“Life is not so much invented as composed” – Peter Pereira from ‘What’s Written on the Body: Ravenna at Dusk’
8 months, max no more than 14. It’s my instinctual timeline of transformation, like unmeditated clockwork of mind happening between and only, those months. Usually it’s something minor, learning a new language, changing my prop collection, ordering an excessive amount of cookbooks. This time, it’s something slightly more prolific.
I threw out my things, I bought new things. I redecorated my room, again. It’s starker than minimal and in shades of grey and white. Elements of Scandinavian style, slight Japanese too. I discarded old furniture in the desire for blank space. I learnt to want for few things, but great things – like a Rick Owens marble bed. I’ve always wanted a Rick Owens marble bed. I bought another Pentax and re-organised cosmetics, discarding the ones that weren’t organic, vegan and packaged in aesop-styled attire.
It’s self-reinvention and abstractive thought at it’s finest, clear to me and myself alone. My way to live has always been by impulse and intoxication, white heat and untamed. Always, always, yearning for a place where my heart is full and soul understood. A place where the shining stars whisper and the moon sighs in unison. I’m not sure such a place even exists, did Dante ever fully make it through Paradise? I’ll let you know. But I like it here, in this part Purgatory-esque limbo – soul swaying with the wind and changing as fast as the seasons.
Fleur d’Oranger Caramel Apple Pie. It’s all about fruit pie redemption. I’ve never been a fruit pie person, my love for pie, has always ended at the word fruit. Why? You’re asking the wrong person. My tastebuds have forever been inclined to the custard-y, chess-y or chocolat-y counterparts. However, a recent trip to Four & Twenty Blackbirds in New York and a mouthful of the Salted Caramel Apple Pie changed all the that.
This Fleur d’Oranger Caramel Apple Pie, is a milestone in my short-lived pie life. It’s filled with spiced apples that are coated in the most sweet caramel. The caramel is a quick caramel, no thermometer and little time required. It’s infused with a very floral hint of orange blossom water too, which balances and contrasts the flavours perfectly.
I’m currently pie enamoured. There’s this deep satisfaction that comes along with making the pastry from scratch, taking time to prepare the filling and cutting out a perfect lattice. I didn’t ever think fruit pies and I would get along. And the funniest part is that we did. Who knows what I’ll take a liking to next? Just give me another 8 to 14 months.
- 350 grams (12.3 ounces) all-purpose plain flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 250 grams (8.8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 25 millilitres (0.88 fluid ounces) apple cider vinegar
- 115 millilitres (4 fluid ounces) iced water
- 250 grams (8.8 ounces) light brown sugar
- 125 grams (4.4 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
- 125 millilitres (4.4 fluid ounces) heavy cream
- seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 kg (2 lb's) red apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 60 grams (2.1 ounces) light brown sugar
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon all-spice
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten for the egg wash
- 60 grams (2.1 ounces) raw sugar
- To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add in the butter and use your fingers to coat it into the flour. Then, using a pastry cutter or metal spatula, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles a coarse meal-like texture with pea-sized pieces of butter running throughout it.
- Pour the apple cider vinegar and iced water into a mixing jug. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the iced water mixture over the flour mixture and mix it in with a bench scraper of spatula until incorporated. Keep adding in the iced water mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough is beginning to come together to form a ball with some dry and flaky bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch the dough to bring it together into a smooth ball, adding more water if necessary. You have added enough water when you can pick the dough up and squeeze it together without it falling part. Split the dough ball into two flat discs and wrap each half in plastic. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour before using, or overnight.
- Next, make the fleur d’oranger caramel. Place the light brown sugar, unsalted butter, heavy cream and the seeds from a vanilla bean pod in a medium sized saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter and sugar have both melted. Increase the heat to medium and let the mixture come to a light rolling boil, swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring. Let the mixture boil for around 3 minutes before removing from the heat and stirring in the orange blossom water and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, light brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice, plain flour and sea salt. Toss with your hands to evenly coat the apples in the other ingredients. Set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Lightly butter a 23 cm (9”) pie dish. Set it aside.
- On a floured surface and with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out one of the dough pieces into a 30 cm (12”) circle about 0.4 (1/8”) thick. Let the dough sit out at room temperature for 5 minutes before rolling, if it’s too cold the edges are likely to split. Carefully place the dough circle into the prepared pie dish and use your fingers to press the dough down and into the edges of the dish. Set it in the refrigerator whilst you roll out the next piece of dough.
- Roll out the other half of the dough into a circle, about the same dimensions as above. Use a ruler to measure and cut out 8 x 3.8 cm (1½”) thick strips. Carefully set the strips aside on a lined baking tray whilst you fill the pie.
- Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Spread the apples over the base then pour over the fleur d’oranger caramel.
- Next, weave the lattice. Lay 4 (half) of the strips horizontally over the pie so that they are nearly touching. Makes sure to use the longer strips in the middle of the pie and the shorter strips towards the edges. Next, fold half of the strips back on themselves. Lay one strip of pie crust vertically over the pie so that it lays over the unfolded horizontal strips. Unfold the folded horizontal strips so that they lay over the top of the vertical strip and fold the strips running under the vertical strip back over the top. Lay another vertical strip of pie crust over the pie, making sure that it’s as close as possible to the preceding vertical strip. Continue this process, swapping the folded and unfolded horizontal strips and adding a new vertical strip each time until the pie is completely latticed.
- Trim the edges with scissors or a sharp knife if there is a lot of excess, then roll the edges inwards toward the centre of the pie. Firmly crimp the edges to seal. Place the pie on a lined baking tray and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- When you’re ready to bake, remove the pie from the refrigerator and brush the top of it with a light glaze of egg wash. Sprinkle over the raw sugar to coat the top. Bake, for 45 to 55 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the crust of the pie is deeply golden brown. Remove it from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to let it cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.