Life of Pie, episod 2: American Apple Pie

I have unfortunately never been to the USA, so my (most likely mis-) conception of it comes from the movies and TV shows I've seen or from the books I've read. Considering the size of the country aswell as the number of states, this vision must be about as accurate as summing up France by just talking about Paris.

But some images, or should I even say clichés, seem just as american as can be. One of those is the apple pie. I guess I have this on my mind from some "Tom and Jerry" cartoon I watched growing up, with Mammy two Shoes backing a pie and leaving it to cool on the window counter, before Tom and Jerry start doing some kind of mayhem involving that pie.

Then, there is also that song "American Pie", which I shamefully admit, that I got to know this song from Madonna's version of (it's not an excuse, but I wasn't born in 1971). I catched up in the meantime, but I still like Madonna's version and video.
On a side note it's also a song that I really enjoy, because it's one of the few I can kinda play on my guitar and badly sing along to it, all the more fun (for me).

As I had a lot of fun with this month daring baker challenge, I used the week end to make the double crust apple pie. My only addition to the original recipe given below is that I did about half apple and half pears and added a bit of cinnamom to the filling.
So as the 4th of July is upon us, aswell as I wanted to chear americans on the historic week they've been thru, let's all be a little bit american today.

Double Crust Apple Pie:

Servings: 8
Active time: 45 minutes altogether
Baking time: 50 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour


Flaky pastry

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter
1¾ cups (420 ml) (250 gm) (8-2/3 oz) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon (10 ml) (10 gm) (1/3 oz) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
3-8 tablespoons (45-120 ml) cold water


1 – 1½ kg (2¼ to 3-1/3 pounds) apples (depending on the depth of your pie dish)
1 cup (240 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) light brown sugar, lightly packed (more or less to taste)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves, nutmeg and/or ginger (optional)
1 - 2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) (5-10 gm) white sugar for sprinkling (optional)


either 1 egg beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water, or 1 tablespoon milk


Flaky pastry

1. Weigh/measure out the correct amount of butter, wrap it in foil and freeze it for at least 30 minutes.
2. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl.
3. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter directly over the flour in the bowl. Hold the butter by the foil to avoid warming it up too much and work as quickly as possible.
Using a table fork, toss the grated butter in the flour until it's all coated.
Alternatively, finely chop the butter and rub in with your fingertips, working quickly to avoid warming it. This is best left to those lucky folk with cool hands!
4. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of cold water over the mixture and mix together with the fork. Add more water, spoon by spoon, as needed - it will depend on temperature, humidity and a million other factors, but the finished dough should be moist and starting to come together, but not wet. I used 7 tablespoons (315 ml). Use your fingertips to test if it's sticking together.
5. Finish by using your hands to quickly bring the dough together into a ball. Just press, don't knead.
6. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


1. Preheat oven to hot 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 . Lightly grease a deep 9"/24cm ceramic or metal pie dish. Note that a dish this size results in quite a thin top crust - if you want a sturdier top which cuts more cleanly, then you should use a smaller dish so you don't need to roll it out so thinly.
2. Take 2/3 of the pastry dough (I weighed my dough and 2/3 was about 12oz/340g) and roll out to fit pie dish, right up to the rim. Line the pie dish with it, prick all over the bottom with a fork and set aside.
3. Peel, quarter, core and slice the apples and place in a bowl. How tightly you can pack them into the pie depends on how thinly they are sliced - I like them chunky, but you will get a firmer filling if they are very thin.
4. Sprinkle the brown sugar and spice(s) over the apples and toss well to coat.
5. Pack the apples tightly into the lined pie dish. The filling can come up above the rim of the dish in a mound.
6. Roll out the remaining pastry dough to fit over the apples.
7. With a wet finger, moisten the edge of the pastry in the dish. Place the dough lid on the pie and press the edges together. Trim the edges as necessary and crimp the seam closed with your fingers or the back of a fork.
8. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut three vents in the top of the dough. You can either cut leaf-shaped vents and use the pieces you removed to fashion decorative leaves, or you can cut straight vents and use any pastry trimmings to fashion decorations as desired. Moisten the back of the decorations with a wet finger and gently press onto the top of the pie.
9. Glaze the top of the pie with a beaten egg or milk, then sprinkle the top with a little white sugar.
10. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and put it into the center of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 minutes. The top should be light golden brown.
11. Serve hot, warm or cold.


Daring Baker - June 2013: Life of Pie

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie! Smile

Summer is here! And one of my "go to" dessert during those hot days is pies. We have so many gorgeous fruits during this time of the year, it would be a shame not to use them some way or an other for dessert.
I'm also lucky enough to have farmers in my family, so when I got a call a few weeks ago, and got asked "Do you want some strawberries?" of course I said yes! Little did I know that "some" meant about 4 kilos!! So I spend my day off making jam, which is always a fun day and with the oh-so-satifying feeling of having those pretty jar aligned on the kitchen counter. A job well done!

Although Rachael offered many different recipes, which I would try out in the future, I went for the crostata di marmellata, an italian pie with a jam filling. Around here, we have something similar, called Linzertorte, a raspberries filled pie with a spices and almonds crust, which is one of my favorit dessert.
So between the freshly made strawberry jam and the expectation of trying this pie, my choice was obvious. And I'm really pleased with the result, where the linzertorte is more a winter dessert, for its rich dough, this one really feels like summer. I loved the lemon flavored dough that makes a soft and crumbly crust, I will used it again in many more pies to come.

Crostata di marmellata:

Servings: 8
Active time: 1 hour altogether
Baking time: 30 minutes altogether
Chilling and resting: 2 hours altogether
Cooling time: 3 hours altogether



3-1/3 cups (800 ml) 500 gm strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
250 gm 2:1 gelling sugar (or 500 gm of 1:1 gelling sugar, or as much white sugar (1 to 2 cups) as desired + pectin according to manufacturer's quantities)
2 tablespoons (45 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pasta Frolla (basic Italian pie pastry)

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
pinch salt


¼ cup (60 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) apricot jam
1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice



1. Stir everything together in a heavy-based saucepan and heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
2. When the strawberries have released their juice and the mixture comes to a boil, allow to boil for the time given in the gelling sugar/pectin manufacturer's directions.
3. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
4. Can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for up to a week until needed.


1. Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 - 5 minutes. The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough - longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it's lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I'd recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
3. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don't over-mix.
4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
5. When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
6. Lightly grease a shallow 9"/24cm metal pie dish.
7. On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (I weighed my dough and 2/3 was about 12oz/340g) out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. I prefer to use parchment with a circle traced on it so I can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.
8. Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.
9. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
10. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4..
11. Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.
12. Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.
13. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
14. Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips.
15. Spread the filling over the par-baked crust.
16. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling (see links below for some how-to guides - you can do an intricate intertwined lattice or a very simple overlay one like I've done), trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
17. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.


1. Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.
2. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it's chunky.
3. While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over lattice crust.
4. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.


Retro cooking: Curried Egg Sandwiches

Some strange thing happened to me the over day: as you may already know, I'm a bit of a TV show junkie and have many DVD (never enough to my taste though) that I enjoy to watch. I tend to wait for a serie to come to it's end, so that I can buy the boxset and marathon myself thru it. Yes, I'm strange in many ways.

So, I just went thru the absolutely brilliant second season of Sherlock, thinking what to watch next? A rerun of the Gilmore Girls or Buffy, a few Big Bang Theory or Friends episods... Than I just sat down to have lunch instead. And all the sudden there's a song in my head:
"I've been down this road.
Walking the line that's painted by pride.
And i have made mistakes in my life that i just can't hide."

It took me a few seconds to realise that's the theme song from Ally McBeal! Which is weird, I do have the DVDs, but I haven't watched it in so long, it wasn't even in my thought process of the moment.
Maybe our brains and body try to tell us stuff sometimes, and we just don't listen to them, or are too busy doing something else on top of something else. Or maybe I'm just crazy, and my brain goes coucou from all the things that are stored in it. Either way, I'm enjoying Ally McBeal, and it's great fun.

This recipe is long overdue, or at least the use of the book it came in. One of the good thing about having real friends, is that they still like you, even when they really know you and also that they know you well enough to get you cool gift, like this awesome cookbooks.
The retro cookbook has been on my shelves for almost a year now, and I pick it up quite often to get ideas, but today I finally channeled the 50's housewife in me (that took a lot of effort, believe me) to make this easy and summerish recipe.

Curried Egg Sandwich (based on the Retro Cookbook)

Serves 2

1 Egg Yolk
1/2 a Tablespoon of Mustard
Salt, Pepper
1/2 a Tablespoon Whine Honey Vinegar (such as Melfor)
3-4 Tablespoon Sunflower Oil
2 Teaspoon of Curry powder
4 Eggs, boiled
A Handfull of Salad
2 small Pickled Cucumber

Let's start with the mayonnaise, using a whip (if you have one like the picture, they work very well for mayonnaise) combine in a small bowl, the egg yolk, the mustard, the salt and pepper. Than start adding slowly the oil until you have the consistency you wish. Add the vinegar and the curry powder, whip it a bit more and taste to check the seasoning, correct if necessary. Place in the fridge.

Boil the eggs and leave them in cold water once they are cooked. Peel them and chop them up with a knife. Using a fork, mash the eggs and mayonnaise together, add the pickled cucumber that you have thinly chopped. Set in the fridge for a few minutes, it's better cold.

In the meantime, cut your bread (this should do for 2 to 3 big sandwiches) and shred your salad. On the bread, place a bit of salad, than the curried egg mixture, than a bit more salad and the other slice of bread. Cut the sandwich in two and add a toothpick so it holds better.


Cheesy New York Cheesecake

Have you noticed that life is a lot about expectations? We hope for the weather to improve, for the unemployement rate to get better, for a parking space to open when we arrive at our destination, for our problems to be solved, for love to be around the corner or for a miracle to happen (like a healthy diet based on Nutella).
But isn't the problem with expectations, that we just "expect" them? Seated on our behinds, complaining nothing ever happens. Because it's safer, because that way you can blame everyone but yourself, because if you don't do anything, how could you do something wrong?

And if we may not do anything wrong, we might not do anything right either. So here's to the brave ones, who take decisions at the blink of an eye or to the sound of a heartbeat, who dare doing something different than everybody else, who might success or might fail, but at least had the courage to try.
I do not belong to the brave ones, I can get myself to brave moments every now and than though, and that's a start. For trying is always better than regretting.

What does this have to do with cheesecake? Not much to be honest, beside the hope for it to meet the expectations of your guests, or the promise to make you travel to New York just with a spoonfull.

New York Cheesecake (based on Marcus Wareing, Cozinhar na Perfeição...)

For a 10 slices pie

60gr of Butter
135gr of Graham Crackers
500gr of Cream Cheese (Philadelphia)
150gr of Sugar
5 Tablespoons of Cream
30gr of Flour
4 Eggs

Preheat the oven 110°C with the fan. Butter a 20cm springform or cake pan.

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan or in the microwave (10-20seconds steps only). Blitz or break the graham crackers to have some sand. Pour the melted butter on the crackers and combine, than pour that in your pan and using a spoon, press down the mixture to evenly coat the bottom of your pan.

Have the cream cheese at room temperature and pour in the sugar to start mixing with a spatula. Now add the the cream and the flour and keep mixing.
Crack your eggs in an other jar, beat them lightly, before adding them to the creamcheese. Carefully whisk until everything is combined and smooth.

Pour this mixture on top of the cracker layer, try to smooth the top for the air bubbles to disappear. Place in the oven for 1h30min. The middle should still be a bit shaky went you take it out of the oven.

Leave it to cool at room temperature. Even if it's not adviced in the book, I like to have my cheesecake in the fridge, makes the texture denser and is nicer on a hot day.