I know I said I wasn’t going to bore you with any more apartment-hunting stories, but it has become my main activity outside of work. I have little else to write about, which is one reason my posts have been fewer and farther between lately. The seemingly endless search for an apartment with a good kitchen (because really, what I do is cook) leaves me feeling tired and depressed, never mind trying to find a location that suits Nick’s and my rather disparate commutes. Anyway, after yet another disappointing apartment visit on Sunday morning, I needed to work out some of my anxiety. I needed to get in my kitchen.
Fortunately, Ann had invited us to a cheese-tasting party, the star of which was a wheel of Fromage de Citeaux, a cheese made only by monks in Burgundy (well, and cows, too). I volunteered to bring dessert, and Nick suggested I make an apple pie, considering how many apples we have amassed this winter thanks to the CSA panier. So after breakfast I set to work. I made the pie dough and let it rest while I showered. Once I was clean and the dough firm but pliable, I rolled it out and lined my pie dish. I put it back in the fridge to rest some more (lazy stuff, that pie dough) while I peeled, cored, and sliced all the apples in my pantry. What a great task for forgetting your troubles – I didn’t think about apartments the whole time! A couple small handfuls of brown sugar, a sprinkling of cornstarch, a few spoonfuls of crème fraîche, and dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt rounded out the filling. Into the lined pie dish the apples went, preceded by a thin layer of hazelnut meal (to help soak up any extra juices) and followed by a light coat of egg wash around the edge of the crust. I rolled out the top crust and placed it over the apples, pressing the edges to seal. Trim, fold, pinch, vents, more egg wash and a sparkle of cassonade sugar for the top.
Again, the pie got to rest in the fridge while the oven finished preheating.
And now for a minor digression: my last post, the one about corn dogs, prompted a number of comments admitting fear of deep-frying. Frankly, this puzzles me. As long as you have good common sense and maybe a thermometer, there is no guesswork involved in deep-frying. Baking is a different story. A lot of people have anxiety about baking. Strangely, I find this more understandable. You spend all this time measuring and mixing, cutting and rolling, and then you put your creation in the oven where your pie or cake or cookies may or may not behave the way you want them to. You could have made a hundred pies in your life (or in my case, many, many more) but there is still a slight sense of mystery about the baking process. What if I didn’t rest the dough long enough? What if the filling oozes out everywhere and makes a huge mess? What if I overworked the dough and it’s tough instead of flaky? The thing is, you won’t know until you take it out of the oven, at which point it’s too late to fix those problems. But maybe that’s what makes it exciting – the potential for failure. And then when you succeed, oh, the joy in overcoming adversity!
So if making and assembling the pie was therapeutic, pulling the masterpiece from the oven was pure triumph. I may not be able to control Parisian landlords, rent prices, or kitchen designs, but I can harness the laws of physics and chemistry and use them to create beautiful and delicious things to eat.
On this day in 2009: Fairy Tale Dessert
Originally published on Croque-Camille.