Rainier Cherry Pie

DSC_0584 (1600x1060)Mrs J wanted to make a pie out of the Rainier cherries she found at the local market.  We’ve always had good luck finding good recipes over at smittenkitchen, we took a look and went with her sweet cherry pie recipe.  Her butter pie crust recipe is Mrs J’s goto pie crust.DSC_0591 (1600x1060)It turned out pretty well, but it just doesn’t say cherry pie – it’s that the color isn’t right.  I think cherry pie and I see bright red filling in my mind’s eye and this fails.  We are off to the store after some more cherries for another go!

Buttermilk Pie, A July 4th Favorite

Buttermilk Pie 1

This has become a 4th of July favorite.

Fourth of July Buttermilk Pie Recipe

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (half a stick)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 9-inch graham cracker crust
  • 1 cup cold, heavy whipping cream
  • 8- 15 strawberries, halved
  • A handful of blueberries (opt)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then beat in the sugar and lemon zest until well combined. Beat in the flour and melted butter. Beat in the vanilla and buttermilk.

Pour filling batter into an graham pie shell. Bake at 325°F for approximately 50 minutes, or until the center of the custard has just set (can still be a little wiggly). Remove from oven and let cool. The custard may puff up a bit in the oven; it will deflate as it cools.

Whip the chilled cream until it holds stiff peaks. Once the pie has cooled to room temperature, spread the whipping cream over the top of the pie. Arrange the raspberries and blueberries in a decorative pattern on top of the whipping cream.
Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Makes 8 serving pieces.

Back to Basics: Pie Crust

Blueberry Pie photo by JeffreyW

I’m terrified of pie crusts. I can honestly tell you I’ve never made one. Ever. Until today.

I always thought that there was no way I could succeed at – it seemed like a science experiment that I was unprepared to undertake. I wasn’t quite wrong.

See a few years ago, my friend Alton (not that one) wrote a post on Ratios, a cookbook that was part science, part math, part foolproof recipes.He chose to try out the pie crust recipe and made it sound so easy that for quite sometime I toyed with trying it out.

Ratio isn’t a recipe book so much as an explanation of the different ratios that go into making various dishes. For example a pie crust is a ratio of 3:2:1. Three parts flour. Two parts fat. One part liquid. Put the ingredients together in these amounts and in this order and you get pie dough. This is the fact. The science. The structure behind cooking. The art is determined by how skillfully you blend the ingredients. What changes you make in ingredients.

Tonight I decided that with my desire to go back to the basics, this was a good a place as any to continue that journey.

Here goes nothing.

For perfect pie crust all you need is this ratio:

  • 3 parts flour
  • 2 parts fat
  • 1 part water
To that I added a touch of sugar and salt.  (I used 1-1/2 cups flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt , 1 cup butter and 1/2 cup water).  Sound easy? It was. And while not perfect yet – after all it was my first pie crust and working with it takes some practice. Hence JeffreyW’s photo and not one of my own. It was flaky and tasted ok.  I made blueberry turnovers. And I can say, I’m no longer afraid of pie crust.

There are some tricks to mixing together your perfect ratio.  Cold, cold, cold is the first tip. I cut frozen butter (oh, and I use butter instead of shortening in most everything because I like it and I always have it on hand) into small pieces and then put it back in the freezer, along with a glass mixing bowl, a measuring cup of water, my pastry cutter and my marble rolling pin.

I whisked together the flour, sugar and salt then cut in the butter with my pastry cutter, but not too much, the butter was already small, when those small pieces were smaller by half I stopped.  It was warm in the kitchen, so the butter softened quickly. I added the water, mixed it together until everything was moistened, then kneaded it lightly by hand. I divided into two sections, wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until chilled. Then I rolled it out for turnovers.

I was still a little unsure of how thin to roll it out. This is something I’m going to research and play with and see what I can come up with. Maybe Mrs. J will have some suggestions.

Mmm…Cherry Pie

We’ve been watching all the celebrity chefs show off their mad apple pie skilz.  Mrs J was talking about how her Momma could crank pies out like a Mrs Smith’s pie factory, and how she helped as a young lass but for whatever reason she now struggled to make a decent crust.  Last night we watched Alton Brown make an apple pie that looked very good and we paid close attention to the crust recipe he used.

Mrs J noted, when my prodding became more intense, that we didn’t have any apple jack like Alton used.  I remembered reading in a comment thread somewhere that vodka would work as a moistening agent-it had no real taste and did the moistening of the flour just fine without forming any nasty gluten that was the enemy of flaky pie crusts everywhere.  She allowed that vodka would be worth a try but that we had no apples.  I reminded her that this was an exercise in building a crust, and that we did have some canned cherry pie filling.  She finally broke down and tried her hand at a cherry pie.

She used lard for the shortening, along with the butter.  Things proceeded pretty much according to plan, the flour came together in the food processor just as it did for Mr Brown.  She used 6 tablespoons of 80 proof vodka-the only change from the recipe.  The dough was chilled for an hour before she rolled it out.  The first piece went just fine, but the top proved fragile-she had to roll it out again.  It was finally ready to bake.

It spent 30 minutes in a 350 oven covered with foil, then the foil was removed and an egg wash applied to the top.  Back into the oven it went, she boosted the temp a bit, 375 I think at the end.  It spent an additional 45 minutes or more in the oven before we finally took it out.

Mrs J judges it the best crust she has ever made.  I am loathe to argue the point.

Enjoy!

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Now That’s a Pie

Mrs. J made the buttermilk pie tonight and JeffW sent me a photo.  I’m sure if I’d made the pie, it would have looked just like this.  Really.  Honest.  Okay, who are we kidding? Between her talent and his photography skills I’m being outclassed on my own blog.  I’m a lucky girl.

Here it is (hopefully JeffW will give us a taste update):

Mrs J's Buttermilk Pie