The perfect pie is equal parts science and art, and there are few things more intimidating in the American culinary repertoire than pie crust. How many of you have slaved away at a crust only to have it crumble upon rolling? How many of you have pulled a beautiful pie out of the oven only to realize upon slicing into it that the perfectly golden brown crust is leathery or tough? Or that your apple pie filling has turned mushy in the oven? Here are the most essential tips and techniques that will guarantee a perfect pie for your Thanksgiving table.
'The Food Lab' on Serious Eats
We've already figured out how to make great crusts and which apples to use, but I want apple slices that retain their structure as they bake, fully softening so that there is no crispness remaining, but still remaining firm enough that an individual slice retains most of its initial shape. That's exactly what we're going to address this week.
Like burgers and pizza, I believe pie to be one of the truly perfect foods. A culinary endpoint that can be improved incrementally, but not fundamentally. The true beauty of a pie comes from that magical interaction between crust and filling. One sweet, tart, and fruity, the other buttery and rich, they complement each other in flavor and texture and create a dish that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. As such, each part deserves respect. What are the best apples for the job?
If there's one thing that instills fear into the hearts and minds of American cooks, it's pie crust. I know. At one time, I was one of those people. Pie crusts were the Mumm-ra to my Lion-O, and it was all because they were a mystery to me. What makes them flaky? What makes them tender? And most importantly, how come mine used to come out like pliant pieces of leather instead of buttery and delicious?
When I say ice cream, I mean the real deal: Ice cream that's rich, smooth and creamy on the spoon. Ice cream that melts slowly into a luscious, tongue-coating custard. The kind of badass ice cream that makes lesser people feel guilty for eating it. The kind of ice cream worth getting out of bed in the middle of the night for. I mean real ice cream. My goal this week: Keep the ice cream, lose the machine.