Friday, September 15, 2006

The Itinerant Pie-Maker's Road Show

The new oven delivery has been backed up to next week sometime, but it still looks like I'll be baking in my own kitchen again soon. In the meantime, I was invited to a dinner party tonight--more of a potluck, really--where I was assigned to bring a pie. The pie I made was another from my guru, Ken Haedrich, and his amazing apple pie tome, Apple Pie Perfect: 100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America's Favorite Pie.

It's called Vanilla Bean Apple Cherry Pie. Wait..say it again...slowly. VANILLA BEAN APPLE CHERRY PIE. Are you weeping with joyful anticipation at just the utterance of those five glorious words? I thought so! Apples, cherries, and vanilla beans are truly a magical combination of flavors, especially topped with a lightly-spiced blond streusel. Divine! But don't take my word for it--better make one for yourself! Here's the recipe:

Vanilla Bean Apple Cherry Pie
(Source: Apple Pie Perfect, Ken Haedrich)

1 9-inch, unbaked pie crust, your favorite recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (I used 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste instead)
8 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Paula Reds this time)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cherry preserves (homemade, if you got 'em!)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg (grating whole nutmeg makes all the difference!)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon--optional (I know that the apples, cherries, and vanilla are supposed to be the featured players in this pie, but to me, crumbly topping just doesn't taste right without at least a dash or two of cinnamon!)
1/2 cup (one stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces)

Prepare the pastry, chill it for at least an hour, and then roll it out. Place it in a (preferably, glass) pie pan and form an upstanding ridge (I fluted my edges, too, just to be sassy!). Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Measure the sugar into a large mixing bowl. Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the sugar, then rub together with your fingertips. (Or you can just mix in vanilla bean paste instead, as I did.) Add the apples, lemon juice, and cherry preserves, and mix well. Set aside for ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Shake the flour over the apples and mix well. If you're using a whole vanilla bean, take the whole pod and bury it under the center of the pie, just under the top layer of apples. Smooth the top of the filling with your hands, then place the pie on the center rack of your oven. Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil to keep the vanilla bean from drying out. (Or skip this step if you're using vanilla bean paste.) Bake for 30 minutes.

While the pie is baking, make the topping. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg in a food processor and pulse to mix. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients, and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Transfer the topping to a mixing bowl and rub it between your fingers to make larger crumbs.

After 30 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and place it on a large, dark baking sheet covered with foil. Reduce the oven to 375 degrees. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Press down to compact them. Put the pie on the baking sheet and return it to the oven to bake for another 35 minutes or so, until the juices bubble thickly around the edge. (Cover the pie loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes if necessary to prevent the streusel from getting too brown.)

Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least an hour before serving--preferably, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!


Randi said...

That looks great, but I dont see the cherries. Can I have the recipe?

JoyBugaloo said...

There is just a third of a cup of cherry preserves that you mix in with the apples, so unless you use whole or halved cherries, you're not going to see them very prominently in your pie. If you look closely, you can see a bit of cherry on the right-hand side of the pie slice, mid-way down, next to the scoop of ice cream, and another one toward higher up on the left side of the slice, right on the crust edge. There are a few smaller ones, too--basically anywhere you see a little dark speck in the pie. Next time, I might use a chunkier cherry preserve!

I posted the pie recipe, so I'm confused. What recipe did you desire? Just let me know...