Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007: Gateau Engadine

Since I decided to bake pies this year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to try a pie or two that were unusual--at least for me. I knew two would have to be the classic pumpkin. I wanted to do a fruit pie but I wanted to try something other than apple. For the fourth pie, I was thinking something like a chocolate silk or a banana cream or...Gateau Engadine. Bingo.

November 22, 2007
Occasion: I have the whole day to myself to play in the kitchen!
Name of pie: Gateau Engadine
Constituents: Two layers Sweet Cookie Crust, GF, with a layer of honey-caramel and toasted walnuts in between.

Have you seen the photo of this in The Pie and Pastry Bible? It looks SOOO GOOD. If you don't have The Pie and Pastry Bible, then here's a pretty good photo of the Gateau, plus the webpage is in German! How cool is that! If you don't speak German, don't worry; you can view the webpage in French too!

[total sidenote: according to the website, the Gateau was conceived of in 1926 by Fausto Pult. He hailed from the part of Switzerland called Engadin, where there are NO nut tress! Crazytalk! The website invites you to write to them to expound on the astounding history of the land of the Nut Torte, where no nuts grow.]

It looks like it is about 80% cookie crust and 20% caramel and toasted nuts. For a celiac who by and large can't enjoy pastry like she used to, this GF sucker could make up for all the pastry she can't eat. I couldn't go wrong with this one.

Well, let me tell you how I went wrong. When making the filling, you gotta first make caramel. I am a caramel novice. I haven't done it much so when I do try to make caramel, so far I have either taken it off the stove too early resulting in a pale amber colored caramel that doesn't have much flavor, or I overcook it resulting in a very dark reddish amber that tastes bitter because it is burnt.

Guess which way I went with this pie.

I had the thermometer in the syrup as it boiled away...the temperature slowly, slowly creeping upwards...186, 214, 286, 300...I was to boil until 360 (a deep amber)...all of a sudden the temp was 368 and I pulled it off, got the cream and began to add it slowly....

Then I put the caramel back on the stove and simmered for a few minutes more (to dissolve any bits that hardened when I added the cream), added the lightly toasted walnuts, simmered for one more minute, then removed from heat, transfered to another bowl to completely stop the cooking process, added in the honey and let it cool completely.

So I think I am learning that, when making caramel, 8 degrees makes a huge difference in product.

On the other hand, the GF dough was a pleasure to work with. It rolled out nice and thick, crumbled only marginally when I transferred it to the pan, and repaired easily. Not too sticky, not too dry and crumbly.

My Gateau came out 60% crust and 30% caramel-walnut filling. Which isn't bad. It would have been much more enjoyable if it wasn't so bitter. I would also prefer the walnuts to be nice and toasted--I am not much for raw or partially raw nuts. My ex roomie and I are thinking that maybe with a generous helping of dulche de leche ice cream, my burnt-caramel Gateau will become more pleasantly edible. Who knows. This pastry is certainly deserving of a redux, because the promise of a shortbread-caramel-toasty nut thing is a good one.

Thanksgiving 2007: Blueberry-Cranberry Pie

According to RLB, this pie was the first to appear on the internet and was created by Sarah Leah Chase. With all the antioxidants in this pie it could be considered natural medicine--physical and emotional health all in one slice! Any diary topping you might add (whip cream, ice creme, creme fraiche) would only serve to up the grams of protein and make it a well-rounded meal.

November 22, 2007
Occasion: Thanksgiving!
Name of Pie: Deep Dish Blueberry/Cranberry Internet Pie, Gluten-Free
Constituents; Pretty much what you'd think a deep dish blueberry/cranberry pie would have...

This pie calls for 347 grams of fresh or frozen cranberries, so when I went to the store I was delighted to find a big open basket of fresh organic cranberries. I got to scoop out as many cranberries as I needed--actually I got carried away and bought too many, they are so pretty I couldn't stop scooping--and pay by the pound.

Seriously, folks. Take a moment to appreciate how beautiful a pile of fresh cranberries are. Their color varies from a luscious deep red to a pinkish white, some stripey, some not; they look like a pile of jewels, do they not? They have this glow and life to them, they are vibrant in their color and taste, they hold memories of bogs and clear cold water and giant islands of moss. Take a moment to plunge your hands into a pile of fresh cranberries and let them tell you their stories. And you'll see why I couldn't stop loading them into my bag.

Again the GF crust was crumbly and as I pressed the crumbly dough into the pie plate, I got really nervous trying to think of how I was going to get the top crust on without it crumbling all over the filling.

I thought back to previous GF pie doughs, and they were all very sticky. I had no problem with dry and crumbly. It finally occured to me to, duh, add more water!! Once I did that the dough began to stick together better (as much as a GF dough can) and I was able to roll it out and I got it on the pie without it crumbling into pieces all over the filling. Phew.

RLB suggests the best way to bake a fruit pie and still have the bottom crust be crisp is to put it into the oven frozen. That way the crust has a chance to bake and crisp up before the fruit fully defrosts and starts to exude juice all over the crust.

So I shoved the fully assembled pie in the freezer and went to bed.

The next morning when I got up I turned on the oven, put on the kettle, started to cook turkey breakfast sausage, and put the frozen pie into the oven. An hour or so later, I was eating sausage, finishing my tea, and looking at a freshly baked berry pie. What a way to start a day!

This pie is awesome. It is so bright and alive with color and flavor. The pie crusts tasted better and were a little flakier than the pumpkin pies'. I put a little bit of softly whipped cream on my slice, and the white of the cream looked so pretty against the midnight purple and maroon red of the berries. You gotta try this pie.

Thanksgiving 2007: GF Pumpkin Pies

I didn't have to make Thanksgiving dinner, nor did I have to contribute to the making of a Thanksgiving dinner other than ordering and paying for Chinese food, so I decided to bake four pies.

Yes, the I-Hate-Baking-Pies-Lady decided to bake FOUR pies.

Two were pumpkin.

November 22, 2007
Occasion: I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner
Name of pies: GF Pumpkin PIE
Constituents: GF pie crust with a layer of GF gingersnaps and pecans and pumpkin pie filling

These pies come straight out of RLB's Pie and Pastry Bible....so go get the book and read along, please :)

These pie crusts were really dry and crumbly when I was rolling them out and it didn't occur to me to add more water (duh!). However, GF crust always breaks when you roll it out and especially when you move the dough from your rolling surface to the pie plate. So having the dough never really come together wasn't too concerning to me--I just dumped the crumbly crust into the pie plate and pressed it into place. I worried that by doing so I was killing all the flaky layers of butter, but it was late in the night and I had two more pies to do after so my worries did not deter me.

And true, the crust wasn't as flaky, nor even as buttery, but it was still tender and nice. It held up well in the bake and didn't fall apart as each piece was cut. If I had to give it a grade, I'd give it a B.

Oh yeah--I also replaced some of the GF flour mix with 20 g sorghum flour, and forgot to add Xantham gum.

This time, the gingersnap-pecan crust that you press into the dough before pouring in the pumpkin mix wasn't very noticeable. No discernible crunch or flavor. Hmm.

The pumpkin pie part was pretty darn good. I doubled the cinnamon and added in cloves and cardamom which turned out well. The texture was smooth and creamy. Yum!