Well – Huntsville and Alabama must have finally hit the “food map.” Today marked King Arthur Four’s first Baking Across American demonstration for 2011 and it happened here in Huntsville. Hosted in the Arbor at the Botanical Gardens, the KAF team demonstrated how to make an apple pie (including the pie dough from scratch) and a chocolate tart. (Next stop is Birmingham – for more information, see their website.)
The demonstration was excellent with many tips and tricks shared. We started off with the pie dough. One of the first topics was how to measure flour – this is a constant challenge! They use the “fluff, sprinkle and level” method as opposed to the “dip and level” method. The key point made was that you have to read in the fine print at the front of a cookbook how measurements were made for that book – I liked that they put weight in the recipe – I always weigh it if I have an option. Next were some pointer on butter – one thing I liked was that he used a bench scraper to cut the butter (at least the first stick) into the small pieces to go into the flour. They also used a two step butter method that I had not seen before – very small pieces for the first stick, larger pieces on the second stick. That will give you good clumps of butter in the crust for the flakiness when it hits the oven. The recipe called this the “Medium-Flake Method.”
The next hint was about the apples – the instructor pointed out not to mix the dry ingredients with the apples until you are ready to build the pie. The sugar in the dry ingredients will start to pull the juices out of the apples – which if you mix before you start making the dough means you have a soupy mess of apples….
Next the pie was assembled, top crust rolled out and put together the final pie. It looked like it would have tasted great once they baked it – unfortunately – no samples, so I’ll have to take their word for it.
Then we moved onto the chocolate tart – he demonstrated making the tart crust, filling the tart pan and then making a cream cheese filling for the tart.
I’ll post their apple pie recipe and get the tart recipe in later. Tonight’s demonstration is “Sweet Yeast Breads.”
Basic Pie Crust (Medium-Flake Method)
Makes one 9-inch double crust pie
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks, 8 ounces)
1/4 to 3/4 cup ice water (using more flour needed more water….)
Mix dry ingredients. Cut one stick of butter into very small pieces. Using a pastry cutter (or forks, hands, etc), combine the flour mixture and butter until mixture is at least pea sized. Cut the second stick of putter into “pats” (about 3/8 to 1/2 inch). Cut the larger pieces into the flour mixture leaving these in larges chunks (up to “nickel” sized). Start adding the ice water a couple of tablespoons at a time. Using a bowl scraper, toss the flour and water mixture. Continue adding water until the dough begins to look “shaggy” and comes together into chunks. To test, squeeze some together in your hand and see if it hold together. If it crumbles or breaks, add a little more water.
At this point, work the dough into a disk (He showed a great technique of pushing the first gathered dough down into the flour mixture and picking it up, gathering remaining flour in the bottom of the bowl and pushing down again – repeating until the dough is all together. This had the result of almost creating a “laminated” dough with distinct layers the trap the butter in pieces as you roll it out.) Divide the dough in half, gently work into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 25 minutes.
After resting, take one of the disks and roll out the dough into a 12-13 inch round for a 9-inch pie pan. Transfer the rolled out pie crust to the pie pan and push into the edges of the pan. Now assemble the Apple Pie Filling (recipe follows) and put the apples into the pie pan. Roll out the second disk of dough and place on top of the pie. You may need to trip both the bottom and top crust so they overhand the edge of the pie pan by a finger width.
Seal the pie by taking the top and bottom crusts and rolling them under (this creates 4 layers of pie dough and a continuous edge of the pie.) Vent the top of the pie with about 3 slits before baking.
Put the pie pan on a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan (in case it runs over). On a rack in the lower 1/3rd of a preheated 425 degree oven, bake the pie for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 and bake another 30-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling inside the pie. (If necessary, cover the edges of the pie crust with either a shield or aluminum foil about half way through if the crust is cooking too fast)
Now, just let it cool, slice, eat and enjoy – the only part we didn’t get to do at the demonstration….
Apple Pie Filling
8 cups sliced apples (He used 3 pounds of apples in the demo)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice and nutmeg (Optional)