I'm a goal setter. There I said it. I'm not bragging or anything, because let's be honest, I don't always set the most challenging goals. I did not say I like a challenge. I like to set goals I can accomplish. I like to win... but I'm far too competitive to compete with others. It's ugly ugly stuff. I can't even play cards without cheating. What I mean to say is, I'm so competitive that if I lose at a card game that is based on pure chance there is a very high probability that I will exhibit poor behavior. True. Knowing this about yourself is half the battle people. I'm trying. So since I can't play well with others I compete against myself.
This blip in my character has actually served me quite well over the years. I've learned all sorts of sometimes tedious, often unnecessary lessons. Such as, no matter how hard I try I will never have rhythm. It is possible (yet highly inadvisable) to fix certain types of plumbing with duct tape. And actually, the way to a man's heart is via making him a personalized embroidered beer cozy.
Sometimes though I learn useful things.... things I'm so very glad I now know how to do. For instances now I can knit a sweater. And I can replace broken window panes. I can also distinguish between a variety of heavy metal poisonings if the need were to arise.
At this point you're probably wondering what this has to do with dinner. Well I'll tell you! This has to do with pie crust. As I mentioned wayyyyyyy way way back in my first post an entire month ago, I finally have reached a goal I set for myself fourteen years ago. That goal was to find the perfect pie crust recipe, the recipe which would finally draw this epic pie crust era in my life to a close. Last month I did that and now for an entire month straight I have used the exact same recipe, unadulterated and without thought of trying another. I would highly advise anyone in the midst of a similar personal pie crust challenge to do the same. To be honest it's probably the technique that makes a lot of the difference. What I'm saying is, no shortcuts here if you want to reap the flaky buttery rewards.
Need a vehicle for that pie crust? Why not try the savory apple, onion and cheddar pie that I made on Monday? If you have extra crust like I did go ahead and roll it out and cut it into some ridiculously adorable shapes, sprinkle them with sugar and spices (I used ras el hanout) and call it dessert.
Apple, Onion and Cheddar Pie
Filling adapted from Susan Schawke's recipe on Design Sponge
Pie crust adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
For the crust
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup very cold water
3 cups plus 3 tablespoons flour (460 g)
1 cup plus 5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1 inch cubes (300 g)
For pie filling
1 large sweet onion, minced
2 Tbsp butter
6 tart apples, cut into thin slices
3 cups shredded strong cheddar cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp flour
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper
To make the pie crust
I find using weights for measuring flour works MUCH better here, so weigh it if you have a scale.
In a small bowl, dissolve salt in very cold water and keep cold by sticking it in the freezer while you do the next steps.
To make dough with a mixer put flour in the work bowl, scatter butter over flour, and mix slowly until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. Add salted water and mix from low to very high for several seconds, until the dough comes together as a ball, but is not completely smooth (you should see some butter chunks).
At this point be careful not to handle the dough to much to keep it as tender as possible. On a floured surface, divide dough into two balls, shape into 2 thick disks, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
About 30 minutes to one hour before you bake the pie roll out one disk on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions, lifting and rotating the dough a quarter turn every few strokes. Transfer to the pie plate and press around all of the edges so the crust is flush with the plate. Fill with your pie filling as described below. Roll out the other disk as you did the first and lay over the pie. Trim both the top and bottom crusts so they extend only one inch off of the pie plate. Set the excess dough aside for cookies. Tuck the edges of the crust under and into the pie plate to seal them closed. Crimp if you would like to. Cut some vents in the top of the pie. Give it a good brush of egg wash or heavy cream. Set back into the refrigerator (uncovered is fine) for 30 minutes to one hour. Baking instructions are below.
To make the filling
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. To prepare the filling first melt two tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan and slowly cook the onion for about 20 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the thinly sliced apples and cook for 10 minutes. They should still be pretty firm, with some texture. Put them in a bowl to cool. Toss with the flour. Add the 2 1/2 cups of the grated cheese and heavy cream and nutmeg. Slide the thyme leaves off the sprigs and sprinkle into the filling and grate the pepper in. Mix well and start rolling out the crust. To fill pie first make a layer of the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Then fill with the apple mixture. Then add the top of the pie as described above. After the pie is finished chilling in the refrigerator bake for 40-50 minutes. It should be golden and bubbling.
For the cookies
Make a loose ball out of the excess dough. Roll it out gently so as not to overwork it. This will create the extra fluffy layers. Brush with egg wash or cream and sprinkle with the cinnamon and spice mixture. You can bake them along with the pie, but only let them bake for 20-30 minutes.