1 Apt. 2B Baking Co.: May 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spring Things

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Cameras have been cleaned, spring has sprung, and I'm back. With rhubarb! I didn't intend to be away from this space for so long, but the photo clinic took a little longer than anticipated to give my old pentaxes a spit shine. It was totally worth it, btw, and they are looking better than they have in years.

In the mean time, it has been a busy spring round these parts: full of lots of fun freelance projects (including a little something that was published in the NYT!) and a new addiction/obsession (it's a fine line isn't it?) with making pottery. But now it is time to get back to business and the business at hand today is pies: little portable pies filled with the pinkest rhubarb I've ever bought at Union Square and crunchy apples that are perfect for all of your memorial day picnicking. I know it is already strawberry season in many parts of the country, but I just couldn't let May sneak by without posting at least one rhubarb recipe. If you are hankering for more rhubarb find LOTS more rhubarb recipes in the archives of this blog: here.

A few little notes:

Tim from Lottie and Doof wrote an A+ post about #normcore and how it relates to food issues (and lots more). Check it out here. Seriously, I can't recommend it enough.

For my film loving friends, I had my cameras cleaned and repaired at Nippon Photo Clinic in Manhattan. I highly recommend their services.

Rhubarb and Apple Hand pies
yield about 24, 3-inch pies

Rhubarb can tend to break down quite a bit when it is cooked, so I added some chopped apples to these little pies for texture and flavor. The other flavorings are quite simple, just a bit of lemon and vanilla, to let the fruit shine. Cooking the filling a bit before baking will help ensure that the filling stays inside the pies, instead of oozing out all over your baking sheet. There are a lot of pie crust recipes and techniques on this site, but this simple one is a new favorite. Make sure to handle the dough as little as possible for the most tender and flaky hand pies.

Crust

24 ounces all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
18 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
6-8 ounces ice cold water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut in half of the butter until it is the size of peas, then cut in the other half until it is the size lima beans. Some of the butter will be completely worked into the flour, but you should have lots of visible pieces of butter in the dough too. Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to mix the water into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems very dry, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it together without it falling apart. Press the dough together, then split it in half, form into discs and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least one hour before using, or overnight.

Rhubarb and Apple Filling

1 pound rhubarb stalks
2 medium baking apples, mutsus work well here
1 vanilla bean
4-6 tablespoons sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
egg for egg wash
crunchy sugar such as turbinado or demerara for sprinkling

If your rhubarb has leaves attached remove them (they are inedible and poisonous) then chop the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces. Peel the apples and chop them into slightly larger pieces.

Add the chopped rhubarb, 4 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, butter, and vanilla bean seeds and pod to a large skillet. Cook until the rhubarb has released most of its juices and the juices have thickened, about 7-10 minutes. The rhubarb should become jammy in texture.

Cool the mixture to room temperature, remove the vanilla bean pod then add the chopped apples and flour and stir to combine. Taste the mixture and if it seems too tart add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time.

To Assemble the pies: Preheat oven to 400ºF. One at a time, roll each piece of chilled dough roughly 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a 3-inch circle cutter to cut as many circles as possible from the dough. Re-roll the scraps and cut more circles.

Put half of the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly brush the edges of the dough with a beaten egg. Add about 1 tablespoon of filling to each piece of dough, making sure that there is a small border of bare dough around the filling. Top each pie with another piece of dough and press the edges to seal well. Put the entire baking sheet in the freezer until the dough is firm, about 10 minutes.

Check to make sure all of the pies are well sealed. Brush the pies with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until deep golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.


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