Tag Archives: pie crust

Turning 30 Is Like A Pie In The Face. But It’s Pie, So, Ok.

5 Oct

Yep, not even going to try and excuse it. I’ve been away from this blog for six months. How do I feel about it? Not sure. A few [very, very lovely and kind] people asked me WTF was going on, and if I was ever going to start writing again. These same people know that the “I’m so busy” excuse was total horseshit, because all I ever talk about with them is all the high-quality British programming Netflix has gifted my writing-averse ass. 

So, I talk a lot about depression and anxiety on this blog, and, as the title pretty much spells out, I’m hitting what some might consider a milestone birthday soon. I’ve never been a person who’s been terribly concerned with getting older… until now. I mean, the time around my birthday has always depressed me a little– changing weather, the passage of time, the new Fall lineup that inevitably disappoints because NONE OF THE SHOWS STAR KYLE CHANDLER. But I haven’t really started to feel the gut-punch that comes with aging until this year, probably because lots of people I don’t know very well are weirdly concerned with the fact that dowries have not yet been exchanged for rings, (or however that works nowadays), or that I’m not swimming in dough, or that I still have a very legitimate beef with a certain celebrity who shall not be named in this already-sad post. 

It seems I’m not the only one feeling this way, either. Thirty hits everyone differently, and for me, it’s certainly not just the whole strangers-be-getting-into-my-personals thing getting to me. There are so many things I figured I’d be doing with myself at this age, and Christmas on a Triscuit was I wrong about all of them. That’s a tough gummy to swallow (guys I love gummy vitamins, please no millienial jokes, gummy vitamins are one of the sole gifts from the heavens I get, just let me have this one). Shout out to all the 1986-ers feelin’ what I’m feelin’– I’m here, I get it, and I have pie.

Yes, pie.

…IT’S STILL A BAKING BLOG, PEOPLE!

So I was incredibly skeptical of the very idea for this pie when I first read about it, but like most things in my life right now, I decided to throw my side-eye to the wind and get on with things. Plus, it’s fall, and fall means pears and pie (I know, I know, and pumpkin, which you’ll see very soon). 

Pear and Thomcord Grape Pie

Pie Crust (makes enough for two 9″ crusts)

2 teaspoons of sugar

2 cups of all-purpose flour

12 tablespoons of butter, cut into small chunks

2 large eggs beaten with two teaspoons of water

Pie Filling (adapted from Serious Eats)

7 pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup of seedless Thomcord or Concord grapes, removed from stems

3/4 cup of white sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 egg, beaten

Raw or white sugar for dusting

Now I’m not saying this because I am lazy, but because I am laughably bad at doing this by hand: bust out the food processor if you have it for your pie crusts. If you don’t have one, get one, and if you can’t, I will walk you through the process of doing this by hand as best I can. If you do have a food processor, pulse together the flour and sugar until mixed. Then add in your butter and pulse until you’ve got pea-sized lumps. Now, with the processor running, pour in your egg mixture and allow it to run until your dough forms. 

If you’re working without a food processor, sift the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, then use a fork or your fingers to gently mix in the butter. You want to handle the butter as little as possible, since the more you handle it, the warmer it will get, and the warmer your butter, the less flaky your crusts. Once your mixture is pretty clumpy, add in the egg and gently mix in using your fingers until you’re able to form a dough. Separate into two evenly-sized discs, cover in plastic wrap and chill discs for at least two hours.

Once you’re ready to get baking, preheat the oven to 425°F and place pears and grapes together in a bowl. Sift the sugar and cornstarch together and then fold into fruit mixture until evenly coated. 

Basically just showing off the most beautiful marble rolling pin that Jimmy gifted me on a whim. Classy dude, that one.

Basically just showing off the most beautiful marble rolling pin that Jimmy gifted me on a whim. Classy dude, that one.

Roll out one disc to about 1/8″ thickness and gently line your pie plate with it. Pour your fruit mixture into the shell and set aside while working on the top crust. (If you’re not interested in anything fancy, just roll out your second disc and place on top of the fruit mixture, cutting any extra dough off the sides of the plate. Make sure to cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.) I rolled out the second disc of dough and used a star-shaped cookie cutter to decorate the top of the pie. I invite you to do the same and lay your decorative dough however you please, but just make sure to leave some space for the fruit to peek through, or your pie will explode all over your oven, and you will be doomed forever. Brush with egg and then sprinkle the top generously with sugar.

Place your pie on a baking sheet (this will allow for easier removal from the oven, unless you want crazy knuckle burns similar to the ones I’m currently rocking), then bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pie halfway through. Then, turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is browned and the fruit is bubbly, like this:

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Let the pie cool on a counter for a solid half hour, at least, and then dig in, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream  or a spoonful of mascarpone if you’re feeling it.

Y U M.

Y U M.

Aw man, am I proud of how beautiful this pie ended up being. This is probably my proudest pie-related moment, and I have a LOT of pie-related moments. But hey, it’s not ALL about looks: how did it taste?

O M G. It was incredible. The grapes and pears worked better than I could have imagined they would, and the cornstarch helped keep the filling from running amok outside of the crust. It was as close to heaven as a crazy old grump like me will likely ever experience. 

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Today, I Will Not Be Salty. Today, I Will Leave That To My Pie.

16 Dec

So, I’m going to try to use today’s post to express some positivity, which is going to be hell quite difficult for me because I am super cranky right now. Below, in brackets, is a small taste of where this post was originally going:

[BAH HUMBUG YA’LL!

I am in such a crap mood these days. Is sugar a depressant? How can it be, when it’s an essential part of any this grown late-twenties Indian woman’s daily diet?! HAVE SOME HUMANITY, SYBIL’S INNER WORKINGS!]

It got wayyyyy darker than that. So yeah… scrapped. Let’s talk happy stuff?

BUT I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT HAPPY SH…. see? Even I can’t stop me. Whew. Ok. Let’s start over. Hey! Let’s make a list!

In the spirit of the holiday, here's a picture of Hoover, my favorite Christmas ornament from our tree. (I purposely left out the "whole tree" pic. I like to keep it tasteful around here. ;))

In the spirit of the holiday, here’s a picture of Hoover, my favorite Christmas ornament from our tree. (I purposely left out the “whole tree” pic. I like to keep it tasteful around here.)

1. The holidays are approaching. For me, this used to mean grumbling about the lines at Macy’s and over-salting eggnog with my bulbous, lonely tears. Now, it means shopping online and not salting my eggnog at all, because I finally realized I hate eggnog! Also, I like people again.

2. To repeat, the holidays are approaching. I have amassed a booklet of recipes to try– cookies, brownies, eclairs (!), something involving turning things that shouldn’t be fudge into fudge, and on and on. Who knows how many of these I will actually complete, but damnit, I am determined. F*&$%ing positivity, guys!!!

3. The holidays…they are upon us. This means Sylvapotamus and I are doing our damndest to get ourselves invited to the fanciest winter soiree this side of De Stuteville Drive (I Googled “fancy place names” and that popped up). This adventure is proving, so far, to be an utter failure…. but IT’S SO MUCH FUN.

4. Oh, and since you casually mentioned the holidays– that was you, right?– I went to the Holiday Train Show this weekend at the Botanical Garden. It was super overpriced and the ticket takers are monsters  gorgeous. Really, really breathtaking, and despite some early hiccups (see: crossed out part of the previous sentence), we all had a lovely time. Even my dad had a ton of fun, and he’s just as surly as I am!

2014-12-14 19.07.16

Photo credit: Sylvapotamus, The Wonderful.

 

Being a completely ridiculous human being at the Train Show.

Being a completely ridiculous human being. Photo credit: The Incredible Sylvapotamus

Those all sound pretty great, right? Writing that out is certainly giving me perspective on what truly matters: sugar. Wait… sugar AND loved ones.  In no particular order. Actually, no, those two things are in the right order. Sugar rules all.

Speaking of sugar, let’s talk pie. Speaking of pie, let’s talk chocolate pie. Speaking… ok. We’ll just get to it then.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart (makes one 9-inch round tart)

pie crust from Canal House & filling from Saveur

CRUST

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

12 tablespoons of very cold, unsalted butter,  grated (Yes! Grated! It’s genius!)

1 egg, beaten, mixed with enough cold water to produce 1/2 cup

Pie weights (I usually use uncooked rice, but dried beans or actual pie weights work too)

FILLING

For the caramel

1 1/2 cups of sugar

3 tablespoons of light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon of salt

6 tablespoons of butter (note: I used salted because it’s what I had; if you’re in the same boat, omit the above salt)

6 tablespoons of heavy cream

For the ganache

1/2 cup of heavy cream

4 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Sea salt for garnish

Ok, before we start, I kind of think I’ve finally found a pie crust recipe that doesn’t make me want to throw in the tea towel in defeat. I found it very easy to work with, which I’ve never, ever been able to say. I’d love to hear what others think of it.

Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch pie tin; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter, then blend in using either a pastry blender or a fork. Using your fingers, rub the mixture together just until it feels like wet sand. Stir in the egg mixture with a fork until it begins to come together into a dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, kneading just until it holds together. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into flat discs, then cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days (you can freeze it for up to three months). When ready to use, remove dough from fridge and let it come to room temperature.

On a large, floured flat surface, roll dough out to 14-inch round (and if yours actually stays round, I envy you, magic baker). Gently roll the dough onto a rolling pin, then lay into pie plate. Trim off any excess, leaving 1/2 inch or so of overhang, then curl overhang under lid and crimp decoratively if you have the skills for this. Alas, I do not. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

It's a pie crust that LOOKS LIKE A PIE CRUST!

It’s a pie crust that LOOKS LIKE A PIE CRUST!

To blind bake the shell, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Line shell with parchment paper or foil, then place weights evenly along the bottom of the shell. Bake for about ten minutes, then remove weights and parchment/foil. At this point, I like to cover the edges of the pie with a ring of foil to prevent them from burning. Send back into the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until the shell is golden brown. Let cool before filling.

Now let’s work on the most amazing caramel. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, salt and 6 tablespoons of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the pan reads 340ºF. Ok, full disclosure: I kind of let this go to 350ºF because I was curious as to what would happen/not paying attention, and I actually really liked the nutty, deep taste the extra time gave the caramel. Remove the pan from heat, then whisk in butter and cream (the mixture will bubble up considerably). Whisk until smooth, then pour evenly into pie shell. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours, until caramel is firm.

Almost there, folks. Almost.

Almost there, folks. Almost.

I know, I know this is like a days-long pie recipe, but you will thank me dude. We’re on the last step, the ganache. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl, then pour in the boiled cream. Let the mixture sit for one minute, then gently stir together with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over the tart and chill in refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over the top before serving.

Heaven's surface is sea salty and chocolatey.

Heaven’s surface is sea salty and chocolatey.

So? So. No– no it’s not so-so. It’s anything BUT so-so. It’s like the fanciest, most wonderful candy bar your mouth has ever had the pleasure of receiving. I know there’s been a bit of a backlash against salty desserts, but my brain does not have time to comprehend this. If you have the time– and, truth be told, from start to finish, it’s entirely possible this pie will take days of prep work– please, please make this for yourself and the people closest to you.

*Definitely* make sure this pie is chilled before you slice it if you're looking to photograph it. I simply could not wait any longer.

*Definitely* make sure this pie is chilled before you slice it if you’re looking to photograph it. I simply could not wait any longer.

How it looked after a couple of days. Am I a bad blogger because I did this to this tart, or a good blogger for being honest with you?

How it looked after a couple of days. Am I a bad blogger because I did this to this tart, or a good blogger for being honest with you?

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