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“The Catcher in the Pie”: Nectarine and Cherry

August 5, 2011
by

It’s finally feeling like summer here in Vancouver and to celebrate both that and getting over my wisdom teeth surgery, I’m really diving into the summer fruit! Fruit is obviously delicious to eat by itself, but I always feel like pies really bring out something special – they don’t cook the fruit so much that it’s unrecognizable, but it still makes fruit feel like a treat. With all the combinations of fruits out there and all the different topping choices, it’s pretty difficult for pies to get old.

I know everyone has family recipes passed down, and their own feelings about how pie should be, but I really can’t say enough about the importance of a good crust. I really hate soggy-bottomed/overly crunchy/dry and flavourles, etc. etc. pies that even the best fruit can barely carry. Having found what I think could be the perfect pie crust, I’m passing this onto you all!

Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water

Ideally, this dough is made with a food processor: pulse to combine the flour and salt, drop in the butter and process until the pea-sized pieces disappear and you have a coarse meal. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time and blend until it magically clumps (such an awesome moment!). You can also use this pastry tool to cut the butter into the flour, then mix in the water with a spoon or the same tool.

Now, this is the part of the process where I start annoyingly crowing at Helene “don’t handle it so much!” “careful with your hands!” “just BRIEFLY press the dough together!” and she gives me withering looks. But it is true that you really do want to limit your hands-on time with this dough. All crusts are significantly better if you let the butter stay cold, since it’s the little pieces of butter mixed in with the flour that ultimately gives the crust its flakiness. If you work the dough too much, the butter will melt from the heat of your hands and the dough will become all kinds of things you don’t want (see list of crusts I don’t like above)!

What you do want to do is quickly and loosely press the dough together, divide it in half, and put one half in the fridge (or both if you haven’t prepared your fruit yet!). Lightly flour your surface, then roll out half the dough into a rough circle. Drape this in the pie/tart pan, lightly pressing the dough into the sides, then use your fingers or a knife to cut around the edge. Put the pie pan in the fridge, take out your other half and roll this out as well. With a sharp knife, lightly cut 1/2 inch strips.

Add the fruit to your pie dish, then lay strips of dough across the top vertically. One at a time, add strips in the other direction, raising alternate vertical strips to lay the horizontal ones beneath. Make sure to lift different vertical strips with each alternate horizontal strip, so that you get that woven pattern.

Bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes. If you are using a lot of fruit filling, cover with foil then bake 20 minutes more. I just took mine out once the tips of the pie just started to turn golden, and the fruit was perfect.

Filling

For all filling, cut up the fruit and mix with a few tablespoons sugar and approximately 1 tablespoon flour (this helps hold it together). If you’re using mostly berries, add a few more tablespoons flour since the berry juice can make the pie filling runny.

Some Ideas, Winter and Summer

Apple (works with brown sugar, caramel, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cranberries, pear, etc.)
Summer berry mix (raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, etc. etc.)
Strawberry rhubarb (obviously!)
Blueberry (would be great with lavender, mint or lemon/orange zest)
Pear and candied ginger
Raspberry Peach

Top With: Chocolate shavings, drizzled chocolate/white chocolate or caramel, ice cream or sorbet, whipped cream, fresh berries (great on an apple pie).

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Hélène permalink
    August 6, 2011 7:07 am

    “Now, this is the part of the process where I start annoyingly crowing at Helene “don’t handle it so much!” “careful with your hands!” “just BRIEFLY press the dough together!” and she gives me withering looks.”

    Sadly, I can attest to the veracity of these lines!! Although I’m sure the pie dough is better for it.

    Also, how did we not drizzle it with chocolate at ANY point??

    • August 15, 2011 5:39 pm

      Because for once in our lives, we made a non-chocolate dessert – perhaps we should experience these to the fullest, as they come along so rarely :)

  2. August 7, 2011 4:34 pm

    I am in awe of that perfect lattice work on the top of the pie. It is truly a work of art.

    • August 13, 2011 8:27 am

      Tell me more about vegan pie crusts, Brad, and a lattice-topped pie is yours. I’m starting to think we should have built a Bard on the Beach/pie tradition…2012?

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