Few things in this world offer the simple comfort given by a warm, home-made apple pie. The one baked good that my mother could turn out without burning the entire affair was apple pie, and I spent many year learning how to recreate the childhood memory in my own kitchen. Maybe it is because I can never have too much of such comforts when I am alone in the winter night, or just maybe it is because I hope to one day spend afternoons rolling out dough with my own children; covered in flour and cinnamon. Sigh…pipe dreams can be so nice to pretend with when reality is less.
The hilarious point to note about the dough is that it is mostly likely a lard company’s box recipe that has been misread for a generation until they believed it belonged to the family. Five cups of flour, 1 pound of lard, 1 cup of cold water, 1 egg yolk, dash of salt, tbsp of vinegar and we are off to the races. With a bird’s eye maple French rolling pin and a handful of flour on the granite countertop I was good to begin the rolling out of dough. I had to move fast to ensure the dough did not heat up too much, but that was fine given how hungry I was.
What to do with the left over dough? I decided to create little black cherry turnovers in my madelaine pan. It was so simple to roll out small discs of dough that would be placed inside the fluted, non-stick cookie spots. The fun part was always to burn the jam inside until it turned into a gooey, caramelized mess; I only like them when they are a bit overdone. Funny how our childhood memories form our adult preferences.
The final pie was superb and only lasted 24 hours before I devoured the entire thing. With 2 litres of full fat milk and a glass of chardonnay, I thoroughly enjoyed my little piece of lost family tradition. Even if it is only for an afternoon when the school closed due to a power outage, the acts created by the imagination are often balm to what a man really needs and wants to fill up the stolen moments of his life.
The final piece of food created from the first crust (the recipe makes two full pies) was The Pigpen. A weird experiment to say the least, The Pigpen was a decased French organic pork sausage layered between a roll of the dough and folded into a semi-sphere. Based on the idea of a pig-in-a-blanket, this pastry was shockingly good. Rich, meaty, flakey and comforting, The Pigpen could only be improved by adding one additional ingredient: Heinz Ketchup. The best things in life are simple; forget the money and spend time with those you love every second you can. If not now, when?