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Carmelized Apple Pie - Lessons from Joy the Baker

How do you improve an apple pie? Joy the Baker shares her secrets, including caramelizing the juice from macerated apples. See what else CLICKed for me!

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy apple pie. I've made Apple Pie before, but let me tell you what I learned from Joy the Baker about making an Apple Pie!

Last week at our Click Retreat, Joy led a workshop on photography and just happened to whip up an apple pie in the middle of our discussion. Her calming voice and steady work lulled our class into an awed trance as she cut, peeled, gathered, rolled, macerated and styled her work on the fly.

Overall Lesson - Be calm and do it with love. Baking is a science and an art. It's about the balance and proportion of ingredients AND about being patient and enjoying the process. Taking pictures of your baking process is the same. Use what you have. Layer your textures and capture the messy counter - it's part of the story too.

Amy's Apple Pie

I could write a novel about how cool, awesome, down-to-earth, real and amazing Joy is as a person, baker, instructor and professional. Here are the food tips that struck me like a bolt of lightening.

Measuring your flour

Scoop and dump, right? Um, no. Joy took her flour out of the original container (bag, canister) and poured it into a bowl. She stirred, folded, aerated the flour and gently spooned it into her measuring cup. It seemed like one of those extra steps you skip in a recipe, like sifting. My turn to try at home. I got a bowl, measured my flour the "old way" and then stirred it up. Spooning it back into my measuring cup and into my mixing bowl, guess what I found? I had ONE CUP of flour left over, almost 1/3 too much for the recipe. No wonder my crusts are like cardboard.

Be nice to your dough

The dough will tell you when to stop. Listen to the dough. Joy gathered the ingredients, gave a gentle squeeze and ta-da! Dough. Press and fold and gather until the crumbs just barely stick. Then, stop.

Gathering the Dough by Joy the Bake

Be patient

Baking takes time. Never mind Joy is cruising through 5-7 recipes a day at home prepping for another destined-to-be-great cookbook. Once you prep the apples, they rest. Gathered the dough? Let it chill. Assembled the pie? Chill again. Why? Every time you've worked the butter in the crust, it's warmed up. To make the flaky crust, the cold butter needs to go into a hot oven and melt, leaving tiny air pockets throughout the crust. And the apples resting? Here's my favorite part.

Macerating apples and Reducing the Juice

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To macerate: to allow to develop and release juices. What happens when you sprinkle apples with cinnamon and sugar and toss with a little lemon juice? Let them sit at least 30 minutes and you have a good 1/2 cup of liquid in the bottom of your bowl. In the "old days," I would just toss all that juice into my pie and I wondered why my crust would be soggy-ish. Joy took the juice, added to a sauce pan with a pat of butter and reduced it down to a caramel-like syrup before adding back to the apples. Yum!

Reducing the Juice with Joy the Baker
Carmelized Sauce from Joy the Baker

Image from Joy the Baker

Be nice to your dough, part 2

When you roll out your dough, you're not trying to beat it into submission. Let your rolling pin do the work. Turn and flip the dough often to avoid stickage. If the edges start to spring back, that's your dough telling you its had enough. No more pushing and prodding until you've glued the dough to the table, Amy. While Joy said her dad claims to be the Go-To Crust Pincher, Joy is no slouch. Don't skip the egg wash! This final touch and a sprinkle of sugar will give your pie the golden finish that can be perfect in pictures.

Rolling the Dough by Joy the Baker
Pinching the Crust by Joy the Baker
Amy's Apple Pie

Thanks to Joy for the play-by-play of pie making, the lesson in love and in focusing, both my camera and my passions.

For the original recipe, check out Joy's With Love, Apple Pie

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