Archive for May, 2008

Sweet Cherry Pie with Grated Crust
31 May 2008

Alright, so I recruited myself some good free child labour (my niece) and yesterday evening we pitted about 12 cups of cherries. This morning we got right to work. The leftover crust from the top of yesterday’s strawberry rhubarb was the freezer—not as a disc but roughly as a rectangle/cube. (This is an idea out of Pie by Ken Haedrich.) We rolled out one disc of simply flaky crust (with a “new” rolling pin—I just got my grandma’s rolling pin, which was her mother’s before her! It’s a simple wood one, but it worked great). Inverted into the pie dish, made a ridge around the edge and crimped, then put in the fridge while we moved on.

Next, the filling. The general idea for this came from Pie also, but he called for cherry liqueur or peach schnapps, neither of which I have. He also didn’t include almond extract, which I believe is essential to cherry pie.

After Munchkin and I made and sampled the first pie, I made some changes to the recipe as I made a second pie (this one for the friend of mine who actually hand picked all the cherries).

5(ish) cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted
2/3 cup sugar + 3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract*
1/4 tsp almond extract*
*(I measured these low so it wasn’t quite 1/4 each, but just a little less)
2 tbsp cornstarch

Mix together cherries, 2/3 cup sugar, lemon juice, and extracts. Mix up really well and taste because cherries taste absolutely delicious this way. (Okay, that’s not really a step in the recipe but I definitely recommend it.) Let sit for a bit (about 15 minutes will do) to let the juices do their thing.

In a separate small bowl, thoroughly mix together 3 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp cornstarch. Add this to the cherries when they’re done sitting.

Stir it all up and pour into pie crust. Using the large holes on a cheese grater, grate the block of frozen crust dough (assuming you don’t bake non-stop like I’ve been doing, you’ll need to make a double crust pastry recipe for this—one crust rolled out and put in the pan, and one crust frozen in a block). Sprinkle grated crust over the top of the cherries. Make a nice thick layer. Dust with sugar (Ken Haedrich recommends coarse sanding sugar, but I didn’t have any lying about so I just used plain white granulated sugar).

Bake at 400°F for about 30 minutes. Rotate pie 180 degrees. I had some trouble getting the first pie to thicken, so I modified my bake time for the second one. The crust was plenty done though, so I pulled the oven shelf out and layered strips of aluminium foil around the outer edges of the crust. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for another 35-40 minutes. At about 30 minutes, check to make sure the juices are bubbling! They have to bubble for a good long while—I made sure mine bubbled for 15 minutes and the filling is nice and thick this time.

When the pie is done baking, remove from oven and set on a cooling rack. Let cool for about 2 hours (this was the longest two hours of my neice’s life!). Tastes great served with whipped cream and/or vanilla bean ice cream.

Fun with tops
30 May 2008

So a friend of mine graduated from college and for her present, I baked pie (this is what I do!).  I made the strawberry rhubarb one since everyone seems to love that–plus she’s never had strawberry rhubarb pie before!  Instead of my normal lattice crust though, I was creative.  She got her bachelor’s degree in theatre arts, so I decided on this (nearly) floating top:

Tomorrow… cherry pie!

Pictures and… YUM
16 May 2008

So I’m having yesterday’s pie for breakfast today and OH MY GOODNESS, it is the best pie I think I’ve made.  It is soooo tasty.  No one else is home and I’m not sure there will be any pie left when they return.  I’m all for living with a collection of taste testers, but I want this whole thing for myself.

Alright, now I’m going to try to figure out how to get some pictures in here!

Terrific, I did it!  These strawberries were BEGGING to be eaten.  I hulled and washed about three times as many as I put in the pie because I kept eating them.


My poor munchkin crust folded in on itself and shrunk down.  It is delightfully flaky though, it a little thick.


Mangoes and strawberry slices layered on top of cream cheese.


Finished pie. The syrup overflowed my sunken crust, but that didn’t make a difference on taste!

I Have No More Homework Pie
16 May 2008

I finally made the mango cream cheese pie I’ve been thinking about all week!  I named it “I Have No More Homework Pie”.  This is pretty self-explanitory.  Today was my last day of lectures (I still have two finals awaitng me next week, but no actual homework).  It’s the best.

So we’ve had three mangoes sitting in the kitchen windowsill for over a week.  Today I finally go to them.  I also picked up strawberries from a roadside farm today.  (Not the ones who buy strawberries and then resell them, but where it’s just a little stand out front of acres of strawberry fields.)  I decided to throw those in too.

This is a variation of a blueberry cream cheese pie I make.  The original recipe for that is actually from the TV show Pushing Daises.  (One of my favourite TV shows!  It’s absolutely darling.)  The base is cream cheese, topped with fresh whole (or in this case sliced) fruit, and finished off with a syrup.  I use normal easy-peasy crust.

This time I didn’t cut the butter and shortening in very well and left larger chunks.  The crust shrunk down immensely in the oven (oops), but because of the bigger chunks of shortening, it turned out amazingly flaky.  An unfortunate side effect of the munchkin crust was that my syrup overflowed the top (I nearly only have a bottom crust).  It looks so tasty though that I’m sure it will be totally alright.

Here’s the plan:

Crust:
Single 9′ crust easy-peasy flaky crust, prebaked and cooled

Parts:

Syrup:
1 1/2 cups mango (about one whole mango–use a mushier one for this)
3/4 to 1 cup sugar (this is a guess on my part.  I used more than 3/4 cup, but I don’t think I quite made it to 1 cup)
2 tbsp cornstarch
lemon juice (a few squirt, about 1 tbsp)
water

Put mango in a large measure (I use my 2 cup beaker measuring cup) and smash up with a fork (you can also put in the food processor and just whirl it a few times).  Add lemon juice.  Fill measuring cup with water until the whole thing measures 1 1/2 cups.  Pour into a small saucepan.  Mix together sugar and cornstarch and stir into mango mix.  Heat and boil until it thickens.  Allow to cool while you do the next parts.

Cream cheese:
8 oz cream cheese
2-4 tbsp (depends on dryness of cream cheese) half & half (or whole milk)
Beat (don’t just stir, it won’t get creamy enough) until smooth.

Fruit:
Slice 4-5 strawberries (if they’re soft enough, use an egg slicer!)
Slice 1 whole mango into small spears

Assembly:
Smooth cream cheese into crust.  Evenly cover with strawberry and mango slices (pile in as much as you want!).  Pour syrup over top.  Garnish with a few extra strawberry slices (the red looks great on the orange-yellow syrup!).  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

We haven’t actually eaten this yet since I’m still chilling it (and I’m rather picky about how long things have to chill–the household of taste testers isn’t so picky.  They just want pie NOW.).  I’m pretty excited though.

I photo’d the whole process this time, so I’ll post pictures when I get them off my camera.

I got Pie!
14 May 2008

Today I picked up Ken Haedrich’s book Pie from the library. I am ridiculously excited to see what sorts of fun ideas and tips I can pull from it!

Easy Peasy Flaky Crust
13 May 2008

Well I intended to make a mango cream cheese pie tonight, but as it turns out, I have work to do.  Eek.  Time seems to have gotten away with me.

I didn’t expect to have too much time tonight though, so I made my crust ahead of time.  I find there to be something quite satisfying about making crust.  This is my very basic, utterly straightforward, simple flaky pie crust.  It’s pretty standard and I forget where I found it originally, but you can find very similar recipes everywhere.

The recipe (numbers are for double crust, but they’re easy enough to half for a single crust):

2 1/2 cups flour (I know I should probably use something more specific, but I’m a big fan of all-purpose)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt (sometimes I forget to get unsalted butter, and in that case I leave out the salt up here)
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces (I actually leave a block of Crisco in the freezer for whenever I need it)
5 tbsp ice water (4 tbsp & 1-2 ice cubes works great)
1 tsp vanilla

Blend together flour, sugar, and salt.  Using a nice big fork or a pastry blender, cut in the butter then shortening.  The final texture here depends on how flaky you want it.  Bigger chunks of shortening will result in bigger flakes, although it does make the dough a little less fun to work with when using your hands.

Mix the vanilla with the ice water and pour into flour/fats mixture a little at a time.  I haven’t quite figured out the phenomenon, but some days I can use 3 tbsp of water and have a great texture and some days I’m still a bit dry at 6 tbsp.  You want the dough to be damp enough that there are no chunks of dry flour left, but not sticky.

Roll dough into two roughly even sized balls, then pat into discs.  Give each one its own Ziplock bag, seal, and refrigerate for about an hour.  Any longer and you’ll have to let it warm back up a little.

This dough freezes great if you want to make some a few days in advance.  Just make sure to set it out and let it thaw before you use it (transferring to the fridge a few hours before you want to roll it out works pretty good too).

For a pre-baked crust, roll out a disc, plop into your pie plate, pile in some beans or weights and bake at 375*F for about 35 minutes.  A note about beans and weights: if you keep an eye on your crust, you can actually just reach into the oven and pierce and/or pat down any bubbles with a fork.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
12 May 2008

What is a pie blog without pie! So here’s what I made yesterday. It was my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday, so that meant pie!! (I love it when people have birthdays.) I actually originally wanted to make Apricot-Strawberry Pie, but she didn’t think that sounded good and it was her birthday. Also, apricots are crazy expensive right now, so it worked out.

The recipe…

Crust–easy-peasy flaky double crust.

Filling:
4 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices)
3 cups strawberries, hulled (slice in half if they’re particularly large)
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Easiest pie in the world, tastes terrific. Put rhubarb in a bowl and coat with about 1/2 of the sugar. Let it sit while you get your cornstarch and mix it with the remaining sugar. Pour over strawberries. Add rhubarb. Mix it all up and dump into your pie crust. This is a terrific pie for a lattice crust, so weave it or cheat it, but make sure you can see the top!

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbly.

This pie was a total hit. Hooray. Depending how tart you prefer your strawberry rhubarb pie, you may want to skip soaking the rhubarb in sugar and just put all the sugar in at the end.

This was a superbly juicy pie and I actually made a mess of the oven because one of the pies got tipped and dripped juice all over the bottom. Oops.

Edit: A picture!

Well, I got a blog
11 May 2008

Well isn’t this nice? So I’ve spent a good deal of time searching for blogs about pie. I love pie quite a bit and I figured someone else somewhere has got to love it as much as I do. I’m still convinced that’s true, but just more convinced they simply don’t blog. I’ve found quite a few blogs on baking in general, some more specific than others. Some blogs are dedicated entirely to cupcakes, some, like my favourite, are primarily cookies (Cookie Madness).

Well. Those are all fine and dandy, but I wanted something about PIE! If I can’t find someone else’s, I decided I might as well start my own. So here, tis. Kiwipie. Ta-da and all that.