Sunday, September 14, 2003

apple pie UPDATE

Be careful, those of you who know Sanskrit and speak Klingon (an artificial language whose growth has outstripped Esperanto's), not to confuse these two terms:

Kapla = Klingon word for "success"

Kalpa = Sanskrit term found in Hinduism and Buddhism, indicating a really, really, really long span of time

Anyway, my apple-pie-making adventure didn't take a kalpa, and it didn't result in total kapla.

What went right:

The filling, pure and simple. Yeah, some of you apple pie veterans are laughing. "How do you ruin filling!?" you're screaming at your screen right now. "You CAN'T ruin filling!"

And you're right. I've never tried my hand at apple pies before, but it became obvious, about 10 minutes into the filling prep, that you'd have to be extremely stupid to ruin filling. For those of you who don't know how this works, it goes something like this:

Obtain apples. The recipe I was working with called for six Granny Smiths. I had two of those, I think (another proof this is foolproof: I did this in total ignorance of the apple species involved!). I also had five green apples. And two big-ass Korean pear-apples, for a total of nine.

Peel apples. If you can't manage this task, I pity you.

Chop apples. I'd heard rumors that green apples, being tart, aren't always the best for apple pie. So I chopped everything finely to get the apple varieties nicely mixed. I ended up with way too much, so I Ziploc'ed what I didn't need.

Put chopped apples in pot. This requires hand-eye coordination and a force called gravity.

Next: mix in requisite amounts of sugar, flour, and cinnamon (I couldn't find nutmeg, and it didn't matter-- another example of how foolproof this is!). I sprinkled in a little water to help the spreading of the sugar, flour, and nutmeg. The process I used to mix the contents is a very advanced technique called stirring, a technique that requires something between dog and monkey intelligence to master.

Stir while cooking. Stirring while cooking is simply a fancy version of stirring. In this phase, the bottom of the pot grows hotter and you begin to see changes in your apple mixture. About the only way to mess this up is to forget that SUGAR CARAMELIZES IF YOU HEAT IT TOO MUCH AND TOO FAST. This is why you ruin a car if you put sugar in the gas tank.

And, folks-- that's it. You stir and cook at low-to-medium heat for as long as it takes to get the apples to soften from very crunchy to firm-but-not-mushy. The cooking process takes about 15-20 minutes, tops.

So I ended up with this huge mass of pie filling.

What went wrong:

The crust.

Alas, the pie crust didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it to. I don't think I made the dough correctly; it was a pain to switch to metric (and I don't have measuring cups and spoons). And I tried all sorts of different ways to cook the dough, but nothing seemed to be producing the crust effect I wanted. This is probably because I used rather high heat, and the dough's surface cooked too fast. My first attempt produced some tasty crumbles, though, and when I sprinkled them on a bowlful of cooked filling, the resulting taste was indeed apple pie.

Note: I read the online reviews of that recipe. A lot of people complained the resulting pie was too sweet, and I agree: the filling is rich, rich, rich. Next time, I'll reduce the amount of sugar. And since I didn't eat it with ice cream this time, perhaps I'll grab some vanilla from the local store and gobble that along with the pie next time.

Actually, I'm thinking of giving up on simulating a pie crust and going with the more cobbler-like effect that my crumb-y first attempt produced. That was tasty.

So in the end, a successful failure, just like the Apollo 13 mission.

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