Yesterday I was on the phone with my little brother. (At 6+feet I guess he’s not that little.) Since I initiated the call and was doing most of the conversation I challenged him to ask me some questions. He came through and asked me what I do for fun these days other than taking care of Gideon.
My answer: It felt REALLY good to do some fun baking last week for Thanksgiving.
The family we had over for Thanksgiving dinner last year invited us to their home for festivities this year. I’m glad, because although things have gotten mostly back to normal, I don’t think I could handle doing all the fixings. So it was nice to be a part of a real Turkey feast without being required to do all the work. Maybe next year I’ll have the energy and enthusiasm to make all the goods. This year though it was nice to just be able to volunteer my efforts to make only what I wanted.
I decided on desserts and some sort of veggie. This way I could make an Andrew friendly dessert and we could bring a veggie that we both enjoyed.
The vegetable portion was accomplished by Andrew who made brussel sprouts with bacon and almond slivers. Mmmm!
Pumpkin pie and chocolate pudding pie were already being provided by other dinner attendees. I’m not a big fan of pumpkin (or most non-fruit pies for that matter), so I decided on apple pie and berry pie.
For the apple pie I research good ol’ Alton Brown.
I had a hard time imagining a pie without cinnamon, but I trust Mr. Brown in these matters; so I was willing to give caraway a try! I went to the baking goods store and the grocery store not expecting to be able to find many of the ingredients on the list. The grocery store did not offer many American varieties of apples, but they had about 4 types of Gala apples: American, South African, and French to name a few. I got granny smith apples and French Royal Gala apples. I wasn’t able to come by any Apple Jack, but found some Apple Cider 4% alcohol. (Not cheap at $5 per tiny bottle!) I brought my ingredients home and set to work making the pie.
I felt special, because Andrew wholeheartedly supported my plan to make the pie by encouraging me to buy a pie pan similar to Alton’s recommendation. (It didn’t take much encouragement for me to purchase a new toy for the kitchen though!)
My dough was made with the expensive Apple Cider. (I might have had a sip while I worked.) Then the dough was put into the fridge to chill.
The apples were peeled, coated, rested, coated and all went according to plan. (Though apple preserves were not to be found, so I used a mixed jam instead.) And look what I have:
I was impressed that it was able to be moved out of the pan and didn’t fall apart! I guess Alton Brown was right! The foil thing in the center of the pie is my homemade version of a pie bird. Apparently the contraption helps vent steam during the cooking and helps to avoid a pie collapse without poking holes all over the pie. I guess it worked.
The only downside to the whole process was that I was so busy trying to fit the different phases of the pie making in between Gideon sleeping, eating, waking, changing, etc., that I didn’t take any pictures of the process. Oh well. What really matters most in the end is the taste not the look anyways, right?
Now onto some berries.
I decided to make a berry pie since berries are some of the more carb friendly of fruits. The berries weren’t cheap, but I figured it was worth it to reward the love of my life who has been very diligent on his diet!
First off, to make a crust without flour.
I went “berry” crazy and used a combination of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
I took a portion of the berries, blended them and put them on the stove with some water, sweetener, and tapioca starch.
Next – the pie crust. Even though the bottom crust seemed quite respectable, I wasn’t willing to chance it by rolling it out for the top. So instead, I did the next best thing for a top: a crumble topping (similar to this).
Okay, so maybe with the shallower pan, the bottom crust, and the crumb topping, maybe it’s more like a berry crumble or a berry tart rather than a berry pie. Who cares what it is called though; isn’t flavor and end product more important than name anyways? In any case, it was more Andrew friendly than most pie/crumble/tart options out there! And it wasn’t half bad either. It was berry full of flavor! I must say that I thought the blackberries were more distinguishable in the overall flavor of the pie than the rest of the berries. And looking back, I don’t know that the crumb top added that much to the dessert. I might try it again sometime with fewer blackberries and sans crumb top. But overall a success.
Oh, I almost forgot about the apple pie. It was delicious. It set up beautifully and was very juicy but not runny at all. And the crust didn’t collapse, but was just the right texture. And believe it or not, I really didn’t miss the cinnamon. Instead I was greeted with so much apple flavor that I really forgot about the whole spice contest. I guess that means all the apples and apple cider did their job and that the caraway didn’t detract from the fullness of apple flavor.
Almost as good as all the pie goodness was the fact that the Randles household has returned close enough to normal that I can spend some time making pies just for fun. Thank you Gideon for letting mommy make some pies 🙂