Monday, May 9, 2011

The Bake-Off Giveaway and Secret Sisterhood Szarlotka Recipe

Last week I reviewed Beth Kendrick's novel The Bake-Off. It is a perfect mixture of women's lit and foodie writing, as it is kind of the equivalent of Food Network's Challenge mixed with a book about sister relationships. Alexandra Israel, a publicist at NAL (a division of Penguin) has offered two amazing things for my readers: the szarlotka recipe from the novel and a chance for two readers to win copies of the book.

Here is the fabulous (and funny) recipe, with the form for the giveaway at the bottom. Bake it up, and let me know how it turns out! And be sure to enter to win a copy of The Bake-Off!

Secret Sisterhood Szarlotka
from Beth Kendrick’s The Bake-Off


For the crust:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup ultrafine sugar (also known as “baker’s sugar”)
¼ teaspoon salt
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
3 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons sour cream

For the apple filling:
6-7 (3 pounds) large apples—mostly Granny Smith, with one or two Fuji thrown in for variety
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Watch a few hours of the Food Network and/or “Top Chef”. Say to yourself, “How hard can this really be? It’s just pastry.”

Cut the butter into small cubes and store in the refrigerator. The key to light, flaky pie crust is to keep the butter as cold as possible throughout the prep and rolling process. Whenever the dough starts to get warm and difficult to handle, pop it back in the fridge—or even the freezer—for a few minutes.

Using a fork, beat the sour cream into the egg yolks. Blend just enough to combine—it’s fine if the mixture is still streaky. Put the egg mixture aside in the fridge for now.

Food processor method:
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine the dry ingredients. Add the cold butter and pulse in quick spurts until the mixture reaches the “small pea stage”—that is, there are visible pea-size pieces of coated butter surrounded by tiny, mealy crumbs.

Add the egg yolk mixture and pulse a few more times to combine the dry and wet ingredients. **Do not overprocess.** The dough should still look mealy and clumpy, but should stick together when you squeeze it in your hand. If the dough does not stick together and instead feels crumbly and dry, try adding another tiny dollop of sour cream.

Stand mixer method:
What’s that? You say Martha Stewart doesn’t live at your house and you don’t own a food processor? No problem! Julia Child used to make pie crust with a stand mixer, and if it’s good enough for Julia, it’s good enough for me.

If you’re using a stand mixer, you’re going to combine the ingredients in the same order as described above, but you’re going to use the flat paddle attachment for your mixer, and you’re going to use the very slowest setting on the mixer—“stir”. Again, be careful not to overmix—you should aim for about 1-2 minutes to reach the “small pea” stage, and maybe another 1-2 minutes after you add the wet ingredients.

Both methods:
Once the dough has been mixed, pour it onto a cutting board or sheet of wax paper and form a large ball. Knead it by pushing down in the center, then pushing in from the sides, about 5 times. Separate about 1/3 of the dough from the rest, form the two sections into thick disks, wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Apple Filling:
Peel, core and cut up the apples into cubes. Cubes should be about 1-inch square, but there’s no need to get all obsessive and precise—it’s supposed to be rustic.

Place the apple chunks into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle on the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Go ahead and use your hands—Martha Stewart doesn’t live here, remember? Sprinkle on the sugar and mix again.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a large, deep sauté pan. Add the apple chunks and cook for 12-15 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. The apples should get soft and tender, but not smooshy (that’s a technical term). After 15 minutes, take the pan off the burner, sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice on top of the apple chunks and stir. Set aside to cool. Now would be a great time to check your email and your favorite celebrity gossip blog.

Putting it all together:
Preheat the oven to 400.

No more stalling--it’s time to roll out the crust. Gather your materials: a sturdy rolling pin or dowel, a small bowl of all-purpose flour, a long offset metal spatula, a glass pie plate (about 9 inches in diameter), a cheese grater, and a large cutting board or clean countertop. Resist the urge to break out the pre-made crust you bought at the grocery store under cover of night, and remember: there’s no crying in pie-baking.

Retrieve the larger dough disk from the fridge and dust your work surface with flour. Starting from the center of the disk, roll the dough into a circle large enough to cover the entire pie plate and drape over the sides.

Place the crust into the pie plate. You could try rolling it onto your rolling pin like wrapping paper and then “unwrapping” it into your pie plate. Or you could scrape it up with the offset spatula, fold it in half lengthwise and then into quarters, and unfold it in the pie plate. Trim off any excess dough hanging over the rim of the plate.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple chunks from the sauté pan and into the crust. Discard any leftover liquid in the pan—do not pour it into the pie. Use the spoon to press down on the apple chunks and pack them in tightly.

Place the pie on a metal cookie sheet (bonus points if you put a silicone baking mat between the tray and the pie plate). Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

While the pie is baking, retrieve the remaining ball of dough from the fridge and grate it. Yes, really. Pretend you’re preparing a block of mozzarella for pizza topping.

After 20 minutes in the oven, take out the pie and sprinkle a layer of grated dough across the top of the apples. See? It really is just like making pizza. Try to cover all the exposed apples, and don’t forget the edges. Pop the pie back into the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.

Try to restrain yourself long enough to avoid scorching your tongue, then grab a fork and dig in. Feign modesty when everyone in the house raves about your culinary genius. Imagine Martha Stewart writhing with envy. Realize that you have now used up everything in your refrigerator and go out for dinner. Your work here is done.

Now for the giveaway:

1 comment:

  1. I love to bake, but honestly, I have never made my own pie crust. I really need to try it someday.

    Thanks for the giveaway!



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