I consider myself a competant, though infrequent, pie-maker. This weekend, a friend invited us to dinner on Saturday night, and I volunteered to bring apple pie. I made the Cooks Illustrated recipe from the "Baking Illustrated" compilation cookbook, which I had made before, maybe a year or two ago.
The crust, however, is nearly impossible to work with. It calls for an outrageous amount of fat - for 2 crusts, 2 1/2 cups of flour with 1 cup crisco and 12 T butter. The result is a gluey pastry that is impossible to work with or roll out (which I remembered as I got to that point), regardless of how much chilling takes place. I ended up running out of time to bake it, so it didn't have enough time to sit after taking it out of the oven, and it puddled all over the place. I also felt like the apples didn't get uniformly soft, probably because I used a pyrex pan, and it doesn't conduct as well. The crust does turn out to be extraordinarily delicious, just as I remembered, as well as having a lovely, though rustic, appearance. You can forget about fluting the edge - you have to just flop the second crust on top.
On Sunday, I again volunteered to bring apple pie to a friend's house. I switched to the Joy of Cooking pastry (2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 cup butter), which was much more workable, and - remembering the discussion here a few months back - precooked the apple filling for 25 or so minutes. I drained off the liquid and reduced it, perhaps a little too much (it goes fast, and when a three-year-old is dragging a stool dangerously close to your pastry, it's easy to let it go too long!). It also had enough time to cool. The result: the crust was fine, nothing to write home about, but I was much happier with the filling.
Has anyone else used the CI pastry recipe and adapted it to be a little more workable? Of course, the high fat to flour ratio is what makes it so incredible, but I think I'd be willing to give some of that up for something that can be rolled out more dependably.