Our internet connection has been missing for the last couple of weeks. Then all of a sudden-- tah dah! It's here. They are redoing the house two doors down, so maybe that has something to do with it (incidentally: anyone want to be our neighbors? It's going to be a good lookin' house. Helpful neighborly traits include being okay with waking up to the sound of small people screaming "CROW" and chasing birds down your street on the way to the bus).
I turned 34 and Sam turned 7 during my absence. What does a 7 year-old get?
- a short stack of thrifted Dennis the Menace comics
- the second book in the Amulet series
- a chess set and this book to go with it
- new hoodie
- a stack of blank comic books and a speech bubble template
He also gets a Breton Apple Pie.
My friend Beth has a couple of Nick Malgieri's books and swears by his recipes for crusts and sweet things. His most recent book had a recipe for a Breton Apple Pie along with a picture of a beautifully turned out cake on a plate. The picture sold me, even though mine looks very little like his. He uses a 10" cake pan (I don't have one) which means you are able to slide the cake out and serve it on a plate (he freezes them baked, too). The recipe is online and I've made it three times, modifying it a stitch the second time, and making it dairy free for the third. I will say, using butter rather than a substitute makes a difference-- a good difference.
This is a dead easy recipe with the "cake" part being somewhere between a cookie and a pastry and altogether delicious. I used a large pie plate for this one, but used my large cast iron for the two prior.
Breton Apple Pie
(Modified from the September 17th, 2008 issue of the Washington Post. Originally appearing in Nick Malgieri's Modern Baker)
For the filling
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I use earth balance when I'm going dairy-free)
- 2 1/2 pounds sweet apples, peeled cored and sliced into 6-8 slices
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 apple sauce (or up the sugar and leave out the sauce)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the cake pan
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large egg yolks, plus an egg wash of 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt
- 2 3/4 cups flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
For the filling: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add the apples and sprinkle them with the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, checking them and stirring occasionally, until they are swimming in liquid. Uncover and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool while you make the dough.
For the dough: Set an oven rack on the lowest level of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease a 10-inch round cake pan. The original recipe calls for you to "cut a round of parchment or wax paper to fit in the bottom, then butter the paper. Have ready two 10-inch cardboard rounds or tart bottoms". Since I use pie plates, I skip this step entirely.
Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to incorporate the flour.
Place half of the dough in the bottom of the prepared pan. Use your fingertips to press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides. Sometimes I wait for the filling to cool, but it doesn't appear to make a difference. Spread the filling over the dough.
This bit would be lovely if I could do it right. But I haven't been able to quite manage it: Flour the remaining dough lightly on both sides and press it into a 10-inch disk (use a cardboard or tart pan bottom as a guide). Run a long-bladed knife or spatula under the dough to keep it from sticking. Invert the dough onto a separate floured cardboard and slide it onto the filling. I just end up plopping it on top and patching the holes.
Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Use the tines of a fork to trace a lattice pattern on the top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the dough is nicely colored and baked through. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then invert, un mold and turn right side up again (it's good to use one of the cardboard disks or tart bottom for this). Let cool completely.
It keeps well-- at least until the next day. During apple time I'm going to make a few and keep them handy in the freezer. 7 year-old Sam decided to skip the cake as he had already had "too much junk" during the day. Whatever, Kiddo. You ate your weight in carrots yesterday, so I think you'll be all right.