Baked Apple Custard Pie With Rosewater Meringue
Shaker Village's Chef James Haller shares his recipe for this delicious holiday recipe
Chef James Haller, among many other roles, once shared chef duties with Jeffrey Paige at the long-gone Creamery restaurant at Shaker Village in Canterbury. While there, he came to know the few last remaining Shaker Sisters and came to understand the beauty of Shaker cooking with its simplicity of ingredients and preparation. To the left is one of his favorite recipes from Paige and Haller’s collaborative cookbook, “Cooking in the Shaker Spirit,” published in 2006. This pie can be baked a day ahead and served chilled the next day.
For the pastry crust
2 sticks cold unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup very cold buttermilk
Makes enough for one single-crust pie. It can be made ahead, and it will keep in the refrigerator for three days.
In a mixing bowl, blend the butter and flour to a mealy consistency. Slowly add the egg yolk and buttermilk, mixing only until the mixture comes together to form a ball. (Or use a food processor, the Shakers would approve!) Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4 inch with a rolling pin, starting from the center and rotating the crust until it is a perfect-ish circle. (Using a silicone mat makes it easier.) If the dough is difficult to work with, pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Line a pie tin with the dough. Put in the freezer while you prepare the other ingredients.
For the custard
2 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Cinnamon to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender, and mix for 30 seconds. Set aside.
For the rosewater meringue
3 egg whites
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon rose water (Available at Whole Foods in the baking aisle, in Indian grocery stores and online.)
3 medium apples (Granny Smith apples were a latter-day Shaker favorite for pie.)
Wash, core and slice the apples. Shingle the apple slices in the dough-lined pie tin. Pour the custard over the apples. Set the pie tin on a small cookie sheet or foil to catch any drippings. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 300 degrees and cook until the custard is set, about another 30 minutes. After the custard is firm, top with meringue, and return pie to 450-degree oven for a few minutes to brown the meringue. Chill at least three hours before slicing.
What is Chef Haller up to these days?
Pioneering a new era for American cuisine via the Blue Strawbery restaurant (1970-1986) in Portsmouth was just the first act for Haller. Afterward, he was chef at Canterbury Shaker Village, taught cooking classes, appeared as a guest chef at the Wellington Room and on TV, worked and volunteered for the Seacoast Hospice, wrote several cookbooks and nonfiction books, including a memoir, “Salt & Pepper Cooking,” that also became performance art at the West End Studio Theatre. With his creative mind and love of humor, he continues to cook and write. His latest book, “At the End of Ceres Street,” offers a delightful serving of life in Portsmouth. Here, Haller looks back on the long shadow he cast in Portsmouth and reminisces about the people he met and the lives that touched his — the many folks who made Portsmouth what it was and what is has become. The short vignettes are all endearing and reveal the rewards of a life well lived and the importance of friendship. If only we could all write such a book!
“At the End of Ceres Street: A Chef’s Salute to Portsmouth, New Hampshire” by Chef James Haller will be released on November 23, 2021. Learn more at greatlifepress.com.