In honor of me failing my one hour glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes, I baked a pie this weekend (I have a three hour glucose diagnostic test on Thursday). This particular pie was inspired by Wednesday's season premiere of my favorite show on TV - Pushing Daisies. This quirky Amelie Poulain meets Tim Burton dramedy is exactly all the things that I would want in a TV show, including storybook-esque set design, enviable costumes, strange and macabre storylines, offbeat dialogue, and the prominent role of pie. One of the main characters, Charlotte Charles, bakes an apple pie with Gruyère cheese grated into the crust for her Aunts. She spikes it with a homeopathic anti-depressant potion to lift their spirits and get them out of the house.
I recreated this pie (minus the potion) as part of my ongoing denial about the lack of a true Autumn season here in San Diego (yes, pumpkin recipes will be forthcoming). I've tried the traditional combination of cheddar cheese and apple pie, which ended up being bland and disappointing (thanks a lot, Emeril). Cheddar becomes leathery and oily and decidedly untasty. But Gruyère... ahhhhhh, Gruyère melts seamlessly into the flaky pie crust, adding a deep, cheesy, slightly salty flavor that is perfect with apple pie filling. Trust me. It's as quirky as the TV show, but it works.
Charlotte Charles' Mood-Lifting Apple Pie with Gruyère Crust
3 lb organic baking apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
5 tsp cornstarch
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Gruyère Pie Crust (see below)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Peel, core and slice apples. Mix with other ingredients (except for the egg... and the pie crust). Mix with your hands. It's fun.
Roll one disk of dough into a circle about fourteen inches in diameter. Flop the dough circle into a glass pie plate and gently ease the dough into plate.
Pile the apple mixture into pie plate, adding any juices. Roll a slightly smaller piece of dough into a circle twelve inches in diameter. Place it, like a cozy little blanket, on top of the apples. Seal the two crusts together (mine never looks pretty...), brush with the beaten egg, and make some combination of slits in the top crust to allow steam to free itself.
Place pie on a cookie sheet to catch any drips (I didn't do this and now I and my oven floor regret it), put in oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the filling bubbles and the top becomes perfectly golden brown and delicious. Cool for least 20 minutes before serving, or the tasty pie juices will gush all over the place.
Gruyère Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (16 Tbsp) cold, unsalted butter (hmmm... I actually used 20 Tbsp...)
2 oz Gruyère, grated with a microplane rasp grater
7 Tbsp ice water
Makes one double-crusted pie.
Cut the butter into cubic inches and put it back in the refrigerator to chill again.
Mix flour, sugar, salt, and Gruyere in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender (not your warm, sweaty fingers) cut in the butter until the largest chunks of butter remaining are pea-sized.
Sprinkle ice water over flour in one tablespoon increments, lightly tossing with fork after each addition. (Don't knead, mix, press, etc... be gentle). When the dough clumps together when lightly squeezed, form two disks, one a bit larger than the other. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Notes from the Pie Maker:
- I like to use tart red apples for pies, such as Cortlands, Northern Spy, Romes, Empires. However, since I do not live in the Northern part of the country (and it's not really Autumn here, remember?), I was relegated to whatever my local mega-mart had to offer, which unfortunately consisted of the ubiquitous and baffling "Delicious" variety as well as some sad little Granny Smith affairs. I used the Granny Smith. These make mediocre pie fillers since they are very tart and not very juicy and hold their slice just a little too much. If, like me, you are not surrounded by the bounty of various Autumnal apple lineages, I would recommend using half Granny Smith, half Golden Delicious.
- Organic? I'm such a free-range hippie. But, apples are one of the dirty dozen, so unless you like the idea of pesticides bubbling around in your pie, you should buy organic.
- The crust recipe uses butter. This makes a tasty, flaky
crust. However, if you want a perfectly tender, tasty, flaky crust,
you should substitute some of that butter with lard (yes, I just said
that). However, since lard is apparently a dirty word in the state of
California, I went with all butter. What? Shortening? White, soap-flavored trans-fattiness? Never.
- You should get one of those rotating, hand cranking apple corer, peeler, slicer things. Aside
from being quick and convenient, they make these fun little apple
spirals. One slice down the middle and you have perfect apple slices.
A Pie-ku from me to you:
Flaky, cheesy crust.
Sweet-tart slices, Fall spices.
The texture of love