24 June 2009

[Imported] Pie time!

One of the people I stayed with while I was in Florida is a HUGE Pushing Daisies fan, and because I don't have enough things in my life to obsess over, he decided to get me hooked on the show as well. And it worked. I watched all the older episodes online first, but I just bought the first season on DVD the other day with my Christmas money, and I've already come up with a few ideas on how to convince my future hypothetical husband that we should name our future hypothetical daughter Chuck (that tends to be a theme with me, coming up with allusive baby names for children I don't even have yet; and at this point, I'm going to have to have 80 kids just to use all the names up).

Some of you may know this about me, but in case others of you haven't noticed, when I get into something, I really get into it. I either love something completely to the point where I carve out a little nook in my heart for it to live and thrive or I don't give it the time of day. That's just my style. And so that may explain my sudden inspiration to bake a pie entirely from scratch (something I've never done before), a pie whose favor I first heard about on Pushing Daisies (tart apple with Gruyere baked into the crust, sans the homeopathic anti-depressants). And I don't even like pie!

I may have more than my share of faults, but lack of dedication and loyalty ain't one of 'em.

Here's all the ingredients I used for the crust. Flour, ice water, sugar & salt, butter, and gruyere (a delicious hard, salty, nutty cheese. I'm a bit of a cheese snob - I refuse to eat American cheese on principle - and this stuff is fantastic! It's a great pairing with my overly sweet Plum wine - so far, the only wine I like - and so I expected it to be a great compliment the tartness of the apples). Supposedly, leaf lard makes the best pie crusts, and I was all about to go buy some (the fat shaved from pig kidneys doesn't gross me out), until I realized that it's extreme hard to come by. I couldn't find anyone local who sells it, and while I found a cute Pennsylvanian butcher who would be more than willing to send some to me so long as I would send a check first (snail mail! isn't that cute?!), I didn't have time seeing as how I wanted to make this pie for Christmas (i.e. tomorrow). So I opted for the next best choice and went for an all-butter crust. Hence the giant bowl full of the stuff.

I rarely use beaters or food processors in my cooking unless it's absolutely necessary. It's just one more thing I have to clean, and I think things taste better with my own sweat and blood baked into it. Figuratively speaking, of course. There is no sweat nor blood in this pie. But I read somewhere that with pie crusts, it's best to leave pea-size chunks of butter so that they spread out in the dough when you roll it, which leads to the maximum amount of flakiness, so the hand method seemed to be ideal, rather than machine mixed.
Oh, and don't worry - I washed my hands a couple of days ago, so I'm good.

Rolled the dough into two balls, and then let them sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day - which was today, actually - I gathered all the ingredients to finish the pie. Lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, and sugar (the recipe called for regular granulated sugar, but I ended up increasing the amount of sugar from 1/2c to 3/4c and using 1/4c white sugar and 1/2c brown sugar. That just seemed more appropriate to me for an apple pie). Also, one egg to cover the pie with and 3 apples for the actual apple filling. I went with Empires 'cause they're just so darn pretty, but any tart apple I suppose would work fine.

Here's a totally staged photo of me peeling the apples with a paring knife I got for Christmas. I didn't even ask for it, but look at how handy it came in! I'd never peeled apples before, but if this becomes a habit of mine, I think it would be a worthy investment to buy an actual peeler.
And yes, that is my dog on my lap, but she's under the glass and away from the food. All good.

The apples mixed with all the other ingredients:

The recipe suggested rolling the dough on parchment paper so it wouldn't stick. Well, I don't have any parchment paper, so I just wiped down the counter, threw some flour on it, and shrugged at the mess.

Starting to look like a real pie, eh?

I think it could have used at least 1/2 an apple more, but no biggy.

Wow! You'd think I actually knew what I was doing!

After I glazed the egg on top and cut three slits for steam to escape out of, I shredded a bit more cheese on top. The recipe didn't call for that, but one can never have too much cheese. Ever.

Ta-da! I cut myself a small sliver about an hour ago, and for being a person who doesn't generally like pie, I thought it was quite yummy. So! Success! Yay! If I ever make it again, I think I'll go ahead and use a full cup of sugar and even more cheese in the actual dough, just because I like flavors to knock me off my bum, but otherwise, I thought it was pretty excellent.

And, the lovely mess afterward. I have some dough left over as you can see, so I think I'm going to add in more cheese and put some sort of jam or jelly inside and make some turnovers.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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