Apple Pie Lab Experiment #2: Lattice Crust and Pie Variations

6 years ago

So after yesterday's gratifying success with my first apple pie, I decided to try a couple of variations. I've always been fascinated with lattice crusts -- pastry weaving looks so cool. But it's a pain, and pie is already a pain. So is a lattice crust necessary for certain pie? Or does it make a pie taste better?

Since my trusty Cook's Illustrated cookbook tells me that lattice crust is most helpful for stone fruit and berry pies, which tend to get soggy, as it allows for more evaporation. I didn't have a problem with sog for the straight apple pie, so I opted for a variation. For science, I made two versions of apple-cranberry pie (in my mini pot pie pans -- I really love those things). One had a wide weave lattice; one had a standard double crust.

The filling in the lattice crust did turn out a little drier, but for this pie that wasn't necessary. In fact, if I ever repeat the recipe with a lattice crust, I'll decrease the amount of flour I use as thickener. Cranberries, you see, are pretty dry and probably not the best test subject for the lattice experiment. The filling for the double crust pie turned out juicy and perfect.

Conclusion: Lattice crust is not necessary for an apple pie, even with cranberries. And I really like a full double crust, since I'm a crust fan to begin with. So even though lattice is pretty, I'm sticking with double crust. (If you want to try a lattice crust, Baking Bites has a great tutorial. And I'm definitely trying a lattice again when cherries are in season.)

Apple-Cranberry Pie With Crystallized Ginger

Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar plus about 1 tablespoon more for sprinkling.
6 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2.5 pounds apples (I mixed Granny Smith and Braeburn), peeled, cored and sliced ¼ inch wide
Your favorite dough for a 9-inch double crust pie
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 500 and place a baking sheet on middle rack.

Roll bottom crust dough out to a 12-inch circle. Press into pie pan, letting edges hang over. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll top crust out to 12-inch circle, place on baking sheet lined with parchment (no pan this time, just dough), and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Mix rest of ingredients together and mound filling into pie pan. Gently cover with top crust. Trim overhanging edges to ½ inch past pie pan. Press top and bottom edges together and tuck edge under to align with edge of pie pan. Crimp with fingers or flute with a fork. Cut 4 vents in at 90-degree angles. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Turn oven down to 425 and place pie on baking sheet in oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Turn oven down to 350 and bake for 40 minutes more. Place on wire rack and walk away until pie is entirely cool.

Other Apple Pie Variations to Try

  • This apple green-chili pie with cheddar crust and walnut streusel, with its savory elements and spice, is right up my alley. Does it sound too weird to you?
  • Tracy at Sugarcrafter made an apple-caramel pie the easy way -- by melting caramel candies. I love the use of cardamom in the spice mix!
  • Cathy at Not Eating Out In New York made a concord grape apple pie that "tastes exactly like the first cube of grape-flavored bubblegum you unfolded from waxy paper and stuffed in your grade school-sized mouth." Interesting.
  • We've got a candy theme going here: TW at Retro Food has a rosy apple pie flavored with red hots.

Have you seen all the pies I've blogged so far this month? I'm talking about pie every day in November at the Month of Pies archive.

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