Monday, September 26, 2011

Hair of the Dog

According to Wikipedia:

"Hair of the dog" is a colloquial expression in the English language predominantly used to refer to alcohol that is consumed with the aim of lessening the effects of a hangover. The expression originally referred to a method of treatment of a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of William ShakespeareEbenezer Cobham Brewer writes in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898): "In Scotland it is a popular belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences. Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine within 24 hours to soothe the nerves. 'If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail the next day.'" He also cites two apocryphal poems containing the phrase, one of which is attributed to Aristophanes.

Although not cited, I believe "Hair of the Dog" also applies to the pie that you make with the aim of lessening the effects of making too much pie*.

'Hair of the Dog' Apple Pie
As a major fan of streusel topped fruit pies, I'd never actually made a double crusted pie before.  But given the clear mandate that these sorts of pies seemed to have this season**, I figured I should broaden my horizons, as well as my hips.   Turns out, there's a lot to be said for doubling down, particularly with a crust as delicious as this one***.   

For the crust:
3 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) butter, very cold.  Cut 2 sticks into small cubes, and one stick into about 10 slices, and then keep in the freezer until you need them.
1/2 c. shortening, also cold
up to 1 c. ice water or ice cold apple juice. (I actually used about 2/3 cup of apple cider)

Place flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse a few times to combine.  Add the 1 c. of butter that's in small cubes, and the shortening.  Pulse about 10-12 times, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Turn the mixture out into a large mixing bowl.   

Add the slices of cold butter, and using a pastry cutter, cut those into the flour mixture, but only until the butter is coated and in chunks about the size of a pecan half.  Sprinkle on the water, starting with 1/2 c., and adding more as needed.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the dough until it comes together into a very soft and sticky ball.  You will still see pieces of butter visible in the dough. This is exactly what you want.  Stop!****

Divide into two portions, and using flour-covered hands, pat into two discs, about 1 inch high.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap (or put into small ziplock bags), and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to several days.   

Take one disc out of fridge, and let it sit for a couple of minutes, so dough remains firm but is just soft enough so it can be rolled out.   Roll out between sheets of waxed paper to about 11 inches in diameter.  Peel off one sheet of waxed paper, and turn the crust into a 10 inch pie plate, paper side up. Press dough carefully into pie plate, then peel off the other sheet of waxed paper. Trim edge with scissors so it just barely overhangs the edge.  The dough will now be super soft again, so return the pie plate to the fridge.  Repeat with the second disc, except leave this one flat between the two pieces of waxed paper after you roll it out.  Put that one back into the fridge, too.   

For the filling:
8 granny smith apples (or other tart, firm variety), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon, tossed with the apples as you peel them to prevent browning
3 Tbs. butter
1/2 c. sugar
3 Tbs. flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2/3 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla or 1 tsp. vanilla paste (I used paste)

1 egg, lightly beaten to form an egg wash
Raw sugar

Place a rack in the bottom 1/3 of the oven, then preheat the oven to 325.  Prep your apples, and toss with the lemon juice in a large bowl.  Set aside.  

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and melt the butter. When the butter is sizzling, add the apples and the lemon juice. Toss to coat the apples with the butter, and just barely get the apples warm, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the apples back out into the mixing bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the sour cream and vanilla paste, and whisk until completely combined.  Pour over the warm apples, and stir gently to coat. Get your prepared pie plate and flat crust out of the fridge. Turn the apples into the pie plate.  It should be full, but not overly mounded.  Peel one piece of waxed paper off of the flat crust.  Using a small cookie cutter or a knife, cut 4-5 slits or decorative holes in the crust to allow steam to escape.  Turn the top crust over on top of the apples, and peel away the other sheet of waxed paper.  Using scissors, trim around the edge, leaving about 1/2 inch extra all around.  Flour your hands (or a fork), and then carefully work your way around the edge of the pie, turning extra dough under and pressing the top and bottom crusts together.  If you have saved the shapes you cut out of the top crust, you can add them for decoration if you like.

Lightly brush the beaten egg over the crust with a pastry brush, and sprinkle generously with raw sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden.  Allow pie to cool for about 30 minutes (otherwise the cream will be pretty runny, but still very tasty!!).  

Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without ice cream.  Cinnamon ice cream is particularly good here, I can tell you from experience.

And, of course, to the actual hair on my extremely fur-filled, non-rabid dog. His hair is not an ingredient in this pie, nor is it used in any kind of healing poultice.  He's not the biting kind.
** Justifiably so, based not only on this recipe, but also on the winning entry in the Tim Burton category.  FG9 made her James and the Giant Honey Bourbon Peach Pie today, and brought me a sample.  Wow!  That crust was amazing, too. Not to mention the delectable caramelized peach filling.  Oh, man.
*** When I went on this pie bender, the Best in Show recipe was not posted yet.  There was an article that had a recipe for cherry pie by the winner, and I was dying to try the crust that won the judges' hearts.  But something about it looked wrong. I dug out my copy of Ratio to check, and sure enough,  the proportions of fat to flour were off.  I decided to match the book (3-2-1: Flour-Fat-Liquid), but kept the concept of mostly butter, part shortening from the article.  The results? Just look at those pictures!  And of course, when the real recipe was posted, the ratio was 4-2-1!   I checked, and the ratio in my all-butter crust is 4-2-1, and the Cheesy Pennies crust is more like 5-2-1ish.  Interesting, huh?
**** To me this was a much wetter/softer dough than I usually use for crust (see ratios, above), and consequently it's much harder and less forgiving to handle.  The end result though, with layers of flaky, buttery goodness, is worth all the trouble AND all the calories.

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