Monday, April 19, 2010

Apple Pies and Butter Tarts and Oh My!

I had apples in the fridge that would go bad if I procrastinate on eating them any longer, so apple pie it is. I'm not a fan of pies per se, but how else am I gonna make myself eat my fruits and veggies?  Add sugar, and Meow will om nom nom.

Mr. Meow refuses to let me buy pre-made pie shells, tells me to make them myself since we have a chunk of lard at home.  Bloody hell.  I've always been intimidated by doughs - bread doughs, tart/pie doughs, puff pastry doughs...not sure why, I think doughs require some sort of magic to make it work I guess.  But since there is no Tenderflake to help me, but a chunk of lard staring longingly at me, I will satisfy the lard.

Stupidest question I've ever asked Mr. Meow: "Do you want a lard pie shell or a butter pie shell?"
Mr. Meow being all things buttery good: "Butter shell!"
Mr. Meow not realizing that I'm just asking to obtain approval: "But then I'd have to defrost the butter!  We're using lard!"
Mr. Meow pointing out my stupidity: "Then why did you give me a choice?"
Meow teaching Mr. Meow something about women: "Sometimes you just need to look around and then figure out all you have to do is tell me what I wanna hear."
I got a pat on the head.  *sigh*


Fruit pies usually require a thickening agent to hold the filling together.  Flour will give a cloudy filling, while cornstarch and tapioca flour will give a clear one.  If using flour to thicken, it is usually double of the amount of cornstarch or tapioca flour.

Chilling the pie before baking is crucial because the fats in the shell will become solid and not cook as fast as the flour giving the flour a head start.  Warm fats will make the pie a fail and not the flaky shell that you're hoping for.  Though chilling the pie too long will allow the fruit juices and sugars to pool at the bottom soaking your pie crust, which is also a fail.

Chilling the pie before eating is a good thing too because it will allow the fruit to reabsorb some of the sugars in the filling.

from Sur la Table: Art and Soul of Baking

On to pie making.

None of my recipe books have a recipe that uses lard and lard isn't one of those things that you can use instead of butter.  So, I followed the recipe on the box of NoName Lard.

Basic Pie/Tart Shell

227 g of lard, chilled
343 g of all purpose flour
1 tsp of salt
1 egg
2 tsp of white vinegar

1. Cut chilled lard into 1 inch cubes.

2. Sift together flour and salt in a mixer bowl

3. Turn the mixer equipped with a flat-beater on the lowest setting and start dropping in the lard a chunk at a time.
You don't want to turn it high early on because you don't want flour dust on your face. If you have a pouring shield for your mixer, it would be a good idea to use it.

4. Beat the mixture until it is crumbly.

5. Beat the egg in a 1-cup measuring cup

6. Add the vinegar once the egg is beaten and then beat some more.

7. Add enough water to the vinegar-egg to make 1 cup of mixture.

8. Drizzle in a tablespoon at a time of the vinegar-egg mix to the crumbly dough until the dough is moist enough.  To check, take a small bit of dough and press between fingers, if it holds together, then it's done.
You may not need to use all the vinegar-egg mixture but keep the remainder on hand for repairing and kneading later.

9. Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3 and wrap with plastic wrap and spank it to flatten.

10. Chill the dough for about 15 minutes before using.
If the dough cracks when using, let it warm up a bit.  If it still cracks, roll it into a ball, dig a hole in the middle, drizzle in a tiny bit of vinegar-egg mixture into the hole and re-knead the dough to moisten it.

Makes 1 double crust pie shell (9") with some leftovers.

Apple Pie
Adapted from Sur la Table: Art and Soul of Baking

2 1/2 lbs of apples of your choice
2 1/4 cups of brown sugar + some for sprinkling
1/8 tsp of all spice
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 cup of corn starch (or 1/2 cup of all purpose flour if you don't have cornstarch)

1. Peel and slice the apples to about 1/4" thick x 1" wide

2. Taste the apples, you may want to adjust the amount of sugar depending on its tartness

3. Toss the apples with the sugar and the spices in a large bowl

4. Add the cornstarch and toss some more

For 9" pie


1. Dust your counter (or pastry mat if you're fancy) with flour

2. Take both doughs out of the fridge

3. Roll the 2/3 sized chunk of dough into a circle, about 1/4" thick.
Put your pie pan over top and if the dough extends 2 inches beyond the pan, you're good to go...unless your dough is still quite thick.

4. With the a long spatula, slide it under the sheet of dough to release it from the counter.
This is to make sure no parts is stuck to the counter and hence rip your dough.

5. Using the long spatula, gently fold the dough in half, then half again forming a quarter of a circle.

6. Gently lift that quarter circle of folded dough and place the point at the center of the pie pan.

7. Gently unfold the dough and if it is not where you want it to be, shake and tilt the pan so it will move, do not pull the dough to shift it.

8. Smooth out any cracks at the bottom and sides by patting the dough.

9. Trim the pie shell so that you have 1/2"-1"overhang.

10. Pour the filling into the pan.

11. Roll out the other chunk of dough to about a 9"x9" square.

12. Using a pizza cutter, cut 1" wide strips and lay the strips on top of the pie to make a lattice.
To make a lattice, start from the top, lay 1 strip across, then start from the left, lay 1 strip down, then 1 across, then 1 down, work your way to the bottom and to the right.  If you're really anal about getting the perfect weave, you will have to pull back some strips as you lay new ones down.

13. Trim excess lattice strips leaving about 1/2" overhang.

14. Roll the overhanging dough towards the pie to make a ropey edge.

15. Put pie in the fridge and chill for exactly 30 minutes before baking.

16. Preheat oven to 400F


1 egg
1 tbsp whole milk

1. Beat the egg with the milk

2. Brush the egg mix on the pie

3. Bake pie on lower 1/3 rack in 400F oven for 50-60 minutes.

4. Cool before serving.


Butter Tarts...A Canadian Thing
adapted from're cooking!

1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of corn syrup
30 g of butter
1 large egg
pinch of salt
8 mL of vanilla
50 g of raisins (optional)
Tart/Pie shell

1. With the leftover pie shell dough for the apple pie, knead it into a ball again.  You may need to add some vinegar-egg mix to moisten it.
Just wet your hand with the mix and knead instead of "roll ball, dig hole, drizzle mix", that would be too much.

2. In a mini muffin pan (1" wide), tear out a chunk of pie dough about the size of a pop bottle cap, place it in the pan and tamp it with the end of the rolling pin until the sides come up flush with the pan.

3. Repeat until all dough is used

4. Chill the pan of dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes

5. Mix the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and eggs with a hand mixer until smooth.

6. Add the salt and vanilla and mix some more.

7. If using raisins, drop about 2-3 raisins in each shell.

8. Ladle the syrup mixture until about 3/4 full/

9. Bake in a 400F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the shells are golden brown.

10. Remove from pan and cool before eating.
Hot molten sugar on tongue is not pleasant.  Refer to my Not Nougat sugar burns for unpleasantness.

I got 5 mini tarts from the leftover dough


Mr. Meow's analysis: my best pie yet!  I was too full yesterday to have some of that pie, but the butter tarts, I can you go wrong with butter and sugar??

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