The soul-searching process will never end but the blog needed a facelift that came with an extensive soul-searching process and the facelift is here. I asked myself so many questions over the last few months and I will undoubtedly continue to do so for years to come. I came to some conclusions.
This blog is about sharing: experiences, knowledge, pieces of my heart through cooking, parts of my soul through stories. This blog is meant for readers everywhere but even more for local ones, which is why I added both the Best Bites section, which will be a journal of the best thing I had to eat every week and the Page 6 section which will focus on local events, happenings, and the like. This blog is about learning for me and for you, which is why I am trying to tap more into the teachers I have around me, people who cook, bake, shake, or make certain things much better than I ever could and books that walk me through incredibly complicated recipes with ease and grace. Without further ado, it is the learning part that I am taking on today. Pie. I am not a pie maker. I am not a baker or a pastry maker or a cook of anything that combines my archenemy ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, yeast, and gelatin. Those ingredients are not my friends but they are the friends of the spectacular Elaine St. Louis.
Three ribbons is what Elaine St. Louis collected for her pies at the Denver County Fair last year and two of them were the blue ones. Being that I was the stage manager and in a position to get connected with this pie prodigy, I asked Elaine for her number. Many months later, I parked in front of her charming house and nervously walked in for my French pie lesson. Apples is what we were going to to but I wasn’t nervous about the apples, I was nervous about the crust and a little intimidated by Elaine who is both highly accomplished in her day job as an art director for Colorado Homes and Lifestyles and incredibly talented as a baker, a passion easily traced back to her grandfather. We talked, we had lunch, and we made pies- fantastic, delicious, best-crust-you-have-ever-had pies.
French Apple Pie, a recipe by Elaine St. Louis, published in the Denver County Fair Cookbook
Crust (makes 2 bottom crusts)
Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup ice-cold water.
Put flour and salt into bowl of food processor and stir lightly to combine. Cut butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and scatter over the flour. Pulse a few times to chop the butter and integrate it into the flour. Open the food processor and even out the mixture with a knife. Pour a 1/3 of the cup over the top. Close and pulse again. Repeat with a few drops of water each time until all the water is incorporated and the mixture holds together. Do not over-mix.
Turn it out onto a flour, preferably cold stone, surface and divide into two equal parts. Form each half into a flat disk and sprinkle with flour. Roll out evenly to fit the pie pan with a little overhang. Freeze half of the pie dough.
Ingredients: 1/3 cup unsalted butter, 1/3 cup golden brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour.
Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of the food processor and mix until blended. Scrape away mixture from the sides of the bowl and add flour. Pulse and scrape until the crumbles look even. Do not over-mix.
Ingredients: 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (3 granny, 1 gala), 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup currants, 1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped, 1/2 lemon, juiced, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon. salt.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients until the apples are thoroughly coated and pour it into the the prepared pie crust. Spread the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the pie and bake for 10 minutes in center of the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40 additional minutes, until the top is light brown and the filling is bubbling.
Serve warm or at room temperature.