The Apple Pie Debate
There are so many things to debate about apple pie, and (some) people have *really* strong opinions. Though there are lesser arguments such as butter v. shortening in the crust and peel v. no peel, the crux of the matter is, of course, what kind of apple to use.
I, personally, swear by Jonathan apples. They’re plentiful in the Midwest, and not so common on the west coast where I live now, so whenever I see them in the store I buy as many as I can carry. My friend David, who helped make the pie shown here, grew up in Toronto and claims Northern Spy to be his number one favorite. For this pie, we had to settle on Cortland, a strong second place apple for both of us. Seems we like apples that are on the tart side (as opposed to sweet), and hold their shape during the baking process instead of getting mushy (like McIntosh). Cooks Illustrated recommends Golden Delicious, Baldwin, Cortland, Ida Red, and Northern Spy. My other favorite baking resource, King Arthur Flour, recommends Jonagold, Granny Smith, Ginger Gold, Cameo, Northern Spy, and Delicious. I’ve made acceptable pies with Fuji and Winesap, though they are not my favorites by far.
So, for the crust. I tend to prefer shortening (Crisco is the best), but will use butter or a combination if shortening isn’t available. I’ve also found that a lot of new-fangled recipes require a lot of fat – up to 18 tablespoons (more than 1 cup) in one case – where the recipe I grew up with from my mom’s tattered Pillsbury cookbook only requires 2/3 cup (about 10 tablespoons) of shortening and bakes up nicely every time. I looked for a link on the Pillsbury website but every pie recipe I looked at called for using their refrigerated pie dough. Huh.