Making pies gets me all nervous. I talk a lot, I pace the floor of our tiny galley kitchen, and past pie crust goofs are replayed ad nauseum in my head. In other words, making a pie crust turns me back into a shy awkward teenager and it undermines any strides I’ve gained into adulthood. Pie crust terror sends me back and trust me, it ain’t a good look for anyone.
However, I wanted to make my break with the past. Sure, I’ve made some serious strides forward in the last few years. Remember this pumpkin chiffon pie? Or this dream crust contender? And I’ll always remember my first true crust success with this cornmeal pate brisse. But in my eyes, I was still searching for pie crust gold: a pie crust that I could become part of my repertoire of “good things”.Recently I read that colonial women made 8-10 pies a week which seems like insanity to me – especially since they were probably rendering their own lard, chopping firewood, and doing pretty much everything else to run a household. When put into perspective, it kind of makes my stupid fears seem that much stupider.
Getting to business, I settled on a half butter/half shortening crust recipe from Simply Recipes. I cut the crust recipe in half because I was making a pumpkin pie. When I realized that I’d have to do a little math, never my strong suit , I could feel the teenage-me sneaking in through my pores. Uh oh, the panic was setting in. And then it happened, I had a goof moment and doubled the amount of butter by accident. I was too far gone to back down, so to settle the score I used the full recipe and ended up with enough for 2 pie crusts. Not a bad dilemma actually.
The pumpkin pie recipe came from Martha Stewart & I’ve made it a few times. It’s a good standard version but it really needs to be spiced up a lot, so double up on the spice and add in some nutmeg and cloves if you choose to go the pumpkin pie route. But the other pie is my pride and joy and it would just be wrong for me not to share it’s goodness with the world. It’s the Supreme Pie. It’s Freaking Amazing Pie. It’s the pie that toppled from the tallest peaks of greatness to land with nary a crumb out of place onto my kitchen table. Get the picture?
Originally, I was just going to make an apple pie, but then decided to toss in some frozen sour cherries leftover from summer. It was a good move as it gave the pie that subtle almond flavour – and, each soft, juicy cherry was perfection. I used 3 kinds of apples – Granny Smith, Ambrosia and Gala because they looked so pretty together and figured if they were that good-looking, they had to taste great. The pie was a success. The dough was tasty and flakey and everything that a good pie dough should be. The filling was tart and sweet and who can argue with crumb topping? (Didn’t we have this discussion recently?) We ate the pie topped with a maple-bourbon whipping cream and it was decadent. A few days later, I ate the remaining slice and was shocked to find that it tasted even better than the day it was made. Look at that, this pie improved with age. That awkward girl sure grew up right!
Elsewhere: If pie-making is too much to handle at the moment, check out my post over at Poppytalk where I make the easiest & best chocolate pudding.
apple & sour cherry pie with crumble topping
(crust adapted from Simply Recipes)
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t salt
2 T sugar
3/4 c unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1/2 c all-vegetable shortening
6-8 T ice water
3 apples, peeled & sliced
2 c sour cherries
1 T rum
1/2 c sugar
2 T flour
2 t ground cinnamon
large pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 c flour
1/4 c oatmeal
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
3 T cold butter, cubed
1. Combine the flour, salt & sugar in a large bowl and give everything a good stir with a whisk. Add in the butter and use your fingers to break it down into a coarse oat-looking concoction – the largest butter lumps should be the size of small small peas. Add one tablespoon of water at a time, using a wooden spoon to start to gather the mixture into dough. Stop at 6 tablespoons. Use your hands to create a ball. Too dry? Add one more tablespoon and try again. You don’t want the dough to be sticky or wet. It should be fairly dry but should hold together. Divide dough into 2 equal sized balls and wrap each ball of dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Flatten each dough ball with your palm into a 4 inch disc and refrigerate 2 hours. You’ll only need 1 pie dough circle for this recipe. You can use the other remaining pie dough to create another pie or freeze a well-wrapped dough for up to 3 months.
2. Preheat oven to 400F.
3. Place one chilled dough disc onto a very lightly floured silpat mat or piece of parchment paper. Place another silpat mat or parchment over top and roll out your dough. No need to flour your rolling pin since your pin won’t touch the dough. When the dough is about 1.5-2 inches wider than your 9″ pie plate, stop rolling. Remove the top layer of parchment/silpat and gently grab the bottom layer and place into pie plate so that the dough is roughly centered. Remove the remaining paper/silpat and tap the dough into place
4. Using the end of a butter knife, create a decorative edge using 2 fingers pointing inwards to the pie and the knife end pointing out in between your 2 fingers. This creates a scalloped edge. You may have to trim your edges and patch up any tears with the remaining scraps. Or you can crimp with a fork. Place pie dough in the fridge. Phew! That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now let’s get started with the filling!
5. In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients, giving everything a good stir. Set aside.
6. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour to the cinnamon. Cut in the butter cubes and use your hands to blend the butter into the dry mixture. Create nice sized crumbs. If the mixture is too greasy, add in more flour. If it’s too dry, cut in some more butter. Set aside.
7. Remove chilled pie crust from the fridge and add in the apple/sour cherry filling. Lightly pack topping over the filling and place pie on a baking sheet covered with silpat or parchment. Bake pie on baking sheet until topping is golden, about 35 minutes – cover the crust edges with foil if necessary to prevent over-browning. Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Bake until apples in center are tender when pierced and filling is bubbling thickly on the edges, about 25-35 minutes longer. Cool until warm, about 1 hour. Serve with ice cream or whipping cream.