For my Birthday this year The Boss got creative and gave me cooking classes to Sur la Table! Now some Women might get mad if their man was to give them a gift of this sort. You know, self improvement gifts like gym memberships, vacuums, or cooking classes. But things are a little different in our household. Not that this wasn’t a little bit of selfish gift… I know he just wants the leftovers from the class…I very gladly accepted!
Now that I’m home from my world travels, I set off to embrace more knowledge from the pastry masters!
As I am driving to the cooking class I’m really not too sure what to expect from the course. How “beginner” is this going to be, and will this be worth 3 hours of my time and $69?
Immediately as I enter the classroom I am greeted by two ladies in Chef jackets along with a very friendly atmosphere. This is a big positive to my day, especially since I was going it alone. I can already see that we have our own cooking stations set up for us and individual platters are prepared with all of the day’s ingredients. We are ready to roll.
First Lesson: Pie Crust! ErrrrRRrrrrr my pastry nemesis…
As much as I was NOT looking forward to embarrassing myself with my pie dough sticking to the table and then tearing when I pull it up, and then crumbling because I countered the “stickiness” with too much flower, I definitely walked away with several KEY points that really made making, rolling, and deploying the pie crust way easier than all of the times I’ve wrestled with crust on my kitchen counter! So here goes, I hope to eliminate any future hate from your life as you may embark on making your own pie crust!
1. First, don’t over work the dough. Just add your dry ingredients to the food processor with your cold “fats”. Some people use Butter, Margarine, and/or cream cheese. (The full recipe for this crust is at the bottom).
The mixture should still have some larger lumps to it. Stop here, no more mixing!
***NOTE*** I have said nothing about adding water to the mixture to create a specific conglomerate consistency to your dough. Please… Please do not add water, sprinkle water, or even think about water through out this process. Just say NO, and trust in the dough!
2) Be sure to use “COLD” fats in your dough. None of the “room temperature” stuff here. You want to have the fat in a solid state so it does not completely mix with the dry ingredients. When the crust is cooking the little pieces of butter will melt, leave small spaces within the dough, and this is what creates the flakiness we all so desire. I guess the butter melting into the rest of dough and turning a golden brown is also a plus!
3) Dump out your food processor and lightly mold the dough together so that all of the pieces are in one lump. Lightly flatten it out to 1 - 1.5 inches thick, wrap in plastic wrap, Refrigerate! No more mixing, kneading, or fiddling with the stuff'; just walk away!
4) Refrigeration allows the dough to set up better. If you have the time (who has time anymore?) make your dough the day before and refrigerate. Otherwise, for the rest of us mortals who do not have the planning capabilities to pre-make the dough 24 hours prior, just make the dough and if you need it right away (within 30minutes) FREEZE it, otherwise just start praying to your rolling pin and put it in the fridge!
5) After you have let the dough set up, take it from your fridge and pop it out of the plastic wrap! Grab your
club rolling pin and let the fun begin!
If you can’t tell, the above picture is me whacking the dough with a large French rolling pin. Here you really want to go for it. Give it a number of good hits to flatten it out, turning the dough several times. Next you’re going to flatten out your hands and let the pin roll all of the way back and fourth in JUST the forward and backward direction.
None of those arching motions where you push the pin away from you and to the right and then to the left. Front to back and repeat; this insures a more even thickness to your dough. After a few good rolls of the pin STOP. Pull up the dough, re-flour the table, and rotate the dough 180 degrees. Roll on! Keep doing this until your dough is at it’s desired thickness.
6) When you are happy with your rolling around, it’s time to measure and fit your work of art into the ramekin or pan. Pretty straight forward; just measure the circle to account for the depth of your pan.
Pie Crust Lesson Complete! I hope this has helped you over come any fears you might have with going for it with your own made from scratch dough. No more frozen premade crusts! This one is much better.
Lesson #2: Pie Filling! Mmmm much shorter lesson.
I’m going to assume that you all know how to chop apples! Chop your apples however you want to! Some people like big chunks, some like more “sliver like” apples, just try to stay away from chopping so fine that you're making apple sauce!
The only real tip here is to sauté your filling. This draws a lot of the initial moisture from the apples, which keeps you from ending up with a swimming pool for a pie at the end of the day!
Pile a Mile High
Cover, Crimp, and Polish
Spread a light layer of egg wash in between the two layers of crust to help “glue” them together. Then crimp the two crusts together and lightly brush the top of the pie with a small amount of milk. Be sure to slit a few hole in the top of your crust. Personally I then also add a sprinkle of white sugar to the top of the crust and milk wash.
** You may be thinking “wow that is a pretty thick top layer of crust. Yes, yes it is. But we had partners for the class, and the really sweet lady that I was working with wanted it that thick and she was in charge of rolling the top while I did the bottom! I went with it!
This was so yummy! The only thing that could have made it better was vanilla ice cream! I think it tasted just a little bit better because of the added bonus of being easy to make!
For you entertainment, below was the last apple pie that I made. While it tasted very gooooood, the crust was really misbehaving that day so I expressed my feelings about it via the pie slits!
Sur la Table’s Mile High Apple Pie
* 2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1/4 Tsp Salt
* 10 Tbsp COLD, unsalted butter cut into tablespoon sizes
* 6oz Cream Cheese (not the low-fat stuff!) room temp, cut into Tbsp sizes
***Follow the directions above.
* 4lbs Golden Delicious Apples
* 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
* 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup sugar, divided, plus 1tsp
* 3 Tbsp unbleached all purpose-flour
* 3/4 Tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 Tbsp heavy cream or whole milk
Peel and chop the apples and toss them in the lemon juice as you are working so they do not turn brown. Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the apples and sugar. Once the apples are fork tender (when you can poke an apple pience with a fork/ knife and pull the utensil straight up and the apple piece falls off) then remove from heat and scrape into large mixing bowl. Allow the filling to cool for around 5-10 minutes before adding and tossing in the cinnamon and flour. Allow filling to rest until room temp. Fill crust a “Mile High” and bake at 375 for 40 minutes!
***Please note that in our class we only made half the batch. If you only have a smaller skillet try sautéing the apples in 2-3 batches.
In our cooking class we also covered several other recipes (maybe to come in future post?)… the therefore “no” the apple pie does not take 3 hours! I would highly recommend heading up one of these cooking classes if that sort of thing interests you! It was a very seamless operation, quality food and more importantly quality cooking instructions!!