Saturday night’s all right for baking

Saturday night I started cooking and cleaning and I couldn’t stop. Which is really weird for me because, while I love to bake, I hate to cook actual food, and I loathe the vacuum even more. If you wandered into our house unannounced you’d think that two exceptionally lazy college kids live here. Dishes in the sink. Towels on the bedroom floor. Lots of thrift store/Target stuff (this one has less to do with lazy and more to do with the fact that Oliver is a magpie who never met a Goodwill he didn’t love, and I am a Target addict.) I’ve long thought that our relationship works because we’re the same kind of messy and so no one’s ever nagging anyone else.

I digress. Saturday. Ostensibly this fit of domesticity started because my cat brutally murdered a mouse. Our kitchen floor looked like a tiny Game of Thrones set – complete with a beheading. But, whenever I find myself scrubbing the baseboards with Lysol wipes at 10 on a Saturday night, you can bet there’s something else going on.  And there is. Something else going on. I will tell you about it later though. (Hand off the panic button Grammy. No one’s pregnant and no one’s breaking up with anyone.)

All you need to know for now is that resulting energy eventually lead to one of my more random and creative pies: apple/sweet potato with extra flaky crust. This was less a fit of inspiration and more a result of really wanting to bake, but not having any other ingredients to use. I was skeptical.

Side note: It's super hard to take a picture of yourself while holding two hand fulls of fruit.

Side note: It’s super hard to take a picture of yourself while holding two hand fulls of fruit.

But it actually turned out great:

Ugh, the lighting in the kitchen is the worst. But even still you can tell that this pie is badass .

Ugh, the lighting in the kitchen is the worst. But even still you can tell that this pie is badass .

I treated the sweet potatoes just like apples. Instead of mashing them and puree-ing them, the way you would for a traditional sweet potato pie, I baked them until they were soft enough to slice and then layered them into the crust just like apples. It’s been a while since I’ve broken down a recipe for ya’ll (normally I’m just a lazy ass and link you to past crust recipes) so I decided to do that below. Crust is first, filling is second.

The crust:

Let’s be honest, we’re all in this for the crust. I’m pretty proud at how good I’ve gotten at making them extra flaky and awesome. To make this one here’s what you’ll need to make a double crust:

  • A stick of butter. 
  • A stick of vegetable shortening. I used Earth Balance. You can use Crisco if you want.
  • 2 cups of flour.
  • 1 cup of cake flour.
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Teaspoon of salt
  • Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ice cold water

To get ready to make this crust you should do a couple of prep steps. Cut up your fat into cubes and freeze it. I let mine freeze for at least 30 minutes because the colder the fat, the flakier the butter. Once your butter/shortening are cold enough you’re ready to begin:

photo (2)

Step 1: Sift your flour – both kinds – and cornstarch into a bowl. Mix in the sugar and salt.

Step 2: Mix your very, very cold vegetable oil into the flour with your hands. Knead it until it completely breaks up and is the size of tiny peas.

Step 3: Do the same thing with the butter. Butter gets colder than vegetable oil so this will take longer. My hands always get really tired. I don’t know if there’s an actual chemical reason for this or not, but I have also found that the crust is better and flakier if you follow this order, instead of mixing the vegetable oil and the butter oil in at the same time.

Step 4: Slowly knead in the water. This is something else I’ve learned. Used to just dump it all in at once. Now I mix the water in two tablespoons at a time and, again, it just comes out better. Knead the water in until you’ve used the entire half cup and the dough is clumping together in a flaky, but still held together, ball in your bowl.

Step 5: Divide the ball into two, smash each ball into a pancake about 1/4 inch thick, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

The filling

Great! Now you’re ready for the filling.  It’s actually a little bit tedious to make. Hang in there. Worth it. You will need:

  • Four medium size apples and an apple core-er. Is that a word? One of these.
  • Two medium size sweet potatoes and a peeler.
  • Whatever spices you like. I like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and I used a tablespoon of each.
  • A tablespoon of agave nectar (which I like to use instead of sugar. If you like sugar, use that, but I don’t know how much you should use.)
Had to sneak my awesome rolling pin in there...

Had to sneak my awesome rolling pin in there…

Step one: Deal with the sweet potatoes. This is the tedious part, unless you happen to like peeling potatoes. Peel them, wrap them in tin foil and bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Basically, you’re pre-baking these so that they don’t turn out raw when you put them in the pie with the apples which, obviously, have a shorter cooking time.  You’ll know they’re ready to come out when they’re easy to slice, but still firm.

Step two: Core your apples. Peel them if you want. I didn’t because after the potatoes I was burned out on peeling. Once the apples are cored slice them into thin slices and put in a bowl.

Step three: Once your sweet potatoes are slice-able, cut them into slices the same width as your apples. Mix them in the bowl with your apples along with the spices you’ve chosen and the agave nectar.

Simple, except for the stupid peeling. Once this is done, you’re ready to roll out your crust. I use this method, although last night I was actually out of wax paper so I just used the “absolutely coat the dough and the counter in a ridiculous amount of flour method.” It worked ok.

Here’s how you assemble the pie:

Step 1: Roll out the dough for the bottom crust and transfer it to the pie pan using whatever method you find works.

Step 2: Fill the bottom crust with your filling. Some people just dump their filling right in all at once. I prefer to layer. I built a bottom layer of apples, a middle layer of sweet potatoes, and a top layer of apples.

Step 3: Roll out the dough for your top crust and transfer it to the top of the pie. I like to cut any excessive dough hanging over the edges off with scissors before I start shaping the crust.

Step 4: Shape the crust. This is kind of hard to do in my opinion. I basically just crimp it using my thumb and forefinger, but some people get really creative with it so go nuts.

Step 5: Bake. I baked mine at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. I accidentally burned the edges of the crust, so maybe do a little less time. I really think bake times depend a lot on your oven, so try 40 minutes and keep an eye on it.

And that’s how you end a night of furious stress-cleaning, cooking, and baking. I used to stay up all night having fun on Saturday. Now I stay up all night and bake. Weirdly, I’m ok with that.

 

 

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