Friday, August 17, 2012

Lemony Blueberry Pie (and how to bake a frozen pie)

Another pie?  Yes!  Pie and pastry seem daunting, but with a little practice (tasty, tasty, practice!) they are rather easy.  Here are 2 few things I have learned along the way:
1. Keep everything really cold.  I like the method of freezing the shortening for 30 mins or so and then grating it into the flour.  I usually then stick the whole bowl of  flour/shortening into the freezer for 15 mins or so before adding the cold water and bringing the dough together.
2. Filling fruit pies is basically the same.  4-5 cups of fruit to 3-4 tbsp of some thickening agent (cornstarch, tapioca), ¾ cup sugar, lemon juice, and spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger).  Juicier fruit like peaches and strawberries do well with a 50/50 cornstarch/tapioca mix.

Lemons and blueberries are a perfect match, and this pie is bursting with the flavours of both.  You can use unthawed frozen blueberries if you don’t have fresh, making this a perfect pie to make year-round.

- 1 recipe pie dough, as per this recipe
- 4 cups blueberries
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- pinch of salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon

1. Make and roll out pie dough as per this recipe.
2. Gently toss blueberries with the lemon juice.
3. Whisk sugar and cornstarch together, then mix in lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon.  Gently toss with blueberries and fill pie shell.
4. Add top crust, cut steam vent, and refrigerate for 30 mins, or until pie has firmed up.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees then bake in the lower 1/3 of the oven for about an hour, or until the filling is bubbling all over and the crust is golden.  Add about 15 mins for frozen berries. 

If you want to make a pie and save it for later, I think they taste best if they are put in the freezer, unbaked in a freezer bag, and then baked up later.  Here’s how to do it:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack on the bottom shelf.  Wrap the edge of the pie crust in a strip of aluminum foil.  Bake for 15 mins, then reduce heat to 375 degrees.  From here it will take another 45 to 60 minutes to finish the pie.  Juicier pies (like peach) will take the longest.  Remove the foil for the final 15 mins of baking to brown everything up nicely.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Berry Pie

My backyard has been berry central this summer.  While the blueberries had a tough time, the raspberry canes yielded their usual bumper crop and the wild blackberry canes I transplanted from the cottage four years ago have finally established themselves and are producing at a phenomenal rate.  It seemed only right to make a pie.

- 1 recipe pie dough
- 6 cups mixed summer berries (I did equal parts raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- pinch nutmeg (optional)

1. Make the pie dough as per the recipe in the link above.
2. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch.  Gently mix with the berries in a large bowl.  Place in pie shell and attach top shell, as per the linked recipe above.  Cut some steam holes. Refrigerate for 30 mins, or until firm.
3.  While pie is chilling, heat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Bake for about an hour, or until filling up bubbling.  Let completely cool before serving.

Monday, August 6, 2012

When Things go Horribly Awry (but are still tasty)

Behold sweet failure.  I have been interested in all things pastry these days and this was an attempt to make an Italian almond tart.  The original recipe called for eggs, and I thought 2 tbsp of cornstarch and 2 tbsp of vegan cream cheese would do the trick to firm up the filling.  Boy was I wrong.  The tart shell was perfect and everything was going just great.  Then the baking.  Instead of firming up in the oven the filling liquified and boiled over.  Luckily, I had ignored Vegan Mom's advice to put a baking sheet under the tart (just in case).  As smoke billowed out of the oven I knew I had hours of scrubbing ahead of me.  The funny thing is we ate the tart anyway.  My niece and nephews and kids all thought it was great.  And, despite it looking like an almond bomb had gone off, I thought it tasted great too.  Back to the drawing board . . . .