Sunday, November 29, 2009

As soon as this tryptophan wears off...

I have a whopper of a blog post. I'll hopefully post throughout the week so that anyone who is reading this (ha) can see the results of my Thanksgiving cooking.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanksgiving Test Run: Apple Pie!!!

I love apple pie. I love Thanksgiving. There is a lot of pressure to get Thanksgiving right when you're cooking for friends who are obviously very classy - i.e. Brad and his roommate, Phil, and my lovely friends Laura and Lisa - so I thought I would do a little test run with the apple pie and I'm pretty pleased to say that it turned out really well - I wouldn't change anything, I mean it's not gorgeous but I'll work on it, you know, for next time.

I've been looking into buying a pastry board for rolling out pie dough, cookie dough and any other pastry type items. My wonderful mother was in town last week and she bestowed upon me an early Christmas gift in the form of, you guessed it, a pastry board. In combination with my lovely rolling pin and my dough scraper rolling out the dough for the pie crust was a snap. I love apple pie, or did I already mention that?

Perfect, Flaky Pie Crust
Adapted from Smittenkitchen

Makes enough for one double-crust pie

1 cup cold water (drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside)

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (or 8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a large bowl mix flour, sugar and salt together. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender (seriously, invest in one if you're going to be making pies - a fork won't work - they are only $10 at Crate and Barrel) using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as need so all the parts are worked together evenly. When all of the butter pieces are about the size of peas and then stop - even if it looks uneven.

Start by drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (take out the cubes if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Use a spatula to gather the dough together - you might need up to an additional 1/4 of a cup of cold water to bring it together, add it a tablespoon at a time. Once you are gathering large clumps with the spatula, get your hands in there! Gather the damp clumps together into one mound, patting it together.

Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out. For tips on rolling out the dough (which I followed very closely) check out this tutorial on Smittenkitchen (can you tell I'm obsessed??)

Apple Pie Filling

Also from Smittenkitchen

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).

2. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

3. Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

4. Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. If you want to top your pie with a lattice (like the larger of my two pies) try this tutorial!

5. Place pie on baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

6. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours... if you can wait that long. Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. It's delicious.