Another Try at a Pie

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Well it looked good. And it tasted good. But it was still too runny. The last time I made a pie it was delish, but just not holding together. The apples were soft. The crust was flaky. But inside, liquid oozed around the apples. Today I tried again with a new recipe (thanks, Mom) but it still didn’t stay together well.

Last time I used cornstarch as a thickener. That makes for a smoother pie, so I’ve heard. This recipe calls for flour as a thickener. It worked just as well as far as I can tell, but did it work well enough? I am just not sure.

My theory at this point is that my lack of patience is the problem. When I took this pie out of the oven I placed it on a cooling rack. I let it sit for about a half hour. I thought that was long enough. But my family was eager to dig in, as was I. So I sliced it open to find it was not all that cohesive. It seemed cool enough–warm but not hot. But I splashed some of the filling onto my hand. That burned.

I may need to approach pie baking differently, give it more time. I had planned to make this one a couple of hours before dinner. But then I took my daughter to the movies with friends. And I made some chili. The pie had plenty of time to bake and some time to cool. Apparently, my cooling time was not adequate.

We only ate half the pie tonight. The rest, at this point, is in the refrigerator. In the morning I will have to see how it is doing. I am sure my children will insist on pie for breakfast. Call it bad parenting if you want but I am going to let them have it. I mean, it’s for science. If it is cohesive enough at breakfast, I will have proved my theory.  Thanks, Kids!

Update 10/16: I had some of that pie tonight, about 24 hours after I first pulled it from the oven. It was, granted, pretty cooled in the fridge, but it was also pretty held together. Even after a minute in the microwave it seemed to have no runniness. Inconclusive. But it was still dang tasty!

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Pie Time

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Last weekend we picked some apples. If you are not one to frequent an orchard to pick your own apples then you might not know how easy it is to pick too many. One bag is easy to fill, especially when the apples are the size of grapefruits, so it is tempting to fill a second, and a third. Even though there were several of us on this particular trip, adults and youth types, we did not pick too many. Pat on the back for us.

We did, however, pick enough to make an apple pie. I have been using a variation of the same recipe now for years. It is a tasty pie, no doubt. The crust, with a bit of dried mustard and cheddar cheese baked right in, is spot on. It is a good crust. And the filling tastes great–robust apple flavor, not too sweet. But the consistency I just can’t nail.

This recipe calls for two tablespoons of corn starch to thicken the filling. I used the recommended number of apples, and I tried not to add only the humongo ones. More apples means more moisture which means more starch is required to absorb the excess liquid. I know this. So even though the number of apples in my pie matched that in the recipe, I doubled the corn starch. I was going to add only one extra tablespoon but I added two just to be on the safe side.

But the dang thing was still way too runny. I even let it sit a while so it would not flow out just because it was too hot. So, like a late New Year’s resolution, I have decided to just bag this recipe and to find another. This one stinks. I am always afraid I will add too much corn starch and it always comes out runny. Lame, I tell you. Lame. So from here on out I toss that filling recipe into the bin. I’ll keep the crust, but the filling? Ain’t happenin’ no more.

So I am on the hunt for a new apple pie recipe. I have a few in books on the shelf, and I will certainly give the pie recipes in them a try. I guess I will need to just get baking to try a few. Do you have a tried and true recipe that makes the apples pop on your tongue and is just sweet enough? You let me know. I’m game. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Morning Bagels

When I mentioned to my wife late in the day yesterday that I was thinking about making bagels for the morning, but that we were out of bread flour, she volunteered to go out right that minute to get said flour. Once that happened I couldn’t very well not make bagels. So I made some bagels.

As I have said before here, making bagels is a piece of cake. OK I didn’t say it was a piece of cake but I did say it was easy. It is actually easier than making cake. Last night I churned up some yeasted dough in the mixer, cut it into pieces, and made some rings out of it to rise overnight.

Here is what it looked like pulled from the fridge in the morning:

IMG_3138After it warmed up a bit, and a big pot of water came to a boil, I dropped them into the bath for half a minute or so. Then I let them dry a bit on a rack:

IMG_3139I lined a baking pan with parchment paper and laid them out:

IMG_3140About 15 minutes of baking later, BAM! Bagels ready to eat.

IMG_3141A little cream cheese or, as my wife likes them, hot and naked, and breakfast is on. So easy. A piece of cake you might say. Total time, including clean up: hour and a half. Get someone else to clean up and it is a lot faster. I am thinking we need to make this a regular thing this winter. Fresh bagels when the snow howls? That’s what I’m talking about.

A Second Go at Making Bagels

I decided to make bagels again this weekend. Friday I found some malt syrup at our local health food store. I still was out of luck with the high gluten flour but bread flour would have to do. It worked well enough last time. I quickly whipped up the dough yesterday afternoon and molded it into rings to sit overnight. In the morning I boiled them to poof them up.

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Boiled bagels draining and ready to be baked

Again they only took about 15 minutes to bake. It took me maybe 45 minutes last night to get the dough into the fridge. I took another hour this morning, but only because our stove is not the greatest for boiling a large pot of water. If the water hadn’t taken so long to boil the time this morning would have been maybe another 45 minutes. An hour and a half for fresh bagels? Not too shabby.

I will do this again. Homemade hot bagels taste pretty dang good. I’ll have to branch out and work on some flavors in the future. Sesame seed? Onion? Maybe even pumpernickel? If I remember to pick up some ingredients, I’m in.

Bagels hot out of the oven

Bagels hot out of the oven

Making Bagels

One of my goals this summer was to make fresh bagels. A neighbor of ours told us about making them for a big group and how easy it was. I thought: We like bagels, I can make bagels, I am going to make some bagels. That, of course, did not happen. Stuff happens and other stuff doesn’t happen and then you don’t get around to making the bagels. Until last weekend.

We had a friend staying with us so I thought it would be a good time to stop putting it off and to get cracking on the bagel production. Now I can say I done it.

So, I don’t have pictures. Sometimes I think I should document new things and then I document new things. Other times I get wrapped up in the experience and the camera stays on the shelf. This was a camera-on-the-shelf situation.

Making bagels was really easy. I mean, why haven’t I done this before? Granted, they could have been better. Key ingredients are high-gluten flour (makes them chewy) and malt syrup (the sweetener). I had neither and could not readily acquire either, so I substituted, I used bread flour (not the all purpose flour we typically have on hand) and honey. A few ingredients in a mixer the night before and the dough was stretchy and workable.

I divided the dough and formed it into eight rings. Those rings sat on a covered sheet pan overnight to rise slowly. In the morning I boiled them for about 30 seconds, then baked them for 16 minutes at 450 degrees. They turned golden on top and were tasty I tell you. Fresh bread is always tasty so it was hard to tell how much of the tastiness was the bagelness and how much was the fresh breadness. In any case, they got gobbled up with high praise. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

I definitely want to make bagels again. Next time I hope to get high-gluten flour and malt syrup. The flour I should be able to get somewhere. The malt syrup I can steal from my home brewing ingredients if necessary. Even if I use the same ingredients again it would be worth it. I now have one more item to add to our menu, even if it is only occasionally. Bagel’s baby. Finally.

Visit to the Orchard

We took a trip to Shelburne Orchards this afternoon to pick some apples.  The place is beautiful and they almost seem to have more apples than they can handle.  We picked our fill pretty quickly.  Then we came home and ate two pies.  First, tofu pot pie for dinner (tastiest stuff ever–if tofu scares you, you should try this), then apple pie for dessert.  We ate the apple pie a little late–just before the children went to bed–but I could hardly say no to them after all the anticipation.  I had made the crust ahead of time, but still, it needs to bake for over an hour.  It was, as you might imagine, de-lish.  Worth the wait.  And we still have plenty of apples left over for tomorrow.  And the next day.

The Pick Your Own Welcome Shed

The Pick Your Own Welcome Shed

The View of Lake Chaplain

The View of Lake Chaplain

Apples Low

Apples Low

Apples High

Apples High

A Few Hours Later, Pie

A Few Hours Later, Pie

Burning My Fingers

We are having a bunch of friends over tomorrow and i was planning to make them some soup.  I baked up a bunch of butternut squash, an hour and a quarter at 350 degrees, and let it sit for a while.  I thought it had cooled enough, but 350 degrees is pretty hot.  I toasted my fingertips.

I have done plenty of cooking.  I do most of the cooking in our house.  i try hard to come up with something wholesome and fresh and tasty, so we don’t end up eating reheated pasta with tater tots.  I have made soup a number of times this fall.  I have to use the pumpkins we grew.  This time I used something different.

I look forward to making soup tomorrow, but my fingertips are really sore.  In fact, typing this right now is uncomfortable.  What was I thinking?

Whatever.  Tomorrow I will whip up the soup.  And a couple of pies.  Crap, the oven is going to be busy all day.  So much for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.  Maybe it will balance out.  Local squash and apples instead of California squash and Washington apples.  A day of baking can’t pump out too much carbon compared to shipping food thousands of miles can it?

After a day of baking I am hoping my fingers will have cooled a bit.  I suppose even if they haven’t, some apple pie will distract me long enough to forget about it.