Now that we are 2 weeks into 2015, I think it’s time we all take a break from our new year’s resolutions. If this cake didn’t steer you clear of your brand-new diet, perhaps this totally satisfying pie will. This pie is awesome because it reminds me of the perfectly caramelized nuts in pecan pie, but with a walnut-y spin. I know what you are thinking—this is pretty decadent, and it’s true! But so far 2015 is off to a great start, so why not reward yourself a bit? This pie will satisfy your taste buds while you indulge in walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 fats and minerals. Could be a lot worse!
While eating a slice of this pie keeps me nourished and satisfied, these depictions of Cleopatra are anything but. At first glance, Eugene Delacroix’s Cleopatra looks downright bored as she looks past her servant, staring somewhat blankly into the distance. Further research reveals her as the devastated queen in Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, moments after discovering that her lover Marc Antony is dead. Dressed in rich colors and opulent jewels, Delacroix’s heroine may have been caught at a moment of shock, but could also pass for someone dying of boredom.
Years later John William Waterhouse painted the same subject for Graphic Magazine, as a part of a feature on Shakespeare’s heroines. Here Cleopatra is shown as a classicized femme fatale, draped in white and gold and reclining seductively. While the style has certainly changed since Delacroix’s rendering, Cleopatra still looks like she may or may not be drifting off to sleep. She obviously hasn’t had any of this pie.
This woman on the other hand, she definitely opted for a few pieces; look how satisfied she looks:
Cornmeal Pie Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 cup ice water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Make the crust the night before:
Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add in the cold butter pieces and pulse until combined. Mix the apple cider vinegar and ice water, and add 2 tablespoons at a time to the dough mixture, until the dough is easy to handle (I added 4 tablespoons). Roll the dough out and shape in a 9-inch spring form pan. Wrap completely in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.
1 cup walnuts
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
½ cup apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoon cornmeal
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. When the oven is ready, unwrap the plastic from the chilled pie crust, replace with a layer of aluminum foil, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely and unwrap. As the crust cools, toast the walnuts until a bit darker and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Pour the nuts into a glass bowl and set the baking sheet aside—you will bake the pie on the baking sheet later. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and water over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Turn the heat off when the caramel mixture is frothy and a candy thermometer reads 225˚F. Whisk in the apple cider and apple cider vinegar and transfer to a bowl to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add about half of the warm cider caramel into the eggs, and whisk for about a minute. Pour the remaining egg into the mixture, and stir in the walnuts. Pour the filling into the pie shell, and carefully lift into the baking sheet. Put everything in the hot oven, and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Be sure to let this pie cool completely—at least 2 hours! Then slice up and go to town!
Recipe slightly adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop
Featured art: Eugene Delacroix, Cleopatra and the Peasant, 1838, oil on canvas
John William Waterhouse, R.A., Cleopatra, commissioned in 1887, oil on canvas
Frank Cadogan Cowper, Vanity, 1907, oil on panel