So I’m pregnant again, which means I’m trying to avoid a lot of baked goods... not so much because I try to keep it healthy strictly when baking humans, but more because I REALLY struggle with sweets when pregnant. Oh, and also because I need to take long naps after I eat pie. This, by the way, is perfectly acceptable when you’re pregnant… much less so when you have a 19-month old, a 12-year old, a dog, 42 different jobs, a garden, a trip every couple of weeks, and a fiancé I’d like to make-out with every once in a while so he doesn’t regret giving me that ring.
That said, it’s just not in my nature to sit still. Even after I eat that pie and my body is begging me to sit my butt down, I just… can’t. It hurts! I find myself grabbing my computer to write something, to do anything. Thinking about it, I’m pretty sure it’s my dad’s fault. It seriously bugged him to see people sitting around doing nothing. Growing up, I’d hear him come home and I’d pretend to be organizing a bookshelf or something while watching Saved By The Bell! He himself was constantly on the move and, while I now know that’s a form of anxiety that he kindly passed on to me, I’m actually kinda grateful for it. I also sadly inherited the ability to have surprisingly productive days on only 4 or 5 hours of sleep… which sounds fab but totally is not that great if you’re into looking young and fresh. My dad could have been up until 3 am with his buddies… it didn’t matter; he’d be up by 6am and in the office before 7 looking fresh as a cucumber, collar pressed, impeccable shoes (probably ones he shined that morning) and ready to run his ship.
We’ve both slowed down a bit, I think. Age grabbed him and it has pulled him back on the couch for a few extra minutes of soccer and down time and, for me, I’ve put a lot of work into that anxiety, trying to be a lot more present: my oldest son Fau got way too many years of the “rushed” me and I see some of that in him. I think things just happen in the exact way they need to happen in order for you to survive. I mean, I needed to go everywhere and do everything. I needed not sleep, work insane hours. I needed to make it back to the spelling bee. Most of all, I needed to be in that rush to get to where I am now. I mean, there’s tons more to do… but the reality is that I am now allowed to slow down because of the stability that has come with any success I’ve had. Now I can pass on a job and go to my dad’s birthday party with the kids and not be nervous about not making the mortgage. I remember watching these Oprah interviews - I saw one really famous singer talking about being in the moment and I was like, “woman, with the amount of cash you’re making, you can buy the moment (and you can take a month off to meditate in Tahiti).” Such is life, I guess.
That’s why I don’t preach about being in the moment. If you work hard enough, you’ll get to that moment. And if you missed some moments while working your behind off, hopefully those you were working to feed will be grateful someday.
Okay, wait. What on earth does this have to do with pie? Well, just that when I eat it, I need to take a nap. That’s right: an entire essay about my dad and anxiety and guilt of the working mother just to introduce slab pie. But it’s really good pie, I promise... and not just delicious either! It happens to be gorgeous, too: great for your holiday table. So without further ado…
Piloncillo Apple Slab Pie(12 to 14 servings)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups (3.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
- 3/4 cup ice cold water
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup ground piloncillo or packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pound granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices
- 1 pound fuji apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices
- 1 pound honey-crisp apples peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- Vanilla ice cream for serving
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Spray a 15x10x1 inch rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix 4 cups flour, salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to moisten the dough and mix. Repeat process until the dough starts to form. Knead the dough into a ball. Divide dough in half. Flatten into disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Lightly flour a surface, roll 1 disk of dough into a 19x13 inch rectangle. Place dough on baking pan. Ease dough onto pan and up to the sides. Make sure not to stretch the dough too much so it doesn’t become too thin. Trim the left over dough just enough to cover the sides of the pan. Fold dough as desired on the edges.
In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup flour, piloncillo, cinnamon and apple slices. Toss until apples are coated. Place apple mixture on the dough and spread evenly.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining disk of dough. Roll into a rectangle. With leaf shaped cookie cutters, cut out dough into shapes. Place leaf shaped dough on top of apple mixture. Arrange enough to cover the pie. It is okay to leave some space in between the leaves so you can see the apple filling. Brush egg wash on top of the leaves.
Bake pie until crust is golden, about 40-45 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!