Wednesday, September 2, 2009
While we were up in the Catskills, I had the experience of making as close to a perfect pie as I have ever made.
There were apple trees all over the place, but we didn't pay attention to them at first, because the apples were mostly small, gnarled little crabs. But one day I saw one on the ground that looked smooth and big. I picked it up and took a bite out of it. It was PERFECT.
We gathered a bunch. It turned out about half of them were inedibly sour and bitter, but most were merely eye-cinchingly tart. So I made a pie with these sour little buggers. It made me think that the distinction between "baking" apples and "eating" apples may have once carried much more weight than it does now. Because sour-ish apples mixed with a cup of sugar yields a perfectly tart, sweet pie.
Then, because it was summer and I had nothing else to do, I made a crust using the most neurotic, perfectionist, type-A recipe for pie crust I have ever heard of. It involved Zip-loc bags, and refrigerating bowls and flour, and freezing part of the butter, and apple cider vinegar. It's hard for me to follow these kinds of recipes, but I forced myself to pay attention. Wow was it worth it.
I know you can get away with a lot less effort and still get a great pie, but this was pretty perfect.