Tuesday, while hunkered in the dentist’s chair trying to think if I even have a happy place to go to, I started to think that I should bake a pie a week and post about it. A Pie Weekly column. That’s it. That would be my ticket to blog fame (oh, irony, I initially typed that “faim”, French for hungry. greedy more like) and glory.
With the novocaine wearing off, it still seemed like a good idea, well, maybe. But I soldiered on and started to make the inaugural pie. I had apples, some not so happy pears and after-Thanksgiving-clearance cranberries. Sounds good. Um-hum. That day I realized I don’t bake do much of anything well when I’m in pain. I made the pie dough. Realized I’d left out the salt, sugar and lemon juice. Proceeded. Put the pie in the oven and realized I’d not followed the recipe in any way other than to get (some) of the ingredient weights and the oven temperature. I forgot the raisins it called for and also forgot to sprinkle the pie with sugar. Which may not seem like a bad thing, but, when there’s no sugar in the dough, probably a good idea not to skip.
All in all, the pie turned out quite well, delicious even. I did come away with a few lessons: after a filling, napping, a dvd, and soup (not necessarily in that order) really are the best prescription, and 2nd, if I ever want to stop buying larger clothes and maybe get back into some of my “skinny” duds, baking a pie once a week with just 2 of us to eat it probably isn’t the best idea!
Pie Crust (I’m not sure where this crust recipe came from. It was given to me by Adrienne O’Callaghan, my chef at my 1st pastry chef job. It’s the recipe I used throughout my pastry career and it’s never let me down.)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 lemon, juiced (add the zest, too, if it will suit your filling)
Put the flour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cubed butter then pulse until the butter is in small pieces – most people say peas, but I prefer a bit bigger, say ostentatious Housewives of Atlanta sized diamond. Combine the lemon juice with enough ice water to make 1/3 of a cup. Drizzle this over the flour and butter then pulse until it starts to clump together. Divide the dough into 2 piles then pat into a disc about 1/2″ thick and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.
Roll one disc of dough out to about a 12″ circle and fit it into a 9″ pie plate. Let the extra dough overhang and pop the plate back in the fridge. Take out the second disc of dough and roll it out to a roughly 12″ circle. Put it back into the fridge to chill (if you’re an experienced pie baker and know you don’t overwork your dough it’s fine to skip the chilling and work with the top right away. That’s what I do.).
Not Quite Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Apple Cranberry Pie (While I love Rose’s books I’m not good with wordy recipes. I tend to just read the ingredient list then guess at the method. My own recipes are just ingredient lists with a few key words such as creaming, 350. Sometimes they don’t even have a title. A lot of the time I’m not sure what on earth they make. As a result of my sloppy style and the pain (oh, the pain) of my dental work, I didn’t follow Rose’s instructions. Which is why this is not quite her pie.)
1 batch pie dough (above)
6 cups peeled, cored, and sliced (1/4″ thick) apples (or apples and pears) -> from about 4 medium apples
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups cranberries
4 tsp butter (oops, I left that out, too!)
Preheat the oven to 425°. Toss the fruit slices with the lemon juice. Whisk together the sugars, salt, cinnamon and cornstarch. Mix with the fruit until everything is moistened. Stir in the cranberries. Pour the pie filling into the prepared pie shell. Dot with the butter. Brush the edges of the pie dough with a little water then top with the top crust. Trim off any crust overhanging the pie pan’s lip or tuck under if you’re a big crust fan. Crimp the dough. Brush the top fo the pie with a little water, egg, milk or cream. Sprinkle with sugar then cut decoratively to vent.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the juices are bubbling. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.