Allie LOVES apple pie. I make a lot of apple crisps, but she loves the pie with the crust on both top and bottom.
Since Gram was always so fussy about crusts (I don't think there was ever a crust good enough for her) I pretty much abandoned making them. I love the crunch and oats of crisps, plus crisps are much easier to prepare than making pie crust.
But, for Allie, we made the entire pie.
A crisp is easy..... prepare the fruit, season with sweetener and spices and make the topping.
A pie is more difficult.
I researched the best way to make a pie. There are 3 basic methods for a 2 crust pie.
1. Peel, cut and season the apples. Place in a crust and top with a crust.
2. Cook apples partially, pour in a crust and top with a crust.
3. Peel, cut and season the apples. Strain the "drippings" from the macerated fruit, boil it down. Pour the apples in the crust, top with the reduced drippings and top with top crust.
The first method is the easiest. It yields a traditional pie. Sometimes, depending on the type of apples and the age of the apples, they cook down in the pie resulting in a crust with a large air pocket and then a layer of cooked apples - a la applesauce. This doesn't always happen, but it is a disappointment when it does. One way to avoid this is to use a variety of apples - tart Granny Smith, cooking apples Cortland and traditional Macintosh. I also used Fuji or whatever looks good at the market. The variety of apples is good as some remain firm and others cook down.
The second method is promising. It involves sautéing the apples, seasonings and thickener in a large pan just until the apples begin to get soft. this method creates a denser pie, but has consistently good results.
The last method is recommended by Rose Levy Beranbaum of the Cake Bible fame. She suggests letting the apples, sweetener and spices macerate for 20 minutes. Then straining the resulting juice and reducing it over medium heat by half.
This method produces a concentrated syrup.
This is the method we used. If you look at the photo, you can see a caramel like glaze on top of the apples.
Overall, it was a lot of additional work. The pie was delicious. But, I don't know how much the syrup contributed to the deliciousness.
Would I do it again? Sometimes.
I think that this technique would be valuable for crisps as well as pies. Particularly, when there are times that certain fruit produces a "soupy" crisp.
But, the pie was delicious and I had a great time making the pie with Allie, who normally doesn't cook. She is a wonderful baker, but doesn't really like to cook.
Ashley is a wonderful cook who prefers not to bake. Go figure.