Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pie Maker Trials

Let me start off by saying I am a complete science nerd. I finally got my Breville Pie Maker last week (it was supposed to be here for Christmas but had been back ordered). My first thought is to set up an experiment. Yes, my first thought was to think of as many different variations for one type of pie possible and see what works best for this machine.

According to the users manual and reviews online, premade pie crust or puff pastry is best for the bottom crust and only puff pastry is recommended for the top crusts. Since I actually had some puff pastry and some pie crusts left over in the freezer from the Kraft contests, I figured that was the best place to start. I can move on to testing out my own pie dough in the future; I just needed a place to start.

The manual suggests precooking the fillings and cooling them to room temperature. I had come Granny Smith apples on hand, so I made some sauteed apples and cooled them down. Apple pie is a great place to start, it would make the taste testing quite enjoyable.

In the end, I tried out 12 different scenarios with my new pie maker, varying the top crust, bottom crust, no top crust, no filling and different manipulations of the top crust. Yes, this all went into a spreadsheet with cook times and comments.

Here are some of the things I found out:
1. Using pie crust for the top results in a very pale crust. It is cooked through, but really doesn't look all that pretty. So I tried a few tricks to darken the crust. First I added some melted butter, but that did not help significantly. I racked my brain for something else that would help with browning. Sugar, of course!!! So on another pie, I brushed the top with melted butter than sprinkled white sugar on top. Perfectly golden brown success!!!!

2. Puff pastry shrinks very quickly the second it touches the hot pie maker. That is why some of the puff pastry pies have gaps in them, I didn't move quickly enough. But the taste and texture are really good.

3. Pie dough as a bottom crust without any filling puffs up a lot, which is to be expected. I just had one space left in the pie maker while testing out other options.

4. Pie dough without filling and weighted with pie weights seems to work alright. It is another thing that would take some practice to get it done quickly enough so that the dough doesn't shrink before the lid can be closed.

5. Puff pastry on the bottom without filling and with pie weights did not work so well. Perhaps I need more weights. The pastry shrinks so quickly that I am not sure I could get that one down quick enough. But that won't stop me from trying.

6. The best combinations, flavor-wise and texture-wise were a) puff pastry on top and bottom; b) puff pastry on the bottom alone; c) pie dough on the bottom, puff pastry on the top (as recommended in the instructions); d) pie dough on the bottom and on the top with melted butter and white sugar.

So the next two things are to try homemade pie dough and other types of pie. I am not quite to the point where I want to make my own puff pastry. I am sure I could, but there are so many other things that I want to try and I know that is a difficult technique to master. It will happen some day, just not quite yet.

Until then, I shall continue to nibble at my pies until they are all gone...yummy, yummy, yummy!!

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