Or, as I’ve affectionately nicknamed it: Lights, Camera, OMIGOD-I-have-to-make-a-video.
Back when I wrote my first entry for Project Food Blog, I said: “I’ll probably end up regretting this if I end up having to film a video at some point.” At the time I figured there was zero chance I’d ever make it to this point in the competition, so I decided to totally ignore the possibility I might actually have to follow through with that.
I’m pretty sure that Murphy laughing himself silly somewhere, because he’s taught me a lesson (once again) about the inevitability of his Law. Phooey on you, Murphy.
Unfortunately, I’d already promised myself I wouldn’t chicken out on any of the challenges, so there was no backing out of this one. So once I was done kicking myself, I decided I’d do something so completely and utterly silly that I’d have too much fun to remember how much I hate the sound of my voice, how awkward I feel in front of a camera, and how enormous my rear end looks when shot from behind on a wide-angle. And it worked. It’s incredibly silly, and it wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d thought it might be.
Thankfully, I was able to find a style that actually benefits from my complete lack of budget and acting skills – a 1950s-style educational film, to be more specific. Most of these films are now in the public domain, which means there are dozens of them kicking around on YouTube for your viewing pleasure (including this particular gem of home ec advice that you must watch). I watched quite a few while in pre-production, which means I’m now fully versed on how to be popular, how to stay well-groomed, how to make chocolate cake for my husband’s lunch, how to say no to drugs, how to protect my country from the Commie menace, and how to ask a girl out to the sock hop on Friday night. Exactly the kinds of things a girl ought to know to survive in the modern world, right?
Even with all that homework, there’s no way I could have made it through this challenge without my Gemini-nominated team… err… I mean, The Boy. Aside from acting as cameraman, film editor, consultant, producer and sound guy, he’s also the only thing that stood between me and a nervous breakdown. I foresee a lot of homemade chicken soup and chocolate cakes in his near future in exchange for his services.
Once it was all said and done, the end result of all that kitchen-scrubbing, pie-baking, hair-pulling, audio-recording, video-editing and music-selecting is this short little video about a housewife and an apple pie. It’s by far the goofiest thing I’ve ever done for the sake of this blog. And it doesn’t totally suck. Hurray!
Okay, so we did actually end up with just a little more than just a video… there was pie, too.
And let me tell you, this is the platonic ideal of apple-pie-dom. The filling is not too sweet, not too tart, and not too spicy. I used a blend of juicy fresh-from-the-orchard Northern Spy and Spartan apples, both of which are mighty fine pie-making varieties, but any tart apple that holds its shape when baked will do just fine. As for the crust, I dare you to find a richer, flakier, tender-er crust recipe. I’d happily eat a bowl of this crust, all by its lonesome.
Sure, it may look relatively humble and uninteresting compared to some other desserts, but there’s something to be said for straightforward simplicity at this time of year, when the apples are at their absolute best.
I guess what I’m trying to say, in my usual long and roundabout way, is that I’ve made my peace with this video challenge. No regrets, even if it turns out this is the end of the road. After all, anything that ends with pie can’t possibly be that bad, right?
So there you have it. My first (and most likely only) video post. Promise you won’t laugh. At least… not too hard, and only at the bits I meant to be funny.
Classic Apple Pie
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chilled butter, cubed
1/2 cup chilled shortening, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp white vinegar
3-4 tbsp ice-cold water
8 cups peeled and thinly sliced tart apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp water
Start by preparing the dough. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt and cinnamon until combined. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until the mixture is crumbly, like coarse oatmeal. Stir in the egg yolk and vinegar, then add water by the tablespoon until the dough just starts to come together. (You should err on the side of caution, here – the dough should still be ever so slightly crumbly, but hold together when you squeeze a handful)
Divide the dough into two equal halves. Wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap, shaping into a flat disc. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a large mixing bowl, all of the filling ingredients and stir until the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, preheat the oven to 425F.
Dust a work surface generously with flour. Unwrap the first piece of dough, and roll it out on the prepared work surface into a 13″ circle. Transfer into a 9″ pie plate.
Spoon the filling mixture into the pie shell, mounding slightly towards the center.
Unwrap the second piece of dough, and roll out into a 10″ circle to make the top crust. Use a small cookie cutter or a knife to cut out vents for steam. If desired, you can save the cut-outs and set them aside for decoration.
Drape the top crust over the apple filling. Using a sharp knife, trim off any ragged edges, leaving a half-inch overhand all around. Press the edges tightly to seal, then crimp decoratively.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water to make egg wash. Brush onto the top of the pie, adding reserved cut-outs for decoration if desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling hot, covering with foil if the crust starts to brown too quickly.