Tuesday 18 August 2015

Birthday Pie! Flaky All-Butter Crust Apple Pie

Birthday Pie

Organic cold unsalted butter sliced in 1/4 inch pieces in my food processor, along with only 2/3 of the flour mixture...ready for pulsing.

Several years ago, my friend confided to me that he doesn't like birthday cake (gasp!)
I remembered that.

Pulse butter and flour mixture until most of the flour incorporated but don't overdo it

I might be really crappy with remembering names (not cool when you're a teacher, I know) but I'm good with remembering students' and friends' dietary allergies, food preferences and stuff like that!

Perhaps only other teachers can relate to the happiness of seeing an ex-student years later and the corresponding dismay of not being able to access the student's name on the spot.
"Hey! Ms K!"
"Hey!... Hi!...how are you!...how've you been? what are you doing now?"

Ready for the next step

When I'm walking to Rain or Shine Ice Cream on 4th Ave, filling my prescription at the drugstore, shopping for groceries or paying the cashier at the checkout in Kitsilano...and an ex-student exclaims "Hey, Ms. K!"  I don't always spit out the student's name that quickly in response.  Usually, one out of 4 times, I'll remember the student's full name on the spot during the greeting.  If I've not recalled the name during the initial greetings, hugs and whatnot, then I'm hooped and I have to ask probing questions to jog my memory.  Often, I KNOW the student but the name still eludes me.  The frustrating thing is 10 minutes after the meeting has passed, my lightbulb will turn on and I'll remember your full name and what English class I taught you.  I'll even remember on what side of my classroom you sat.  The years are all a mish-mash now so that I don't really know your Grad year, but I definitely remember YOU.

This is what your butter and flour mixture should look like. Here I'm using the rubber spatula as instructed in the recipe to fold and press the crust mixture

I apologize profusely if I cannot remember your name at that exact moment, but some of you boys are now men with facial hair! I knew you when your face was as smooth as a baby's bottom; when I beat you at arm wrestling in English class and you were shorter than me.  The girls I taught years ago are now women!

3 varieties of apples were employed: Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith 

I will blame my crappy name-recall on my Hashimoto's disease and the fact that I've taught for 25 years. I know I've taught a lot of students in that time, but just had to figure out how many students have been in my classrooms each year (let's assume a class-size of 25, even though it's been 30 the last decade or so).
That's 25 students x 7 classes=175 students each year.
175 students each year x 25 years = 4375 students.
I've worked part time for the last 12 years (because of having kids and also from being a tech mentor) so let's say I'll subtract 12 years x (25 students x 3 blocks)=900.
That's 4,375 - 900 = 3,475 students

After the initial hot water soak of 10 minutes and subsequent draining and drying, I had the kid toss in the cornstarch and sugar mixture for thickening. I observed worriedly as in the bottom of the bowl a huge pool of apple juices collected despite initial drainage and drying.  I dumped out the liquid and tossed in another teaspoon of cornstarch for good measure.  This however, was not enough to set up the apples after the pie was baked and rested for 3 hours. I would suggest pre-cooking the apples and reducing the apple liquid prior to filling the pie crust for baking.

3,745 students.  That's still a lot of names to remember; but in general I still remember your names, eventually.  Those neural pathways just take a bit of time to fire up ya know.  Help me guys, tell me your full name and grad year; especially if you've graduated more than 3 years ago!  I'll remember you a lot quicker! lol

Rolling out the cold-hard dough.  It rested for 2 hours in the refrigerator prior to rolling.

So my buddy tells me this birthday pie wish decades ago.  My initial response was simply that he's weird.  Fortuitously, as I have aged, the harbinger of grey hairs and reading glasses is wisdom and acknowledgement that perhaps there are truly people out there who don't like birthday cake? (gasp again)

But this pie thing is totally something I would remember forever.  This past weekend, I finally had an opportunity to make a pie for him. It wasn't exactly the blueberry pie that I remember he prefers because I had tons of apples on hand that I wanted to use; but it's pie! It's Birthday Pie!

Rolling the pastry onto my rolling pin to move it into the pie plate.

The golden brown crust looked and smelled perfect.  We rammed a birthday candle in the centre of the pie and the kids led us all in singing the birthday song.  He blew out the candle and I think he even made a wish!

This part of pie-making is quite satisfying: unrolling the crust into the pie plate.  It fits.  yay!

Some gentle manipulation of the crust is required to have your pastry conform to your pie plate.  I am using an Emile Henry Ceramic Pie Dish.

The recipe for the pie crust is from Serious Eats.  I was going to make my crust with ATK's Vodka pie crust recipe, but I was too lazy to do that.  This recipe guarantees via technique solely, a flaky crust made with butter in a food processor.

I am excited to finally use my new leaf cutter to cut out the air vents in the top crust

The apples look pretty but at this point I'm worried that they are not softened enough from their initial hot water bath.   I just stick to the recipe regardless and carry on as if everything will turn out.  You never know, ya know.

My favourite part of the pie-making process: crimping the edges.

Here's how I do it.

An egg-white wash 

Sprinkling with organic evaporated cane sugar 

ta-daa. It looks pretty even before baking 

Delicious, excellent, flaky pie crust.  A winner.  The apple pie filling was meh. It tasted good but half the apples fell out of each slice as I cut them.  I had rested the pie 3 hours after baking but that was insufficient for the filling to set up.  The next day, from the refrigerator, cold in this picture, the pie sliced very easily and the apples stayed intact in each slice.  However, the point of making pie is to eat it warm and freshly baked.  So I will likely modify the recipe next time by keeping the Pie Crust as is and cooking down the apples in a saucepan until they are softened and then adding the cornstarch/sugar mixture.

PIE CRUST (from Serious Eats Pie Crust)
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats
  • 6 tablespoons cold water

    1. Combine two thirds of flour with sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter chunks evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl. 
    2. Sprinkle with water then using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.
    APPLE PIE (from Serious Eats Perfect Apple Pie

    • 4 to 4 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious, Braeburn, or other baking apples, peeled cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
    • 3 quarts boiling water (or cider)
    • 10 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling over crust
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 recipe Easy Pie Dough (above)
    • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
    1.  Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and place a heavy rimmed baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place apple slices in a large bowl or pot. Pour boiling water or cider directly over top. Cover and set aside at room temperature for ten minutes. Drain apples well and let sit in a colander in the sink, tossing occasionally until completely dry, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add 10 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch, and toss until apples are evenly coated. Set mixture aside.

    2.  Roll one disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Add filling. Roll remaining disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to top of pie. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the edges of both pie crusts until they overhang the edge of the pie plate by 1/2 an inch all the way around. Fold edges of both pie crusts down together, tucking them in between the bottom crust and the pie plate and working your way all the way around the pie plate until everything is well tucked. Use the forefinger on your left hand and the thumb and forefinger on your right hand to crimp the edges. Cut 5 slits in the top with a sharp knife for ventilation.

    3.  Use a pastry brush to brush an even coat of lightly beaten egg white all over the top surface of the pie. Sprinkle evenly with a tablespoon of sugar. Transfer pie to sheet tray in the oven and bake until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and continue baking until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

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