Monday, November 9, 2009

No I'm not dead!

I'm sorry, my kittens, that I haven't written in quite some time. You see, on Wednesday my computer's network connection crashed. Thursday a guy came in to look at it, and got me reconnected. Then my computer kept crashing, and then I lost my connection again. It was a mess... However, if you're good kittens and you follow me on Twitter, you already knew all this.

Now because all of you are such good little kittens and you love my food porn, I thought that it was time to let you in on some of my super-secret baking tips... :)

I have some photos to accompany tips, but not all the tips have photos. (Ha, dirty!)

First up, tips on my favorite pie to bake; Apple Pie!

AP tip #1: Invest in an apple corer similar to this one:

It cut my apple filling prep time in 1/2, seriously.

AP tip #2: If you take my sage advice and invest in an apple corer, the easiest way to get the core out seems to be to cut it off as close as possible to the slicer and use the handle of the knife to push it out of the bottom. Using your fingers can = owies. I've sliced my thumb trying to push it through with my fingers.

AP tip #3: Invest in some disposable plastic food prep gloves. I used to spend at least 10 minutes trying to get all the sugar/cinnamon grit out from underneath my fingernails... Until I made my decision to go into 'business' and bought the gloves for sanitary reasons. And then a whole new world of grit-less fingernails opened up to me. Put on the gloves before tossing the apples and while you're adjusting the apples in the crust.

Random tip regarding limes/lemons/oranges/juice-able fruits: Invest in a microplaner similar to this one, and a juicer like the one above. I can get up to 3/4 of a cup of juice from a single lemon with one of those bad boys... And in the background, you can see how nicely the microplaner works for harvesting citrus peel for miscellaneous recipes. **Related non-baking tip** If your kids are picky and don't like eating onions in their food, use the microplaner to grate in the onion; it makes it mushy, but you get all the onion flavor without the chunks. I'm a picky eater, and we tried this last night for a new dish; it worked nicely, but it does take quite a bit of elbow grease to get a substantial amount of onion to grate.

Some cookie tips!

Balled cookie tip: For cookies like sugar cookies and peanut-butter cookies, refrigerate at least two hours before shaping and use a smaller ice-cream scoop like this one, and then shape into a ball with your hand.

Now, on to the main event! Pastry crust!

#1: Measure your ingredients accurately. Too much of any specific ingredient can cause a multitude of mishaps. Stir the flour before measuring, it helps.

#2: Cut in your shortening until it looks like this:

#3: Use ICE COLD water, and toss with a fork until it looks like this:

#4: If your dough isn't rolling right, try wrapping it tightly with Saran Wrap and refrigerating it for an hour or so.

#5: Once you have your dough rolled (be sure to keep that board floured to prevent sticking!), put the rolling pin at the top of the dough and roll back, wrapping the dough around the pin. Ease it over the pie pan to prevent tears.

#6: Pie pans... Glass and dull metal are the best. Shiny metal pie pans can cause the bottom of your crust to come out soggy. Aluminum are smaller than standard, so if you use them buy the deep dish. Ceramics, same thing. They're not always the proper size. I like Pyrex glass pie pans, they're like $4 at Walmart and work beautifully.

#7: When making a baked pie shell, line the pan with a double-layer of aluminum foil, and remove before putting in the pastry. That way you're not puncturing holes in the crust with the foil. :)

2 dished:

Mrs Soup said...

Great tips! We have an apple corer at work, and I love it...although it's attacked me a couple times. Which is depressing.

Sassy Pie said...

Thanks! Yeah, those apple corers can be a real bitch sometimes... But they make apple pie-making so much easier than hand-slicing!