Real Kiwi Pie + Flaky Crust
4 October 2008

The name of the blog is Kiwipie, but up until now, I’ve never actually put kiwis in a pie.  (Actually, I take that back.  I did make one once that had kiwis on top, but I wouldn’t consider it a kiwi pie.)

I have just moved to Oregon and as my first pie baking experiment here, I made kiwi pie.  Just pure kiwis.  It was pretty good, although it had a very unique flavour that even now I haven’t made up my mind if I liked.  My new neighbors and housemate seemed to like it though.

There are two recipes here.  First, I tweaked the proportions in the crust to make it more flaky, but still have a good flavour.

New Crust:
2 1/2 flour
1/4 sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
5 1/2 tbsp butter flavoured shortening (Crisco), frozen
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 – 1 cup chilled (iced) water

Mix flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut butter into chunks and using a fork or pastry cutter, cut into the dry ingredients.  The butter can be cut into smaller pieces here.  Cut the shortening into chunks and using a fork or pastry cutter, cut it into the dry ingredients.  Leave slightly bigger pieces of shortening for a more flaky crust.  Combine vanilla and water, and slowly add water to the flour/fats mixture, tossing with a fork.  Continue adding water until the mixture becomes wet enough to stick to itself, but isn’t sticky.

Separate into two parts, roll into balls and pat down into discs.  Place each disc in its own Ziploc bag and refridgerate for at least 1 hour.  (With the larger chunks of shortening, it doesn’t solidify as fast, so it will not need to thaw if left in for several hours.)

When you are ready to make your pie, use a rolling pin to roll out one disc on a sheet of parchment paper, or on a pastry rolling mat.  Place the pie pan top down in the center of the rolled circle.  Slide one hand under the parchment paper, keep one hand on the pan, and invert.  Peel away the parchment paper.  Gently lift the overhanging edges of the pastry to let the corners tuck down into the pan.  Place in the freezer until ready to fill (this will keep it firm).

The more shortening makes the crust flakier, but using the butter flavour of the shortening kept a nice rich flavour.

Kiwi Pie:

Pastry for one 9″ double-crust pie (use the recipe above, or one one of your own, or storebought crust)

12-14 kiwis, ripe, peeled, sliced (4-5 cups)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp uncooked tapioca (just under 1/4 cup)
1/4 tsp (just a dash) nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix sugar, tapioca, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Mix kiwis and lemon juice.  Add kiwis and toss gently so they are coated with the sugar mixture, but don’t crush the kiwis too much.

Scoop into the pie crust.  Roll out the second crust on a piece of parchment paper.  Invert the paper over the pie and peel away.  Trim around the edges of the crust, then pinch together to make a seal.  Crimp edges of the crust.  Cut a plus sign into the top of the crust (this allows venting), about 1 inch for each of the four cuts.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 and heat for 45-55 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Allow to cool before cutting and serving!  The filling will need to set!

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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!

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.