Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This past weekend, Jen and I rewatched Waitress. Have you seen Waitress? It's a really great movie. I'm normally not much of a movie rewatcher, but this is one flick I gladly agreed to see again, because in addition to it just being a sweet, fun film, it also provides lots and lots of fodder for my food-loving imagination. The protagonist of the movie, Jenna (played by Keri Russell), is a pie baker for a small diner, and the movie is full of vividly realized pie-making antics. So, you can imagine that after watching it, I really, really wanted to bake something, especially a pie. I've only baked one pie before--a pear-Gruyère affair based on a recipe that was inspired by a pie mentioned in the now-cancelled TV series Pushing Daisies--and that turned out pretty well, but it was a lot of work.
So last night, we watched the latest episode of Mad Men, and in it one of the characters orders a piece of apple pie with a slice of cheese on it, a classic, old-school combination that you don't see offered very often these days. In the pie I mentioned above, the Gruyère was mixed into the pastry dough, and that was pretty delish, so the wheels started turning, and I decided to make an apple-Cheddar pie in the same vein. For this pie, I used the same great pastry dough recipe I'd used for the pear-Gruyère pie for the crust. For the filling and for general cooking instructions, I used a recipe that Google led me to that sounded good and looked relatively easy to prepare.
First, you're going to need some good, extra sharp Cheddar cheese. The sharper the better. You're going to want a cheese so sharp all you see are A+'s when its report card comes in the mail. You want a cheese that's going to know what you're thinking before you say anything and will already have some witty banter at the ready to respond to you with. I realize it might sound like it's pretty tough to figure out if your Cheddar's sharp enough, but don't worry, there are some telltale signs to watch out for. For example, take the Cheddar in the picture above. For one, it says "extra sharp" on the package. More importantly, though, it comes packaged with a Mensa membership card. Little clues like this will help you find a good cheese for your pie!
Grate 3 oz. of Cheddar, and combine it with your flour, salt, and sugar. Cut up about two and a half sticks of butter into small, 1 inch chunks, throw that in the food processor with your other ingredients, and set it to pulse. Or, save yourself a little trouble and just cut the chunks of butter into quarters, and then combine with the mixed ingredients. Either way works. This is a lot of butter, though, so work quickly before it all melts on you. You're probably wondering what this butter would look like if you stacked chunks of it up on a small cutting board. Don't worry, I've got you guys covered on this one.
See? A big stack of butter. On the bright side, there's only, like, 2 tbsp or less of butter in each slice. And 1,000 tsp of sugar per bite.
Add the ice water, stirring in each tablespoon until you've got a nice dough. Stop at 6 tbsp if it's already soft enough. Divide the dough in two flat discs (one a little bigger than the other), and refrigerate overnight or freeze for an hour. These discs don't have to be perfect or pie pan-ready.
The next day--or one hour later--take out the pie crust and get it defrosting. Then, peel five Granny Smith apples. There are only four pictured here. The fifth was stuck in makeup and couldn't make it into this shot.
Slice up your apples as uniformly as possible, and throw them into a large mixing bowl. Literally throw them. From across the room. The prize for making them all in is a little more work before this pie is ready. If you're starting to feel like this is a lot of work for one pie, just reassure yourself with four simple words: Sisyphus never got pie.
Haphazardly toss the other ingredients on top. A little bit of ground cloves would be a nice addition, if you like.
Mix it all up. Then preheat your oven to 425º.
Your pie crust should be pretty soft by now. Roll the larger piece out into a circle and fit it into your pie pan as neatly as possible, but don't worry if it's not perfect. Just smooth it out in the pan and fill any gaps or uneven spaces with excess dough.
Empty the apples and the syrup that's collected at the bottom of your mixing bowl into your pie crust.
Roll your smaller piece of dough out into a circle, or cut it into strips for a lattice top. If you do a circular top, cut out some vents. Unfortunately, mine were weirdly off-center, but luckily this won't affect the taste of the pie, just the aesthetics of it. Be sure to brush the top crust of your pie with a mixture of one beaten egg yolk and 1 tbsp water so it comes out golden brown. Now you're ready to put it in the oven and take a power nap. No, I'm kidding. Don't sleep with the oven on! After 35-40 minutes, check your pie--if it's golden brown, it should be all set. Let it cool for a little while--
--but not too long, because it's best warm.
Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like.
Thanks for stopping by Beach City Cooking, and I'll see you all very soon for another post. Have a great night, and stay cool!