Apple pie is without a doubt a keystone in the structure of American cuisine or at least what we identify with as Americans. And I am not talking about that strumpet Sara Lee’s take and bake nonsense. I mean real PIE. Like mom cut all the damn apples herself and soaked them in water with a little bit of lemon juice so that the flesh of the sweet little morsels doesn’t brown, HOME MADE PIE!
Anybody who comes around you with one of those pre-made frozen pie treats should immediately be shown the nearest exit and rebuked for their blind betrayal to the all amazing art of pie making. A craft not unlike wood working or steel smiting. Not often seen due to the technical skill required to complete the job at any high level of proficiency. Any of you who have ever tried to roll out a pie crust know exactly what I am referring to. The flour, the cracking, the tears, the success. If you don’t believe me try it. Or don’t, cowardly tromp your way to the super market and purchase the simplest take and bake crust you can and fill the thing with Apple preserves. Philistine.
Luckily for me, and the people who have had the honor of tasting it, I have a family of dedicated and skilled pie makers that simply confound mere skill and elevate the craft to that of the divine. But they have gone through the phases of traditional and non-traditional styles in their preparation.
Exhibit A – The crossed top dough is often displayed as a staple of the stereotypical American pastry, however I am not a big fan of this version for a couple of reasons. First, I hate breaking through those damn strips of dough to get to where I am going. Those bands can often be a real hindrance to the end game of tasting the warm delicious insides. And Secondly, this part of the production process requires a great deal of care and finesse on the part of the baker. Especially at high altitudes, it can be quite difficult to ge the desired baking texture to emerge.
Exhibit B – The covered top. This is like the previous example a complete nuesence and should be thrown out of the books altogether. How is one to know what lies beneath the crust. I am a pie snob after all and I want to see the damn filling before I make any rash decisions regarding my consumption of said treat. Also, the magma like temperature that the filling holds after baking will teach you a lesson about being over eager if you do not respect the cooling process.
Exhibit C – The crumbled top (or as I have seen called “Dutch Apple Pie”). This is my favorite method of preparation and delivery. It is like the happy hybrid love child of an Apple Crumble and an Apple Pie. The delectable Granny Smiths covered in a sprinkling of Cinnamon Sugar and Butter, could not provide a better amplification or compliment to the dish. Having grown up on this brand of baking for years I admit to my personal bias.
Certainly there is not a bad apple pie, but in terms of texture and taste I have to say that my wife’s crumbled top pies are the most delectable.
Enjoy your pastries America,