As an outsider, there are some things I have to hand to the UK. Crumpets? Delicious. A good roast? The words alone set me drooling. But when it comes to sweet pies, my Irish eyes have landed on a firm winner; those are best done by Americans.
If (like me) you’ve always wondered at cherry pies and craved a pecan tart, I reckon you’ll want to soak up all the cross-Atlantic pie wisdom you can get.
But recently, advice from a friend almost left me to question her knowledge; to bake the perfect double-crust apple pie, try placing it in a paper bag before lobbing it in the oven.
I know! I was confused too. But it turns out the science is sound ― the bag keeps the air in a pie parcel, ensuring the filling stays tender.
On top of that, the bag provides a sort of cover to ensure your pie isn’t exposed directly to the heat of the oven; expect a more even golden colour, and a beautifully-consistent bite.
Of course, the method has its pitfalls. For instance, you’ll want to make sure your paper bag has no glue or plastic in it, as this can provide a horrible taste or, in the worst-case scenario, toxic fumes.
If you can’t be definite about how your paper bag was made, try making your own parchment envelope for your pie out of folded baking paper.
Secondly, make sure your paper doesn’t touch any of the heating elements in the oven directly ― this could cause it to singe and even burn. Keep a safe distance between your paper and the top or bottom of the oven, and the rack above it.
You’re also advised not to let the bag, or parchment, touch the top of the pie. Paperclip, or staple, the sides down; they risk burning if left to flap loose in the fan of your oven.
I know it sounds like a lot, but I promise it’s worth it ― I haven’t had a dessert that good, before or since.
Here’s TikToker and baking enthusiast sherry_skinner showing us how it’s done: