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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Best Apple Pie Recipe Known to Man

Posted by on Thu, Nov 27, 2008 at 11:50 AM


If you're about to make an apple pie and your recipe calls for putting butter in the crust—stop! There are better recipes out there. If you're not doing anything today, the big grocery stores are still open. Make an apple pie.


Comments (26) RSS

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Frizzelle - I am apoplectic. Shortening? SHORTENING? is better than butter?


My boyfriend makes the best butter crusts ever. And just to check, recently we had a crust bake-off. Three versions: Butter, shortening, and lard. Butter won, unanimously. We had 5 tasters.

I have since started to learn to make this crust. Even I, a crust novice, can make it better than shortening.
Posted by onion on November 27, 2008 at 12:10 PM · Report this
Yeah, what onion @1 said.
Posted by Utah Democrat on November 27, 2008 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Fine. Sacrifice taste for easy construction.

Two things make a crust awesome. Taste and texture. I will readily admit it's easier to get a shortening crust nice and flaky. But it'll taste like a butt. Or worse, like nothing.

Use some high quality butter in place of shortening in Frizzelle's recipe he linked. The point it not to moosh it in - you want that rubble. That's bits of butter surrounded by flour. Those are your incipient flakes. And you know what? They taste good. Eat some as you work. Mmmmmm... Would you do that with shortening? NO. Freak.

Just use cold butter, make sure it ain't too humid out, and work the dough as little as possible after you've cut in the BUTTER.

Your pie will rule. Your pie will taste amazing. Your pie will be as flaky as ... [insert celebrity or Palin joke here]. It will kick a shortening pie's assthigh, so hard it cannot walk for weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Posted by STJA on November 27, 2008 at 12:18 PM · Report this
That's "Your Mom's" apple pie recipe. My mother lived by Crisco shortening.
Posted by Roooobe on November 27, 2008 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Do NOT listen to these people, for they know not of what they speak!

There's a perfectly GOOD REASON why this recipe calls for shortening instead of butter. At this cooking temp, butter will melt much faster than shortening, causing the dough to "spread". In addition, butter has a high water content, whereas shortening has almost none, which means you are greatly altering the fat-liquid-starch ratio by using the latter.

Substituting butter for shortening in a recipe like this will result in a thiner, more densely packed crust (more like shortbread than pastry), particularly on the bottom, rather than the light, airy, flaky crust that you will achieve with slower melting shortening.
Posted by COMTE on November 27, 2008 at 12:30 PM · Report this
The missing factor here is skill. If you haven't made that many crusts, and you're unsure how to keep the fat cold enough to keep from soaking into the flour, stick with shortening. It's designed to remain firm across a wide range of temperatures, and that makes it much easier to work with.

Butter can be better if you have the experience, but it can also be much worse if it gets out of control. Best for those with the confidence to pull it off. You know who you are.

There is no shame in staying with shortening if you aren't willing to risk disappointment. Perhaps experiment some other time?
Posted by elenchos on November 27, 2008 at 12:37 PM · Report this
It takes a lot of practice to get a great crust. Everybody always overworks the dough when they're learning. It just takes time to know when enough is enough. Overworked dough comes out like cardboard. Butter makes a more opulent crust and shortening yields a lighter one.

It's a matter of taste. Some people like lard. It's a Depression and farm ingredient because it was far cheaper than butter or store-bought Crisco. I imagine it makes for a heavier crust than even butter, but if you dig pork (I don't), you'd probably go nuts.

I find real success only when I keep everything ice cold - dough, work surface, water. I think I've seen that apple pie picture before. It looks pretty good.
Posted by Bauhaus on November 27, 2008 at 12:40 PM · Report this
You know what makes it even more like shortbread? Add some sugar to the crust. About 1/4cup will do. Ppl will love your crust if there is sugar in it.

The ideas about skill for butter crusts are very true too.
Posted by kylamonkey on November 27, 2008 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Lard is by far the best fat for crust making. With a little butter for flavor.
Posted by Chris on November 27, 2008 at 12:52 PM · Report this
I use butter and very cold water. Still flaky and good.

Why the intermediate seven balls of dough rather than form two balls directly?
Posted by eddiew on November 27, 2008 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Just like the pie I used to make! Yes, shortening is the only way to get flaky crust. Butter won't do it. Complain all you want; that's just the way it is.
Posted by Catman on November 27, 2008 at 1:14 PM · Report this
My grandma's crust is flaky and she uses butter. But she's my grandma and not you...skillz I mean.
Posted by LogopolisMike on November 27, 2008 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Is the butter lobby in on this or something? Experiment, you say? I have been experimenting for years. Wonderful makers-of-foods have told me butter is the way to go, and then been proven wrong by this recipe. Don't take it from me. Make it and see.
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on November 27, 2008 at 2:25 PM · Report this
COMTE @5 has it right. It's about moisture/fat/flour ratios and melting points. You can get crazy and do combos as long as you understand how how changing your fat will also change the moisture content.

I'm of the opinion that much of what each of us calls "right" goes back to some emotional response earlier in our lives. If a drier scone like crust triggers memories of grandmas and snow days then make that crust. We can argue all day about mouth feel and gluten content, but what you really want is a pie that reaches way back into your subconscious and finds a happy and comfortable memory.

I'm thankful for kick ass slog commentators! It doesn't matter the topic, there will always be good discussions.
Posted by drew on November 27, 2008 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Omg, Frizzelle, I think I can see your place from my window! </stalker> And that pie almost makes me want to switch from the pumpkin cheesecake I'm going to make for the hippie thanksgiving I'm going to.
Posted by Q*bert H. Humphrey on November 27, 2008 at 4:03 PM · Report this
I'll let you in on a secret...if you want really flaky pie crust that isn't leathery or greasy use a crisco/butter combination but substitute the water with vodka. It burn away completely during the baking process.
Posted by The Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak on November 27, 2008 at 5:03 PM · Report this
Frizzelle is right about shortening over butter. People _want_ butter crusts to better than shortening crusts, because butter is yuppie and shortening is trashy. But the sad fact is that the shortening crusts taste better. Where Frizzelle goes awry is using apples to fill his crust. Bland, even if G. Smiths! Apples are for eating, not baking. For baking, you want something with some oomph. It's all about planning ahead -- it's too late for this thanksgiving. Thinking about _next_ thanksgiving, what you do is next May buy some fresh rhubarb and strawbewrries. Cut the rhubarb up into one inch chunks. Mix 3.5 cups rhubarb chunks with 0.5 cup strawberries, 1.5 cups sugar, 0.25 cups flower. Put the mixture in a Tupperware in your freezer and forget about it until the morning of November 26, 2009. Then make a crust just exactly the way Frizzelle describes (except make lattice top, not a solid top.) A strawberry rhubarb pie made in this way is full-on toe-curling experience, in the way that apple pie can never be, even if the crust is completely perfect.
Posted by Eric from Boulder on November 27, 2008 at 5:07 PM · Report this
I can't believe you advised (and no one called you on) telling people to go out shopping on a holiday. If nobody ran out for that last forgotten can of cranberries or goddamn shortening for their pie, the nice people working at the store could be home with friends or family and actually enjoy a paid day off. Christmas or other christian holidays I can understand; but Thanksgiving is the main secular holiday that everyone should have off.
Posted by Banna on November 27, 2008 at 6:24 PM · Report this

I tell you Mr. Frizzelle, one of the ways (there are several) that holidays can suck all the true enjoyment out of life is by weighing us down with expectations of perfection based on nostalgia and one-upmanhip and (this is where you come in) media idealization of an contrived, non-existent world. I don't know the cure for any of that, other than I drink more than usual during holidays.

I do know that if you pick some perfectly ordinary day to spend with a cookbook that discusses the theory behind the recipes (Cookwise for example) you can play around with different ways of doing things, and not feel the least bad when they "fail." If you are careful, and even take some notes, you will learn from recipes that go awry. Without some special meal planned, you'll have no fear of disappointment. The ones that turn out well will be all the better knowing that you will be well prepared to repeat them, what with your new skills and all.
Posted by elenchos on November 27, 2008 at 8:41 PM · Report this
The only thing better than butter is lard.
Posted by elswinger on November 27, 2008 at 9:07 PM · Report this
Oh man, elenchos wins.

Also, @ 17 - I'll be honest. I don't want butter to be better because it's trendy. I honestly think it tastes FAR better than shortening. And this is despite the fact that my beloved dead grandmother actually has a fabulous shortening crust recipe.

People think the perfect pie crust is flaky and light. This may be true. But in their quest for that perfection they overlook taste. Shortening crust cannot be anything but blah. Would you put shortening on your toast?

I think the point about practice, and practice on a day OTHER than T-day, is a good one. Great butter crust can be achieved, with a little experience.
Posted by STJA on November 27, 2008 at 10:32 PM · Report this
Butter vs. Shortening is a false opposition set up by the man to distract you from the truth. Lard is the truth. @20 FTW.
Posted by Eric F on November 27, 2008 at 11:03 PM · Report this

If you're making a Quiche Lorraine, then absolutely use the lard. But, strangely, some people don't want their apple pie to taste like meat.

Crazy I know, but that's just the way some people are...
Posted by COMTE on November 28, 2008 at 12:58 AM · Report this
I'd like to stick my dick in that pie.
Posted by The American on November 28, 2008 at 1:15 AM · Report this
Echoing several people here, the trick is to keep everything cold. Use frozen butter, ice water, chill your dough before forming it. Also use a food processor to make your dough. The less you fuck with it, the flakier your butter crust will be.
Posted by Pandora on November 28, 2008 at 1:16 AM · Report this
I am definitely the butter lobby and i am watching u.
Posted by onion on November 28, 2008 at 7:14 PM · Report this

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