Saturday, April 17, 2010

A year of pie

My Hubby loves pie. For almost every birthday he asks me to make him pie instead of cake. I don't mind baking pie but my crusts suck. Not the flavor so much but the presentation. I figure practice makes perfect, so this last Christmas I gave the Hubs a gift certificate for a pie a month. I have enjoyed making the pies so far and I do think I am slowly getting better, and my husband has enjoyed the pies so far, as well. One of his favorite pies is cherry, and I recently found a recipe I wanted to try for a sour cherry pie. It sounded yummy and I have never tried it so I gave it whirl. I didn't not use traditional pie crust dough because I had some leftover tart dough. It definitely did not come out pretty. I had trouble with the top crust. Every time I would try to place it on top it would fall apart. I am pretty sure it was being uncooperative because I didn't let it sit in the fridge long enough after I rolled it out but I was crunched for time. In the end I just tried to kind of mush it into place, so I tell myself it looks rustic :)

I used Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart Dough

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Lightly packed 1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
31/2 cups all purpose flour

1. To make the dough: Place the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and process to blend well. Add the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla and continue to process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary. Lightly stir the eggs together with a fork and, with the machine running, add them to the work bowl; process for a few seconds to blend. Finally, add the flour and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together. When the dough forms moist curds and clumps and then starts to form a ball, stop! – you don’t want to overwork it. The dough will be very soft, and that’s just as it should be. (If you want to make the dough in a mixer, use the paddle attachment. First beat the butter until it is smooth, then add the remaining ingredients in the order given above. Just be careful when you add the flour – you must stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated.)

2. Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into 3 pieces. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days, before rolling and baking. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.)

3. To roll and bake tart crusts: For each tart, butter the right-sized tart pan and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you are making more than one tart, work with one piece of dough at a time.

4. What makes this dough so delicious – lots of butter – also makes it a little difficult to roll. The easiest way to work with pâte sucrée is to roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap. Just flatten a large piece of plastic wrap against the counter and roll the dough between that and another piece of plastic. Turn the dough over often so that you can roll it out on both sides, and as you’re rolling, make sure to lift the sheets of plastic several times so that they don’t crease and get rolled into the dough. (If the dough becomes too soft, just slip it, still between plastic, onto a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes.) Remove one sheet of plastic and center the dough (exposed side down) over the tart pan. Press the dough against the bottom of the pan and up the sides, remove the top sheet of plastic wrap, and roll your rolling pin across the rim of the pan to cut off the excess. If the dough cracks or splits while you’re working, don’t worry – you can patch the cracks with leftover dough (moisten the edges to “glue” them into place). Just be careful not to stretch the dough in the pan (what you stretch now will shrink later). Chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. (Repeat with the remaining dough, if necessary.)

5. When you are ready to bake the crust(s), preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line the crust with a circle of parchment paper or foil and fill with dried beans or rice.

6. Bake the crust (or crusts) for 20 to 25 minutes, or just until very lightly colored. If the crust needs to be fully baked, remove the parchment and beans and bake the crust for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.

The actual pie recipe that I used (for the filling) is here. I used canned sour cherries, and I didn't have a lime but I did have lime juice so I just added a couple squirts of that. I also didn't bother with putting the egg wash on the top of the crust. Anyway it turned out to be delicious even if it wasn't pretty. Just one more reason not to judge a book by its cover.

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