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Baking the perfect pie means following directions without any changes

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Posted: Friday, October 4, 2013 9:42 am

Dear Barbara: I saw Robert Irvine on the Food Network showing a failing restaurant chef how to make a pie without a soggy crust. He baked the bottom crust, cooled it, and smeared a layer of butter on the bottom and sides to prevent the juices from leaking under the crust. Chef Irvine then filled the center with apples, sugar and spices, and placed the top uncooked crust over the apples. The pie was perfectly baked.

I did the same thing and it was totally burnt on the bottom; the juices were everywhere; the edges of the bottom crust were burnt. I did dock it a little bit, but just enough that it wouldn’t bubble. I baked it according to the recipe I had. Where do you think I may have gone wrong? — Jo Lea from Lodi

Dear Jo Lea: Two things stand out; maybe three. Any time you are making a two-crusted pie, please don’t dock it (meaning to poke a bunch of tiny holes in the crust) so it doesn’t bubble.

It would have been better to take parchment paper and cover the crust. Fill the shell with dried beans or pie weights. Docking the crust, in this case, is giving the filling all these little holes so that the juices can seep out of the crust. One of the most important things is to cover the outer edge crust, where it is crimped on the edges, with aluminum foil. Lastly, but certainly not the least important, is to turn your oven temperature down. Keep an eye on it and take it out when the crust is golden brown and delicious!

Dear Barbara: The last time we went to Apple Hill, I loved the cider. They made it right there on the spot. It is 100 percent apple juice, and if you look at a bottle of apple juice, it says 100 percent apple juice. What determines whether it is juice or cider if they both contain the same thing? — Shante from Galt

Dear Shante: When you had the cider at Apple Hill, it was pressed right on the premises; therefore it wasn’t filtered or pasteurized and contained nothing other than juice from pressed apples. That is why cider is cloudy. If it is not pasteurized, it must be stated on the label.

In the case of Apple Hill, I believe there is a sign posted. I haven’t been there for years, so I’m not sure, but I assume it is still there. It also has a shorter shelf life than apple juice and must be refrigerated.

The difference in the apple juice you buy from the store is that it is both pasteurized and filtered. It also may contain sugar and some preservatives to give it a longer shelf life.

My sister lived in England for a while and if you order apple cider there, it is fermented and contains about 8 percent alcohol. Here we call it ‘hard’ cider.

Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at bdspitzer@comcast.net. Please include your first name and city.

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