Tuesday, February 14, 2012

And one pie shall rule them all...

I'm guest hosting on Design Pretty, a very cute site highlighting all things fashionable for the home. While I have nothing to contribute to the concept of home decor, I do know my way around the kitchen.

Among the many things a good cook should have in her arsenal is a decent recipe for pie.

Why?

Because it seriously makes people happy.

Yes, everyone is thrilled when you serve the perfect boef bourguignon, or when you awe us with your mound of towering profiteroles, or the perfectly crafted buche de noel you spent three days in December making....

But when you've moved beyond the desire to impress your guests, in favor of making them really happy ... serve pie. Not only does it make everyone more comfortable (how exactly does one tear into a towering mound of profiteroles anyway?) it's relaxed, homey, and you can mess up on a lot of different fronts but people love it anyway.

It's a little late for your Valentine but this is what I am making my man tonight. It's his favorite and it may just be the one of the best apple pies I've ever had.

Presenting... Southern Comfort Apple Pie.

Because nothing says lovin' like some pie and booze.

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Adapted from Twenty-Something Cupcakes.

Don't be intimidated by all the words. Three basic things - crust, the filling, and the topping. And the Soco.. of course.

shortcut alert - (I've made the recipe as directed several times now. The basic pie crust is very good. The filling is pretty dense, so you'll want to make the crust a little thick to hold it all in. Depending on your preference, you may choose to blind-bake it so it doesn't get too soggy. Honestly, it's so good, no one cares if it's a little soggy anyway. That's what I mean about the forgiving nature of pie. And if you really want to save time, just get yourself a Mrs.Smith frozen pie crust from the store. It's really the filling that everyone wants anyhow.)


Basic Pie Crust:
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•2 tablespoons sugar
•2/3 cup (10-2/3 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter
•4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Cut the butter into little bits in advance and stick back in the fridge till ready to use. Cold butter is key.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, salt, and sugar on low speed for about 30 seconds.

Add butter to flour mixture and combine on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until mixture looks crumbly, with bits of dough the size of peas. Add 4 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing on low speed for 10 seconds after each addition. After final addition, dough should begin to clump together in a ball. If it doesn’t, continue mixing for about 10 seconds longer. (If it still looks too dry, add 1 more tablespoon ice water.) Gently mold dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Transfer unwrapped dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 1/8-inch-thick circle large enough to cover bottom and sides of a 9-inch-diameter deep-dish pie pan; do not use a regular (shallow) pan. Transfer dough to pie pan, crimping edges with your fingers or a fork. Prick bottom with a fork.

Topping:
•1/2 cup pecan halves
•1/3 cup sugar
•3 tablespoons firmly packed dark-brown sugar
•1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/3 cup all-purpose flour
•1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter

Cut the butter again and stick in fridge. Gotta keep that butter cold!

Short cut alert (toasting the nuts is optional!) - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast until a rich brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Coarsely chop nuts and set aside.

I've made this both with toasted nuts and without. No major difference in my opinion.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour for about 1 minute. Cut butter into small pieces and add to sugar-flour mixture. Pulse 10 to 15 times until mixture is crumbly. Remove from processor and stir in pecans. Refrigerate topping, covered, until ready to use.

Apple Filling:
•5 to 6 medium-sized tart apples, such as Braeburn, Cortland, or Winesap
•1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
•3 tablespoons cinnamon
•1 cup sugar
•3/4 cup Southern Comfort liqueur
•1/2 cup whipping cream

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Note - You can use a food processor for this with the blade slicer. I prefer to do it by hand to get slightly larger slices. If you cut the slices too thin, they become difficult to work with later in the recipe.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter starts to foam, add apples and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes. In a small bowl stir together cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle on apples, and stir to combine. Simmer apples over medium-low heat for about 1 minute longer.

Remove apples from skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of butter-sugar mixture in skillet as possible. (This is why it's better to keep them slightly bigger.)

Transfer apples to a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer until ready to use. (If heaped in a pile, they will become soggy.)

Pour Southern Comfort into butter-sugar mixture in skillet. Simmer mixture over medium heat until alcohol burns off, at least 5 minutes (sniff mixture at close range; if it burns your nostrils, the vapors are still burning off). Add cream and continue simmering until mixture is quite thick but still pourable, 5 to 10 minutes. Return apples to skillet and stir to coat.

Pour apples and cream mixture into unbaked piecrust (do not fill to more than 1/2 inch below top of crust) and sprinkle evenly with topping.

Put pie on a baking sheet! Cleaning up pie run off in your oven sucks!

Bake until filling is bubbling and topping is brown, 50 to 60 minutes.

Save some of that heavy cream and whip it up for the topping.

Recommended movie - "Waitress," with Kerri Russel. Yes, lovely Felicity (she'll ALWAYS be Felicity to me, ok?) endures heartache, childbirth and crappy customers, but makes a mean pie. Wow, does she make some great pies. Oh my God.

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