Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday is fine for pie baking.. or fighting, whatever

(this is your teaser, fyi)

This past weekend I spoke to two of my friends from pastry school that within ten months of graduation have both kicked ass at life and completely surpassed me in ANY of my career steps thus far. Yes, of course I am happy for them. But damn it if I'm not super jealous.
When I was speaking to Jess, she was telling me about one of her plated desserts that she put on her menu as the new pastry chef at "super hip and trendy downtown Chicago restaurant" and used a term that I knew we had learned in school but I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was. I was dumbfounded. It's only been ten months.. How do I NOT remember what this is?! and even as I type this I can't even remember the term. That's how bad I suck.
And I was thinking while she was speaking (bless her heart) that I can't even recall the last time I made pate a choux. Or meringue. Or my own pie dough period. I kept telling her how happy I was for her and as I pulled into my driveway I felt like complete crap. Awesome.
So, this morning I decided I would make my own pie crust and make some sort of pie or tart or something. I pulled out my FPS text books and started to flip through my handwritten notes as well. I'm NOT kidding when I say that I couldn't remember the definitions of some of the terms I had written so knowledgeably about just a year ago.
This lead to my WTF moment and opened my fridge and pantry to see what I actually had and what I could possibly make. Every kind of flour possible, apples... bananas... dried cherries (i'm obsessed), butter... cream cheese... and almond flour? I still have almond flour? hm... Ok, maybe I can make something decent.

I ended up making this:
Honecrisp Apple and Frangipan Pie/Tart.
Here is what you will need for the pie crust:

And here is what you will need for the Frangipan (aka almond cream)

and for the apple filling

First thing to remember with the pie dough is that everything needs to be cold. The butter/shortening (my school instructors would shoot me if they knew I was doing this), the flour and the water. All ice cold. I even put the glass pie plate in the fridge. Perhaps going too far...
Well, you want to sift the flour, salt and sugar into the mixing bowl, per usual.

Then, add the COLD and cubed butter/shortening (I put these in the freezer while I was setting up). The shortening is by nature always softer. So, this doesn't need to be cubed as small as the butter. Also, you can do this part by hand or with a pastry cutter. But I'm lazy and my mixer works just fine. You want to make small pebbles. DO NOT OVERMIX!!!

Now we add the ice cold water, slowly. again, DO NOT OVERMIX.

Then remove the dough that is still somewhat crumbly and put it on a piece of plastic wrap, smoosh it all together into a round and then cover it completely with the plastic wrap. Get your handy dandy rolling pin out and roll it flat. This is the most fantastic trick ever because it requires little flour and you don't overwork the dough. overworking = tough dough = bad.

Throw this in the fridge and don't think about it.

Now, work on the frangipan. It really just is an almond filling and I realize that most people won't have almond flour in their fridge. What to do.. You can buy some slivered almonds and use about 1 cup of them with 1/2 cup of sugar and pulse it in a food processor until it turns into a fine "meal"... Some stores *MIGHT have almond cream too. maybe like Whole Foods? hm..

ANYHOW- ok, you need to sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar together. Then add the butter that is room temp and cubed, and finally add the egg and extract.

It will look like cream cheese frosting. I put it in the fridge while I set to work on the apples.

Apples or pears seem to be the fruit of choice for these frangipan tarts. I had apples so I went with that.
Peel/core and slice the apples. Toss them in lemon juice to prevent oxidation (browning) and then add some sugar and flour. At this point I should have added some cinnamon and brown sugar. dingbat. As this is a French type recipe and the French dislike cinnamon and brown sugar is totally an American thing- it wasn't in my recipe. But I love both cinnamon and brown sugar. Next time!

Let the apple slices hang out in the little slurry you made while you set the oven to 425 degrees and then go run an errand or pick up your child at pre-school like I did. Throw all of your mise-en-place in the fridge and get out of the house for about a half hour while your oven heats up, your apples marinate and your dough gets firmer.
..... maybe you could go to the gym? because later after you eat a 1/4 of the pie while standing up pretending to make your children a snack, you will wish you had worked out today....
just sayin'

Ok, the fun stuff

Rolling pin, flour your work surface, pull the dough out. Unwrap it and form it into a ball again. Roll it out into a semi- round shape as quickly as possible. You do NOT want this to warm up, the butter will begin to melt and then you won't be able to pick it up. Once you have it as stretched out as it will go, roll it up onto your rolling pin. This will help you roll it back out on top of your pie pan. I know, I'm tricky.

Then you will push it down making sure the dough is hugging every part of the pan and now you will fill it with the almond cream. You could probably take this out while you are rolling the dough so it tempers a tiny bit. Mine was still pretty hard so I had to use the offset spatula to spread it about. Meh....

And now you can set about to making any pretty design your heart desires. I made a fan like shape and quickly realized I had not cut my apples thin enough and I had too MANY pieces. hm... Oh well. I went with it.

Then pick up the sides of the dough that are hanging off the edge and pleat them over the apples. This is a rustic tart- if I hadn't said this before- so it doesn't have to be perfect. I like the edges to look a bit 'frayed', but thats just me. You can make them round or you can even just cut off the overhang all together. But trust me- it looks so much better this way.

Home stretch! get your egg wash ready, some sugar for dusting and of course more butter because butter makes everything better.
Egg wash the dough, sprinkle with sugar and put pieces of the cubed butter all over the top.

Throw this in the oven and turn down to 400 degrees. In all reality, not sure WHY we start at 425 to warm and then turn down once it is inside. Who knows? Just do it.

Set your timer for 25 minutes so you can turn the pie 1/2 way. Set it for another 25 minutes and watch as the crust begins to turn to a nice golden brown.

Heaven... But you CAN'T EAT IT yet. Let it cool for about an hour. Yes, ONE HOUR. Maybe now is a good time to work out..

make sure you have some vanilla bean ice cream... and maybe some caramel sauce. sweet baby jesus i may have gained 10 lbs today...

Here is the recipe:

Foolproof Piecrust:
1 1/2 c pastry flour (you can use AP flour if thats all you have)
1 tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tblsp cold veg shortening (regular or butter flavor, you pick), cubed
2 tblsp cold butter, cubed
1/4 c ice cold water

Frangipan (almond cream)
1 c almond flour (or 1 c slivered almonds)
1/2 c powdered sugar (or 1/2 c regular sugar)
5 tblsp unsalted butter, room temp
2 tblsp flour
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (you can also use almond extract and/or brandy!)
pinch of salt

Fruit Filling:
2 - 3 apples or pears (about 1 1/2 lbs total weight) peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 c sugar
2 tblsp flour
1 1/2 tblsp lemon juice
pinch of salt

to Finish the tart/pie:
egg wash (1 egg beaten, 1 tblsp water, pinch of salt)
1 tblsp of unsalted butter, cubed