HighAltitudeBaking.Com © 2005 Susan G. Purdy. All Rights reserved. Pie In The Sky © 2005 Susan G. Purdy / Morrow / HarperCollins.
© Susan G. Purdy, PIE IN THE SKY, Morrow/HarperCollins, 2005
Yield: 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10.
High Altitude Notes: Between sea level and about 6,500 feet you are probably used to baking tall pies. However, above 7,000 feet, flat-tops are more common, covered with lattice pastry or streusel crumbs. Flat is just as delicious, if a tad less dramatic, but this recipe will guarantee peak dreams at every altitude. Most recipes call for cooking apples (Greenings, Granny Smiths) which are hard and take a lot of heat and a long time to bake through. Since water boils at a lower temperature at higher the altitude, these apples may not even soften up before the top pastry browns.
There are 3 secrets to a towering high altitude pie. The first is to select the right apples. From sea level to about 6,500 feet, it is okay to use cooking apples. But as you near 7,000 feet and above, use Golden Delicious, Macintosh, or other softer eating apples. These would bake into applesauce at sea level, but at high altitude, they can be piled high and bake through because they bake so quickly. Some high altitude bakers pre-cook apples on the stovetop before putting them in the pastry, but that’s not necessary with the right apples. The second trick is to add enough moisture to make the pie dough pliable in dry mountain air. The third trick is to cover the partially baked pie with an aluminum foil tent to prevent premature over-browning.
2. Through the processor feed tube, add the yolk, lemon juice, and 1 or 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse a few times. Stop the machine and look at the dough – it should just begin to get clumpy. If too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time, pulse again, and check the consistency. Never allow a dough ball to form on the blade. The dough is ready if it holds its shape when squeezed between your fingers. At altitude in dry mountain conditions, you may need a little extra water. (Alternatively, you can mix the pie crust ingredients together in a bowl with a wire pastry blender or large fork or your fingertips.)
Turn out the clumpy dough onto a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, gather it into a ball, and press it into a flat disk. If dough is soft, refrigerate it about 30 minutes, or overnight, before rolling.
3. Divide the dough ball in half; use one piece and refrigerate the rest. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll a dough circle at least 1-inch larger all around than the 9-inch Pyrex pie plate. Loosen edges of dough with a bench scraper, lift it up, fold dough into quarters, and fit it into the pie plate with the point in the center. Unfold and gently drape pastry over the pan; do not stretch it. Allow about 3/4- to 1-inch of dough to overhang the rim, then trim excess and reserve.
4. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it as indicated for your altitude in the grid above.
5. Toss the sliced apples in a large bowl with the sugar, lemon juice, flour, and spices. To prevent apple juices from softening the lower crust, use pastry brush to paint a coating of egg glaze over the entire pastry shell. Sprinkle on the crumbs or crushed cornflakes to absorb excess juice.
Pile on the apple slices, using the palms of your hands to mold them into a loosely packed but high-rise dome centered on the pastry.
6. Roll out the remaining dough, making it about 2 inches larger around than the pie plate. You will have extra dough. Fold the pastry into quarters as before and fit it over the mound of fruit; center the folded point in the center of the apples. Unfold the pastry, draping it evenly over the apples and onto the rim of the plate. Trim a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the edge of the top crust under the bottom one and pinch them together to seal. Pinch up a raised fluted rim all around. With a knife tip, cut a small hole in the pastry on top of the mound for a steam vent, along with 4 or 5 slits around the sides.
7. Brush the pie with egg glaze and sprinkle generously with topping sugar. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to the temperature indicated in the chart above for your altitude and bake for indicated time, or until the pastry is a rich golden brown and the fruit is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife through a vent hole. Note: Set a timer for about 20 minutes after you reduce oven heat. Check the pie color at this time, and if the edges are beginning to over-brown, set a piece of foil over the pie edges to protect them. Serve the pie warm, topped by a slice of sharp cheddar cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
© Susan G. Purdy, PIE IN THE SKY, Morrow/HarperCollins, 2005
Yield: 10-inch tube cake, serves 10 to 12
Altitude Notes: At and above 2,500 feet, the trick for success is to underbeat
the whites, whipping just until they form soft, slightly droopy ( not
stiff) peaks; at this stage there is still room in them to expand when
baked. If overbeaten to stiff peaks, the air cells, and the cake, will
collapse when the cake cools. As the elevation increases, add extra flour
to strengthen the batter and increase cream of tartar for acidity and
to stabilize the whipped whites. To compensate for evaporation and a drier
atmosphere, add a little water at 5,000 feet and above. Oven temperature
must be watched. If the oven is too hot, the top glazes over before the
interior batter rises and sets. If your cake sinks, you can blame it on
overwhipped whites and/or weak structure (not enough flour) or the fact
that you forgot to invert it while cooling.
1. Position the rack and preheat the oven as indicated for your altitude in the chart.
2. Sift the cake flour onto a piece of wax paper, then sift the confectioners’ sugar and salt over it. Place the empty sifter over a bowl; gather up the edges of the wax paper and tip the dry ingredients into the sifter; without shaking the sifter, let it sit in the bowl until needed.
3. Place the egg whites in the large bowl of an electric mixer with cream of tartar. Whip on medium-high speed just until foamy. Gradually whip in the superfine sugar, increasing the mixer speed to high, but watch closely. As soon as you see beater tracks on top of the whites, stop the machine, lift the beater and check the stiffness of the foam. At sea level, whites should hold stiff peaks BUT at 2500 feet and above, whites should be soft, with droopy peaks. If whites look too runny and soft, continue beating a few more seconds and check again, but do not overbeat. Whites should be glossy and smooth.
4. With a flexible spatula, fold in the flavoring extracts. Sift about 1/3 of the flour-sugar mixture onto the whites and fold it in, then slowly sift and fold in the rest along with any that fell into the smaller bowl.
5. Scoop the batter gently into the baking pan and smooth the top. Cut through the batter with a spatula once to be sure there are no large air pockets. Bake in the preheated oven for the time indicated for your altitude in the chart, or until the cake is well risen and golden on top and a cake tester in the center comes out clean.
As soon as it is baked, invert the cake pan onto its feet or hang it upside down over the neck of a bottle until cake is completely cold – several hours or overnight.
6. To remove the cake from the pan, slide the blade of a long thin knife between the cake and the pan sides and then the central tube, to loosen it. Top the cake with a plate or foil-covered cardboard disk, invert, and lift off the pan or pan sides. If your cake is stuck to the pan bottom, slide the knife between the pan and the bottom of the cake to release it. Sift on powdered sugar if desired and cut with a serrated knife.
© 2005 Susan G. Purdy. All Rights reserved.