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The Par-Cooking Tip For Apple Pie That Continues To Divide The Internet

apple pie on a table
apple pie on a table - Jmichl/Getty Images

While the saying "easy as pie" implies that baking is simple, cooking the perfect apple pie is anything but. It's all about getting the texture of the apples right. Go too far in one direction, and your apple filling will have the unpleasant crunch of an underbaked apple. On the other hand, you don't want your filling to turn into a mushy soup instead when your dinner guests dig in.

To ensure that your apples are properly cooked and maintain a soft but firm texture, some chefs suggest par-cooking your apples beforehand. Whether you're baking them in the oven or sizzling on the stovetop, some swear by partially cooking your apples beforehand, believing it will produce a better put-together final project. Expert and culinary consultant J. Kenji Lopez-Alt explained in his Serious Eats article that par-cooked apples "hold their shape better when you bake them."

However, the cooking tip proved to be semi-controversial with supporters and critics drawing a proverbial line in the sand. Fans of the tip have praised its benefits, with one home cook writing on Reddit, "It just barely par-cooked the apples and the resulting pie was the best I've ever had." However, some critics view it as pointless. One person wrote, "I actually just recently did this also with an apple cake, made one with cooked apples and one with fresh and there was no difference." Here's why the baking tip continues to divide.

Read more: 8 Baking Sheet Mistakes You Want To Avoid

Par-Cooking Apples Affects Texture

someone chopping apples
someone chopping apples - Milan2099/Getty Images

For some, par-cooking apples seems like a no-brainer to ensure a firm apple filling. Apples contain an enzyme called pectin, which keeps the fruit firm and crunchy. Fruits that have a lower amount of pectin tend to be squishier. Through cooking the apples, you transform pectin into a jelly-like substance. By pre-cooking the apples and letting them cool, the apples will solidify or harden in this shape. As J. Kenji Lopez-Alt explains, this transformed pectin acts "Very much like curing the cement mortar in between the bricks in a wall and allowing them it fully harden."  So, when you go to bake them then the apple slices should keep their shape even as they continue to tenderize under the heat of the oven.

Lopez-Alt recommends cooking the apples between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. There are several ways that you can go about par-cooking your apples. Whether boiling your apple slices in a pot or putting them in the oven, the results should be the same. It's important to note that you are only partially cooking the fruit so your cook time should be short. For instance, if you're boiling the apples, then only let them cook for a minute. The idea of par-cooking the apples is that you are giving them a shape. The filling will fully cook inside of your pie.

The Case Against Par-Cooking Apples

apple pie slice on plate
apple pie slice on plate - Aleaimage/Getty Images

Not everyone is a fan of par-cooking or par-boiling apples prior to baking. As one home cook complained about on Reddit, they believed the practice reduced the intensity of their apples, making for a blander dish. Likewise, recipe developer Yumna Jawad believes par-cooking apples could have the opposite effect than intended — actually making your apples mushy instead. She explained, "Pre-cooking them means that they cook down and lose liquid and volume. And that can ultimately result in a mushy pie!"

Other chefs recommend what they see as better options than par-cooking. For instance, Adam and Joanne, behind Inspired Taste, combine apples with sugar and other spices prior to baking. They basically macerate their fruit in the spices, which causes the apples to release a syrup. They explained, "As the apples sit, the sugar and salt help them release their delicious liquid. The apples also soften quite a bit." From there, they'll add some cornstarch to the dish to help thicken things up.

Ultimately, there isn't a right or wrong answer when it comes to par-cooking as it mostly boils down to personal preference. However, almost all chefs and home cooks agree that you should treat your apples prior to baking. Throwing untouched raw apple slices into your pie is a recipe for a mushy pie. Whether you drain the fruit, coat them in sugar, or par-cook them, however, is up for debate.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.