Almost a month ago I made an apple pithivier for my DAR chapter birthday party, because I almost always like to show up everyone else. There. I said it. I like to make fancy food because it impresses people, and I can do it well (plus it is delicious)! There is the added benefit of learning new, and practicing existing technique.
I used this recipe by Joanne Chang who worked at Payard Patisserie in NYC, and then went onto open her own place “Flour” in Boston.
In complete honesty, it is a multi-part recipe between the frangipane and the apple butter. This recipe is impressive, but takes time. I will also admit to using Pepperidge Farms puff pastry dough since I made this impulsively, beginning at 11 pm after I got home from work. It’s not the first time. However, it will make enough for two pithiviers, as long as you make two batches of puff pastry.
It is incredibly important that you make this the day before you plan to serve this. Especially the first batch. Ideally you will take overnight to chill your pithivier once it is assembled. The multiple layers of butter allow the dough to flake well when baking, so you need to chill everything overnight to make sure that your dough puffs and flakes while baking. The moisture from the butter steams and creates the layers of pastry. If it (the butter) is already melted you will achieve a flat flakeless pastry. Also, chilling it will help you to make your paring knife decorations easy to accomplish before you bake it. If the pastry dough is too warm you won’t get a clean decorative cut.
I will also share that I fretted enormously over the apple butter. It took far longer to cook the apples down than I anticipated (and the recipe stated), and I had to monkey with the temp to get it just right. They say a watched pot never boils, but believe me, I stood there staring at it anxiously to ensure it was cooking down well. I am pretty sure that I pulled it off before it was “done”, even though no one would have guessed. I pulled it when it began to caramelize on the bottom of the pot.
At the end of the day, doing your decorativce cutting prior to baking off makes it look incredibly impressive. No one could fathom how I could make it look so pretty, which is to say this desert gives you big bang for your buck, if you are willing to be patient. It is incredibly delicious and delicate. I will definitely make this again!