Sunday, August 21, 2011

Apple in a bottle

It's been a while!  Lots of work and vacation, but now summer is getting behind me and it is time to feed the internet.  Remember, if you don't post new content, who will?  (And answering that questions should encourage you to do so.)  This recipe uses a different crust than normal - the big change being the replacement of water with Applejack.  I'd advise against a 1:1 ratio of Applejack in the crust to Applejack ingested by the cook, as this will not often result in the best pie.

My little nephew asked for an apple pie, and it is impossible to say no to him.  This is a scientific fact, provable through very simple experiments performed over the last few years.  This apple pie is based on a recipe by Alton Brown, though a bit more buttery.  Because mo buttah = mo bettah.  This is also a fact. 

For the crust:
9 oz butter (this is a very American dish, I will be using only our units here.  Also, my parents house didn't have a metric scale)
2 oz butter / 2 oz olive oil, melted, mixed and frozen
3/4 cup Applejack (some people use Apple Brandy.  This is more expensive and wrong.)
18 oz flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbl sugar

For the filling:
3 lbs or so of apples (get a mixture - honeycrispt, braeburn, granny smith, or others)
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tbl tapioca flour
2 tbl apple jelly, applesauce, or jelly in a pinch
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom

I've finally optimized the production order to minimize pie making time, so the recipe here will seem a bit scattered, but it all comes together in the end.

Wash, peel, and core the apples.  Core them with a serious heavy duty stainless steel apple corer (Seriously, the $10 cheap Sur La Table one is unacceptable and if you want me to make this pie for you it will not do. This is non-negotiable.  And I'm the kind of guy who will normally negotiate with anyone, even the bad guys from Die Hard.)  Toss them with 1/4 cup of sugar, then put them in a colander and let the liquid drain for at least an hour.  Then move on to the crust.

Using a chilled bowl and fork, mix the flour with the sugar and salt.  Cut in the butter and the butter/oil mixture until it resembles very tiny crumbs.  If it starts to warm, put the whole bowl back in the freezer and chill for 10-15 minutes - I did this twice during the making of this crust.  Once everything is cut in, add the chilled applejack and mix with the fork until the dough comes together.  Split it in to two disks (one slightly larger than the other) and chill in the freezer - most people claim an hour, but I found 30 minutes while I made the filling was sufficient.

For the filling, combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Put the drained apples in a mixing bowl, fold in the liquid ingredients, then the dry ingredients.  Take the drained apple juice and reduce it on a low simmer to about 2 tbls, this will be used for glazing the crust.

Roll out one crust to fill a quiche pan (you can use a proper deep dish pie tin, but these are expensive and don't seem to work as well.)  The key is use something with a false bottom.  Roll out half the dough, put in in the pie pan.  Place a pie bird in the center of the crust, then add the apples from the mixture making concentric circles and rising to a small mound in the center.  Once this is done, pour in any remaining filling liquid from the apple bowl.  Roll out the second half of the pie dough and lay it over the top,  letting the pie bird stick through.

The Guts

Place the pie on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Put this on the bottom of the oven and set the temperature to 425F.  After about 30 minutes, transfer the pie to a rack for another 20 minutes or so, then kill the heat and leave the pie in the oven while it cools.  Remove from quiche pan after a few hours.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm afraid that I just blue(berried) myself

I’ve been experimenting with ice cream a bit lately.  I’ve upgraded the motor and power supply on my ice cream churn (pictures to come eventually), allowing more air to be churned into the mixture, as well as a larger volume to be produced.  But blueberries are finally on sale, so I decided to give blueberry ice cream a go.  My latest attempt used a custardy base and blueberries for a flavoring.

Custard's Last Stand

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half&half
4 egg yolks
125 g turbinado
2/3 cup blueberries

The cream and half&half were simmered for about 20 minutes, then allowed to cool for a bit.  The eggs yolks were beaten until they grew a spine and stiffened up.  The sugar was whisked in, then the cream mixture slowly tempered in.  This was all returned to the saucepan, and slowly heated to 175 F (total heating time about 30-40 minutes.) 

Slowly heating up the mixture

After the mixture reached 175 F, the heat was killed and it cooled to room temperature (stirring it occasionally helped avoid a "skin" forming on the surface which has happened in previous ice cream attempts.)  After it reached room temperature, I placed it in the refrigerator to chill out for about 5 hours, then pulled it out and readied the blueberries.
Almost time to make some ice cream

I used a garlic press to add about 2/3 cup of blueberries to the mix.  It wasn't initially very blue, so I was worried it might not be blueberried enough.  But after a few hours in the ice cream churn, the finished product was quite purple and had almost a perfect blueberry flavor to it.
Finished blueberry ice cream

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A strappleberry pie a day keeps the doctor away

There were a bunch of apple and strawberry seconds on sale at the farmer’s market this weekend, so I scooped them up.  They are both red, so they should combine well in a pie.  The pie crust was a slight variation on my standard recipe (turbinado instead of granulated sugar).  Also, I need to stock up on spices, so I was unable to try allspice and cloves, which I suspect would go really well with this recipe.  This is the recipe I tried:

Keepin' it chill with the pie crust

280 g flour
1.5 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 sticks of butter (6 oz)
4 Tbsp butter/oil mix
5-7 Tbsp ice water

The butter oil mix is made by melting 2 Tbsp butter and mixing with 2 Tbsp olive oil, then freezing.  This small amount of oil seems to give the crust a nice flaky texture while avoiding lard and shortening.

While the oil/butter was freezing, I mixed the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, and salt) into a pre-chilled bowl, and used a pre-chilled pastry cutter to cut in the butter.  It is important to keep the butter cold, so I returned the bowl to the refrigerator two or three times during the process.  Once the butter was cut in, the frozen butter/oil mixture was removed and cut in as well.  I Let it all chill for a bit, then added ice water (stirring with a chilled fork) until the mixture starts to come together. The dough was separated into two disks (about 2/3 in the first, 1/3 in the second), wrap in saran wrap and chill overnight.  I'm big on keeping things very chill(ed) while pie crusting.

Time to do some filling

2 1/2 Cups shulled and quartered strawberries
3 Cups cored and sliced apples
1/2 + 1/4 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
1/2 tsp cinammon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tsp lemon juice

I coated the apples with 1/4 Cup sugar, let them sweat for about an hour in a colander while collecting the juice in a bowl.  Then the strawberries were stirred in and it sweat another half hour or so.  I put the sweated liquid in a small saucepan and simmered until reduced to a tablespoon or two.

The apples and strawberries were mixed with the lemon juice and zest.  In another bowl, the dry ingredients were mixed then slowly stirred into the apple/strawberry mixture.

Woo, ingredients done!

I rolled the larger pie crust out and placed in a pi(e) dish.  Then I dumped in the mixture, rolled out the other pie crust and use it to make 1″ thick straps for the top of the pie.  I glazed it with the reduced apple mixture.  This was all baked at 350F for 50 minutes, then allowed to sit in the oven while it cooled down for another hour or so.

It bakes, taunting me!

Done, and almost in to my belly!