Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cinnamon Bun Pie

I think that seeking to improve old favorites is not a bad thing, but it generally is a tall order.  While the grocery store is lined with products that state new and improved, some fall into the " I wished they left it the way it was..."  The smart thing to do is introduce more variety, not discard the original product that founded your success.   With that being said, I will now get into some explanation concerning the above item.

This particular recipe is a spin off from the original baked cinnamon rolls with the cream cheese topping.  The filling is what really makes this special.  With cinnamon rolls you get the cinnamon entwined in the dough and the top is coated with a cream cheese mixture.  This pie, however, does have a stand out quality with the increased amount of the cinnamon and cream cheese mixture.  Even better, the two flavors are baked together.  Just the idea of a warm blend of cinnamon, brown sugar and liquid cheesecake filling is nothing short of a delicious stroke of genius.

That genius idea comes from none other than Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar.  I have made a few of her recipes and have been pleased with the results. Regarding this pie, it is obvious I am not the only one!  Hopefully since I have put it out of sight, it will not continue to shrink in size.   As I sit here doing this blog, I am wondering if someone is cutting themselves another slice. Hmmm...the best food security is the freezer... I better get on with this post so I can store it there!

Before we get started, this is one of those recipes that have components.  Be aware that some of the components require baking and cooling prior to assembly of the pie, so be sure to allow yourself plenty of time. 

Cinnamon Bun Pie Components
adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar

Ingredients/ Liquid Cheesecake
3/4 cup sugar
8 oz cream cheese
2 tbs milk
1 tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Line a six inch square or round pan or ramekin with wax paper. Do not worry about the folds or wrinkles, it is for baking the filling and has no impact on the final appearance of the pie.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until it becomes like smooth frosting.  This should take about two minutes on low speed.  Be sure to stop the mixer in intervals and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Then beat in the sugar until evenly distributed.

In a small bowl, sift together cornstarch and salt.  Stream in the milk, whisking into the dry mixture.  Lastly, beat in the egg until incorporated. 

Turn the stand mixer on medium low and pour the egg batter slowly into the cream cheese batter.  Continue to beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  After 3-4 minutes the batter will become a smooth and have the consistency of pudding.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Then add the rest by scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula and dropping batter into pan. Place pan in oven and let cook for 15 minutes.  Then open the oven and check for consistency of cheesecake, it should be firmer around the edge and jiggly in the center.  If still watery, keep adding 5 minutes baking time and check after each interval.  The most it should take is 25 minutes.  Do not let the mixture rise more than 1/4" when baking or brown on the edges.  Consider that it will become more solid upon cooling but must be able to be spread like butter. Cool the cheesecake completely before using.

Ingredients/Browned Butter
1/4 cup butter

Place butter in a deep saucepan placed over medium high heat.  Let butter melt and then cook until it reaches an amber color.  It will sputter and pop, so be careful.  Remove from heat and pour into heatproof bowl to cool. Use when completely cooled.

Ingredients/Mother Dough
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp and pinch of yeast
1/2 cup plus 3 tbs water
oil, for coating inside of bowl

Coat the inside of a medium size bowl with oil and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients and then stir in water.  Use your hands to mix until no dry streaks remain.  Now it should resembles a shaggy mass of dough.  Place dough in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix on low speed for about 7 minutes.  The end result should be a damp ball of dough that bounces back when poked with your finger.

Place dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 45 minutes at room temperature.  Then the dough will be ready to use.

Ingredients/ Cinnamon Streusel
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 tsp gnd cinnamon
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs melted butter

Stir together dry ingredients until evenly distributed.  Then stir in the butter and vanilla extract until the dry is completely moistened and clumps form.  Set aside.

Cinnamon Bun Pie/Assembly and Baking
adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar

components, noted above
3 tbs flour for dusting flat surface
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Lightly dust a flat surface with flour.  Punch down dough in bowl and then place on the floured surface.  Roll dough out to a circle about 11 inches in diameter and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Place dough in a 10 inch pie tin and press dough evenly in place.

Smooth half of the brown butter over the surface of the dough.  Using 1/2 of the liquid cheesecake mixture, drop spoonfuls onto buttered dough.  Take the back of the spoon and smooth the cheesecake into an even layer over the interior of the dough, leaving a  1/2 inch border or edge.  Add another layer of butter, smoothing as best you can. 

Sprinkle on the brown sugar and press lightly to adhere.  Then sprinkle the cinnamon and salt evenly on top.  Layer it with the remaining cheesecake as stated prior, but this time take and dip the spoon in water at intervals to help you with the smoothing process.

Lastly, sprinkle evenly with the streusel and press down lightly.  Place the pie tin over a cookie sheet and put in the oven.  Bake for about 40 minutes and then check for doneness.  The outer edges of the filling should be firm with a slightly jiggly center.  The crust should be golden brown and the streusel have a dark brown hue. It not, cook for an additional 5 minutes and check again.

When done, remove pie and place on rack to cool. Pie is best served slightly warm.

Tips and Notes
1. Do not overwork your dough when pressing in pie tin.  Dough is to have a pit in the center but do not try to have dough go completely up the sides of pie tin.  It is to be more like a pizza crust than pie crust.

2. The first brown butter layer is the only one to cover the whole surface of the dough.  The other layers will leave a 1/2 inch border. 

3.  Suggestion was made to make the brown butter in a microwave in a bowl with a saucer over the top.  I found that the force of the butter popping knocked the saucer off and hence butter splattered all over the inside of the microwave.  Cooking or even melting butter in the microwave is not a good idea.

4. The instructions were to use plastic wrap to line the pan for the liquid cheesecake.  On the box of the plastic wrap I use it states that heating with high fat or sugar items may cause the plastic to melt, so wax paper was used.
                                       **LAST YEAR:White Velvet Cut Outs**