Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wherein I confront: Pie.

For a long time, I have stood on the edge of abyss, contemplating the perils that lay within: Cold pseudo-butter, ice water, a touch of sugar, and flour. Pie Crust.

I'm a long time fan of pie- from the pot pies of childhood, to the chocolate peanut butter death I concocted a couple years back- but I have never, ever, made a crust. So, I fled to my mountain sanctuary ( ie: I went to Vermont on a vacation) with one goal in mind: Make a damn pie. From Scratch.

While there, I came across this farm stand, and kind of fell in love.

I may or may not have left with a box of goodies

I was taken with the fresh, and extremely local fruit, and selected a few possibilities for pie. Having never tried red currants before, I was surprised to find that they were (crazy) sour. Blueberries? Pretty out of this world good. And cherries... Well, I did have a cherry pitter on hand, and they're really cute looking, so let's go with those.

My guide for this pastry-venture was This Book, which contains an awe-inspiring amount of pies. While they're not vegan offhand, the fruit pies are easily modified. As I set about to selecting which of the cherry pies to make, I noticed that my cherries were on the tinier side, and sort of brighter red than any variety back home. A taste revealed, hellowearequiteSOURhowdoyoulikemenow?
Oh look at that, sour cherry pie recipe. Thanks, book of a million pies.

So let's get down to business, shall we?

From Ken Headrich (Halved, as my destination was not a deep dish vessel)
Sour Cherry Pie

1.5 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) Earth balance (cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
1/4 cup very cold water

3 cups pitted sour cherries
2/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch (tricky business)
1 tsp fresh lime (original calls for lemon, but you work with what you've got)
Grated zest of 1 lime/lemon
2 Tablespoons cold
Earth Balance

Start the crust first. I was using a cute little 7 or 8 inch pie dish, so once recipe yielded enough for a bottom and lattice top crust. If you're using a conventional pie dish, double said recipe.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar until well incorporated.
Scatter the cold earth balance over the dry ingredients and toss a bit.
Using a pastry cutter, or two butter knives (kind of annoying, but the route I went), cut the fat into the flour until the fat pieces are roughly pea sized all throughout.
Sprinkle a third of the cold water over the mixture and toss (with a fork or spatula) to dampen. Do this twice more, toss and mixing, from the bottom of the bowl up to the top. If the dough comes together easily, or is packable, you're good for the next step- If not, add a teaspoon of water and repeat until dough is packable. Don't over mix the dough! If it can hold a ball shape, it's good. It may be a little crumbly, but it will be ok.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, a smaller one for the lattice top, and a larger one for the bottom crust, wrap in plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge. Let the dough rest for at least one hour.

While the dough is resting, get yourself a chair and a cherry pitter and have at it.
In another bowl, combine the sugar with the cornstarch. Mixing the cornstarch in with the sugar first will prevent any clumping.
Add the sugar mixture to the cherries, add the lime/lemon juice and zest, and stir.
Set aside for around 10 minutes to juice.

Preheat the oven to
400° F
While your filling is juicing away, assuming an hour has passed, take out your pie dough.
Let it come to temperature for somewhere around 5 to 10 minutes. There are a million ways to roll out pie dough- Here's how I did it, take from it what lessons you will:
For the larger ball of dough:
Flour the counter, for added non-stick factor, lay down a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and flour that.
Flour your rolling pin
Apply even, gentle pressure and roll in one direction out from the center.
Pick up the dough (gently) and rotate it a quarter turn, and roll out from the center again.
Repeat until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick.
Gently pick up the parchment and slide dough off on to your pie dish.
Trim any excess and set aside the scraps with the smaller ball of dough.
Shape your pie crust edges in a fancy fashion, or leave it all rustic-like.
At this point, I added the filling.

Top crust:
Roll out the dough as above.
With a pastry cuter or a sharp knife, cut 1/2 inch strips (about four of them, six if you have a larger pie dish)
Take the strips and lay half of them in one direction vertically across your filled pie.
Fold every other of those strips back, and lay one strip horizontally across.
Replace the folded back vertical strips, and repeat with the ones you didn't fold back.
Lay another horizontal strip across, and replace the folded back strips.
Repeat this until it looks roughly like this:

And yes, I was going for rustic.
Also, it was after midnight at this point.
Brush your work of art with soy milk (coconut milk would also be fantastic) and sprinkle with sugar.

And now, we're going to bake this sucker.
Set your pie on a tinfoil-lined sheet pan, and use a piece of tinfoil to tent over the top of the pie. You don't want to seal it to the pie plate, you just want to cover the crust so it doesn't burn.
Place on center rack in the over and bake for 30 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 375
° F, and rotate the pan 180°
Remove the tinfoil on top, and bake for about 35 - 40 minutes until crust is golden brown, and filling is thick and bubbly.
A-like so:

I recommend soy whip, or some non-dairy ice cream goodness of the vanilla variety as a Coup de grĂ¢ce.

No comments: