Tag Archives: pie crust

Rosemary Lavender Apple Galette

Rosemary Lavender Apple Galette

I was a very lucky little Dusty Baker in that I spent the majority of this past weekend surrounded by fancy food and scrumptious cocktails.  The Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival definitely didn’t disappoint in either of those categories.

But, hey, I’m not a pastry chef.  Yes, I spend most of my time dreaming about alternative flours and wishing I were in a kitchen and not on a computer.  And maaaaaybe I find the things actual chefs do with pastry incredibly sexy.  But fancy-pants, personally, I am not.

So I was particularly at home when attending the Beekman Boys’ demo at the Grand Tasting on Sunday.  Farms?  Goats?  8-minute pastry?  Put the kettle on, boys, I’m stopping in.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys – otherwise known as Brent and Josh – own a farm upstate.  They bought it as weekend retreat before they both lost their jobs and needed to turn it into a mortgage-paying enterprise.  NYC foodies by nature, they turned their inherited goats (80 of them) into a soap-making machine.  Then cheese.  Then the rest is history.

Now they’ve got a new book out, following their documentary-like show on Planet Green, and are cornering the heirloom recipe market in all that’s old-school and tasty.

Which is exaclty what their demo was – old-school and extremely tasty.  With casual banter and a genteel charm, they made a galette with nothing more than a heaping cup of flour, a stick of butter, a fistful of sugar, a splash of milk, a rough chop of rosemary, some drizzled honey and some apples.  A recipe so easy you don’t need to write it down.  Which I didn’t.  Until this post.

What I shared with them (as I sat with a happy smile in the front row) was a love of lack-of-recipes-recipes.  Many that I’ve inherited from my family contain “a soup-spoon of butter” and “enough water to dissolve the yeast”.  I’ve made pastries alongside my Tia that may be two eggs and a cup of flour away from the original… and seem to work as amounts are remedied during the eye-ball process.  I love the feeling of just throwing things in a mixer, and the intuition that comes from just knowing how a basic pastry works.

It was also fitting that they described this as the perfect thing to whip together when a friend calls to say they’ll be stopping by on their way home from church… in about ten minutes.  Because as I wrapped up an article this morning I was just about to strap on my apron when an out-of-town friend asked if she could stop in… and that she had just parked her car down the street.  We had inherited some apples from my neighbor.  I always have flour, butter and the like on hand.  And I still have rosemary growing in my window-boxes.  I could throw this together in eight minutes.  So I did.

So this recipe is yours for the adaptation.  I used my standard gluten-free cake blend as my flour, palm sugar as my crust sweetener, and the rest of the leftover lavender-honey that I had on my shelf (from my current prosciutto-cheese-basil-melon-honey obsession that’s sadly going out the window along with the summer rain).  Use whatever fruit or savory ingredient you have on hand.  Add or omit sweetener as you see fit.  Grab whatever herbs from your garden or window box that sound exciting.  And enjoy the simple, homemade creation that is truly yours for the baking.

My piece... consumed with relish...

Ingredients:

  • 1  heaping cup flour (a basic gluten-free / gluten-free cake blend works perfectly)
  • A handful of sugar (I used palm sugar)
  • A dash of kosher salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • About 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (or comparable amount of fruit or savory veg)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp honey or however you want to sweeten the fruit
  • Dried lavender florets, optional
  • Egg white, yolk or milk to wash

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat if desired.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and sweetener.
  • Cut butter into thin slices and toss in.
  • With a fork, blend flour mixture and butter until flaky.  They pointed out that most recipes say “pea-sized”, but with the fork method it’s more flake than pea.
  • Add enough milk, slowly, pulling together with fork until the dough just comes together.
  • Roll on a floured surface until thin, either into a round or somewhat rectangular shape.
  • Transfer to baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle the center (leaving about an inch on all sides) with rosemary.
  • Optional: toss apples with about 2 Tbsp lemon.
  • Fill crust with apples, leaving a lip around the edge.
  • Drizzle with honey or sugar.
  • Fold the ends in to make a rounded crust, making sure there are no holes in the dough, and press to meet.
  • Wash with egg or milk.
  • Bake about 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • Serve warm, preferably to drop-in guests.

Picture perfect.

Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie (with candied bacon)

Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie with candied bacon

The problem with living in the best city in the world is that you can plan a refined night for you and your significant other of theatre and a late supper at a French restaurant, and then end up going to the theatre, then a rock club, then a blues club, then an Eastern European dive bar until the wee hours of morning, all the while proclaiming “we live in the best city in the world!”

Naturally, sleeping in the following morning was required.  And then the long subway ride home had me maneuvering construction-ed lines, packed by panicked tourists who ripped the bag of groceries I had been schlepping for far too many transfers.

But at least I was going home to PIE.  Apple pie, with molasses and bourbon and a bit of candied bacon on top.  As I was groggily hitting the elevator button, the boyfriend remarked that I had yet to bake him a pie.  As fellow dusty bakers can understand, this was less of a histrionically domestic complaint and more a phrase of endearment that had me humming on my way to the grocery.   My day had taken a turn to the apple world.  It’s a sweet world.

This is the third version of this recipe, lovingly entitled “Punch Yo Mama Kentucky Apple Pie”.  From my time on the border of Kentucky, I learned that those people do well with delicious food and honor their bourbon.

In the last two test versions the molasses flavor held its own but there was virtually no bourbon flavor.  So instead of heating the bourbon and molasses to make a glaze (which I found killed the taste of the alcohol) I blended them at room temperature with a little tapioca starch to thicken the mixture.  I also included bourbon into the pie crust, finding that the flavor works well baked in flours.  Previously I candied thick-cut bacon with a molasses / brown sugar mixture and baked it into the pie – this time candied thinner bacon and sprinkled it on when serving to retain its crunch.

The result?  The bourbon flavor came though just enough that you’d notice but not be overwhelmed by it.  I had added no sugar to the apples, and they came out sweet and caramely, and the cinnamon gave them a bit of punch.  The crust was a bit too crumbly on day one, but definitely didn’t distract, and was soft and manageable on day two.  (For a flawless crust try my Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust) By far the apple/molasses/bourbon combination was killer!  And the bacon was so crunchy and sweet that the crusts don’t even need sugar.

Notes: You can use regular white flour in the crust, or experiment with gluten-free flour blends you like using. This crust was a bit crumbly – I’d stick to my easy gluten-free crust or Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust, including the bourbon instead of water as suggested below.  If going gluten-free, just make sure you have enough starch and xantham gum to pull the flour together.  You can also use butter-flavored Earth Balance and omit the egg to make this dairy-free and vegan.  I’m experimenting with sugars lately, and used just a tiny bit in this, but it really doesn’t matter what kind of sweetener you use.  Yes, the flavor will vary slightly, but that’s one of the beautiful things about pies: make a crust and fill it with fruit and chances are you’re going to be happy.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 14 small apples, preferably of three varieties
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 3 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 tsp. starch (I used tapioca)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (preferably two different, pungent varieties – I used Indonesian and Chinese)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/2 tsp.

For the crust:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. xantham gum
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetener – I used sucanat, crushed cane sugar, because I accidentally picked it up instead of fructose, which I was going to try using.  I’m still working on which sweetener I like best for health / baking reasons.
  • 16 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 4 Tbsp. ice cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing on the top of the pie.  You can also use egg white, melted butter or water.

For the Bacon:

  • 5 slices of thin bacon
  • Your choice of sugar – brown sugar or sucanat will flavor best

Directions:

Prepare the Filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Peel, core and slice apples, and let them sit in a strainer.
  3. In a small bowl, mix molasses, bourbon and starch.  Blend with a fork.
  4. Separate the apples onto two cookie sheets with high rims.  Pour 1/2 of the molasses mixture on each sheet, and mix thoroughly with your hands until the apples are coated.
  5. Sprinkle with each tray with 1/2 of the cinnamon and nutmeg
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until just soft while you prep the crust.

For the crust: I use a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.

  1. Place flours, starch, xantham gum, salt and sugar in the bowl and whisk together.
  2. Toss in butter and start to mix on low speed until the butter is cut in, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the bourbon one tablespoon at a time, and then the water, using only just enough for the dough to pull together.
  4. On a floured pastry board, roll half of the pastry into a disk to fit your pie plate.  I make sure to thoroughly turn and flip my dough so that it doesn’t stick, as gluten free dough can break easily.
  5. Fill the plate with apples, tapping down slightly.
  6. Roll out the top crust, close pie, seal the edges with a fork.
  7. Mix a teaspoon of water with a slightly beaten egg, brush the top of the pie, and sprinkle with sugar if desired (After sampling, the pie was sweet enough without the sugar and would have been prettier if I had omitted it).
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, covering the edges of the pie halfway through to prevent browning, or until top of pie is slightly browned and apples cooked through.

To candy the Bacon:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fit roasting rack into a cookie sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place sugar of choice in a small bowl, and thoroughly coat bacon with sugar.
  4. Place on cooking rack and sprinkle more sugar on top of each slice.
  5. Cook for five minutes and, if desired, turn bacon and sprinkle with more sugar.
  6. Cook for five more minutes, remove from oven and remove bacon to a plate to cool completely before chopping into small bits.
  7. Sprinkle on top slices of pie for serving.

The Best Basic Pie Crust

In my early baking days, I explored many pie crust recipes of staggering variety: blends of butter and shortening, sugar and salt, refrigeration or immediate rolling, standing mixer or food processor.  I’ve rolled with traditional American and French pins and tried buffering on the board with wax and parchment papers.  Recipes from mothers, aunts, grandmothers and cookbooks have all made their ways through my fingers.  But I’ve found the most delicious and easiest pie crust recipe to be an incredibly simple one from one of the loves of my Dusty Baking life, Williams-Sonoma.

This crust does not need to be refrigerated, saving time and the wretched skinny window of cold-enough-but-not-too-cold.  It only uses butter, so the crust is flaky and tender.  And it’s guaranteed to have its praises sung – everyone I’ve recommended it to has only returned their highest compliments.

Dusty Pie Crust Form:

  • Butter Temperature is Important! Make sure your butter is COLD, and handle it as little as possible.  When butter melts its moisture is released, which can develop the gluten in flour and causes it to be more tough than flaky.  Little pads of cold butter in your crust will melt and release steam while baking, creating delicious little pockets of air flaky-ness.
  • Salted Versus Unsalted Butter: Use unsalted butter, preferably organic.  Organic butter simply tastes better.  Salt pulls the water out of (any) food, so salted butter has a different moisture content to begin with and makes you have to vary the amount of salt you add to your crust.
  • Use ice-water: If your crust is dry and you need to add water, make sure it’s ice-cold.  Literally place a cube of ice in a small glass, add some filtered water and add one tablespoon at a time until your crust pulls together.
  • Handle with care: The more you mix your dough, the more the gluten will develop and the less flaky the crust will be.  The same goes with handling – try to keep your hands off the dough as much as possible to keep the ingredients cool.
  • When in doubt, roll with protection: Using wax or parchment paper can help your dough not stick to your rolling pin and flip easily into your pie dish.  Wooden rolling boards also help absorb excess moisture.
  • Play with your pie plate: Different types of plates yield slightly different crusts.  I love my Emile Henri 9″ pie dish.  It’s pretty much the only one I use now.  It’s extra deep so my pies are loaded with filling.  It heats evenly and the fluted rim contributes to gorgeous crusts.  And at $45, it’s an amazing investment.  When baking thinner pies, a basic Pyrex can’t be beat for heat distribution and ease of lifting slices out.  When doing a gluten-free tart, I go for tart pans with removable bottoms.
  • Experiment With Your Pin: I used to use my mother’s marble rolling pin until I realized I like the lighter weight of a traditional wooden pin.  Then, after a phenomenal gluten-free pastry course, I decided I also like the dexterous manageability of a French pin (a long, dowel-like pin with no handles/rolling on its own).  The weight and shape of a pin is up to the preference of the Dusty Baker, so have fun exploring.  NOT recommended are plastic pins, which stick more readily to any sort of dough.
  • Wash and Sprinkle: There are many options for topping your crust.  Washing with melted butter adds a bit more flavor and a golden color.  Egg whites or yolks give a shiny sheen.  Water does the trick for helping a sprinkle of sugar stick adequately.  Whichever you choose, wash lightly with a clean pastry brush and only add enough sugar for some added texture and shine.  Don’t forget to cut slits for steam to escape when necessary.

Basic Williams-Sonoma Pie Crust Recipe: (enough for 2 crusts)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted, organic butter, cold
  • 6 Tbsp. ice-water, as necessary

Directions:

  1. If using a standing mixer, use the paddle attachment.
  2. Place flour, sugar and salt in bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Cut butter into small cubes and toss into dry mixture.
  4. Start the mixer on medium-low and combine until the flour resembles cornmeal-like crumbs.
  5. Add ice-water one tablespoon at a time until the dough just pulls together. Do not over-mix.  Divide dough in two.
  6. Lightly flour your rolling surface, and place half of dough on surface. With a rolling pin, tap the dough until it’s a relatively flat disk.  Turn dough over and roll out to a 12″ circle, adding flour as necessary to your rolling pin.
  7. Place in plate and fill, then repeat with top crust.

CLICK HERE for the recipe on Williams-Sonoma

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