Tag Archives: Henry Ward Beecher

Stations of the Crust

A walk through the making of a pie.

Pastry Station

The beginning  and the end of pie…the crust, the dough, the very pie-ness of pie. Contrary to all sorts of nonsense, pie dough is easy. Easy as Pie.

Three ingredients – flour, fat, liquid. Infinite variations.Change the flour, change the liquid, change the fat…The basic of basic: a 3:2:1: ration of  flour:butter :water. In Ratio (Michael Ruhlman precise by weight measurements; or in more eyeballing, not quite so scientific throw together school (mine) :  2  1/2 cups flour, 2 sticks butter, 1/4-1/2 cups water. You might also want a teaspoon of salt (not quite so necessary if you’re using salted butter) and perhaps a spoonful of sugar, but if  you don’t know if you need sugar, DON’T PANIC, don’t fret – leave it out and after you eat this pie, know more, know better for the next pie.

Add the butter to the flour, rubbing it in, letting some of the pieces remain the size of pease.Sprinkle the 1/4  water on top, stir it together until it comes together in a ball. Add a little more water if it’s still too crumbly. Don’t over-mix – you don’t want to wake up and excite the gluten. When it holds together, divide in half and make into 2 disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour, or even a full day. This waiting time lets the water molecules mix with the flour molecule and all be evenly hydrated. These 2 disks are enough for a top and bottom crust.

This is the outer gold of the pie.

pie_crust

Apple Station

5-10 apples, depending on their size, how high a pie you want to make and how patient you are with peeling and coring and slicing.If you don’t like slices,you can chop the apples….but in the end you want them to fit on a fork with some crust and then fit into your mouth. Or roses….you can make roses from apples instead of slices or chunks….

MA101146_WHOLETART01

Martha Stewart Living Feb 2005 – there are YouTube videos galore about this, too.

Any apple can make an apple pie – what are you looking for in a pie? Old Farmer’s Almanac has an Apple GuideApple Guide if you don’t want to trust your own taste.You can also mix apples…really, it’s your pie.You can mix otehr fruit in, too, but then it isn’t an apple pie, it’s and apple and____pie. Apple make good company. Cranberries. Squash slices. Pears. Onions (caramelize them first). Sweet Potatoes. Regular Potatoes. Bacon. Cheddar Cheese. Etc.

Spice Station

Sugar and spice  and everything nice…

Sugar – white or brown? A little to enhance the other flavors or is it a flavor in an of itself? Maple sugar? Maple syrup will make it drippy….

Cinnamon – a little or a lot? Ginger? Nutmeg? Let your nose lead you…

Lemon juice is often added to keep the slices from browning – News alert : Cooking the apple is ALSO going to brown them, so add the sugar, add the spice and add the lemon juice if you like the taste.Or add a little of another juice. Apple juice/cider is good. Lemon juice is  very 20th century flavor in apple pie; a spoonful of lemon liquor would work, too. Grated orange peel is another option.  Caraway, dill seed or fennel seed add nice flavor. A spoonful of rosewater or orange flower water. Cinnamon and rum…lead with your nose!

barbieri_paolo_antonio_-_the_spice_shop_-_1637

Paolo Antonio Barbieri. The Spice Shop – 1637

Rolling Station

Now the component pieces start to come together as a whole. Before you gather together the pie pan, the rolling pin, the dough and the filling, there’s another decision – Is this pie to be bakes now, or is it to be assembled and frozen to be baked later? If you want to bake the pie now – turn on the oven to 425°F. If later – get rolling!

Sprinkle a little flour on a clean flat surface. Unwrap one disk of dough. With a rolling pin

rollingpin_japanese

One kind of rolling pin

 

roll one disk into a circle about 2 inches wider around then your pie pan. There are lots of rolling out videos and magazine hints. In the last few months both Christopher Kimball in his new magazine Milk Street has a new no-shrink dough

and – just about everyone else has a pie rolling video out. Apple Pie alone could entertain you on the internet for weeks on end…..

Roll out one disk, put it on the pie plate.

Roll out the other disk.

Put the Apple in the bottom crust. Dot with butter. Maybe sprinkle with sugar.

Put the top crust on.

Almost pie.

julia6

The other kind of rolling pin

Crimping Station

In pie, crimping is good. It holds everything together.It can be pretty, too. Remember that that oven is heating up, and the longer the filling sits in unbaked crust, the soggier your bottom will be. And a little venting in the top. Even a pie has to let off some steam.

 

Baking Station

Now is the time to pass this pan, with apples and butter and flour  through heat, where it will be transformed. It’s not really pie until it comes out of the hot oven.

Start at 425°. After 10 or 15 minutes take a peak – is it browning up? Is it smelling good. A good pie crust is golden brown, not pasty palely white. Let it cook! Turn it down to 375° when you see color on the pastry, and let it continue baking until juices are bubbling.Let the fruit cook, too. 30-45 minutes – don’t rush it.

Cooling Station

If you REALLY want to eat pie hot – even though pie is not at all it’s best then – use spoons and dish it up like like a baked pudding. Forget all pretense of slices.

As it cools, contemplate – whipped cream, ice cream, cheddar cheese?

pie-science2

 

Henry Ward Beecher on Apple Pie

[B]lessed be the unknown person who invented the apple-pie! Did I know where the grave of that person was, methinks I would make a devout pilgrimage thither, and rear a monument over it that should mark the spot to the latest generations. Of all pies, of every name, the apple-pie is easily the first and chief.

Apple-Pie should be eaten while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!), of a mild and modest warmth; the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied; the morsels of apple neither dissolved, nor yet in original substance, but hanging, as it were, in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood.

Not that apple is no longer apple! It, too, is transformed; and the final pie, though born of apple, sugar, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon, is unlike none of these, but the ideal of them all, refined, purified, and by fire fixed in blissful perfection.

Enjoy!

 

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National Coffee Day

coffee-shop-17thc-london

I went to the Coffee Club and heard very good discourse… ~Samuel Pepys, diary, 1660 January 17th

Coffee beans in the shape of a coffee cup. Stock Photo

Coffee beans in the shape of a coffee cup. Stock Photo

A fig for partridges and quails,
ye dainties I know nothing of ye;
But on the highest mount in Wales
Would choose in peace to drink my coffee.
~Jonathon Swift

jean-baptiste-simeon-chardin_glass-of-water-and-coffee-pot_1760carnegie

      Chardin, Glass of Water and Coffee Pot, 1760, Carnegie Museum of Art

 

No coffee can be good in the mouth that does not first send a sweet offering of odor to the nostrils.

~Henry Ward Beecher

coffee-pot-renoir

Coffee Pot -Pierre Auguste  Renoir

A cup of coffee — real coffee — home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all. ~Henry Ward Beecher

henry_ward_beecher_-_project_gutenberg_etext_15394

 

“There was a special Nolan idea about the coffee. It was their one great luxury. Mama made a big potful each morning and reheated it for dinner and supper and it got stronger as the day went on. It was an awful lot of water and very little coffee but mama put a lump of chicory in it which made it taste strong and bitter. Each one was allowed three cups a day with milk. Other times you could help yourself to a cup of black coffee anytime you felt like it. Sometimes when you had nothing at all and it was raining and you were alone in the flat, it was wonderful to know you could have something even though it was only a cup of black and bitter coffee.

Neeley and Francie loved coffee but seldom drank it. Today, as usual, Neeley let his coffee stand black and ate his condensed milk spread on bread. He sipped a little of the black coffee for the sake of formality. Mama poured out Francie’s coffee and put milk in it, even though she knew that the child wouldn’t drink it. From time to time, she’d smell the bitter sweetness of it. That was better than drinking it. At the end of the meal, it went down the sink

Mama had two sister, Sissy and Evy, who came to the flat often. Every time they saw the coffee thrown away, they gave mama a lecture about wasting things.

Mama explained: “Francie is entitled to one cup each meal like the rest. If it makes her feel better to throw it away than to drink it, all right. I think it’s good that people like us can waste something once in a while and get the feeling of how it would be to have lots of money and not have to worry about scrounging.

This queer point of view satisfied mama and pleased Francie. It was one of the links between the ground-down poor and the wasteful rich.  The girl felt that even if she had less than anybody in Williamsburg somehow she had more.”

treegrows-in-brook-1947pb

Popular Library ed. pp. 15-16

Harper edition published August 1943; 29 printings.

tree-grows-in-brooklyn-coffee

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Filed under Autumn, Perception ways