Category Archives: Pies

Pie Crust

This was my first attempt at making a lattice top crust.

Ever.

I’ve just never had the desire to go through the extra work when I could much more easily throw a whole sheet of pie dough on top of my pie and walk away to do more important life things like check my facebook.

But this pie crust recipe is new and I wanted to take her for a test drive, see what she could do.  And it turns out she’s pretty cool.

Hope you like your pie crusts female.

So you remember that shout out I gave to my favorite “anti-recipe” book last week?  This one?  Well, I’m doing it again.  Because great pie crust – whether it’s old fashioned wheat or gluten free fabulous – boils down to a very simple ratio.

3-2-1

I love it because it’s something anyone can remember.

3 parts flour (any kind)

2 parts solid-at-room-temperature fat (the kind does matter here – I use butter for the best flavor)

1 part liquid (very cold water)

Follow this ratio and you will get a dough that is the perfect consistency for rolling and making into pretty crusts like the ones that come from the bakeries.

Rustic Peach Plum Pie

This pie?  This one right here?  Is awesome.  Just looking at it makes me want to buy out of season peaches and make it again.  This is my “rustic” pie crust.  It uses almond flour as part of the flour blend.  Almond flour lends an incredible flavor to the dough but it throws off the ratio with the extra fat and so is un-rollable.  And that’s fine if you’re not going for pretty.   But today, well, it’s getting close to Christmas, and I’m thinking we all want something for holiday parties that looks as good as it tastes.

So here we go.

A word on technique – you’ve probably read, and possibly been intimidated by pie crust recipes that stress the importance of time, temperature, and how vigorously you work your dough.   These things are stressed in large part because of the gluten in regular flour.   Pie crust is one of the baked goods where the presence of gluten really does NOT help so we have a little more leeway in our prep.

I don’t have pictures on this one.  Yet.  Next time I make dough I’ll add them on here.  Just a quick explanation today.  It’s really simple once you’ve done it a couple times.  It’s mostly just getting a feel for it – getting to know your dough.  That’s what makes the best pie crusts.

For the easiest prep all you need are a kitchen scale and a food processor.  You can also do this using a pastry blender to bring your dough together.  I have one.  I used to use it.  I ❤ my food processor.  It makes making dough sooooo much easier and quicker.

For a two crust pie:

Grab a glass of ice water and set it on your counter.

Take two sticks of butter and unwrap them, leaving them sitting on their wrappers.  Cut them in half the long way, turn on their sides and cut in half the long way again (so you have four long rods of butter, each).  Then make 8 slices to each.  Each stick of butter is now cut into 32 little equally sized bits.  Wrap the sticks of butter back in their papers and stick in the freezer while you ready your flours.

Measure out 12 oz All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend into the food processor.  It doesn’t have to be this blend exactly.  It doesn’t even have to be gf.  It could be wheat flour if that’s how you roll.  Just make sure it’s 12 oz by weight.  Add 1/2 tsp salt, a Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp Xanthan Gum (only if doing this gf).  Run the food processor for a few seconds to combine and aerate.  Or picture this whole thing happening in a bowl and whisk together.

Next, grab your butter out of the freezer and dump all the little bits in with the flour.  Hit the “pulse” button approximately 15-20 times.  You want to get it to the consistency of pea sized chunks.  Chunks of butter are good – they are what make for flaky pie crusts by creating pockets when the dough bakes.  Don’t over-mix.  If you’re doing this with a pastry blender, go at it carefully and quickly.  We want everything to stay cold.  If the butter gets too soft you’ll lose your chunks.

Next, grab that ice water and drizzle some into the machine, pulsing to combine.  You want your dough to just come together.  If you can squeeze it together with your fingers and it doesn’t fall apart you have enough water.  I never measure the water.  But if you’ve done the math you know it works out to be 4 ounces or about 1/2 cup (I don’t think I use this much, actually.  Start with 1/4 cup and go by feel.)

Now, normally, this is where you’d divide your dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, pat them gently into discs and set in the fridge.  This step serves two functions – it keeps the butter in the dough cold and it allows the gluten to relax.  If you’re not using glutenous flour you don’t have to worry about that second thing at all.  If you work quickly you really don’t have to put the dough in the fridge.  If it’s a hot day, sure, let it chill for awhile.  But the hour they tell you it has to rest?  And then the 15 minutes you have to wait to get it warm enough to work with again?  Not necessary with gluten free pie crust.

So again, just work quickly, try not to manhandle your dough too much (as the heat from your hands will soften the butter) and you’re good to go.  Start rolling, crimping, whatever you want to make a pretty pie crust you’ll be proud to bring to a party.  Bake as you would any pie crust.

This was a Salted Caramel Apple Pie I made for Thanksgiving.  If I weren’t planning on making about a bajillion cookies and candies in the next week I might make a pie again.   Speaking of which – I’ve got sleepin’ babies so I’m gettin’ me into the kitchen to make some cookies.

Later all!

(Here’s the easily copied and pasted recipe)

Pie Crust

12 oz All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend  (or regular flour)

8 oz (two sticks) salted butter

1 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Xanthan Gum (only if using GF flour)

ice water

Instructions:

Grab a glass of ice water and set it on your counter.

Take two sticks of butter and unwrap them, leaving them sitting on their wrappers.  Cut them in half the long way, turn on their sides and cut in half the long way again (so you have four long rods of butter, each).  Then make 8 slices to each.  Wrap the sticks of butter back in their papers and stick in the freezer while you ready your flours.

Measure out 12 oz All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend (or regular flour) into the food processor.  Add 1/2 tsp salt, a Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp Xanthan Gum (only if doing this gf).  Run the food processor for a few seconds to combine and aerate.  Or measure into a bowl and whisk together.

Grab your butter out of the freezer and dump all the little bits in with the flour.  Hit the “pulse” button approximately 15-20 times.  You want to get it to the consistency of pea sized chunks.  Don’t over-mix.  If you don’t have a food processor you can use a pastry blender (or in a most desperate case, a fork).

Next, grab that ice water and drizzle some into the machine, pulsing to combine.  You want your dough to just come together.  You may not need exactly 1/2 cup.  Or you might find you need a teeny bit more.  If you can squeeze the dough together with your fingers and it doesn’t fall apart you have enough water.

If your dough is still cold and firm you can continue from here rolling it out and baking as you would any crust.  If it’s a warm day or the dough is getting soft for whatever reason, stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes before rolling it out.

Makes enough dough for one two-crust pie.

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Rustic Peach Plum Pie

Pie.  Sigh.  Can that word be said without warm, loving feelings flooding your body?  It is the ultimate in American comfort food.  Our mothers and grandmothers made us pies and now we make them for those we love.  Apple pies in the fall.  Pumpkin and Pecan at Thanksgiving.  Rhubarb in the spring.  Cherry, Blueberry, Fresh Strawberry, Key Lime, and Lemon Meringue in the summer.  And the lovely cream pies that are good all year long – Chocolate Silk, Coconut,  Banana, Peanut Butter.  Oh my.  The soft, fragrant middle cradled gently by a buttery, flaky crust.   Pie is a celebration of life.

And THIS pie, oh, it lives up to it’s name.  It will make a bad day good and it will make a really bad day, well, it will make you forget your troubles for a while.  Because this is Peach Plum pie.  Perfectly in season right now – I didn’t even know how wonderful plums could be in a pie until I worked out this recipe right here.  So if you’ve got some peaches and plums sitting on your counter right now I urge you to try this today.  It will make someone you love sigh and remember why they love you so much.  And what could be better than that?

Let’s get started.  First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

You’re going to need about four cups of sliced peaches and plums.  Some of each, proportion doesn’t matter too terribly much.   I think one large peach is about a cup of fruit.  Mine were not large so I ended up slicing more.  You’ll want to peel the peaches of course but you can leave the skins on the plums if it doesn’t freak you out to do so.  Plum skins are so thin and fragile they all but disintegrate during the cooking process.   And they give the fruit such a nice vibrant color when baked.  And it’s more work to take the skins off so why are we talking about this again?

Just slice down the seam of the fruit, twist the halves apart and dig your little thumb in there to get the pit out.

Then just slice up the halves as evenly as you can and have the patience for.  Again, it’s food.  And it’s home.  Perfection not required.

Until you can fill up your 1 qt Pyrex container.  I love this thing.  I use it constantly.

Now we’re going to add in 1/4 cup of sugar.

…1/2 cup of brown sugar.  I had never used brown sugar to sweeten a pie until I tried it on a whim this summer.  I will never go back.  Sugar is sweet.  Brown sugar is sweet and so much more.

Shake in some cinnamon.  I don’t usually measure but if you’re the measuring sort, I’d estimate a teaspoon or so.  (If my “voice” sounds off right now, and I reckon it does, it’s because we just finished re-watching the Firefly series.  I have Malcolm Reynolds’ western speech pattern stuck in my head.)

Now add a 1/4 tsp salt.  Yes, salt.  We add it to just about every other baked good to add dimension and bring out the sweetness.  Why not add it in with the fruit too?  It draws the water out of the fruit as you’ll see in a minute but that is taken care of with cornstarch.

Speaking of which, there it is.  I dump in two heaping tablespoons.

Finally, add in 1/8 teaspoon Almond Extract.  Because almonds and peaches just go so beautifully together.  I used imitation because that’s all they had at the store the day I bought it.  You only need a teeny bit ‘ cause it is POTENT man.

Mix it all up (You can transfer to a bigger bowl if you like so you don’t have to worry about spilling stuff on your counter.  I hate washing an extra dish but that’s just me.).

This lovely lady here is my best friend in the kitchen.  If you’re baking gluten free, you want, you NEED a kitchen scale.  They’re not expensive.  I think mine was $20.  Even if you’re not baking gluten free a scale is still an awesome tool to have in the kitchen.

That said, if you’re not baking gluten free today you can use the crust recipe you usually use or you can use those wonderful Pillsbury ones that are already rolled out.  If you are making your own crust and want to use regular flour just stick to the classic ratio and you’ll be all set.  3 parts flour : 2 parts butter : 1 part water.  By WEIGHT.  For this pie that translates to nine ounces flour (roughly 1  1/3 cups), six ounces of butter (a stick and a half) , and two ounces water (1/4 cup).

Now, before we go any further, put your butter in the freezer.  The few minutes it spends in there will make it nice and firm and will give us a little bit more time when making our crust.

Now, put your food processor bowl (or a regular bowl if you don’t have a food processor) on the scale and zero it out (or hit “tare” if that’s what yours says).

And assemble all of your ingredients.  Pretend that butter is in my freezer.  The weird ziplock bag is my all purpose gf flour blend.

Now, spoon in the flours and watch happily as your scale does the measuring perfectly for you.  No measuring cups here, yay!  Add in the salt and sugar…

…and give it a whir to combine and aerate.

Now grab your butter out of the freezer and divide it in half lengthwise.  Turn it over and do it again so it’s quartered.  Then cut into little chunks.  If you don’t have a food processor and are using a pastry blender (or, God help you, a fork) to bring your dough together, you will be extra glad you took this step.

Get a glass of ice water ready.

Throw your butter into the mixer.  Blurry.  Oops.  Clearly I can’t see this early in the morning.

And pulse 20 times.  Exactly.  No, just kidding.  You want pea sized chunks of butter.  And yes, you WANT chunks.  It’s the chunks that allow air pockets to form while baking, giving your crust that flaky quality we all adore.  These will go away if the butter gets too warm so let’s keep moving here.

Grab a tablespoon of your ice water and pour it in with the motor running.  You may add as much as another tablespoon, just enough to bring the dough together into one mass but err on the dry side.  Now, of course, if you are not using a food processor, just keep at it with the pastry blender or fork until it comes together.

The glorious thing about working with gluten free flours is that you CANNOT overwork the dough.  You know how they always say, “you have to be gentle with pie crust”?  That’s because you don’t want to activate the gluten strands in the wheat and make your dough tough.  Picture a piece of cooked spaghetti.  That’s gluten before you start manhandling it.  Now picture that same piece of spaghetti snapping to attention, like it starts out dry in the package.  Now imagine millions of those little strands snapping to attention in your dough.  You get the idea.  Great for bread, not great for pie crust.  With no gluten there’s nothing to activate, no worry of toughness.  Breathe.  🙂

I’m gonna warn you now, this dough is not what you’d expect pie dough to feel like.  It will be roughly the consistency of frosting.  Which means no rolling out.  Apologies if you were looking forward to using your rolling pin.  Just spread 2/3 of the dough (or pipe it- a technique I’ve been dying to try) as evenly as you can into your pie plate.  Gluten free dough (that feels normal) just cannot support the classic 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to water.  I have used a gf crust recipe that rolls and flutes beautifully that is closer to a 4:2:1/2  ratio.  But I think mine tastes so much better in the end.  That’s why it’s “Rustic” Peach Plum Pie.  I should tell you right now that pretty much every gf pie I make can be called “Rustic”.

Pour your fruit (which has now been macerating so long it’s probably somewhat soupy – that’s okay) into the crust.  Don’t be silly like me and pour in every drop so it’s overflowing your pan (you’ll see what I mean in the next couple shots).  And try not to drop the spoon in as well.  Yeesh.

Ready for the fun “rustic” part?  Take the remaining 1/3 of the dough and pinch little bits between your fingers to make little thin islands of dough and just place them on top of the fruit, almost covering it.  You can actually go thinner than I did here.

Like that.  Wasn’t that fun???  Okay I think it’s fun.  Now quickly!  Into the oven it goes! (Put a rimmed baking sheet on the rack underneath just in case.  It’s a lot easier to clean than your oven is.)  Set your timer for 50 minutes and go get your four kids ready for school/to leave the house.  Or whatever it is you want/need to do in the next 50 minutes.

“Hello!  My name is Rosie and I love baking too!  But only when my mommy keeps me in the carrier the whole time.”  (Whilst being VERY careful!)

And there it is.  A beauty contest she would not win but the taste…

…oh yeah, THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about.  Look at the beautiful colors in the fruit.  And the layers in the crust.  Sigh.  This is the perfect end to a long day.  Joy in food form.

 

Peach Plum Pie

4 cups peaches and plums, sliced

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 heaping Tbsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp almond extract

For the gluten free crust:

6.5 oz all purpose gluten free flour mix

2.5 oz almond flour

1 Tbsp sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1.5 sticks of butter

2 Tbsp ice water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice peaches and plums until you have about 4 cups and toss with sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and almond extract.  Set aside.

Put butter in the freezer while you start the dough for the crust. Turn on your kitchen scale, set a bowl on it and zero it out.  Spoon in gf flour mix (or regular flour),  almond flour, sugar, and salt.  Put flour mix into food processor and mix it thoroughly to combine.

Remove butter from freezer and divide lengthwise twice then chop into little bits.  Add to flour mixture and pulse 20 times.  You want pea-sized chunks.  Add ice water and combine until dough forms into one mass.  Dough will be the consistency of frosting.  Spread or pipe 2/3 of dough into pie pan, getting it as even as possible.  Try to work quickly so the butter bits stays firm.

Add peach/plum mixture.  Grab little bits of remaining dough, flatten with your fingers and place on top of fruit, almost covering.

Put a baking sheet in the oven on the bottom rack.  Place pie on a middle rack directly over the cookie sheet.

Bake 50 minutes.

Cool and serve.

 

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