Pie Therapy

22 03 2010

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.

all ready for the oven

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!

Pie and flowers

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.




19 responses

22 03 2010
Goodie Girl

Looks fantastic!!!! Have you ever tried adding golden raisins to your apple pies? I think they are delicious in them!!

22 03 2010
Lamb Steaks with Guinness Sauce and Colcannon, Spinach & Cheddar Quiche, Apple Pie « Seasonal Market Menus

[…] And after a whole season of getting apples every week, I finally made an all-American apple pie! […]

22 03 2010
Ann Mah

The pie was a triumph!!! Thank you for sharing it with us. PS I’m still scared by deep frying. Why? Oh, something about a vat of hot boiling oil.

22 03 2010

Absolutely you can! And you will triumph over apartment-hunting obstacles too – I have no doubt. Also, just so we’re clear… I’m scared of pie-making too. 😛 But that’s more because my Mum is gluten-free so pies have never been a part of my growing-up life.

On the reclaiming-dignity side, I’ve never been scared of making souffles, at least!

22 03 2010
hungry dog

Oh Camille, I love this post. You’re a great writer! And the pie…the pie! I’m swooning.

I’m mixed on my fear of baking. I am not afraid of cookies or cakes, but a little afraid of pies. My pie crust always sticks or tears and ends up looking terrible. Nothing as lovely as your apple pie here!

Good luck with your apartment hunting…

22 03 2010

The pie looks delicious, and I am glad it served its purpose well to calm down apartment hunting anxieties. Good luck with the next round coming up soon. Fingers and toes are crossed for you guys!

23 03 2010

Délicieuse photo d’une tarte appétissante et thérapeutique. Bonne chance pour la suite et merci de la recette. Au menu bientôt !

23 03 2010

Goodie Girl – Raisins are one of very few things I don’t like, but I have been known to add dried cranberries to my apple pie at Thanksgiving.

Ann – Thank you for sharing your cheese with us!

Hannah – Some people would argue that soufflé is much scarier than pie, so well done!

hungry dog – Thank you! I love encouraging comments like yours! 🙂 If I have any advice about making and working with pie dough, it is this: Practice. And Resting Time. Lots of resting time. Although my mom might say I have an unnatural gift – my very first pie attempt, at the age of 11, came out perfectly! (Personally, I chalk it up to not knowing that I was supposed to be intimidated.)

researchingparis – It was truly relaxing just to think about something else for a little while. And thanks!

isa – Merci beaucoup! Vos photos sont toujours belles, donc c’est un vrai compliment.

24 03 2010

This looks delicious-I made an apple pie for thanksgiving with pecans and used agave instead of sugar.

25 03 2010

I am so jealous of your beautiful golden crust, even it it was lazy with all of that resting 😉 Man, apartment hunting. I am not jealous of that, however. I hope we get to see pictures of your new kitchen when you finally discover it! Good luck, girl!

26 03 2010
Food lover

I totally agree that cooking is a great to clear your mind from anything that is bothering you. I love cooking a nice Friday night dinner to forget about the week in the office and welcome the weekend 🙂
AND the pie looks magnifique!

26 03 2010

Esme – I recently bought a jar of agave syrup to use in place of corn syrup. I’m interested in finding out other ways to use it!

Andrea – Thanks, and I’m hoping to do a little before/after photography, unless it’s too depressing.

Food lover – More and more, I enjoy just staying in on Friday nights, cooking something simple, and opening a tasty bottle of wine. Speaking of… cheers!

30 03 2010

This pie couldn’t look any more perfect! It must of tasted like heaven directly out of the oven..

30 03 2010

Daniel – Thank you! It was a real treat.

30 03 2010
Nazarina A

This is a picture of beauty and good old hunger satisfying loveliness. There is just nothing like a good old fashioned apple pie. I bet the guests at that “cheese tasting” all scrambled for your pie.

31 03 2010

And how well you harness those laws! Beautiful pie.

31 03 2010

Nazarina – Wow, thanks! There was a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing, but we managed to make a pretty sizeble dent in the cheese board first. 🙂

Jessica – Thank you!

31 03 2010

Yes, your pie is pretty as, well, pie, but I was excited you mentioned Citeaux. I just read about this cheese this morning, and while I can’t get any here, I’ve learned Canadian oka is a decent substitute (and also made by monks).

2 04 2010

Trisha – The Citeaux was delicious. Never heard of oka, but I think it’s great that there are monks in Canada who make cheese, too. 🙂

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