When you are new to pie baking, plan to bake regularly until you are comfortable with the basic steps involved in creating gorgeous and delicious apple pies. The skills can be quickly acquired, and putting your baking skills to the test early and often in the beginning will allow you to build on the lessons you're learning as you go along. Mixing the pastry dough, rolling a nice round pastry, prepare a tasty filling, putting it in the pie shell and applying any toppings, and baking to perfection are the fundamental steps in making Americas favorite pie.
Once you've mastered the essentials in apple pie making, you can concentrate on each step and how to craft the ultimate dessert. Perfect pie crust starts with fresh, high quality ingredients, chilled in the refrigerator, until very cold. That includes both the dry and liquid ingredients. Follow recipe directions to the letter. Cut shortening or butter into your dough with a pastry knife or two forks until the dough resembles small peas. Do not over mix. When your pastry is ready, wrap the dough in wax paper and freeze five minutes. Cold dough will roll out and cut easier.
The recipes you choose will identify specific apples to use in your recipe. While the apples that go into your pie are a matter of personal taste and individual bias, many varieties have superior flavor, tartness, and texture, rendering them excellent for pie making. Wonderful specimens for making apple pies are readily available at local farmers markets and grocery stores. Some of the best varieties are only available on a seasonal basis, while others can only be found locally, online or by mail order. Keep in mind, the condition and age plays a significant role in the quality of an apple. They should be firm, free of dents and bruises, and feel heavy for their size.
You do not need to be a pastry artist to add the final touches to your pie. Whether you are creating a simple lattice top, or an elaborate array of special decorations, your craft store and some cookie cutters can provide you with all the tools and inspiration you need to elegantly finish your pie before baking. Again, cold dough works best for hand carving or pressing out shapes, so chill your dough as necessary to achieve the best results.
As your pie is showing signs of being ready for baking, preheat the oven to the recommended temperature. Pies, like most baked goods, benefit from a hot oven to activate ingredients and realize consistent results. Place the oven rack in the center and bake your pie plate squarely in the middle of the oven. The air flowing around the outside helps evenly bake the crust and filling.