Sunday, July 10, 2011

How to avoid a soggy bottom

I went down to Rakaia last night for dinner at Bex and Richard's. As usual, I supplied a dessert: apple pie (p206) at Bex's specific request.

When I first looked at the apple pie recipe, I got a bit confused. There were clear instructions relating to the pastry on the top and sides of the pie, but I couldn't see anything about the bottom. I couldn't decide whether lining the pie dish was just taken for granted, or whether it was supposed to be top and sides only.

I discussed this point at length with Mum, and we decided that if there was supposed to be a base to the pie, it would be in the recipe. And if you think about it, it makes sense: apple gets very juicy when it's cooked, and it's difficult to make anything with apple on a pastry base without the pastry going soggy. So what can you do to prevent the bottom going soggy? Don't have one!

Having cleared up this minor mystery, I whipped up yet another batch of sweet short pastry. This one didn't come out as well as previous attempts - I think perhaps I rushed it a little and didn't combine my ingredients well enough.

While the pastry was chilling in the fridge, I made a start on the apple filling. The recipe listed 4-6 Granny Smiths; I peeled, cored and sliced five apples of moderate size, thinking I could always add a sixth if need be. As it happened, four would have been more than enough.. but I'll get to that.

When I had my bowl full of sliced apple pieces, I mixed together some sugar, melted butter, flour and ground cloves, added it to the apples, and stirred them around with my hands until they were all nicely coated in the sugary mixture.

I needed to roll out the pastry enough to cut a 20cm circle for the pie lid, and also have two 2.5cm wide strips long enough to line the sides of the dish. I ended up cutting the circle first, then rolling and cutting the remaining pastry for the strips. With a few patchworking manoeuvres, I got the sides of the dish lined and started adding the filling.

There was way too much filling for the pie dish. At first I thought I'd only get about half in, but then I started thinking, "well, the apples are going to break down a bit when they cook, right? So I can get away with piling it up a bit". And pile it I did! In the end I actually got all the filling on there. I say 'on', rather than 'in', because there was probably more filling in the mound above the edges of the pie dish than in the dish itself.

I placed my slightly dodgy pastry on top and sealed the edges with water. A few steam holes in the centre, and my mountainous, lumpy-looking pie was ready to go in the oven.

I was a bit worried as I watched the progress of the pie. The pastry had an odd texture to it, and instead of becoming a little less mounded and lumpy as the apples cooked down, it simply baked into the exact knobbly shape it started in. So much for that theory.

When the pie came out of the oven, it may have looked a little odd, but it seemed to have cooked through ok, so I wrapped it in a teatowel and headed off to Rakaia.

Following another of Bex's lovely roast dinners, we cracked into the pie. I was a bit put off by the slightly greyish colour of the apple filling, but perhaps it wouldn't have been that colour straight out of the oven. And, despite appearances: despite weird, lumpy pastry and grey filling, it actually tasted really good - and at least it didn't have a soggy bottom!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds ok Robs, might give it a try. It's certainly cold enough for hot puds at the moment.c


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