Apple Pie with Rye Crust


Hello! I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely- filled with people you love and gratitude and leftovers. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, and lived with step-by-step prep lists, meal plans, and schedules (both for what days to prepare specific items and for oven space, time, and temps) taped to the dining room walls for a week. Aaron had to talk me out of making my own puff pastry. My parents and brother drove seven hours to eat one meal with us. We feasted on Deb Perelman’s kale and caramelized onion stuffing, Molly Wizenburg’s  cranberry chutney, my aunt Mo’s famous baked brie, and 10 pounds of mashed potatoes. My brother and Aaron rigged up our chromecast to watch the Bears beat the Packers on Brett Farve night. I passed out at nine thirty still wearing my jeans. It was fantastic.

So of course I’m here with an apple pie.

My family eats apple pie every year at Thanksgiving. However, unlike pecan or pumpkin pie, we also eat apple pie all year round. Often times that means that Dad swings by Baker’s Square to pick one up. And I’m not shaming Baker’s Square. Sometimes that just hits the spot. But because I’m stubborn, because Aaron had to talk me out of making my own puff pastry (see: stubborn), and because my parents are trying to eat less wheat, I was determined to create the best apple pie I possibly could. And what a pie.

I understand that there are many of you out there who only eat apple pie on Thanksgiving. But unless you absolutely hate pie, or apples, I would urge you to reconsider. Pie doesn’t take much active time, and once you’ve got your crust making down it’s easy to bang out. Apple pie is one of those rare feats that comes off as both impressive, because there’s an idea that pie is difficult to make, and homey, because there’s a cultural memory of loving grandmas making apple pie. Apples, butter, and flour are all cheap, so it’s easy on your pocketbook. The only special tools an apple pie requires is a pie dish and a rolling pin, maybe a pastry cutter if you’re feeling extravagant. And it’s filled with fruit, so you can eat it for breakfast. I’m all about desserts that double as breakfast.

I chose a mixture of rye and all-purpose flours for the crust because I think rye pairs well with apples and other fall fruits. Rye flour is almost malty and sweet in flavor, with hints of molasses. Rye also has the benefit of being lower in gluten than wheat flour, which means the pie dough can be handled longer before becoming tough as compared to a traditional pie crust. It makes this a good dessert for people who are not gluten-free, but gluten-watching. The pie is then filled with apples that have been tossed with flour, sugar, and spices, and the top crust (latticed, if you like) is brushed with golden turbinado sugar and cinnamon.

It’s a fantastic dessert to bring to any lingering friendsgivings you may have, a casual winter get together, or an advent open house. It’s also ideal for a lazy, snowy day at home where you sip tea and read a book as the baking pie perfumes your whole home. Or, if you’re very organized and very ambitious, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bookmark this pie for next years’ Thanksgiving.

Happy Monday. I wish you warmth and pie.

Rye Apple Pie

Serves 6 to 10

Crust adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

This crust utilizes a technique called fraisage, where after mixing the butter, water, and flour together you break of pieces of the dough and smear them flat. It works by creating layers of fat, which melt while baking, then steam, creating flaky layers of crust. I latticed my crust, which is an easy way to create an impressive looking pie. In depth instructions can be found here.

Crust

1 1/3 cups rye flour
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablesoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into half-inch chunks
1/2 cup ice water, or as needed

Filling

6 medium granny smith apples
3/4 cup cane sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 egg
turbinado sugar, as needed
cinnamon, as needed

To make the crust, combine both the flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk. Add in the cold cut butter, and use your fingers to squish the butter pieces into the flour mixture. It’s okay if the pieces are irregular in size, but you want them to be around the size of a pea. Alternatively, you could use two knives or a pastry cutter, but it’s quite fun to use your fingers and it gets very good results.

Gently drizzle the ice water into the flour-butter mixture, starting with a quarter of a cup. Stir with your hands, distributing the water throughout the mixture. The dough should come together mostly into one piece. If it doesn’t, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, and mix after each addition, stopping when it all holds together. How much water you need will depend on the brand of flour you use, how much fat is in your butter, and how dry the air in your kitchen is, among other factors.

Dust your workspace with all-purpose flour, and place the dough onto the workspace. Take a pinch of dough about two tablespoons in size and place on the counter. Use the palm of your hand to smear the dough away from you so that the dough is flattened and elongated. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then divide the dough into two pieces. Wrap well with plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour. You can easily make this dough ahead of time, and refrigerate for three days, or stick in the freezer for future pies.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Peel the apples, then cut in half, then quarters. At an angle slice out the seeds, core and stem. Cut the remaining apple pieces into inch cubes, and place in a medium bowl. Toss well with the flour, sugar, and spices.

Dust a clean work surface with flour and remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Roll one of the balls of pie crust into a circle about twelve inches in diameter. Be gentle and flour the work surface and rolling pin as necessary, working with the dough instead of against it. Try to make it as even as you can, and if you have any holes patch them with some dough from the edges. Once your circle is ready transfer the dough from your work surface to your pie dish. I do so by picking up one end of the dough and draping it over my rolling pin, then rolling the pin over the rest of the dough. Once the dough is over the pie dish I just unroll it in the opposite direction.

Pat the dough down into the dish and make sure it’s centered, then fill with apples.

Roll out the second crust in the same manner as the first. If you would liked to do a lattice crust, cut into inch strips now. Place strips of crust, about five, on the pie, evenly spaced and all going in the same direction. Place one strip going in the opposite direction through the center of the pie, and lift every other strip to create a weaving effect, with half the strips over the new strip and half under. Repeat with remaining pieces.

If you would not like a lattice crust, drape the top crust over the apples in the same way you moved the first crust. Cut a few slits in the crust so steam can escape while baking.

Regardless of which method you chose, crimp the two crusts together using a fork, and trim off the excess crust.

Beat the egg with a bit of water and brush over the top crust. Sprinkle the crust with turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Place on a baking tray.

Bake the pie for about forty-five minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are bubbling and slightly jammy. If the crust is finishing faster than the apples, drape with aluminum foil. Eat warm or at room temperature.

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Sweet Potato Tea Cake


How do you deal with tragedy? I don’t mean the personal tragedies, I mean the macro, worldwide scale. There seem to be two ways to deal with tragedy, at least online. You can obsessively talk about it, bringing it into every conversation. Or you can ignore it. Both make sense to me- the former is to acknowledge it, and by acknowledging people’s suffering it feels like you are doing something. You are not helpless. The latter makes it feel like you are refusing to give the darkness power. You are not giving in. Both make sense. Neither seem to work.

This week has been full of sorrow  and anger and determination. There are many intelligent people who have written about how to respond to these events much better than I. I do know that banning Syrian refugees from entering certain states is a wrong and hateful reaction. I do know that changing my facebook profile picture does little except show solidarity, but that solidarity is better than nihilism. And I know that some joy has to be taken from everyday life. That tragedies, whether man-made or natural, will not stop, and to never step back is to risk becoming numb.

I bake when things are tough. There’s something about making things. Sorrow does not diminish, but it cedes some room for other emotions when I feel busy and useful. It was during one of these spats that I made this cake. This cake is wholesome. It’s the type you might make for an afternoon tea break, or eat for breakfast. It’s dense and slightly fudgy in texture, and just the right amount of sweet to feel like a treat. Aaron likened it to pumpkin pie, and it’s not an unfair comparison. It’s a nurturing cake, the kind you may want to eat when the world is spinning.

I’ll leave you with a poem, because if cake doesn’t help, poetry may. Stay safe. Stay strong.

Hum

by Ann Lauterbach

The days are beautiful
The days are beautiful.

I know what days are.
The other is weather.

I know what weather is.
The days are beautiful.

Things are incidental.
Someone is weeping.

I weep for the incidental.
The days are beautiful.

Where is tomorrow?
Everyone will weep.

Tomorrow was yesterday.
The days are beautiful.

Tomorrow was yesterday.
Today is weather.

The sound of the weather
Is everyone weeping.

Everyone is incidental.
Everyone weeps.

The tears of today
Will put out tomorrow.

The rain is ashes.
The days are beautiful.

The rain falls down.
The sound is falling.

The sky is a cloud.
The days are beautiful.

The sky is dust.
The weather is yesterday.

The weather is yesterday.
The sound is weeping.

What is this dust?
The weather is nothing.

The days are beautiful.
The towers are yesterday.

The towers are incidental.
What are these ashes?

Here is the hate
That does not travel.

Here is the robe
That smells of the night

Here are the words
Retired to their books

Here are the stones
Loosed from their settings

Here is the bridge
Over the water

Here is the place
Where the sun came up

Here is a season
Dry in the fireplace.

Here are the ashes.
The days are beautiful.

 

Sweet Potato Tea Cake

I roasted the sweet potatoes the day of, but you could easily roast some ahead of time and set some aside. Boyce’s original recipe calls for whole wheat flour instead of spelt, but I’m more likely to have spelt than wheat so I subbed spelt out. It also called for half a teaspoon of baking soda which I forgot (I know, I’m terrible). I quite like the end result, but if you would like a fluffier cake, you should add it in. Finally, these were originally muffins that I changed into a cake. If you would like to make muffins, I’d start checking the muffins around 25 minutes into baking.

Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

One medium sweet potato, about 12 ounces
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup greek yogurt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
6 dates, pitted and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prick the sweet potato with a fork a few times and roast until soft and sweet smelling, about an hour. Remove from oven and peel out of its skin.

Lower heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a nine inch cake pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the two flours, spices, salt, and baking powder.

In a small bowl whisk together the greek yogurt and buttermilk.

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and the two sugars using a hand mixer until the mixture is fluffy and light brown in color, about three minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add the egg and half of the roasted sweet potato, and mix until well combined, about a minute. Scrape down the sides. On low speed, add the flour mixture until mostly combined. Add the buttermilk mixture, and then the sweet potato and dates, mixing until combined just combined. It’s okay if the sweet potato still has chunks.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until it is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Remove  from the pan and let cool on a serving rack.

 

 

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Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Thyme Roasted Almonds

Brussels Sprouts Slaw

Once upon a time I was a vegetarian who hated vegetables.

Growing up, I only liked meat in the form of filet mignon or bacon. Both of those were luxuries, and so I would grumpily eat chicken breasts or hot dogs only when forced. Some days I would sit at the table for an hour rather than eat one more bite of chicken a la king. So when I heard about vegetarianism, it sounded perfect. There were other people who felt the same way. I could claim a moral reason to not eat meat. And I started campaigning to be a vegetarian at the tender young age of 10.

The problem was that I didn’t like vegetables. I once hid my broccoli in my glass of milk so I didn’t have to eat it. The joke was on me, as my dad saw me do it, and I then had to eat the broccoli and drink the milk (another thing I hated). I didn’t like eggs. I didn’t like beans. I liked pasta with butter and parmesan, and I liked mashed potatoes filled with colby jack cheese, and I loved popcorn. I couldn’t understand why that wasn’t an acceptable diet.

By the time I was fourteen I had worn my parents down, and I became a vegetarian with the caveat that my mom wasn’t making two meals. And so for two years I lived off of beans and rice, cheese pizza, and salads of iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. It only ended when my doctor ordered me to start eating meat again because I was anemic.

Without that spell of vegetarianism I would not have started cooking, because I would have had no need. Despite the failures of those two years, that was when I first sauteed cherry tomatoes, garlic, and spinach together to add to pasta. I made minestrone and found myself eating green beans and carrots and beans. I took cookbooks out from the library and watched Barefoot Contessa looking for things I could eat. Looking back my diet was bland and unhealthy. But if I hadn’t had that time I may not have fallen in love with cooking.

I am no longer a vegetarian, but I still cook like one at home. I’m known to throw kale into everything and I collect spices and vinegars like other people collect novelty shot glasses. I can steam and saute and broil and braise, and I have strong opinions on proper preparations of various vegetables. In the short life of this blog I’ve made 5 salads, which is over a quarter of the recipes available. And while I still love rice and beans, I’ll almost always choose vegetable pizza over cheese. (Almost.)

I would never have made this slaw during my tenure as a teenage vegetarian. Brussels sprouts seemed too foreign, and the idea of apples in a salad would have been too weird. But if it had been made for me I may have tried it, hesitantly and politely. I may have then tried it again, enjoying how the apples add sweetness and the cheese adds a nutty earthiness, and the brussels sprouts provide a pleasantly bitter note. I would have definitely loved the roasted almonds, which are fragrant with thyme and smoky with paprika and cinnamon. I may have taken quite a few bites.

And then I probably would have turned back to my pasta with butter. Because old habits die hard, and I was young. But now I know better.

Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Thyme Roasted Almonds

Serves 4 as a side

I made this recipe using a mandolin, and I strongly recommend you do the same. It would be a lot of work to use a knife, and unless you have superior knife skills it will not be as fine or even. If you do have such superior skills, I bow to you. The dressing amount is a very light coating, which is how I like my slaws. If you like more dressing, then I would suggest doubling the amount.

1 cup unsalted almonds
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound brussels sprouts
1 medium eating apple, such as Cortland
1 ounce farmhouse cheddar, such as Prairie Breeze
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons Grade B maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bowl toss together the almonds, thyme, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and one tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes, or until the thyme is fragrant.

Peel the outer leaves from the brussels sprouts and using a mandolin, shred the brussles sprouts into fine flurries. Be careful to hold the end of the brussels sprouts while shredding, and to keep your finger away from the mandolin blade. If this worries you, use either the safety guard or a towel to hold the sprouts while you shred. Once the sprouts are shredded quarter and core the apple, and then shred in the same manner. Place the shredded produce into a medium bowl.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave the cheddar into fine whisps. Add to the bowl with the brussels sprouts and apples.

In a small bowl whisk together the apple cider vinegar, the greek yogurt, the maple syrup, and the remaining olive oil until smooth and emulsified. Taste for seasoning, and add salt as necessary.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Top with the almonds.

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Manchego Kale

Manchego kale

This week, man. Exactly seven days ago I woke to find that my car had been towed. On Sunday night Aaron’s car started to sound like a Harley, and I spent Monday, my day off, getting estimates on how much it would cost to fix his fifteen-year-old Honda. Aaron’s work schedule changed unexpectedly, so we didn’t see each other much more than roommates would this week. I’ve been fighting this lingering sickness that feels like a head cold and won’t respond to my usual treatment of sleeping it out and drinking lots of tea. I had to attempt the same recipe three times. And last night, as I was crawling into bed after a long shift, I broke a glass of water and gave myself a nasty gash on my foot that left me googling “how to tell if you need stitches” at one in the morning.

The bad news is that Aaron’s car costs more than it’s worth to repair, and it cost us half a student loan payment to get my car out of impound. The good news is that according to WebMD I don’t need stitches, it’s Friday, and the third time is a charm. I get to share manchego kale with you.

This manchego kale is inspired by a dish of the same name from Libertine here in Minneapolis. It’s sexy kale, kale that’s wearing stilletos and winged eyeliner. It’s the kale that you meet at a bar and eventually find yourself bringing home to your kale-hating mother, who will then fall under kale’s charms. This is serious kale. I love a kale salad as much as the next girl, but sometimes kale just needs to shake off the “wholesome” thing and live a little dangerously. And with the holidays coming, it’s a perfect way to sneak in some kale for veg-phobic family members.

Happy Friday. I’m celebrating the end of this week with kale.

Manchego Kale

I use red russian kale here, which is what I had on hand. You could easily use other types of kale, but I would stay away from curly kale. I’m just not sure it would collapse enough. Taleggio is a strong cheese, and the odor might turn you off initially. However, heat tames it, and it becomes melty, sweet, and nutty. Don’t be scared. Finally, there’s different types of manchego out there, with different ages. I had best luck with younger manchego over older, which has the additional benefit of being cheaper. Yay!

8 ounces red russian kale, about 10 leaves, stemmed, sliced, and cleaned
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon AP flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ounce taleggio cheese, sliced
1 ounce manchego cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a skillet, preferably cast iron, melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the kale. If the kale is freshly washed, there should be enough water clinging to the leaves to help it steam a bit. If not, add a splash of water to the pan. Let the kale cook down, stirring occasionally.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the second tablespoon of butter. At the same time, begin to gently warm the milk in a small saucepan.

When the butter is melted begin to whisk in the flour. Whisk as close to constantly as you are able, making sure that all the flour is incorporated into the butter- it likes to hide on the edges of the pot. The butter and flour will incorporate, making a roux, and start to darken, going from beige to amber.

Add the vinegar and garlic to kale, and season with salt to taste. The kale should be silky and collapsing upon itself. Here you’ll want to adjust the heat- turning it down if the pan is dry, and turning it up if the pan still has a bit of liquid in it. We want to eventually simmer all the liquid out.

When the roux is well-incorporated, smooth, and has taken on a nice color, slowly stir in the warmed milk, starting with a splash. The milk may bubble up- that’s okay. Just keep whisking until everything is smooth. Add the milk in two more additions, keeping whisking until all the milk is added.

Let the sauce simmer together, stirring occasionally for two or so minutes.  Add in the nutmeg and pepper, and add salt to taste. Check the consistency of the sauce- when you dip a metal spoon in the sauce you should be able to draw a line down the middle with your finger and have the line stay. Once the sauce is at the right consistency, whisk in the taleggio. Adjust again for taste.

If you have not made your kale in a cast iron skillet or other oven-safe container, transfer the kale to an oven safe container now. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the grated manchego. Pour over your sauce, and immediately top with the remaining manchego. Pop into your preheated oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Enjoy with abandon.

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