Monday, March 10, 2008

Single-crust Pie Turned Upside Down

In honor of Pi Day (March 14) as celebrated by I'm starting off this week with a favorite pie crust and simple apple pie recipe. For more pie recipes check out the challenge at Pi Day -- Recipes for Homemade Pie.

Everyone knows pie crust can be too much of a good thing. It's loaded with fat, even saturated fat, depending on the recipe. Over the years I've noticed a lot of people will leave that bottom crust no matter how tender the dough. It's not always a sogginess issue either, tho that will make the most dedicated pie face leave it behind on the plate.

So I've started following my mother's practice of omitting the bottom crust when making a traditionally 2-crust pie. Say I'm making an apple pie. I combine sliced apples, sugar, a bit of vanilla and cinnamon, maybe a dash of nutmeg and salt, and a pat or two of butter in the pie pan then top with a crust and seal it against the edge of the pie pan. Slash a few vents in the crust and bake as usual.

If I've done a nice job of layering the apple slices and used a variety of apple that holds together prettily when baked, I can remove the pie from the oven, let cool slightly, slice and serve a nicely formed piece of pie. I do this with peaches and pears, too. Berries have more juice and in order to have the slice hold together for serving, I may add a small amount of thickener to the other ingredients. Or I may just let it cool to room temperature instead of trying to serve it too hot and deal with the runniness. That's no different than when I make a regular 2-crust pie.

Some folks call this a cobbler rather than a pie. That's okay. Many cobbler recipes call for a topping other than a traditional pie crust recipe, tho, so I still call this method a pie.

Here's a recipe for a single-crust apple pie. If you can find them, Albemarle Pippins, are great for this pie. Of course, they're great for applesauce, eating out of hand, making cider, and just about any other use you might have for an apple. Rome Beauty or Granny Smith are easier to find and will work, too. If using Granny Smith apples you'll probably want to increase the sugar to the higher amount suggested or even make it an even cup if you really like it sweet.

Single-crust Apple Pie

Makes one 10" pie

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2-4 tbs. cold water
1/3 cup shortening

Sift together flour and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or two table knives until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tbs. water over part of mixture. Gently toss with fork and push to side of bowl. Sprinkle next tbs. of water over dry part. Mix lightly and push to moistened part at side. Repeat until all is moist. Form into ball.

Flatten ball slightly and roll 1/8" thick on lightly floured surface.

Always use a light touch and handle dough as little as possible.

Apple Filling:

7 cups sliced pared apples
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on sweetness of apples
dash of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. powdered vanilla
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, optional
1-1/2 tbs. butter

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg, if desired. Stir to blend. Layer apples in 10" pie pan and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Dot with butter and place crust over pie. Trim crust and flute edge, tucking it slightly against the inside edge of pie pan to seal. Cut slits in top.

If you like, beat an egg with 1 tbs. water and brush lightly over crust. Sprinkle with sugar. This will give a pretty finish to the crust but is not required.

Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.


Alanna said...

Upside down or not, yours is definitely 'pie'. Thanks so much for contributing to the pie recipes for Pi Day! PS I had issues with a raw-ish bottom crust until I started preheating the oven for a good half hour and starting the pie off on a pizza stone for the first 15 minutes. Now I get a crisp, perfect crust every time!

Tempered Woman said...

Well I must admit I love that sweet bottom crust soggy with filling goodness. But this is an interestig idea~ in essence it drove you towards filling pefection! I hope you kissed your mom many times for bringing out your pie baking perfection ;-)

kerri said...

Apple pie is the best dessert. I cheat now and use the egg/vinegar piecrust variation. It makes me feel a little guilty, but that perfect crust every time makes it worth it. Next time I have a pile of apples that pie is going bottomless.

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the tip, Alanna, and thanks for the Pi Day challenge -- it's making me think about pies a lot more than usual and my family really appreciates that! ;-)

Tell you the truth, TW, I miss that bottom crust on a blackberry pie sometimes. All that berry juice just needs something to soak into, ya know? When I make blackberry pie without the bottom crust I invariably serve it with ice cream so not much savings (if any!) on the fat grams...

Cakelaw said...

Yum - I do like apple pie, with or without a bottom crust.

White On Rice Couple said...

Any pie is a good pie and yours definitely counts! Especially when you made an apple pie. It's the best!