Pie #10 – Cherry Crumble Pie

As I sit here in my office, typing away with our white Siamese purring on my lap, I can only say, hmmmm, 42 more pies to go. When I baked the 1st pie at Thanksgiving, 52 didn’t seem like such a big deal. Now, at the end of January and on my 10th pie, I see this is going to be a test of discipline.

My wife selected this weeks pie, Cherry Crumble. Summer in January would be like Cherry Pie:) Even the cherries are frozen…

The Crust:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 tbsp.  chilled non-hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 tbsp. (or more) ice water

1 large egg yolk

Blend the flour, sugar and salt in a processor for about 5 seconds. Add the butter and shortening, using on/off turns, cut into mixture until it resembles a course meal. Beat in 2 tablespoons water and the yolk in a small bowl to blend, and add to processor. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by tablespoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk. Wrap in cellophane and chill at least 30 minutes.

The topping:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Blend the oats, flour, sugar, almonds cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter. Rub in with fingertips pressing mixture together until moist clumps form. Chill at least 30 minutes.

And now for the filling…

6 cups of fresh cherries or (in my case) 2 pounds pitted, frozen sweet cherries, thawed with juices preserved

1 cup of sugar

2 1/2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

1 tbsp. Kirsch (clear cherry brandy) or regular brandy (I used regular brandy, which was what I had on hand)

Pinch of salt

Mix the cherries with any juices, sugar tapioca, brandy and salt in a large bowl. Let stand until tapioca looks translucent, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

The Bake:

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 13-14 inches around. Transfer to 9 inch diameter deep-dish glass pie dish. Trim the dough over hang to 3/4 inch. Fold the edge under and crimp decoratively. I had a real problem with the dough. I need to stop using a cutting board and roll it on the counter. I did a lot of paste-up on this one.  I could also use some suggestions on decoratively crimping. All I know how to do is use a fork…

Spoon in the filling. Sprinkle with topping. Be careful not to try to break up the topping over open drawers. When it breaks, it flies.

Bake pie for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Continue to bake until filling is bubbling thickly and topping is brown and crisp. Cover the edges with a foil collar if browning too quickly, about 25 minutes longer. Cool pie on rack at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Vanilla ice cream is optional.

And finally, it is wise to check the oven periodically as opposed to relying on a timer. The crumble on this pie got a bit crispy. Ahhh, attention to detail.


Pie #8 – Lattice-Topped Blueberry Pie

The "least presentable" in todays pie category

I love blueberries. I put them on cereal, I eat them in bagels. Breakfast bars of course. I don’t care about antioxidants. If they do something healthy, that’s nice too. I just like the way they taste. That and they’re really purple. Who names purple berries blue?

From the handy Bon Apetit Deserts Cookbook

Best Ever Pie Crust (this is debatable):

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup non hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening or lard, frozen, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 tbsp. (or more) ice water

Blend the flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening. Using on/off, cut in until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer mixture into large bowl. Mix in 5 tablespoons of water, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls, if needed, until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball; divide in half. Flatten each half into a disk, wrap in cellophane and chill at least 20 minutes.

Point of note: make sure your processor is big enough to accommodate the above crust recipe or things could get messy and frustrating…

While the crust is chilling, prepare your blueberry filling. Yes, I meant to do that.

The filling:

32 ounces frozen wild blueberries or regular blueberries (unthawed) of 7 cups fresh wild blueberries or regular blueberries ($14 total at your local HEB)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
Heavy whipping cream
Vanilla ice cream (also known as pie garnish)

Combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch lemon juice and lemon peel into a medium-sized saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and bubbles, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Continue to cook 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Cool until warm.

Position rack in bottom third of oven and pre-heat to 400 degrees F. Roll out one disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 12 inches around. transfer to a 9 inch diameter pie dish and trim dough so 1 inch hangs over the edge. Spoon the filling into the crust. Roll out the remaining dough to 13×10 inch rectangle, cut into 2/4 inch wide strips. I hope you have a ruler:) Arrange half the dough strips atop the filling, spacing evenly. Arrange the remaining strips at a right angle atop the first strips. Weaving is optional or, in my case, not realistic. Brush the crust edge with the cream so the strips adhere. Trim the dough strips even with the overhang on lower crust. Fold the edge of crust up over strips, pressing gently to seal. Crimp the edges decoratively. Brush the edges and the lattice lightly with cream. I didn’t do the previous six sentences, The cream was an oversight and the crust work was in need of some piecrust ninja. There wasn’t one to be found.

Place the pie on baking sheet and bake until crust is a golden brown, about an hour. Cool pie on a rack for about an hour.

Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream garnish.

The pie bubbled over quite a bit and the presentation is messy but it’s tasty. And I like tasty just as much as I like blueberries, bubbled over or not.

Pie #3 – Apple Caramel Crumb Pie

I didn’t do the pie until saturday night. We had a dinner engagement Sunday evening and we brought desert. I just hope this pie worked.

According to the menu I needed 8 apples. I think 4 would have probably worked. I have enough for 2 pies and may make another one tomorrow.

I may have overcooked the caramel. The menu called for the sugar and water mix to turn dark amber before taking it off heat to add butter and water. I just hope dark amber and a lighter shade of black are close:) I added a teaspoon of granulated sugar over the top of the apples as a sort of insurance policy. Or perhaps a bit of hope…

The brown sugar crumble that goes over the top turned out pretty good, and as I looked at it in the oven, it formed a nice crust over the top of the pie.

The crust came from a box and turned out alright. Simple pie crust becomes simpler. I’ll try making one from scratch next week.