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How to Zap Up the Perfect, Tasty Pie

January 28, 1988|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

Most people love fruit pies, and with the microwave you can make them quickly and easily. And pie crusts microwave very well. But since microwaves are attracted to the moisture in foods, some kinds of pies which do not contain much moisture can be tricky.

Microwaved pie crust can be as flaky as when baked conventionally. In fact, because microwave energy reacts quickly with the water in the pastry, it may be even flakier. This happens because steam, which causes the pastry layers to separate, can be more forceful in the microwave than in the slower conventional oven. Depending on the thickness of the crust, it takes about 4 to 6 minutes to microwave a single pie crust. A conventional oven takes about 10 minutes.

CINNAMON GLAZED STRAWBERRY PIE

1 quart medium strawberries

1 (9-inch) Pie Crust

3/4 cup (6 ounces) cinnamon red hot candies

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Clean and remove caps from strawberries. Place 3 cups whole berries in cooled pie shell. Set aside.

Place 2/3 cup water and red hot candies in 2-quart microwave casserole or measuring bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 5 to 7 minutes until candies are almost completely melted. Stir well, then add sugar and remaining cup whole strawberries. Microwave at HIGH 2 to 4 minutes, until candies are completely melted and berries are soft and beginning to break up.

Stir together cornstarch and 1/3 cup water in small bowl. Stir into hot mixture thoroughly. Microwave at HIGH 1 to 3 more minutes, until mixture is clear and no starchy taste remains. Pour cinnamon glaze over whole berries in pie shell. Chill until set. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Pie Crust

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons shortening

Place flour and salt in small bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until size of small peas. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over flour-shortening mixture. Stir with fork to form ball.

Roll out on floured pastry cloth with rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Let stand few minutes before fitting into 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing to fit with hands. Trim edge. Pierce bottom and sides of pastry all over with fork.

Place on trivet or inverted saucer. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 5 to 6 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn if necessary after 3 minutes. Pastry appears dry and blistered and is not doughy when done.

This recipe features quick-to-make pastry from the food processor.

HONEY-APPLE PIE

Processor Pastry

4 cups sliced, peeled apples (4 to 6 medium)

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

On floured board with floured rolling pin, roll 1 Processor Pastry round to circle 12 inches in diameter. Fit into 9-inch glass pie plate and trim edge.

Arrange half sliced apples over bottom pastry and drizzle apples with 1 tablespoon honey. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle honey-drizzled apples with half sugar mixture, then repeat layers using remaining apples, honey and sugar mixture. Dot butter over top.

Roll out remaining pastry round and make decorative cuts near center to vent. Moisten edge of bottom pastry by brushing with water, then place vented pastry over top. Trim about 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate. Fold top crust under bottom crust at rim and crimp edges together firmly.

Microwave at HIGH (100% power) about 10 minutes, rotating 1/2 turn after 5 minutes. After about 8 or 9 minutes, pierce apples through vent in pastry. Apples should be almost tender and juices should start to bubble. Top crust will look puffy and almost opaque.

Transfer pie to bottom shelf of conventional oven and bake at 450 degrees 15 to 20 minutes until evenly browned. Cool before cutting. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Processor Pastry

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

1 tablespoon frozen butter

Place flour and salt in work bowl of food processor with steel blade. Cut shortening into 6 pieces and add to flour along with frozen butter. Process, using on-off pulses, until particles resemble coarse crumbs, about 20 seconds.

With processor running, add 1/3 cup cold water all at once through feed tube. Continue to process no more than 30 seconds. As soon as dough forms ball, stop processor immediately. If ball doesn't form in 30 seconds, stop processing and shape by hand (longer processing can toughen pastry). Divide dough in 2 and shape each 1/2 into smooth flat round.

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