Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I've always been intimated by making pie - and it seems I'm not the only one. Despite my successes and near-successes with yeasted doughs, I let myself be intimidated by other people's accounts of finicky pie dough, not-cold-enough butter, and the shortening vs butter dilemna. Well a couple weeks ago, my cooking-project partner Elizabeth came over so we could test out making apple pie from scratch and work down my store of local apples. Once we had everything together, I remembered that I don't actually own a pie tin, but no problem - mini-pies it would be, baked in a muffin tin!
I followed the sage advice from Smitten Kitchen's Pie Crust 102 tutorial, along with Brooklyn Farmhouse's method for making mini-pies. I highly recommend Smitten Kitchen's recipe since the dough came together quickly in my food processor, was surprisingly easy to handle, and didn't tear while rolling it out at all. Most importantly, the finished pie crust was deliciously tender and flaky! We did have quite a bit of leftover dough, however, which I saved in the fridge to make a delicious free-form apple tart later that week. I have an inkling this dough would be great for empanadas too - hopefully that will be my next big kitchen adventure now that I've overcome my fear and conquered pie dough.
Brooklyn Farmhouse recommends cutting out 4-inch circles for the base of each mini pie and 3-inch circles for each top, but that seemed too small for my muffin tin, so we roughly cut circles of dough that were probably about an inch larger. You don't need special cookie cutters for this - just find glasses or jars that are approximately 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
I left the pie filling to Elizabeth since she's made pies before. she peeled and sliced 3 apples, and then combined it with a little sugar, a little lemon juice, fall spices like cinnamon and ginger, and a sprinkling of flour in place of cornstarch. (Elizabeth, if I'm remembering this wrong, please let me know!)
The best part of the night, aside from chatting, was feasting on the final product: warm mini apple pie topped with Elizabeth's homemade butter pecan ice cream and a drizzle of local apple liquer. It truly tasted like a restaurant-quality dessert and each serving of mini-pie was the perfect portion for each person. These would be a hit at any classy fall dinner party.
As for our project, in case you are curious, it has gone on hold since life has been busy and we are reevaluating our roll-out plan. But the best part so far has just been getting to cook fun new foods with a friend.