Friday, October 23, 2015

Brown Butter Rosemary Apple Pie at Anthology and Some Big News!

I've made a pie for my Anthology column today. Worth all the pieces of its meditative effort. An excellent crust for people who love both flaky dough and a little chew, the sugared shingled layers do the trick. It's so good. Another swooner: brown butter adds nutty depth to go with the spiced flavors imparted by the likes of rosemary, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It was a stroke of genius to put these together for this pie. 

Edit: with Anthology Mag gone, I have included the full recipe below. Thank you all for sending me messages, asking for it!!

With little added sugar in this recipe, I'd say this pie could easily double for breakfast. Yes I just said pie for breakfast. And with a dollop of creme fraiche, it's even better. Try it and see for yourself…

Brown butter-rosemary apple pie with star shingled crust

for the filling
3 lbs tart apples 
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
1 tsp lemon zest - choose organic, since you'll eat the skin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 scant tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly grated cinnamon
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 stick butter
1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
demerara sugar, to sprinkle

for the dough - adapted from Melissa and Emily Elsen of Four and Twenty Blackbirds
3 2/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
1 1/2  tsp kosher salt
1 1/2  tsp organic cane sugar
12 oz freezer-cold cubed butter
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup ice water

I used to process my flour and butter in a food processor for ease. Feel free to do it that way if you are short on time. Now, I make the extra time - not much longer really, and for the result, it's worth it to cut the butter into the flour by hand. Plus, my desire for the pie ripens as I work to incorporate the dough… :)

Make the dough: stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add butter and cut in using a pastry blender, scraping its edge with a knife occasionally to free any clumps that form. Keep at it until you are left with pea sized bits of butter in the mix. Be careful not to overwork the dough. A few larger butter clumps are okay. 

Pour water and vinegar together and add an ice cube or two. Drizzle a little at a time over the flour mixture and cut in. It will appear shaggy as it becomes more moist, and as you keep cutting it together, the dough will form. Pinch the dough with your thumb and index finger to see if it holds together. If it's crumbly, it isn't ready. Drizzle another tablespoon or so of the cider liquid and cut in again.  Once the dough has formed, empty out into three equal portions on three pieces of cellophane.

Press opposing ends of the cellophane together to form the dough into a ball. Wrap securely and flatten dough into a disk. Repeat with remaining two dough piles, then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to let them mellow.

Make the filling: peel, core, and cut apples into wedges. Squeeze lemon juice to coat in a large bowl, mixing the juice and apple slices together to prevent from browning. Add zest, flour, salt, sugars, nutmeg, cinnamon, and rosemary, and stir to combine. Set aside while you make the brown butter.

Brown the butter: In a light colored sauté pan - so you can monitor the change in color as it browns - melt butter over medium heat. Let it foam and give it a swirl every so often to ensure it is cooking evenly. The process should take about 7 minutes; pay attention to the milk solids which settle at the base of the pan as you don't want them to get burnt. Once you smell the nutty aroma and the butter has turned caramelly, remove pan from heat. Pour brown butter and solids over the apple mixture and stir together to combine. If the milk solids are burnt, you may choose not to add them - once cool enough to taste, try a little bit and see if you like the flavor, and then decide. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, up to overnight. 

Roll the dough: for the bottom crust, roll out one disk of dough to about 1/8-inch thick, between pieces of lightly floured parchment. Peel away one sheet of parchment, drape dough into an 8-inch diameter pie plate using the second sheet of parchment to transfer the dough, then peel it away. Trim edge flush with pie plate, save scraps to re-roll, and chill. You can do this a day in advance.

Roll out the other two disks to 1/8-inch thick using the same method with parchment. Transfer dough on parchment to baking sheets and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or, freezer for 10). 

Working with one segment of dough at a time, use a flour-dusted cookie cutter to cut shapes. Gather scraps to re-roll as needed, and refrigerate cutouts on a baking sheet as you go. If at any time the shapes start to stretch or you don't get a clean cutout, refrigerate the dough. 

You'll need at least 32 cutouts (depending on the size of your cookie cutter) for the shingled crust. Keep cutouts refrigerated until time to use. This can also be done a day in advance.

Drain sugar-butter mixture from apples into a saucepan and reduce by half. Add reduced syrup back to the apple mixture and stir to combine. Reducing the liquid will create a sumptuous pie, rather than a watery one.

Assemble the pie: Preheat oven to 400F. Fill pie shell with syrup-spice-apple mixture, slightly mounding the fruit at the center. Lightly brush pie edge with water. Lightly brush water on back of shapes, as you go. Start at outside edge, layering dough shapes like shingles, lightly brushing their reverse sides and pressing gently to seal them together. 

Once you have made one ring of shingles, layer a second ring in the same fashion. Continue until only a small opening remains at the top.  Brush beaten egg over the surface of the dough and scatter demerara sugar to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 3 hours. The colder your pastry, the more assurance you have that it will stay put once met with the heat of the oven!

Bake the pie: Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, just so crust begins to brown. Lower heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden all over and juices bubble, about 55 minutes more. 

Cool completely on a wire rack and serve with creme fraiche or ice cream. Pie will keep for 2 days unrefrigerated, wrapped in foil, and up to 1 1/2 weeks in the refrigerator in a container with a tight fitting lid.

This time is busier than ever for me. I move next week, long distance, back north. It's a long story, but my sweetheart and I lived apart for nearly a year as we navigated new developments in our careers. This move represents us reuniting. We cannot wait. Our home is entirely in transition and the movers come this weekend. Edit: it's happening again! We have to move from our "reunited and it feels so good" home and, in the next couple weeks, will go through another huge bandaid ripping to get acclimated and settled into another living quarters….Fingers crossed that this time pans out a little less dramatically. We are ready to NOT MOVE for a bit.

In other news, I am making a cookbook!! It will be filled with fantastic recipes and gorgeous images, and all kinds of tips and tricks for success. I am thrilled about this project. Producing a cookbook is something I've been considering - and then trying to plan for - for a while now. That is all I will share for the moment, as I must return to dusting, consolidating, and packing. But oh what good things await, around every corner!

Have a beautiful weekend. Enjoy the crisp days of fall. Eat this pie and share it with friends. Thanks so much for being here for the journey.


  1. Thank you for this lovely post. Absolutely gorgeous and truly inspirational. And most importantly, good luck with the move to your sweetie. Cheers.

    1. Thank you so much. I meant to reply to this earlier. The move was epic in all the wrong ways, but it is *behind us* now!! I hope your Thanksgiving was memorable and delicious. Maybe this will be part of a future festive menu!

  2. Replies
    1. I'd seen this as you left it and meant to reply - apologies! Thank you so much. Hope your end-of-year festivities include great eating. :)

  3. Hi! Where can I get the recipe for this?!

    1. Hello! I'm sorry to reply so tardy - the post now includes the recipe since Anthology has folded. Please let me know how it turns out!!

  4. Hi, this pie is to die for. I have here The four and twent blackbirds pie book and the recipe is totally different, is this a new version of the same author? The vinegar here is much more and the proportions too, I don't know what recipe is better. Thank you in advance for your help!

    1. This is my own pie recipe - thank you! There is more vinegar and overall proportions to accommodate for the extra dough needed for the cutouts. If you make it, let me know!