Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(Relatively) Wordless Wednesday

I really believe a large, fluffy, merengue-y, and strawberry-kissed cake is the perfect way to celebrate my birthday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Experiments & Apple Pie

This blog post is sponsored by the apple explosion at my local supermarket.

Apple pie makes me think of fall and its multicolored leaves and apple orchards. While we don’t really experience fall and I have not gone to any Dominican apple orchards, it just sounds good, doesn’t it?

The only apple pie I had ever tasted was the one that came in an individual bright red package at my local McD’s. Sad, isn’t it?

An experiment to change my otherwise pie-less existence was in order. Badly.

After all, how did a real homemade, juicy apple pie taste like? You know, one with an actual buttery crust instead of a deep-fried one.

Why, I should just make it!  

I have a blog now so this is all for the sake of research. Right.

I went through every foodie blog I could ever think of trying to find that ‘perfect’ apple pie recipe, preferably, one that didn’t use vegetable shortening. Overall, my top requirement was that it didn’t look that hard. I found my match at Simply Recipes. Elise even has a step-by-step process on how to make that perfect crust, which is great because I am a ridiculously visual person. This meant that the pie was going to be easy to make, right? I have blog support and pictures. There is no way would be hard, right?

Yeah… it’s not so easy.

It takes a lot time and a nearly inhuman amount of patience with your rolling pin to get that crust just right or, in my case, make it large and round enough to fit my pie plate.

It’s worth the effort though.

When I opened that oven door, what I saw and smelled left me breathless. A golden brown pie that sighed through its slits, its filling bubbling as the harmonious scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice filled my kitchen.

Then I took that first bite. Oh my Oprah. Such velvety apples, such a buttery crust.

Yes. It was definitely worth it.

Old Fashioned Apple Pie
adapted from Simply Recipes
serves 8

Crust Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 to 8 Tbsp ice water

Filling Ingredients
2/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 pounds of 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices of peeled and cored good cooking apples such as Granny Smith, Pippin, Golden Delicious (I used Granny Smith cause they are really tart)
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Egg Wash
1 large egg yolk

1 Tbsp cream

FOR THE CRUST: In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Once it is combined add the pieces of butter and pulse 6 to 8 times. The mix should look like coarse meal with small pea-size pieces of butter. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing until mixture begins to clump together. Test with your fingers to see if it holds together. If it does, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, add a bit more water, and pulse once again.

Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape the dough into 2 discs. Be careful not to over-knead it. The dough should have tiny pieces of butter in it. These pieces of butter are essential for the crust to be flaky. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate from 15 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat to 375°F. Position rack at the bottom.

Place the apple pieces in a large bowl. In it, mix sugar, flour and spices. To mix in the apples so they are well-coated use your hands, add the brandy and the vanilla extract.

Remove one disk of the crust from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk so when you use the rolling pin it doesn’t stick. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below using a metal spatula. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

Spoon in apple filling, making a small mountain of apples in the center.
Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently turn over onto the top of the apples in the pie. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork.

FOR THE EGG WASH: Stir yolk and cream in small bowl to blend. Brush over top of pie.

Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pie until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, anywhere from an additional 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of apples you are using. Transfer to rack; let stand 1 hour. Serve pie warm or at room temperature. Extra points if you use vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday