real apple pie vs mock apple pie
this past friday was the fourth of july, which gave me a chance to unleash a recipe for one of my all time favorite things in the world – PIE. seriously, even my old AIM screen name had to do with my love of pie (i’m not giving it away, sorry). instead of a birthday cake, i would ask for a birthday pie. and what’s the best kind of pie? the answer is clearly apple (i’m not even going to recognize arguments to the contrary. and for independence day, what’s more american than apple pie? how about a no holds barred competition between two apple pies?
i’ve been intrigued by mock apple pie since i first read about it in jeffrey steingarten’s the man who ate everything. it’s an apple pie without any apples in it that promises to taste just like the real thing. i was doubtful, but the thought of a cheap and quick pie recipe was too much to pass up. this is a real celebration of conflicting american baking tactics: one pie is a carefully and lovingly crafted piece of americana, using fresh ingredients and a homemade crust. the other is a quick and easy answer (albeit a delicious one) to a hectic schedule that can satisfy in a pinch. but which pie will reign supreme?
we rose to the challenge with a blind taste test. could we tell the difference between an apple pie with real fresh apples and one without? the girl and i both tried warmed forkfuls of both pies while blindfolded. the results? both of us INCORRECTLY named the ritz cracker pie as the real deal. needless to say, i was astonished, but also excited to find an apple pie i could whip up in half the time of an “authentic” one.
some comments on each pie: the mock apple pie was characterized as tasting a bit like the apple pie filling you can buy at the grocery store. it was also a bit too lemony. i would cut down on the amount in the recipe. the real apple pie was delicious but not as flavorful as we had hoped. i think my crust had some “integrity” issues, and as a result, a bunch of the gooey sugary syrup from the pie leaked out. i’m betting a lot of the flavor went with it, so next time i’ll be more careful. you can actually see in the pictures that the pie deflated a bit as it cooled.
you’ll also notice that although i made a fresh pie crust for the real apple pie, i did not document it in any way. this is because pie crust is a pain in the butt to tackle, and trying to take pictures of it at the same time does not make the job any easier. i will say that that the finished homemade crust was very flaky, buttery and savory. i would recommend making your own, but if disaster strikes, there’s no shame in using a frozen prepared dough.
real authentic apple pie
my mom’s recipe – you will sit and eat the entire thing in one sitting. on a side note, today is my mom’s birthday! thank you thank you thank you mom for always putting up with late-night phone calls for recipes and inspiring me to bake.
6 cups granny smith apples, cored, pared and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 dash salt
1 tsp cinnamon1 dash nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter
pie crust (i used Alton Brown’s recipe, doubled)
1. make the pastry dough and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. cut up apples and sprinkle with lemon juice in a large bowl. set aside.
2. combine sugar, flour, spices and a dash of salt. mix with apples to coat.
3. line a 9 inch pie pan with your prepared crust and fill with the apple mixture. dot with butter. lay over your top crust and seal very well. use a knife or tines of a fork to make steam slits on the top crust. sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar.
4. bake at 400 F for 45 minutes or until golden brown. put the pie pan on a baking sheet in the oven in case any filling bubbles out.
ritz mock apple pie
from the kraft website
pastry for 2-crust 9″ pie
36 ritz crackers, coarsely broken (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
grated peel of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. preheat oven to 425 F. roll out half of the pastry and place in 9″ pie dish (or use ready-made pie crust dish). place cracker crumbs inside.
2. mix sugar and cream of tartar in medium saucepan. gradually stir in 1 3/4 cups water until blended. bring to a boil. reduce to a low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. add lemon peel and juice and cool.
3. pour syrup over cracker crumbs. dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. roll out remaining pastry and place over pie. trim and seal edges and slit top crust to allow steam to escape.
4. bake 30-35 mintues or until crust is golden and crisp. cool completely before eating. put the pie pan on a baking sheet in the oven in case any filling bubbles out.