Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Part II: Overly-Optimistic Apple Pie and Biscuit Success

For our second Thanksgiving celebration here in Jakarta, I decided (in a very overly optimistic moment) that my contribution would be to make homemade apple pies, despite having virtually no kitchen equipment to speak of.  I also promised biscuits, which were a little bit more realistic.  The whole process was, shall we say, a learning experience, for several reasons.

The pies: 

I read about this method for making a fool-proof apple pie in the Washington Post last week, and, entranced by the article, I decided to make it without having read the recipe itself.  Oops.  Always read the recipe first.  This might be the most complicated recipe I've ever made: make the crust, let the crust sit, roll out the crust, freeze the crust, bake the crust... saute the apples, refrigerate the apples, put the apples in the crust, top the apples with the other crust, bake the whole pie. Soooo many steps.  After getting this complicated process started, I was having a lot of trouble getting the pie crust dough to stay together; it was so crumbly that it was unmanageable.  Sigh.  Ultimately the pies came together but the crust was ridiculously thick.  Not the best.  Some of it I blame on the recipe, some I blame on the kitchen conditions, such as:

1. The oven: temperature not so accurate, only heats from the bottom so the top doesn't get brown (and then when you turn on the broiler on the top, the top gets too brown).  Plus the timer on the oven is super fast (compared to Tim's iPhone, it was 3-4 minutes faster over the span of 10 minutes). 

 2. Counter space: I rolled out the pie crust on the dining room table.  Voila:

3. Cooking equipment: like I said, not ideal.  I bought disposable pie plates, but they could barely handle the weight of the pie, and the sides were a bit steep as well.

The biscuits:

Did you know that the KFCs in Jakarta don't have biscuits (or mashed potatoes, for that matter)?  Instead, they serve rice.  Ben and Erin were telling us how they miss biscuits, so I decided to make them for Thanksgiving.  The biscuits went much better than the pies.  

I had planned on using a recipe I'd used in the past, but when I went to the grocery store, the only flour they had was (inexplicably) specialty flour like whole wheat, bread flour and self-rising flour.  I bought the self-rising flour in the hopes that I could find a biscuit recipe that called for it... success!  I made the buttermilk version of this recipe from Gold Medal (no buttermilk to be found, but I used the old milk plus lemon juice trick).  Worked like a charm.  Also, I used butter rather than shortening.  I like buttery biscuits.