I am making apple pies. Do apple pie experts prefer to precook their apples before baking?

I am making apple pies for a charity event at my local farmer's market. Normally, I just put my filling (raw apples plus sugar and spices and a touch of tapioca) into my crusts and bake. But I have seen several recipes (i.e. Midge's Brown Butter and Cheddar Apple Pie) that precook the apples, and I was wondering what chefs here normally do and why. Also any tips on dealing with pie pastry are appreciated. I still a bit intimidated working with pie crust!

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10 Comments

Smaug February 27, 2018
It really makes for a completely different dish, so you don't really have to commit one way or the other. One of my all time favorites is Maida Heatter's "Mom's Apple Pie", in which the apples are poached in orange juice. And of course there's Tarte Tatin, in which the apples are cooked with butter and sugar, but that's a bit different from an American pie. Precooking the apples lets you add flavors- for a standard pie, you can limit the top crust problem somewhat by cubing the apples fairly small (if you like playing with knives). I also seem to remember making a tart where raw apple slices were bedded in a layer of apple sauce and, if I remember, finished under the broiler. The vodka pie crust is a pretty good cheat- or for apple pie, you might use rum or bourbon instead.
 
Audrey February 27, 2018
I love Sweet Tartlet Dough recipe and I do think raw apples need to be finely sliced in pie. I make mind the Irish way like my mum used to.... on s dinner plate. 👌🏻
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drbabs October 15, 2011
I don't cook my apples either, but I do slice them on the thin side so I can pack a lot in. And use 2 or 3 different varieties of apples. I started that when I tested mrslarkins' truly scrumptious apple pie--it adds a lot of depth of flavor.
 
SeaJambon October 14, 2011
For absolute best results, do a bit of both. If you don't precook, you can have a really big air gap from the top crust (which cooks at the level where it initially rested against the uncooked apples - typically it doesn't shrink down as the apples cook down). If you precook some (not to applesauce, just so that it mushes together the way the final pie normally would) and pack the rest in tight light AntoniaJames recommends, you'll have more apple in your pie and less gap (cook down your full recipe quantity of apples; supplement with another 1/2 recipe of fresh prior to baking).
 

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AntoniaJames October 14, 2011
I also never cook the apples. I like them a bit firm in the cooked pie and don't mind at all if the top crust collapses a bit. One tip though . . . don't just dump a pile of apples into the bottom crust. Lay them out, stack and pack them in, neatly, like a strudel, for the most apple-y pie. Yummm. It makes me hungry just thinking about this. ;o)
 
SKK October 14, 2011
When making apple pies I slightly pre-cook the apples to get the flavors of the sugar and spices to combine. Don't like mushy pies. HardLikeArmour's pie dough recipe from Cook's Illustrated is a great pie dough. She recommended it in another post and it is the only one I use.
 
Panfusine October 14, 2011
I'm definitely NOT an apple pie expert, but I've never precooked the apples.. I like some apple structure in the finished dish. I make sure that the filling sits out for some time in the spices (kinda like marinading I suppose) before it's doled out onto the pie crust & baked..
 
Panfusine October 14, 2011
I'm definitely NOT an apple pie expert, but I've never precooked the apples.. I like some apple structure in the finished dish. I make sure that the filling sits out for some time in the spices (kinda like marinading I suppose) before it's doled out onto the pie crust & baked..
 
hardlikearmour October 14, 2011
I've not pre-cooked apples when making apple pie. I highly recommend the Cook's Illustrated foolproof pie dough recipe that uses vodka and water. It makes for a wetter dough, which is easier to work with, and you get a beautiful result. If you remove the sage and add 2 T of sugar to the dough recipe Kevin uses in his Cornish Pasties it'll make enough dough for a double crust pie. http://www.food52.com/recipes/12687_cornish_pasties
 
betsysbites October 14, 2011
i do both and don't have a strong preference either way...precooking allows for a tighter top crust - your filling won't shrink down as much so there's less of a gap between your top crust and filling. for the pastry just keep everything very cold!
 
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