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Cooks and food lovers have their culinary and gastronomic quests.  There is a note of wistfulness in their tone as they remember the [ fill in the blank ] they once had in [ fill in the blank ] or the perfect recipe for [ fill in the blank ].  Author and some-time food writer Calvin Trillin called one of his “the Great Dried Beef in the Sky–an oriental grail we had been in search of since we ate an awesome dried beef dish in a Chinese restaurant in London”. 

Raspberry Pie is the end of a search begun 10 years ago in Maine.  Every day, a small bakery located behind a filling station near the lake where we vacationed placed a handwritten sign out by the road announcing the day’s pies.  Several times a week one of them was Raspberry Pie and several times a week we would bring one back to our cabin and eat it sitting on the front porch in the late afternoon. The trail to recreating that pie ends here with one adapted from a recipe on Nicole Weston’s blog, Baking Bites.  Her explanation of how to adjust baking times for pies using frozen fruit is especially useful and and she also describes a Vanilla Pie Crust recipe (reproduced here) that is easy, good and different.

Raspberry Pie (for 8 people)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 5 cups of raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
  • grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
  • Sugar and cinnamon, mixed together for sprinkling on the top of the pie before baking

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of cold butter, cut in pieces, and some for buttering the pie pan
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • about 3/4 cup of cold water

Equipment:

  • a pie pan (The photographed pie was made in a glass pan measuring 8 inches across the bottom, 11 inches across the top, and 2 inches deep.
  • a food processor, useful but not essential
  • some cookie cutters for making cut-outs to decorate the crust

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F. and butter the pie pan. Begin by making the dough for the crust.  If you are using a food processor, put the flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl and pulse until all are well combined.  Mix the water and vanilla together, turn on the processor, and slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients through the tube until the dough forms and balls.  (The crust for the pastry of the photographed pie was made with a little less than 3/4 cup of water.)  Wrap the dough in waxed paper and let it chill in the freezer while you mix the pie filling.  (A note:  In addition to making a good crust, this dough has an added advantage of being pliable and easy to work with.  A child who is learning to bake could roll it out successfully, even if there is no time to chill the dough):

2.  In a large bowl, mix the berries, both sugars, some grated nutmeg, and the cornstarch:

3.  Add the vanilla and set the filling aside:

4.  Take out the pie crust dough and slice it through into two discs, one larger than the other:

5.  Roll out the larger piece into a circle that will fit into the pie pan with an overhang of pastry, fold it in quarters and place it in the pan with the tip of the folded dough centered in the middle of the pan:

6.  Unfold the dough in the pan.  Roll out the smaller piece into a circle that will fit over the filling, also with an overhang.  Pour the filling into the pie shell. Fold the dough for the top crust in half, lift it up and place it over half of the pie:

7.  Unfold the dough to cover the filling.  With scissors or a knife, cut around the edges of the bottom and top crust overhangs to trim them to an even diameter, leaving some overhang so that you will be able to tuck the ends of the top and bottom crusts inside the pie pan after you seal them together.  If you want to, roll out the leftover bits of pastry to make cut-outs to decorate the top of the pie:

 8.  Seal and crimp the edges of the pastry together and tuck them inside the pie pan.  Place the cut-outs on the top crust, poke some holes in the crust here and there with a skewer or fork and sprinkle it all over with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar:

9.  Bake the pie at 400 F. for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 375 F. and bake the pie for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling juices bubble up through the holes in it.  (A Note:  If you use fruit that is still frozen, the baking time will be longer.  If the edges of the crust brown before the center is done, cover them with some aluminum foil.)

10.  Before cutting the pie…

….let it cool completely:

(A Note:  Raspberry Pie features as the Dessert in the Dinner Menu: Dinner at Summer’s EndRaspberry Pie is excellent straight-up.  But when given an option of homemade ice cream as well, most people will take it.)

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011

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