Gala Apple Pie

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I hate it when I buy produce in the market, only to discover when I get home that the quality is much lower than expected.  This happened to me recently when I bought a bag of small Gala apples.

My first mistake, of course, was buying produce in a netting bag.  I thought I had given the apples a real good once over in the store, but when I ripped open the netting at home I discover that it hide some pretty poor quality apples, with uneven skins and lots of bruises.

I thought about returned them, but that was too much hassle.  I thought about throwing them out, but that seemed like a waste.  Then I thought about salvaging them by preparing slices for freezing.

So I pulled out my copy of The Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food: Easy Step-by-Step Instructions for Freezing, Drying, and Canning only to learn that freezing apple slices might be fast, but only produces an acceptable product that is best used in pies and baked goods. 

Which led to my next dilemma: Gala apples aren't considered cooking apples.

What make a good cooking apple is firm flesh.  It's that firmness that prevents it from turning to mush when you cook it.  Because of that firmness, cooking apples also tend to be tart.

By contrast, an eating apple has softer flesh and a high sugar content.

But I decided to forge ahead anyway, so I cut up the apples into water with some Vitamin C powder in it.  Then I drained the apples and place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar to drawn juice out of the apples and dissolve the sugar.

As they were sitting on the counter, I looked at my book again and saw a tip that said:
An easy way to freeze apples for pies is to prepare the pie filling as you would if you were baking right away.
That sounded like a good idea, so I hunted on the Internet for a Gala Apple Pie recipe and stumbled across this one:

1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon 
4 tbsp light butter (stick or tub) at room temperature
4 Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 refrigerated ready-made piecrusts

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine apple juice, sugar (and cinnamon) and butter in a bowl. Add apples and cornstarch. Place one piecrust in a 9" pie pan and fill with mixture. Slice the second piecrust into eight 1/2-inch-thick strips and drape over filled pie shell in a crisscross pattern; pinch edges to fasten to bottom crust.

Bake 55 1 hour 15 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle top with cinnamon.

Here is how I modified the recipe:
  • I used 1/4 cup of the apple juice drawn out from the apples and used the rest of the juice for something else.
  • I cut the sugar down to 1/4 cup, since I already sprinkle the apples with 1/4 cup sugar to drawn the juice out.
  • I added the cinnamon to the rest of the filling ingredients.
  • I lined a pie plate with heavy duty aluminum foil and then poured in the apple filling.  I place the plate in the freezer for about 24 hours until the filling was frozen solid.
  • I remove the foil from the pie plate and wrapped the filling using an additional piece of foil.
  • When I was ready to bake the pie, I removed the aluminum foil and placed the frozen filling between the pie crusts prepared as above.
  • I found I needed to bake the pie for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 F. 

Here is how it turned out and it was delicious.  It was quite a triumphant hit with the hubs.  All this from apples that were quite the disaster when I purchased them.

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