Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week 4 - bonus pie!

Well, I accidentally forgot to order more vegetables from my CSA in week 4 because I missed the deadline for orders. Lucky for me, my parents were visiting over the weekend and shared some delicious local strawberries, cherries and rhubarb they had bought on the way. It was just enough for a mixed fruit pie, one of the best things about Summer. This was an opportunity to try something I've been eyeing for a while, which is an all-butter crust with some almonds incorporated. I really love almonds in combination with cherries, and often when I'm making a cherry pie will add a little almond extract to the filling. So, I wrote you a novel about how to bake a pie.

This crust recipe does use a food processor. The only way I can think of to incorporate almonds without one is to purchase almond meal, which is blanched almonds pre-ground into a flour-like consistency. I prefer the food processor way, because almond meal doesn't seem like something I would use regularly and it's easy enough to make yourself in small batches. You can easily use a regular pie crust here, or bake this filling with a crumb topping instead. But, I thought I'd share my recipe in case anyone else finds themselves with a fun assortment of very ripe fruits.

Almond pie crust:

Follow your preferred double-crust pie crust recipe, but replace 1/2 C of the flour with finely ground blanched almonds (not roasted ones). I always make my pie crust in the food processor, and use Mark Bittman's recipe. Be sure to flatten the dough into two discs and wrap well in plastic wrap, chill two halves separately for at least 30 minutes.

Strawberry Cherry Rhubarb pie filling:

-6 C of strawberries, pitted cherries and rhubarb, in any kind of ratio although I would only add one or two rhubarb stalks
-juice of 1/2 of one lemon
-1/4 C cornstarch
-2 tbsp sugar, more if you like sweet filling or are using sour cherries or lots of rhubarb

Cut tops off of strawberries and chop until they're approximately the same size as your cherries. For me, lots of the strawberries were very small so I left them whole. Pit the cherries (this part's a real pain unless you have a cherry or olive pitter, but! you can use a drinking straw and it works pretty well!) and leave whole unless they break as you're pitting them, or are really large. Peel any stringy edges from the rhubarb and slice into very thin slices. Toss all fruit in a large bowl with remaining ingredients except cornstartch, stir and taste for salt and sugar. I always err on the side of less sugar, but I had some feedback that this pie was not sweet enough so I might be crazy! Add cornstarch, stir and let sit while you roll out the bottom crust.

Assembling the pie:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take one of your dough halves from the fridge, and place on a clean, floured counter or large cutting board. Flour your rolling pin and gently begin to roll out the dough. You're looking for something as much like a circle as you can possibly get, and it needs to be at least 2 inches wider than the circumference of your pie plate. About 1/4" thickness. Re-flour your rolling pin and the top of the rolled out dough just barely, then roll the dough up over the rolling pin and doubled over itself. Carefully pick up the pin and dough, and unroll over the pie plate so the dough is centered with at least 2 inches overhang, and clinging to the sides and bottom of the pie plate. Trim to 2 inches all around with scissors or a sharp knife. Put whole pie plate in fridge or freezer covered with foil or plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out while you roll the second crust in the same way you did the first one. Leave on the counter while you take out the pie pan chilling in the fridge or freezer, and take the filling that was resting and dump the entire contents of the bowl (soupy stuff at the bottom and all!) into the bottom crust. Mound the fruit slightly higher in the middle. Now do the same thing you did before with the top crust, and gently unroll it over the filling. Again trim to a 2 inch border. Take the top crust and gently fold it over the bottom crust and press down into the rim of the pie plate to seal the pie. You can crimp it with a fork to make a stronger seal, or pinch the dough to make a sort of frilly edge like I did. Cut four small slits in the top crust to vent the pie while it bakes. Brush a very thin layer of milk over the crust and sprinkle extra sugar over the top crust.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then lower oven temperature to 375 and bake for another 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is browned on top and bottom (having a glass pie plate is the best for checking this!). If the crust seems to be browning too fast, cover gently in foil while the pie finishes baking.

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