|One of the highlights of the 2008 Culinary Expo, held April 6 at the Woodland Mall, was a healthy baking competition coordinated by Ohio State University Extension, Wood County.
Myriah Crimmins, left, and Kay-Lynne Schaller were winners in the 2008 Foodways Expo. (J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Winners were named in four separate categories: top cake, top one-crust pie, top two-crust pie, and top quickbread.
First place for the two-crust pies went to Kay-Lynne Schaller of Perrysburg, for her no-sugar apple pie. Myriah Crimmins took top honor in the cakes for her Not-So-Sinful Chocolate Cake. Susan Woodard of Bowling Green was a double winner, in both the quickbread category for her Boston Brown Bread, and in the single-crust pie category for a Caramel Cheesecake with Fudge Sauce and Peanuts.
Crimmins was a winner in last year's Expo too, and shared her winning Banana Spice Cake recipe with Cook's Corner readers in the May 3, 2007 column.
For Schaller, the 2008 Expo was an especially intense experience because she was also one of the people featured in "Demonstration Alley," located in the former Amish Oak Gallery space. There she demonstrated her method for making a perfect-every-time pie crust. Her secret ingredient, visitors learned, is vodka!
She also has a secret technique: "Keep everything chilled, even the mixing bowl and utensils."
Most people who learned how to make a pie from mom were told, correctly, to mix and handle the dough as little as possible so as to keep it from becoming tough.
Schaller, a consumer sciences teacher at Anthony Wayne Junior High School, also notes that "using less liquid is also good."
"The more water you have, the more gluten strand layer development there is." That's not a desirable thing. "You need some water, but you don't want too much. If you use equal amounts of vodka and water, instead of all water, the vodka burns off in cooking and that's good. Less liquid means a higher ratio of fat to flour," thus a flakier crust.
Schaller picked up the tip about replacing some of the water with vodka from the November issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine.
Also, she said, "don't buy cheap flour unless you want a 'cheap pie!'"
She likes to use a food processor to mix the dough because it minimizes handling. "Three pulses of the flour and salt in the food processor is all you need," for example.
And the dough-rolling technique also matters. "Quickly roll from the center out - not back and forth. The best rolling surface is a silicone mat."
Here's her crust recipe*:
Double Pie Crust
2 2/3 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup plain Crisco shortening (small amount lard optional)
5 to 6 T. very cold water (approx.) OR 2 1/2 T. Absolut vodka and 2 1/2 T. water
For an even flakier crust, when measuring your "fat," first put a couple spoonfuls of lard into the measuring cup before filling the rest of the way with Crisco.
Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until crumbly. Sprinkle with ice water a tablespoon at a time and toss lightly with a fork until mixture forms a ball. Divide into two balls, and flatten out into a thick disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for about an hour to rest.
Complete your pie filling while the dough is in the refrigerator.
When this time is done, roll out each crust on a lightly floured board and place one crust in bottom of pie pan, place filling in the pan, and top with the other rolled out crust. Crimp the edges. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Cut vent hole in the top crust in a decorative manner and bake according to recipe directions.
Check pie in 15-minute intervals to be sure it is not over browning. Be ready to cover with a pie shield or pieces of aluminum foil.
No Sugar Apple Pie
Dough for a two-crust pie
6 apples (suggested apple varieties: 2 Pink Ladies, 2 Braeburn, 1 Granny Smith, 1 Gala)
1- 6oz. can frozen apple juice
2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1â„2 Cup water
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
2-3 tablespoons butter, sliced thinly
1-2 tablespoons milk
First, gather and measure all ingredients before you pare and slice the apples. Roll out enough dough for the bottom of pie and place in pie pan. Place the dough for the top crust back in the refrigerator.
Pare and slice the apples and place into large bowl.
Immediately prepare the next step: Heat the apple juice in a small saucepan to boiling. Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into the hot apple juice and cook until the mixture has thickened. Take the saucepan off the heat and add cinnamon and ginger to the liquid mixture. Pour this over the sliced apples and gently fold together.
Place the apple mixture into the pie crust and top with the thin slices of butter. Roll out the remaining pie dough and cut into irregular width strips. Place the strips over the pie in a criss-cross fashion. Crimp the edges of the pie with your thumb and fingers. Gently brush the top of the pie with milk.
Bake in a 450°F oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until done, about 45 more minutes. Keep an eye on the upper pie crust and be ready to shield it with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too much.
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