Flavor Layering, or Building a Better Apple Pie
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Today I’d like to take a little time to talk about flavor layering, and how it can help us achieve a better final product. Essentially, the process is all about using multiple flavor concentrates (often from different vendors) that each have a piece to add to a final profile. This is a common practice in the food and beverage industry. Today we’ll be working with apples. What I want to build is an apple mix to be used in an apple pie. Obviously any one apple flavoring could do but I want a nice blend of different apples for a more rounded apple finish to my pie.
Before we talk about the actual recipe there are some basic notes to cover the process. Being successful in layering your flavors requires a little bit of footwork first. I’d suggest taking some time to get to know each concentrate on it’s own. Make some single flavor tester batches (I do just 5ml samples) I sometimes make a few and just carry them around for the day and take notes as I go to save time. But you need to know the strengths of each flavor, what it will add to your final product, and what percentages it will do best at. Using too much of any one of your layers could result in an unbalanced final product.
This process can apply to any flavor or flavor combination. It’s good to remember, also, that sometimes to get a perfect series of layering you sometimes have to reach for a flavor that compliments your main profile without it being the same type of flavor. For instance pear, lemon, and quince flavorings can all have a nice added effect to apple flavors so we’ll be touching on those as we build. When working with other profiles seek out those complimentary notes to help you boost your flavors. On to the apple.
For our Apple Pie we want a combination of rich and bright apple flavors to really get the feeling of a mixed apple filling. After doing my single flavor tests I’ve settled on three apple flavors and a few small additives. For today’s recipe I’ve chosen CAP Double Apple to be the main body of the apple. It’s a sweet, robust apple mix that has hints of red and green apple and a little bit of “peel” in it as well. Second we’ll be adding Fuji for some realism and an excellent brightness to add to the mix. And lastly I’ll be adding INW Two Apples. INW Two Apples is interesting because I find there to be light hints of tobacco and savory components, though they aren’t invasive so I think they’ll add a nice finishing touch to our apple mixture.
CAP Double Apple is delicious but not incredibly strong. We want a strong background for our other apples to accentuate the main flavor. I’ll start with CAP Double Apple at 3%. The notes I want from this are the mixed apple tones. FA Fuji is fairly flexible in terms of usage, but it’s a fair bit more potent than CAP Double Apple so we’ll put it in at 1.5%. This should give us a brighter and juicier apple mix to include in our apple pie.To finalize our apple portion we’re going to add a very small amount of INW Two Apples. The Two Apples will contribute to overall sweetness and the savory back notes in this should add some depth of flavor over all to the apple mixture. This stuff is pretty potent, so as an additive here we want to keep it extra low. We’ll start it conservatively at .25%.
Next we’re going to add a little lemon to boost our Apple notes and to brighten everything a little in preparation for some heavy bakery flavors when we start to build our pies. The goal of the lemon is less to add the taste and more to make the apple stand out more against the heavy bakery flavors in our pie. I’m a big fan of FA Lemon Sicily for this purpose and we’ll start pretty low with this as well, since we don’t want it to stand out.We’ll be adding just .25% of this to brighten up our apple mix.
So far, our recipe looks like this:
CAP Double Apple: 3%
FA Fuji: 1.5%
INW Two Apples: .25%
FA Lemon Sicily .25%
This should complete the apple portion of the recipe. I’ve mixed this on it’s own in a separate bottle to test it out first before I start adding our pie flavors. The apple flavors are bright, juicy, and sweet. The lemon doesn’t stand out much at this percentage, and I expect it to all but disappear once I’ve got this apple mix in with my pie.
To make the beginnings of our pie we’ll need to start on the crust itself.. FA Apple Pie, INW Biscuit, and TFA Graham Cracker Clear will give us an excellent start to our pie crust. These three together give an excellent pie crust to which you can add nearly any fruit or filling. We’re going to develop them further with some additives once we’ve built our base.
FA Apple Pie is almost all crust and barely any apple flavor. But the crust itself is incredible. We’ll start this at 2% as we’ll want our bakery flavors to support our apple flavors and not overpower them. Next we’ll add a little INW Biscuit to help flesh out the bready parts of the crust. Starting low, we’ll only need .5%. For a little Graham Cracker bite we’ll add TFA Graham Cracker (Clear) at 1.5%. This should add the crisp crust texture to the buttery and rich base we’ve started. Now we’re getting alot closer to our finished Pie. As this recipe stands it’s pretty solid and will probably taste decent. But I want to make a few more small additions to really make everything come together, and to elevate our relatively simple pie recipe, into something more substantial.
So now our recipe looks like this:
CAP Double Apple: 3%
FA Fuji: 1.5%
INW Two Apples: .25%
FA Lemon Sicily .25%
FA Apple Pie 2%
INW Biscuit .5%
TFA GC (Clear) 1.5%
This looks pretty good on it’s own and is pretty similar to an Apple Pie recipe I used for quite awhile. But I want to add some more depth. Whenever I think of Apple pie the first things I think about, after Apple and crust, are brown sugar, cinnamon and a caramel topping. So for these qualities we’re going to look at TFA Brown Sugar, CAP Cinnamon Danish Swirl, and FA Caramel. TFA Brown Sugar is an excellent sweet additive that can also give a somewhat caramelized flavor to fruits. We’ll add this in at 1% to really bring our lovely apple layers together with our pie layers. Next up, I chose CAP Cinnamon Danish Swirl both for it’s cinnamon notes, but also for the bakery notes that will add some buttery sweet depth to our pie. The cinnamon can be a bit strong, and we don’t want much of this taking over our pie crust. We’ll add it in at .5%. Lastly, I want a lovely Caramel finish. Any straight caramel would probably work here, but I’ve chosen FA Caramel because I find it to be the closest to a Caramel syrup. I’m going to test this first at 1.5%
These final additives are what will take our simple Apple Pie into a rich and robust Apple Pie with some additional depth. In closing, I present to you with:
NOT YO MAMA’S APPLE PIE
2% Apple Pie (FA)
0.5% Biscuit (INAWERA)
1% Brown Sugar (TPA)
1.5% Caramel (FA)
0.5% Cinnamon Danish Swirl (CAP)
3% Double Apple (CAP)
1.5% Fuji Apple (FA)
1.5% Graham Cracker (Clear) (TPA)
0.25% Lemon Sicily (FA)
0.25% Two Apples (INAWERA)