Sunday, November 30, 2008

Best Pie Crust + Ginger Pear Pie + Danish Cherry + Ohio Lemon (week of Nov 23-29)

What would Thanksgiving be without pies?

Significantly less festive, if you ask me.  

Pumpkin, of course, is a classic and expected.  

But here are the three pies I most dote on:
Ginger Pear, Danish Cherry and Ohio Lemon.

(The lemon pie is best started
the day before you plan to bake it.)

Best Pie Crust
I used to like the pastry recipe in Joy of Cooking best of all.  That was until my husband bought me Sweety Pies by Patty Pinner for my birthday (clever purchase that) full of womanish wisdom and some of the most delicious pies ever.  I've combined the best of both my best-loved recipes and here is my go-to pie crust recipe.  The secret to pie crust is to be impatient, imprecise and haphazard -- which comes naturally to some of us.  Just move quickly and roughly and not at all thoroughly.  You want to handle the dough as little as possible:

for one 9-inch double crust:

Sift together
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Measure and combine
  • ¾ cup chilled lard
  • ¼ cup chilled butter (which is the same as 4 Tablespoons, or half a stick)
and then cut the fats into the flour until it all has the texture of a bowl of peas.

Sprinkle in, one tablespoon at a time
  • 2½ - 3 Tablespoons ice-cold heavy cream or evaporated milk
Keep the dough as dry as possible -- tossing until it holds together when lightly pressed.  Gather into a flattened ball and refrigerate, tightly covered in plastic wrap (30 minutes - overnight).

When you're ready to roll it out, divide into two balls (keeping the other ball wrapped and refrigerated until you're ready for it).  Sprinkle a little flour on your pastry cloth and on the cotton sleeve covering your rolling pin.  Press into a small, flat disk and then roll out from the center to the edge, all the way around the disk.  Roll until you have a uniform circle a little larger than the pie pan, about ⅛ - ¼inch thick.

for 5 double crusts (if you're making multiple pies like we do):
11¼ cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2½ teaspoons salt
3¾ cup chilled lard
1¼ cup chilled butter (which is the same as 20 Tablespoons or 2½ sticks)
5-6 Tablespoons ice-cold cream or evaporated milk

***to prebake crust***
 which you'll want to do for many custard pies and meringues

  • Roll out crust and line pie pan.  Flute the edges, then refrigerate for 30 minutes 
  • Preheat oven to 425.  
  • Line the formed crust with parchment paper and sprinkle parchment with pie weights or dry beans.  
  • Bake until the fluted edge begins to turn a very light brown, 8-10 minutes.
  • Reduce oven to 350.
  • Remove weights and parchment.
  • Bake crust another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.  (Depending on whether you'll be putting the crust back in the oven to cook when filled.)
  • Cool pan on a wire rack.  

Ginger Pear Pie
adapted from Epicurious "Pear Pie with Maple and Ginger"

Whenever whenever I make this pie, someone asks for the recipe.  There is just something so perfectly balanced about the lemon with the maple with the ginger with the pear.  If you are using very ripe pears you may want to increase the amount of tapioca to soak up the extra juice.

Prepare pie dough (top & bottom, recipe above). Line pie pan with dough. Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in bottom ⅓ of oven and preheat to 375°.

Peel, quarter, core, then cut into ⅓”thick wedges:
  • 3 pounds firm but ripe Bosc or Comice pears
Toss in large bowl with:
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca (less if pears are quite firm)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Transfer filling to crust. Place top crust. Cut several slits in top to allow steam to escape during

Place baking sheet on bottom rack to catch any juices that may bubble over .

Bake pie on center rack until crust is golden brown and juices bubble thickly, tenting pie with foil if crust browns too quickly, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Transfer pie to rack and cool. Serve pie slightly warm or at room temperature.

Danish Cherry Pie

Inspired by recipes for cherry soup and other Danish desserts, I made my own subtly spiced cherry filling to honor family heritage and take the place of the humdrum, over-sweetened canned cherry filling. The varied amounts in flavorings depend on how flavorful the fruit you use - so taste as you go along. You may substitute an undrained bottle of home-canned black cherries for the 2 cans of cherries - in which case you would not add any additional sugar.

Line pie pan with dough (recipe above).

Combine in medium saucepan - DO NOT DRAIN:
  • 1 can Oregon Pitted Red Tart Pie Cherries
  • 1 can Oregon Pitted Bing Dark Sweet Cherries
  • 1½ Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 drops - ½ teaspoon almond flavoring
  • sugar to taste, if necessary (less than 1 cup - I use none)
Let sit 10 - 15 minutes.
Bring to a simmer and cook until fruit begins to thicken.
Transfer filling to crust. Dot with:
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
Cover with lattice. Bake 10 minutes at 450°, then reduce heat to 350° and bake about 40 minutes longer or until golden brown

Ohio Lemon Pie
from Joy of Cooking, "A very tart Shaker favorite."

I love this pie! 
But do use the whole amount of sugar - 
speaking from experience - it's still very tart!

Grate and reserve the yellow peel from:
  • 2 large lemons
With very sharp knife remove the white inner peel from the lemons and cut them into paper-thin slices. Remove seeds.
Combine in a bowl the lemon slices, grated peel, and:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
let stand 2 to 24 hours—the longer the better.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a pie pan with dough (recipe above), brush lightly with butter or give a light sprinkling of flour.

Add to the lemon-and-sugar mixture:
  • 4 well-beaten eggs
Stir well. Pour into pastry-lined pan and cover with top crust.
Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325° and bake about 45 minutes longer.
Cool pie before serving.

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