Two Girls, Two Guys, Four Pies - The Finale

Today we're wrapping up our Two Girls, Two Guys, Four Pies series with some apple pie superlatives and finally getting the guys' points of views on this little experiment of ours where we turned these gorgeous, juicy apples...

Into a full blown table of autumnal awesomeness...

Along with my friend Lindsey (this whole 1950's style playdate was here idea in fact), we baked up four pies, each of which using different ingredients and techniques. Our mission? To finally put to bed what makes a great apple pie.

 

And since our own opinions just weren't enough, we also roped our significant others into this experiment and charged them with participating in a blind taste test of all four pies. Somehow, I don't think they minded.

Shaun is no stranger to the taste test. He is and has always been my ultimate recipe tester and diligently gives me feedback whenever I request it. Coming home from work to a plate full of pie and an apartment smelling of apples wasn't too shabby either. And since he's typically not a dessert lover, I pracitically jumped for joy when I saw him breaking out a pen and paper to take notes on each pie. I call him the 'Alton Brown' of the family.

So let's get down to what you've been waiting for, shall we?

Best Crust
Rachel: Grandma Mary (#3) with special shoutout to Grandma Ople (#4) I made it myself after all!
Lindsey: Grandma Mary (#3) with special shoutout to Grandma Ople (#4)
Shaun: Grandma Mary (#3) with special shoutout to Grandma Ople (#4) I love the carmelization!
Eric: Grandma Mary (#3)

 

Best Filling
Rachel: Tie between Grandma Mary (#3) and The Joy of Cooking (#2)
Lindsey: The Joy of Cooking (#2) Maceration was the unexpected trick to performance balanced apples!
Shaun: The Joy of Cooking (#2)
Eric: Grandma Mary (#3)

Best on Day After
Rachel: Grandma Mary (#3) It was just as perfect as Day 1!
Lindsey: I didn’t have any more pie after that first day!
Shaun: Grandma Mary (#3)
Eric: Grandma Mary (#3) The apples weren't too syrupy and the crust held!

Best Overall
Rachel: Grandma Mary (#3) It's really hard to not be biased, but it was darn good!
Lindsey: Do I have to choose? I just love pie! But I love the way #4 cooked...especially the crispy top!
Shaun: Grandma Mary (#3) But maybe with #2’s filling
Eric: Grandma Mary (#3)

So while we all had varying takes on different aspects of the pies, there are a few things that Lindsey and I took away from this:

  • Most importantly, baking pies all day would be the best, most fun job in the entire world, especially if we could do it together! That and making jams and soaps.
  • Macerating apples seems to be a very important step in creating the perfect pie filling. Though Pie #3 was the most appley of the bunch, Pie #2 (the macerated version) had the perfect amount of sweetness, tartness, and texture of all the pies.
  • In addition to the right technique, the right apples are key! You don't want a pile of sweet mush (not in this case, anyway). Tart apples are best for baking! We used a random mixture of Cortland, Macintosh and Spencer and we thought they were tops!
  • Though we debated on the value of the homemade crust up until that very morning - is it really necessary? We've heard good things about Pillsbury premade crust! Do people really want to spend the time to make their own crust? Will it make that much of a difference? - we came to the conclusion that for proper research we must be able to taste both. And we were psyched that we did. Our final stance on the to-crust or not-to-crust issue? Making your own is completely worth the time. However, if you cannot make it, be it a time or pure intimidation issue, the refrigerated, premade kind is completely fine and was still extremely delicious. Just not as delicious as the real deal. And my tip on making your own crust? Just follow the instructions and do it slowly and carefully! Like many things on this blog, if I can do it, so can you!

To sum it up, we all had varying opinions on different parts of the pie, and the bottom line is that I think a few things could be combined to make one super pie! I can't wait to try my grandmother's homemade crust with macerated apple filling and a lattice top that's carmelized with a buttery sugar mixture. It could be like a super pie! And of course, I'll document the entire thing if you want to follow along.

So there you have it. Our lengthy roundup of 4 amazingly delicious pies. And the truth of the matter? You can't really go wrong with any of them, since as we tasted each one, one was just a bit more delicious than the next. As Shaun said, The barbershop couldn't split hairs this thin!

If I had to recommend the best for ease of use? I'd say go with Pie #2. To get a little more fancy but still use the premade crust, I recommend #4.

Now I want to know, what's your favorite apple pie recipe? Have you ever made a recipe over and over in different ways to try and get it right?

And our bonus question is...what should be next in the Two Girls, Two Guys series?

Psst...want to see the Two Girls, Two Guys, Four Pies series from the beginning? Check out Part I, Part II and Part III!