Monday, December 5, 2011

Pie Breakfast

Last year, we woke to a winter wonderland on Thanksgiving morning, bundled up and followed converging sled tracks to the site of what will hopefully become a longstanding neighborhood tradition: pie breakfast.  Slices of sweet and savory pies, mimosas and fresh espressos disappeared as quickly as the time and we all had to rush home to cook for dinner.

This year, we woke with equal excitement and trotted across the still bare ground to the second pie breakfast and our second thanksgiving far from home. Cradled in my arms was a pie baked on the inspiration of a faint child hood memory.

Shortly after we moved to the United States, my grandmother took me to the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I sat across from her scanning the menu for a compilation of words that I recognized, trying desperately not to let her know that most of what was written was almost illegible to me. There, I spotted something I knew:  Brie. And that was the dish I ordered.  What was set in front of me a short time later was a wedge of melted brie cheese covered in caramelized apple slices and .... french bread or crackers maybe?  The taste was new and exciting to me and just a bit, forbidden, as if I had discovered something that had previously been only allowed to be sampled by adults.
So the night before the pie breakfast, I pulled my usual crust and apple pie recipe from the shelf in the form of Betty Crocker's Cookbook (Bridal Edition), which I received a few years ago, as a wedding gift of course.

I rolled the dough and carefully arranged the slices of apples that had been tossed in spices, flour, and sugar to cover the entire bottom surface.  On the layer of apples, I made a circle of caramelized walnuts, placed the brie and covered it with a few more walnuts.

The rest of the apple slices were carefully arranged to hide all traces of the cheese.

I covered the pie, baked it, and pulled it out of the oven an hour later only to have to wait and wonder until morning.  Until then I had to be content sipping the hard cider we pressed and bottled a few weeks earlier.

At the pie breakfast, surrounded by chatting adults and boisterous children, I gingerly sampled my first bite. There it was: the sensation of having stumbled onto something almost secretive and even though I have gotten taller and by all definitions am considered to be an adult I still felt like child sneaking a bite of something undoubtedly grown-up and delicious. 

If next year we wake Thanksgiving morning and find ourselves far from family, I hope we can once again embark on our pilgrimage, pies in hand, to find neighbors and friends in a warm kitchen and my pie might just have a story inside. 

Up date on: 12.18.2010
I had a request for the apple filling mixture recipe, and I am sorry that it has taken so long for me to sit down and type it up.  I have finally escaped from the house for a few hours, leaving Adam in charge of the house and kids, to sip coffee with the Sunday crowd at City Brew with the goal of tying up a few loose ends.  So, here is the apple pie filling recipe:

(this taken from Betty Crocker's Cookbook Bridal Edition)

Apple Pie Filling

8 cups of thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 8 medium sized apples)
1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of salt (I leave this out if I am using salted butter)

I usually use Braeburn apples, locally grown if possible, or firm apples that I pick from the abundant trees in our neighborhood.  Cut up the apples and put in a large bowl.  Measure the other ingredients into the bowl and toss.  I just use my hands...  why not get a little messy?  Layer into the pie pastry as mentioned above.

Simply Recipes has great simple instructions on how to caramelize walnuts.  They are so good on salads, to snack on and combined with apples and brie, of course. I usually just use a clean dry stainless steel frying pan to roast nuts rather than my oven, but either way works.  Just be careful not to burn the nuts either while roasting or the caramelizing.  The whole process can go from perfect to burnt in the blink of en eye.  

If any of you actually try out this pie, I would love to hear feedback!

update on 01.05.2012
so, we made this pie for New Years Day breakfast... and instead of leaving the brie whole, we cut it into chunks and mixed it in:  THAT IS THE WAY TO GO!!!  The pie was AMAZING.


  1. It was (and you are) amazing! Here's to many more grownup and childish pie breakfasts. :)

  2. That sounds so delicious!!!! Happy Thanksgiving (Can I say this?)!!!

    That's really an american pie, isn't it? Mit dem so duennen Boden. Ist das schwer zu machen? Wie war das fuer dich damals um zurueck zu gehen in die USA? Ich weiss noch wie unvorstellbar es fuer uns war, dass ihr aufeinmal ausgewandert seit.

    Weisst du noch, wie wir Ballet tanzten bei Frau Bamme? Du warst natuerlich viel besser als ich. Ich weiss noch, dass wir ein einziges Mal zusammen Unterricht hatten.

    That's a looong time ago. Wish you the best!!! XXXXXXX

    Anna (aus QLB)

  3. Your creation DID turn out to look awesome--and delicious! Beautiful. Just wish I could taste it! (Did not realize you could not read the menu...but you made an excellent choice!)

  4. Liebe Anna,

    Das pie is wirklich etwas American. Meine Mutter hat oft versucht Pies in Deutschland zu backen, aber das Mehl is einfach anders und die Kruste wurde immer ganz hart.

    Es war schwer auszuwandern. Ich kann es mir oft selber nicht vorstellen. Es ist als ob es zu jemand anders passierte. Das eizige das mich immer noch traurig macht ist das ich hier in der USA nicht weiter getanzt habe. Wir hatten einfach nicht genug Geld. Frau Bamme hat mich fuer frei tanzen gelassen. Wenn ich nur daran denke werde ich zornich. Ich fuele micht oft das ich gut daran war und das ich nicht etwas anderes gefunded habe an dem ich wirklich gut bin... ich bin nur so... mm.. mediocre and viele andere Sachen.

    Spielst du noch Music???