Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pastry Class: Apple Pie and Dried Cranberry Almond Scones


Picture of the pie added!

Yesterday's pastry class continued our discussion of pastry methods. This time we were learning about the Rub Method. The rub method involves incorporating solid fats into flour. This method is used for biscuits, scones, shortbread, shortcakes, and pie and tart crusts. The little bits of fat melt when the pastry in question is baked. These pockets of fat produce steam, which leavens the pastry. There are two important factors to keep in mind with rub method pastries. One, to keep them tender and light, you want to avoid developing gluten, which leads to a tough and chewy texture. That means that the pastry should be worked as little as possible. Second, it is important that the fat remain as little globules, rather than being Incorporated into the flour. To achieve that, it is important that the fat, and really everything else, remain cold.

We made two things to illustrate the method. First, we made an apple pie. I don't have a photo, as the pie still needed cooling time, but I'll get one Wednesday. Pie crust is a fairly easy formula to remember. The basic idea is 3-2-1. Three parts flour, two parts fat, one part water. This recipe included a little salt and sugar for taste. To keep everything cold, refrigerate the butter, and use ice water. We made a nice, simple apple filling for the pie.

The other thing we made was dried cranberry almond scones. This basic cream scone recipe can be adapted to whatever add-ons you like. You could use chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits, candied fruit, or just about any other dry augmentation you please. We used dried cranberries, and sliced almonds that were toasted in the oven, then crushed. They were brushed with heavy cream, and sprinkled with vanilla sugar to give it a nice crust. After baking, they were glazed. The glaze is made with milk, powdered sugar, and a little almond extract. They came out extremely light and flaky. To keep everything cold, we put together our mise en place, then placed it in the refrigerator for about ten minutes.

To go with the scones, we made a simple honey butter. It was a very nice accompaniment to the scones, especially while the scones were a little warm.

As always, these recipes are courtesy of my instructor, Chef James Foran.


Basic Apple Pie

for crusts
9 oz by wt. all purpose flour
6 oz by wt. butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 oz by vol. ice water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, beaten

for filling
1 1/2 lbs apples, peeled, cored, sliced into 1/8 inch thick slices (approximately 5 apples)
4 oz by wt. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch kosher salt
1 oz by wt. butter

Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until it resembles course meal. Make a well in the center. Add water all at once. Mix just enough to moisten the flour mixture. Press into a thick, flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

After dough has chilled, divide dough into two parts. One part should be slightly more than half, which means (obviously) the other part should be slightly less than half. On a lightly floured board, roll out larger part to make the bottom crust. Place in pie tin, trim to just slightly larger than the tin.

In a bowl, toss apple slices with sugar, flour, spices, and salt. Place in pie. Will result in a large mound in the center. Don't worry, it will cook down.

Roll out remaining pie crust dough large enough to cover pie. Brush edge of the bottom crust with beaten egg. Place on top crust, then press together both crusts to seal. Cut a vent hole and some vent slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. For a really nice brown crust, brush with cream, and sprinkle liberally with vanilla sugar.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, or until crust is golden brown.

Dried Cranberry Almond Scones

1 lb 3 oz all purpose flour
4 oz by wt. toasted chopped almonds
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
3 1/2 oz by wt. sugar
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 oz by wt. chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 oz by wt. dried cranberries
16 oz by vol. cream

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter until it resembles course meal. Stir in almonds. Add cream and dried cranberries. Stir until dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to one inch thick. Cut into 3 inch by 2 inch triangles, and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Brush with cream, and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake in a 350 degree convection (or 3.75 conventional) oven for 12 - 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Honey Butter

1 lb butter
8 oz by vol. honey
3/4 tsp. salt

In a stand mixer, beat all ingredients with a paddle until smooth. Heating the bowl slightly every so often with a kitchen torch speeds up the process.

Happy Eating!


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