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Lust for Crust! Part 2: Tips From the Pros

By Kim Bellware in Food on Oct 8, 2010 7:20PM

A Chicagoist test pie (Chicagoist/Kim Bellware)
The Chicagoist kitchen has been bustling around the clock as we put together apple pies of all kinds in preparation for this Sunday’s Bucktown Apple Pie Contest. We’ve tested out everything from the correct apple variety to crust add-ins and the result has turned our taste-testing staffers into a veritable round table of gluttons (thanks guys!).

Though the test pies have been baking up nicely, we sought out some expert advice to share with our readers and tapped pie authority, Paula Haney, owner of Hoosier Mama Pie Company. Haney’s Ukrainian Village pie shop celebrated its first anniversary this March, and was recently named one of the “Top 10 Best Places for Pie” in the country by Bon Appetit Magazine. In addition to owning Hoosier Mama, Haney has judged the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest for the past four years and will score the entries again this weekend. A few of her pro tips:

  • “Use tart apples--we like to use Granny Smith. We use local apples from a bunch of different farmers, but [Granny Smith] are not in season just yet, so we use Empire, Cortland and Mutsu. You need that acidity to contrast with the sweetness and the spices of the pie.”
  • “Give yourself plenty of time, particularly for the crust. It takes a while to get a feel for the dough. It needs to rest at least 25 minutes if not more; if you can give it 24 hours before rolling out, you’ll get a prettier dough---or at least an easier dough to work with.”
  • “Add-ins are fine, but you need to master basic apple pie first before getting unusual flavors or adding in other items. Apples are so good with so many flavors--we do apple cranberry, sour cream dutch apple pie, apple blueberry--but you have get the basics down first.”
  • “[Appearance-wise], get a good crimp in the edge and make sure you have a nice even top that’s not cracked. Apple pie is a simple, wonderful food. You probably shouldn’t try too hard to reinvent the wheel.”

You can still register your pie for the contest on Sunday, or stop by Holstein Park starting at 2 p.m. to sample slices.

Hoosier Mama Pie Company is located at 1618½ W Chicago Ave

The Bucktown Apple Pie Contest is Sunday, October 10th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Holstein Park, located at 2200 N. Oakley. Free.