Don’t you just love when best laid plans go asunder? Yesterday, my new friend Hitha and I planned to cook a fabulous, leisurely lunch. She would fix homemade pumpkin gnocchi with a massaged kale side and I was determined to get surgical with apples in attempting Smitten Kitchen’s apple mosaic tart (note to self: you are not Deb; you are not surgical; you are a rustic, messy baker), and also considered fixing The Faux Martha’s Blue Apple Pie — simply because the recipe conjured images of a sad country song.
And then I got distracted. By the quinces at the market, the fact that I needed a mandolin among other supplies to get these minor baking feats accomplished, the reality that I didn’t have ginger cookies (WHO JUST HAS FIVE COOKIES LAYING AROUND, ALL LAISSEZ FAIRE, ETC??!) and the simple truth that blueberries are out of season and I fretted over using frozen (water leakage, and all). So I botched the caramel (yet made a perfectly delicious tart that was so ugly only a mother could love it), and was inspired by Hitha to get improvisational. Why not use the blue cheese from our pasta dish and mix it in with apples and a little sugar?
May I introduce you to The Mic Drop Blue Cheese Apple Pie? So strong you don’t need to finish the rap. So earthy and rustic you don’t need to stay on stage. This mini pie is PERFECT for those who love a savory dessert and don’t want to splurge on a whole pie. This is for the single gal like me who needs to bring said large pies into the office in fear of eating them WITH A FORK. This is the perfect pie for anyone inhaling oxygen. The buttery, flaky crust folds into a cheese and tart apple lava.
Believe me when I say that Hitha and I ate standing, eyes-wide, not believing the brilliance we concocted.
Shortcrust: courtesy of The Faux Martha
1/3 cup self-rising flour*
1/2 unbleached all-purpose flour
dash of sea salt
1/2 stick (1/4 c.) cold unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
1/2 c. ice cold water
Equipment: 2 ramekins
Filling: Inspired by Brit.co, with modifications
1 very large Granny Smith** or 2 smaller apples
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
1/3 cup blue cheese (or gorgonzola)
*If you’re like me and have every kind of flour imaginable except self-rising flour, you’re in luck. I found a terrific alternative that not only gives you a recipe for a substitute, but delivers the conversion and requisite measurements.
**Although the Granny Smith is on the verge of a major comeback in my baking repertoire, I found a worthy substitute in the Northern Spy apple. Both are crisp and can stand up to heat and hold their texture.
For the crust: Quite honestly, this is the simplest crust you’ll ever make. Ideally you’re looking for large pieces of butter to be ubiquitous — this will yield a flaky, light crust — and remember to work with ultra-cold ingredients. The original recipe called for working this with one’s hands. I’m actually opposed to this practice as your body generates heat, and heat is considered MISSION CRIMINAL when baking pie crust. But onward!
Sift flours and salt together into a large bowl. Add in butter and begin to blend together with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of peas. Alternatively, you can pulse the ingredients in a food processor. Add in 1 tablespoon of chilled water at a time and mix together until dough holds together. The dough shouldn’t be sticky; it should be elastic and pliable. Cover with cling film and chill for 30-45 minutes in the freezer.
For the filling: In all candor, the set-up of the Brit.com recipe was violently confusing. It read haphazard and I had to remind my Type-A self that I was embarking on a baking adventure with Hitha, and in all fairness the apples did look scrummy. But I digress. Peel, core and chop up the apples (1/4inch-1/2inch dice) and mix the sugar and blue cheese. Set aside.
Assemble pie: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Separate dough into thirds. Flour your counter and rolling pin (note: I do this often to ensure that pastry dough doesn’t stick to the counter or pin). Roll out two disks. Place in ramekin making sure crust reaches to the top of the ramekin. If you have spill-over, feel free to cut the excess, however, I’m a child of the 80s and I love me some excess. Roll out final disk of dough. Cut into thin strips and create a lattice crust, trimming off extras. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool.