Savory Dutch Baby

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons minced chives, parsley or tarragon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyère
Flaky sea salt, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until just combined. Stir in thyme and the other herbs.

Melt the butter in a heavy 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Let it cook until it smells nutty and browns, about 5 to 7 minutes, then swirl skillet so that butter coats bottom of pan.

Pour batter into pan and scatter cheese and flaky salt over the top. Bake until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve with sriracha and lemon wedges on the side.

Perfect Turkey Gravy

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups turkey drippings or turkey stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter over medium high heat in medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring frequently, until golden blonde, about 2 minutes.

Gradually whisk in turkey drippings or stock in a steady stream. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until reduced to 3 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week, reheating over medium-low heat before serving.

Perfect Apple Pie (and Several Variations)

4 to 4 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious, Braeburn, or other baking apples, peeled cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
3 quarts boiling water (or cider, see note)
10 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling over crust
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch (see note)
1 recipe Easy Double Pie Dough (see related)
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Notes:
–For a looser, juicy pie, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. For a firmer filling that holds its shape more when sliced, use up to 4 tablespoons cornstarch.
–You can use hot cider in place of water to soak the apples. The cider can be saved for drinking.
–For better texture, sous vide apples before baking. Seal apples with their sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch, bag ’em up, and cook ’em at around 155° for an hour or so before baking them as usual.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and place a heavy rimmed baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place apple slices in a large bowl or pot. Pour boiling water or cider directly over top. Cover and set aside at room temperature for ten minutes. Drain apples well and let sit in a colander in the sink, tossing occasionally until completely dry, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add 10 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch, and toss until apples are evenly coated. Set mixture aside.

Roll one disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Add filling, discarding any excessive juices in the bottom of the bowl. Roll remaining disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to top of pie. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the edges of both pie crusts until they overhang the edge of the pie plate by 1/2 an inch all the way around. Fold edges of both pie crusts down together, tucking them in between the bottom crust and the pie plate and working your way all the way around the pie plate until everything is well tucked. Use the forefinger on your left hand and the thumb and forefinger on your right hand to crimp the edges. Cut 5 slits in the top with a sharp knife for ventilation.

Use a pastry brush to brush an even coat of lightly beaten egg white all over the top surface of the pie. Sprinkle evenly with a tablespoon of sugar. Transfer pie to sheet tray in the oven and bake until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and continue baking until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

Variations:

For skillet apple pie, place prepared apples in a cast iron skillet and cover with one pie crust. Bake just like a regular pie.

If you want to get extra special, try adding a layer of nice nutty aged cheese, like good cheddar, or perhaps some Comté, to the top of the apples. You’d be amazed by how well cheese and apples go together.

Or, turn your skillet pie into a perfectly fine pandowdy by breaking up the crust half way through baking and pushing the edges directly into the filling to soften up a bit as it finishes baking.

Apple crisps and apple crumbles are perhaps the easiest variations to make. Just make your apple filling, then combine 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup old fashioned oats, 3/4 cups chopped or slivered nuts (I like almonds or pecans), 3/4 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 a cup of butter. Work the mixture together with your fingers, spread if over your apple filling, and bake at around 375°F until nicely browned.

If you’ve got a thing for biscuits, then a cobbler is your dessert of choice. All you’ve got to do is make your apple filling, drop it into a deep sided pot (I use my enameled cast iron Dutch oven), drop a few balls of biscuit dough on top, and bake.

Blind Baking a Pie Crust

To blind-bake a crust, start by preheating your oven to 425°F, with a rack placed in the lower third. If you’re using a metal pie plate, you can place it directly on the rack. If you’re using a glass or ceramic dish, placing an empty rimmed aluminum baking sheet on the rack while the oven preheats can help ensure that your bottom crust comes out extra crisp.

To prevent puffing, you’ve got two options: docking or using weights. With docking, you poke the bottom crust several times with the tines of a fork to give expanding air and water vapor a means of escape. Of course, this does nothing to help the sides of your crust stay upright.

Weighting a pie crust by first lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil, then filling it with pie weights, dried beans, or pennies, both solves the puffy-bottom problem and helps keep the sides upright as the pie crust bakes. (For the record, weighting a pie crust without first lining it with parchment or foil is also a bad idea, which I also learned the hard way.)

For the best results, line your pie plate with your dough, then transfer it to the freezer for about 10 minutes in order to really firm it up before lining it with foil or parchment. This will help ensure that the crust keeps a nice shape as it bakes.

Once it’s lined and weighted, transfer the crust to the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, just until the crust begins to set.

Remove the liner and the weights and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Remove it from the oven, and make sure that it is completely cooled before you fill it. A blind-baked crust can be covered loosely with foil and stored at room temperature for up to three days before being filled.

Cranberry Apple Slab Pie

2 recipes Easy Double Pie Crusts (see related) shaped in a rectangular block and chilled for at least two hours, ideally overnight
4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) rolled oats
1 ounce (about 3 tablespoons) all purpose flour
4 ounces (about 7 tablespoons) light brown sugar
Big pinch of salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 to 12 medium fresh apples (such as golden delicious or Granny Smith), peeled and cored
6 ounces fresh cranberries
8 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Shape the dough: Line a 12- by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet with a 12- x 22-inch piece of parchment paper, creasing the paper along the bottom edges and allowing excess paper to hang over the ends of the baking sheet. Lightly flour a rolling pin and your work surface and roll the dough into a rectangle large enough to completely line the bottom and sides of the baking sheet. Press the dough over the parchment and crimp the edges along the walls. Chill the shaped dough on the sheet for one hour.

Make the crumble: In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the cold butter. Use your fingers to rub the dry ingredients into the butter until it is well combined. Chill the crumble at least one hour before using.

Assemble the pie: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Cut the cored and peeled apples in half down the axis (from top to bottom). Place the flat side of the apples down on the cutting board and slice the apples into 1/4-inch thick pieces. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle approximately half the sugar mixture over the bottom the chilled, shaped pie shell. Sprinkle half (approximately 3 ounces) of the fresh cranberries over the bottom, then roughly chop the remaining cranberries, just enough to puncture each one. Pack the apple slices into the shell so they are resting on their flat sides. Toss the chopped cranberries with the sugar, then sprinkle cranberries and the rest of the sugar evenly over the top. Break up the chilled crumble into small pieces and sprinkle over the top.

Bake the pie: Bake the pie at 425°F for 20 minutes, then rotate, cover the filling loosely with foil, and turn the heat down to 375°F. Bake until the filling is bubbling in the center and the crumble and crust are a golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes longer. Allow the pie to cool completely in the pan before serving.

Easy Double Pie Crust

This makes enough for two single-crust pies or one double crust pie. For a slightly more tender crust, replace up to 6 tablespoons of butter with vegetable shortening. Pie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator before rolling and baking.

2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats
6 tablespoons cold water

Combine two thirds of flour with sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter chunks evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

Sprinkle with water then using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.

Pumpkin Custard with Ginger Snap Crumble

For the Pumpkin Custard

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 packed teaspoon clementine or orange zest, from about 1 clementine
1 15-ounce can plus 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (see note)
12 ounces evaporated milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

For Cookie Crumble

2 cups roughly chopped ginger cookie crumbs (about 1 pkg. Anna’s)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Whipped cream for serving, optional

For custard: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, salt, and citrus zest. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin and eggs. Whisk in spice mixture. Whisk in evaporated milk. Pour pumpkin mixture into baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake until mixture is just set (it will be slightly jiggly in the center but will firm as it cools), about 45 minutes. Let cool completely. Do not turn off the oven.

For cookie crumble: While custard is cooling, mix together cookie crumbs, dark brown sugar, salt, and flour. Add melted butter and mix until well coated. Press into bottom of pie dish and bake until cookies are toasted and fragrant and mixture holds together, 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.

To serve: Break up cookie crumble into large shards. Top each serving of custard with crumble and whipped cream, if desired. Store leftover custard in the refrigerator. Keep crumble separately at room temperature in an airtight container.