battle: Apple Pie."The filling recipe is also the same, but today we're using some different kinds of apples to see if we can find a more ideal varietal for baking a pie. So, for this trial:
  •  Gravenstein apples - known as the national apple of Denmark and very good for cider and apple sauce (hopefully doesn't turn to mush). This apple is also used in the production of apple brandy in areas of Austria. We purchased our apples from Russell Orchards in Ipswich.
  • Starkey apples - A variety from Maine that you don't see very often, and the interweb says that they're usually an early winter apple... so it was bizarre when they showed up at the Dewey Square Farmers Market at the Kimball Fruit Farm stand in late August. But what the hell, they looked pretty and bright red, and it's another opportunity to try a different apple. When eaten raw, the Starkeys were sweet and mildly reminiscent of Red Delicious (again hopefully doesn't turn to mush).
  • Honeycrisp - We know lots and lots about these apples. I love them. Purchased again from the Kimball Fruit Farm Stand at Dewey Square.
Here's the finished pie for today:

And a slice photo (complete with angels singing and beams of light from heaven):

Judgement: I think that this combination of apples was a winner. So long as the cooking time is around 45 minutes, you're good to go, there was no mush to be found. Also, the sweetness is just right. Each apple had a little bit of a nutty and firm texture, still with a touch of earlier season tartness. I think that we might still try other varietals before go time in October, but if there are any Gravensteins or Starkeys still to be fine, they'll come in handy. Also, that crust recipe is still good as gold. One change is that I did let the bottom crust cool a little bit before assembling the top half... because I am sick and tired of burning my damn fingers. But it didn't seem to make any difference in the crispness or wonderful flaky texture of that buttery crust.
Stay tuned... more pies to come (unless I crack - highly likely).

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