Paper Bag Apple Pie vs. Naked Apple Pie: Which Is Yummier?

Naked pie on the left; paper bag pie on the right.

It’s been an interesting 24 hours in my little corner of Pie Nation. Those of you who follow along with us here know that we set up a smackdown yesterday between two identical apple pies: one baked in a paper bag and one baked the typical way, in the open, hot oven air.

If you’re thinking, “What the hell? Pie baked in a paper bag?” then you need a quick refresher, which you can get from reading yesterday’s blog post.

So last night was unbearably suspenseful, because we spent the evening making and baking the two pies, but at bedtime they were still too hot to cut into. That meant we had to force ourselves to get some sleep so morning could roll around and let us dig into the taste-and-texture comparison (not to mention that pie is a great breakfast with coffee). Yesterday, we told you all about our dough, with the apple cider in it, and we told you about our filling, and we reported on the process of paper-bag-baking, all with pictures.

We had no choice but to commit the journalist’s cardinal sin, “burying the lede:” we didn’t deliver the most important news at the top of the story, which in this case would have been answers to a question like: Who won the smackdown? Or at least: How did the pies turn out?

Please trust that I am atoning for this sin against three decades of journalism in the most painful, appropriate fashion (which includes abstaining from pie for at least six hours). But in the meantime, I can report the results of the contest. Ready?

Surprisingly, the naked pie won.

The traditional, bagless apple pie

Yep, that’s right. If my colleagues–journalists who tend to cast a jaded, unexcited eye on everything except food–are any indication of mass sentiment, then I should just stick the damn pies in the oven the old-fashioned way and stop being so easily seduced by quasi-cool techniques like paper-bag baking.

That’s not to say that the vote was unanimous. The overwhelming majority of the newsroom foodies who assembled within two nanoseconds of my pie-announcement email tilted heavily toward the naked pie. They reported, with much detail and nuance, that the pastry was firmer, flakier, a tad crunchier, and therefore a nicer counterpoint to the soft apples. The vocal minority, however, delighted in the tender texture of the paper-bag pie, and also insisted that the flavors of the apple filling in that pie were brighter and more intense.

A second taste-test, at home, came up divided. My younger daughter, NaturePie, who co-piloted the smackdown last night, went enthusiastically thumbs-up for the paper bag pie, echoing the “tender crust” argument of the newsroom majority. Her guy friend, RockClimberPie, proclaimed the naked pie superior for its nice structural crust.

Paper bag apple pie

Where did CurvyMama come down in all this?

I’d throw my substantial hip-weight behind the naked pie. And saying that, I fully confess my bias for a firmer–yet still flaky–crust. I like the crust to declare its differentness from the filling in brave, clear terms.

Perhaps my paper-bag-baking days are over, after only one. But it could be that some pies lend themselves to this method more than others. Time will tell.

What about the filling, you ask? Yes, we tried something new yesterday, catering to my deeply un-American aversion to the cinnamon-apple combination. We seasoned the apples with ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, molasses, honey and brown sugar. Most newsroom folks seemed to like this offbeat blend, but I thought it was too heavy on the ginger, and so did NaturePie and RockClimberPie.

So back to the drawing board we go on the filling. We have some revisions in mind. We’ll post a recipe when we think we’ve got it right.

  1. Jody Rosenberger
    You are a wonderful writer and you make me want to try my hand at a pie of my own. Thank you!
  2. CurvyMama Pies
    Aww, thanks, Jody! I hope you DO try your hand at a pie! Let me know how it goes!
  3. Matthew Cibellis
    I swear to god--I have to do this pie thing. Reading the preceding day's post, though, I actually SAW how much butter goes into pie crusts. Now I'm frightened! It reminded me of that old saying about not wanting to see how the sausage is made. Something really caught my attention when I finished reading this. You had violated that cardinal rule of blogging which is to have really short posts with lots of pics only. I was completely hoodwinked--I couldn't stop reading! What a great two-part blogpost "series." Love your writing. It was as delicious to read your post on this as it was to test the pies themselves. Truly terrific blogging. Matthew ALunchBoxBlog.com
  4. CurvyMama Pies
    Wow! Thank you, Matthew! So glad you enjoyed the posts! We're excited; keep reading!