Mary Edinger spends her days pulling, kneading and giving rise to her own unique breads and desserts as the pastry chef at Carl Dooley’s intimate Cambridge restaurant The Table at Season To Taste. Since The Table opened three years ago, its uber seasonal menu has been changing every six weeks. Edinger doesn’t repeat recipes, so she’s got to get creative, often.
“I like the very close relationship with the savory kitchen. I can always see what they are doing and get a sense of how that portion of the menu is going,” she says, when asked what inspires her. “It’s hard to do something that no one’s done before, which I wouldn’t say is even a goal of mine. I take things and tweak them a bit.”
A lot of the time, Edinger looks at what fruit is available right now. In summer and fall, she likes to make crisps, a dessert that coincides nicely with New England’s seasons. “This is my favorite time of year, because you can get good local fruit,” she says. Her favorites are rhubarb, strawberries, stone fruits like cherries, peaches and apricots, blueberries, raspberries, pears and apples.
While Edinger bakes her desserts for the restaurant with French technique, the treats that are closest to her heart are Americana-style desserts. Ones that homey and comfortable, like pie.
“I definitely gravitate toward fruit pies, and I also really appreciate a flaky pie crust,” she says. “There’s some kind of delusion of health there. Like, yeah, this is totally breakfast.”
But as for the best pie she’s ever had: It is actually baked in New York. “There’s a chain of pie shops based out of Brooklyn, Four & Twenty Blackbirds,” she recalls. “Their salted caramel apple pie is really good.”
Mary’s Apple Slab Pie
A native of Indiana, Edinger offers an outsider’s perspective to a New England fall. “I love the weather,” she says. “And, people in New England really buy into the fall food scene. People go to apple orchards and getting jazzed when the pumpkin spice lattes come out.”
Is your mouth watering yet? Edinger gives us this easy recipe that any woman can follow. This tasty seasonal pie has actually made an appearance on the menu at The Table.
What makes this pie a “slab” is that it is baked in a cookie sheet instead of a pie dish. This creates a higher crust-to-filling ratio, something Edinger enjoys.
3 pounds tart, firm apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp cornstarch
1 T lemon juice
Toss all ingredients together and cook briefly in a hot pan. Just enough for some of the juices from the apples to come out, but not so much that they lose their texture completely. This process helps bind some of the juice that the apples will release inside the pie and help fight against a soggy bottom crust.
Spread your cooked apple mixture out in a shallow baking dish and chill in the fridge. You don’t want to put hot filling into your uncooked pie crust, as it will melt the butter in your dough and make it lose some of its flakiness.
Yields 2 crusts, top and bottom
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and cold
1 tsp salt
5 T cold water
Combine flour, salt and cold butter cubes in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the butter is in pieces that are no bigger than a pea and the mixture looks a little like sand.
Add water just to bring the dough together.
Divide dough into two rectangles. Wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Yields one 9×13″ pie using a jelly roll pan
Preheat oven to 375°F
Roll dough out so that is about 1 inch larger on all sides than the pan you will be baking in.
Spray the pan and lay the bottom crust in, pressing the sides into the corners and up the walls of the pan. You should have some overhang here.
Place your apple filling in the pan on top of your bottom crust. Spread evenly over the entirety of the pan.
Place your second crust on top of the apple mix. Pinch and crimp the two doughs together around the edge of the pan, trimming if necessary.
Cut a few vents in the top of your pie.
Return the whole pie to the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. Cold butter equals a flaky crust!
Egg wash (combine 1 egg and 2 T milk) the top of your pie, if you want to give it a glossy golden brown finish.
Bake approximately 45 minutes until the pie has a deep golden brown color. You should be able to see the apple filling bubbling out of the vents of your top crust.
Let pie cool at least 30 minutes, and enjoy.