Hi friends, here’s an everyday sort of pie story for you – catching up from March here (and honestly, patting myself on the back a bit that lately my blog posts have been about fairly recent history.) It feels good to be here and writing for you so regularly.
Sometimes, circumstances collude to create just the right conditions for a batch of mini pies in jars. I’d added some Granny Smith apples to my Imperfect Foods box the week before, I had streusel topping in the freezer, and I needed a small but meaningful gift to bring over to a couple from church. (Over the last eight or nine months of Covid-era-life, our church has had a pairing list to connect families on a weekly basis. It’s been really great to have the opportunity to give and receive creative gifts and gestures when we aren’t able to see our church family as a whole on a regular basis.)
Granny Smith apples, pears, a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, lemon juice…a simple, can’t-go-wrong filling. In addition to two jars for our church friends, I made a pie for my friend Erin (it was her birthday week, hence the included candle). I also had to make a airplane pie-in-a-jar for our Matt (Uncle Teo to Pippa) who was getting ready to go back to his hometown of KC after a few months of writing his dissertation from our dining room table. And, of course, I made one in a ramekin for Pippa Pip, who helped me make the pastry and thinks there’s hardly anything better than homemade apple pie.
After a morning of pie-making, Pippa and I met up with Erin and her daughter Emery for a girls’ sushi lunch. I love that these two sweet girls are good buddies despite being many years apart in age. (Click the link to see the last photo I posted of Emery on this blog. Boy oh boy. To continue the Head and the Heart quote I started in that post from 2014, the months turn into years!)
This churashi bowl was gorgeous! Eating in a parking lot isn’t always the most picturesque, and we had a chilly day for it, but you’ll never catch me complaining about anything our restaurants have had to do to stay open this year. The food service world has been on my heart constantly.
Pippa can eat a lot – but not THAT much fried rice. (She’s enjoying it, despite the quizzical look on her face.) I hope she takes after her friend Emery’s love of sriracha and all things spicy someday.
It was a happy birthday celebration for a dear friend!
Hello everyone! Happy March. The most recent addition to ye olde Pie Gallery is…Calvados-Apple Custard Pie.
There are several reasons that certain recipes in Pie have languished for so long without being tried. One that I’ve mentioned previously is how elusive certain fruits are (loganberries, for example). Another common roadblock is that the pie requires a liqueur or liquor that we don’t have handy. Like apple brandy.
Calvados was brand new to me! If, like me, you need a bit of background, Calvados refers to apple or pear brandy from Normandy (apple, for the purposes of our pie of the day). It has a really pleasant flavor, and we’ve discovered that it’s quite nice just mixed with sparkling water. I’m going to be honest here: I just spent about 7 minutes perusing the Calvados Wikipedia article and found it super interesting. Take a look if you’d like (i.e. if you’re a nerd like me).
On to the pie. A partially pre-baked pastry is needed (I had two takes this time – read to the end of the post to see my faux pas). The filling is made by first sautéing large slices of apples (I used Honeycrisp) in butter, a little sugar, and a quarter cup of Calvados. The apples are placed aside to cool and then arranged in the bottom of the pie pastry. In a small pot on the stovetop, cream, more sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, and 2 more tablespoons of Calvados form the custard. The custard is still a thin liquid when it is poured into the pie shell – it sets as it’s baking. Here’s a little photographic representation for ya!
The finished product as it came out of the oven was puffed slightly and had a gorgeous golden color. We cooled it to room temperature before partaking, and it did not disappoint; most especially for a pie we had mainly curiously and no real expectations towards! Levi threw in an overly superlative comment (“I think this really must be at least in my top five…”). However, if this was true every time he said it, we’d be looking at 57 pies in his top five. The flavor profile was complex, yet refined – despite the amount of brandy, it cannot be described as boozy. On the whole, this pie is a very elegant dessert, something I could imagine myself enjoying at a non-fussy French café.
In other news…I have pie failures sometimes! (I hope you’re not too surprised.) Let us analyze the poorly lit photo of a sad partially pre-baked pie crust, below, and see what we can learn together.
Observations: The crust has shrunken, while baking, to a shape that would never contain a custard filling. The edges are poorly defined (no attempt at fluting and very little at crimping). There is also a color/pattern that I might call “Pie Stretch Marks”.
Hypotheses: This was an All-Butter Pastry. I rarely use this recipe, as I like the flakiness that comes from half butter and half shortening or oil, not to mention that plowing through a whole stick of butter per single pastry isn’t super cost-effective. However, the Calvados-Apple Custard Pie recipe did suggest using this recipe based on the unbeatable flavor of the purely butter crust, and I liked that idea. The real thing I’m not sure of is how often I’ve pre-baked an only-butter crust. It’s probably not happened many other times, and I’m curious if that’s a factor. My other thought was that this pastry was probably a little bit overworked, and tighter gluten strands started to form, causing the crust to pull together and shrink. (Hence, Pie Stretch Marks). Finally, I know for sure that I did not roll this pastry out as wide as I should have. When you put a pie crust in a dish, you want it to feel very roomy- if you’re pulling and stretching at the edges to try to make your pie tall enough (as I was here) you can anticipate problems.
Conclusion: I could have probably done something with this, we talked briefly about getting some whipping cream and berries and making a funny pavlova-type situation, but the bottom line was that it was a busy day, we didn’t really need more dessert, and it was best to just move on. Bye bye, shrunken buttery pie.
Here’s an aerial shot to sign off with. Peace, love, and board games. ✌️
2021 is upon us, and, arbitrary though it may be, it feels good to move forward. It feels good to set new goals and intentions, to re-dedicate ourselves to our core beliefs and values and relationships, to know that any pain and struggles we experienced in 2020 will carve space for deeper joys to come, if we let them.
This is going to be a long post. The format was the most recent guest baker (aka Levi)’s suggestion so if you get too the end of this and think “THIS WAS TOO. MUCH. PIE.,” you can take it up with him. I was intrigued by the idea of starting my blogging life somewhat afresh in 2021, so I went for it. Without further ado, here is a roundup of eight dessert pies I baked in 2020 that had not yet been blogumented.
Yep, I just made that word up.
Indiana Buttermilk Pie
August 2020. First of three pies from when our friend Matt was in California to visit us for slightly over a week. Three pies in a week, that’s well above my usual pace. To put it in perspective, if that was my standard pace, this project would have been over by 2013. This was my first buttermilk pie (there are three buttermilk pie recipes in Pie) but not my last in 2020, as you’ll see. Simple, basic, uncomplicated flavor. 1 teaspoon of vanilla is the only real flavoring agent, and the tartness of the buttermilk shines straight through. I loved this.
“White” Summer Fruit Pie…sort of!
August 2020. Second of three pies in aforementioned week. We really wanted one of them to be a fruit pie, and Matt (Pie Hype Man) really wanted me to make progress in the cookbook, so we chose this “White” Summer Fruit recipe. It called for Rainier cherries and either white peaches or nectarines. As it turned out, we weren’t able to locate Rainiers so late in the summer, so we followed the recipe exactly but used zero cherries, white Saturn peaches, yellow nectarines, and rhubarb (of which I freeze lots each spring). While it was absolutely divine and we ate it with homemade vanilla ice cream (extra divinity points) my overactive conscience won’t allow me to check this pie off my list until I make it again with Rainier cherries. *Avoids eye contact with Matt, who totally thought this one counted.* But look how pretty!!
Little Crème Brûlée Pies
August 2020. Third of three. Unusual and unforgettable mini pies. My first time making Ken’s “Extra Flaky” pie crust recipe, which calls for cake flour. (Also my first time purchasing cake flour! A few of the pies in this post had ingredients outside the typical realm of my pantry, as you’ll see.) The pastry was lovely to work with and yielded enough for four miniature pie pans, pictured below. After these pies are baked, they are topped with a layer of brown sugar and blow-torched to perfection. I mean, what could be better?
Coconut Cream Pie with Coconut Meringue Topping
October 2020. More ingredients I never hardly ever buy: sweetened flaked coconut and cream of coconut (as in, the stuff in piña coladas, not to be confused with coconut cream aka thicker coconut milk). My cousin Martin’s family visited us for a weekend and I wanted to make a great pie to enjoy all together. When we were growing up and on summertime vacations in Vermont, Martin and I were the little kids who would order coconut almond ice cream without fail when we’d all go to our favorite ice cream shop (our grandparents’ treat). Our shared love of coconut led me to choose this pie for the occasion. Decadent. A coconut lover’s dream come true; yet, not overpowering or artificial in any way.
Three Sisters Coconut Buttermilk Pie
October 2020. Remember that sweetened flaked coconut I’d just bought? Me too…so I looked for another recipe that called for it. Since making the Indiana Buttermilk Pie and absolutely adoring it, I had been looking forward to trying a second buttermilk pie – this was an easy pick. Like a coconut custard pie but with the tang of buttermilk to take it to the next level; a real treat. We shared this pie with our good friends Brad and Deb at our big outdoor table. It seats 18, but we’ve been so grateful for the few times this year that we’ve used it to seat even 4. ❤
Homestead Chess Pie
November 2020. I was looking for something very simple, with pantry ingredients, as I decided to put this pie together at the last minute. This fit the bill: eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, a bit of vinegar and cornmeal. In my last blog post, I mentioned that I made a (correct) executive decision to bake my Tarte au Sucre an extra 15 minutes past the time given in the recipe. I initially took this pie out at 35 minutes (recipe calls for 30-35) but ended up putting it back in the oven later, cause it clearly was underbaked. Yikes. Perhaps my oven does run cold and I am just waking up to this fact? I shall ponder this further. A delightful pie in the end, for all its simplicity. The fifth of the five Chess Pies in Pie – I’ve now exhausted that category. I confess, I did secretly wish this was a Lemon Chess Pie when I was eating it. Levi probably did too because he is Mr. Lemon Dessert.
Crock-Pot Fall Fruit Pie
November 2020. The name above ruins my punch line. Which of the desserts pictured below do you think was my Thanksgiving pie this year? That’s right, it’s the only one that looks nothing like a pie! This oval-shaped semi-imposter, though not what you would expect of me, was a popular and tasty dessert table choice that I’d recommend any of you try. It’s made with baking mix (like Bisquick – I used Birch Benders Organic Classic Pancake and Waffle Mix), fresh cranberries, pears, apples. Super Thanksgiving-y and great with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Apple and Blueberry Crumb Pie
December 2020. This was an important pie for me. I didn’t follow a recipe. I made it for my dear Linda (Pippa’s former nanny) and her family. My apple pie is Linda’s favorite, my blueberry pie is her daughter’s favorite, and they both love crumb topping. Linda had filled a pie dish with homemade tamales for us shortly before Thanksgiving. After the tamales sustained us for several days, I was left with this empty dish (it says Blessed on the bottom – I’d actually given it to her as a gift the last week she worked for us). I couldn’t picture giving it back like that, so I made this pie while Pippa took an afternoon nap one day. This has been a season of grief, and that was an afternoon when the grief was more present than I realized. There was something so visceral in making that pie with my hands, both painful and healing at the same time. I didn’t expect to react the way I did to peeling and coring the apples, to breaking up clumps of butter with my floury fingers – each familiar step generating a physical heartache – but perhaps I should have. Linda said her whole family agreed it was the best pie they have ever had.
Through that experience, I recognized that pie making has become a way to let my heart speak what is on is mind. It is a path I can walk any time, in any weather. And it is a way I can return blessings on the givers in my life, of whom there truly are many.
Be blessed in 2021, my friends, though it may look different than you expect. Happy New Year!
A few editorial notes:
You probably got this already, but a pie named in bold type is a pie from Ken Haedrich’s Pie baked for the first time. The two fruit pie titles are not in bold, denoting that they aren’t counting towards my count to 300.
While at this moment I’m feeling 96.5% sure that I covered all of 2020’s sweet pies, there were also a couple savory pies I’d like to tell you a bit more about another day. Also, there are still some pies of yesteryear that will occasionally pop into my mind or out of old photos which have yet to claim their rightful place in the gallery. So, if you had any fear that I was completely done with flashbacks…fear not.
Yes, my friends. It’s time to talk about mock apple pie, made from zucchini and a few other ingredients that aid the trickery. Unless you actually make one yourself, you will probably not believe me when I say how good it is. But I and my taste-testers will tell you: it is really, really, really good. This Crumb-Topped Zapple Pie recipe can be found in Ken Haedrich’s book Pie, like most of the others discussed on this blog.
I made two of these back-to-back in late August/early September when mi querida amiga Linda gave me six zucchini from her prolific garden, two of which were actual giants. I’m a person that likes zucchini a lot of ways, but after making that first pie, it was like, oh, clearly this is 100% the best way to use zucchini. Let’s not mess around with zucchini bread and other such distractions anymore.
What does it take to make a Zapple Pie? Take a look.
Because this pie is so unusual, so delectable, and made with such a common ingredient, I feel it will be well worth our collective time to go into the process in a more step-by-step fashion than I typically would. Sound good? Sounds good.
Peel the zucchini and cut into thin, but not paper-thin, pieces (Cut rounds, then quarter them if a large zucchini, or in half for a medium zucchini.) You’ll start with six cups of raw zuke pieces.
Not previously pictured, but here is another key secret ingredient. Little bit of apple juice concentrate + Little bit of apple cider vinegar goes a long way in making zucchinis taste like apples, as it turns out.
Sugar, spices, and appley things simmer with the zucchini in a stockpot prior to baking. A cornstarch and lemon juice mixture is added towards the end to thicken and brighten up the mixture.
Like most of Ken’s crumb-topped pies, this pie is baked for half an hour with nothing on top, and the crumbs are added about halfway through the total baking time. Personally, one of my favorite aspects of this pie is the use of pecans in the crumb topping. This truly elevates the flavor and texture of the entire pie, in my opinion. Genius move.
In checking for doneness, you’ll see thick juicy bubbles around the edge of the pie when it’s done, just like you would expect of any classic fruit pie.
I was happy to be able to share these pies with Linda (the zucchini-giver) and her family and Levi’s grandparents and aunt. We’ve also been having backyard church some Sunday nights with a handful of friends, a real joy. Distanced and all that, you know the drill (Pippa and her cousin “baby Luke” don’t distance, because a. They stink at it and b. We are in each others’ bubbles.) But boy oh boy, it is GOOD to sit eight feet apart from physical people and physically drink the wine and eat the bread together.
And sometimes, afterwards, physically eat mystery pie together.
Pippa: “Whhaaaaat’s in it?” She loves being in on trickery.
Bonus completely irrelevant photo that no one will be mad about: Pippa and her beloved babies. I hope she never stops calling anyone that is even slightly younger than her “baby ___________”.
Left to right: Baby Pippa, Baby Margaret, Baby Dolly, Baby Lucy, Baby Lydia. #babysquad
Will you try making a Zapple Pie? Don’t forget to let me know. I very badly want to hear your reaction and whether you found it as entirely delightful as I did. ❤
I’m writing to you today from the state of Virginia, where current temps and humidity are combining to make it feel like 108 degrees or so. Swampy is a word I’d use to describe the feeling upon departing from any air conditioned building. That being said, super happy to be here, and also looking forward to going to another swampy state (Georgia) in a few days. Just remember, fellow Northern Hemisphereans, it’s winter somewhere. Somewhere like Australia.
Flashback to….December 2015, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The hottest Christmas day I will probably ever experience. We were staying at our friends Nathan and Nicole’s house and it was so fun to share a warm back patio “Summer Supper” (a reference to one of P’s favorite books) in lieu of the more cozy indoor meal I typically associate with the Christmas season!
Nic is a fellow pie maker and owner of the Ken Haedrich pie tome. As part of the *many* delicious menu items she had planned for the Christmas meal, we baked not one, but two of Ken’s pies. Below left: Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Sour Cream Pie, and right, Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cloud Pie. Far right, Nic’s cute daughter Indianna. (Between us collectively, three babies have arrived in our families since this photo was taken. Goes to highlight how far back this story got stuck in the pie history bottleneck. It’s been added to its rightful position as Pie #138 in the Pie Gallery!)
Here’s a little close-up of our starlet:
And then, a slideshow of Christmas morning pie and luncheon preparations for your viewing enjoyment:
Captions for several of the photos in the above slideshow:
Black Bottom. A fancy term for, spread some chocolate in the bottom of that pie crust please.
When you’re baking in Australia from an American cookbook…you gotta break out that kitchen scale!
California walnuts (for the Apple Pie) and Australia peanuts (for the Peanut Butter Pie), aww, it’s a metaphor for friendship!
Note to self (or Levi if he’s reading this), one of those fancy nut choppers might be a necessary Gelineau kitchen tool…
If you’re wondering where the “Cloud” in Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cloud Pie comes in, just pause the slideshow for a moment on the image the peanut butter filling pouring lazily from the mixing bowl. Light as a cloud, my friends, light as a cloud.
Graham crackers? Australians have never heard of ’em. Try some good old Arnott’s Shredded Wheatmeal biscuits in your next homemade graham cracker crust! (This particular pie calls for peanuts in the crust in addition to in LITERALLY EVERY OTHER PART OF THE PIE. 10/10 would recommend to your favorite peanut lover.)
Wait a second…those pictures are not of pie! But, goodness me, doesn’t all of that food look divine? I’m just over here trying to show that Nic is the next Donna Hay. Only my Australian friends will get that but it’s totally fine.
Other bits and pieces:
Nic and I have been talking pie for many years now, and she has even shared a savory pie recipe on this blog before, in the post linked here: A Recipe from Nic.
Here’s the story of my first Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Sour Cream Apple Pie: Pie and Music
Sending love to each one of you out there having a hot, cool, chilly, or any kind of beautiful July day. ❤
“Make Mine Apple” is the title of the Apple Section of Ken Haedrich’s cookbook Pie, the compendium I’ve been slowly inching my way through over the past ten years. As you can imagine, this is an important part of the book (Apple has got to be the most common answer for “Type of Pie” if you’re playing Family Feud, right?!) While I’m only roughly halfway through making every single pie in the cookbook (152/300), I’ve now made 18/25 of the pies under the heading “Make Mine Apple”. And P.S. there are some scary ones in this section that are yet to come. (Hint: Ketchup.)
To really hammer this point home, here’s a throwback link to a post from 2012 where I talk about how I’m running out of apple pie recipes (!)
All that being said, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to baking this very NOT scary Cooked-Fruit ApplePie. Relatively simple, classic flavors, easy to acquire ingredients. This is a lovely pie that could truly only have few enemies.
Some people don’t like raisins, I suppose. That could be where a person could take issue with this pie. Pippa, on the other hand (my number one pie taste tester): big fan of the raisin. Big, big fan.
So here’s the pie-nerdy part of this post. This recipe is instructive in a specific technique. Picture a slice of double-crust apple pie in your mind’s eye. If you’ve eaten a respectable number of apple pie slices in your day, you’ll probably agree that the slice of pie you’ve pictured has somewhat of a gap between the top crust and the pile of cooked apples in the filling. That’s because apples shrink as they cook down, leaving an empty space behind. Nothing mind-blowing here. Now, the Cooked-Fruit Apple Pie is different. The apples are cooked until they begin to shrink before the pie is assembled and baked, resulting in a snug top crust.
Among other titles, my friend Sara is a potter. Isn’t this a beautiful pie plate?
In the photo below, you can witness the aforementioned “snug top crust” effect. And some peekin’ raisins.
Ohhhh, here we go! I get to show you all my new favorite thing!!!
A couple posts back I told you that I finally got proper pie-slice-dispersing packages and here they are in their glory. I am absolutely loving owning these. I feel a little sheepish it took me this long to stock something like this at my house, but also, not really surprised. I’m a huge under-buyer (a term from one of my favorite podcasters, Gretchen Rubin, click here to take a quiz that will classify you as an under-buyer or an over-buyer). Also, I avoid (not entirely successfully, but with good effort) purchasing one-time use kitchen items. Thirdly, (and what a blessing this is!) I’ve pretty much always been able to fill my house with pie-eating people at a moment’s notice. Since dinner parties have been put on pause for now, I was forced into rethinking how to safely share the pies I bake with as many other folks as possible. Anyway, aren’t they fun? I think what I like the most about them is how they make each slice truly look like a shiny little gift.
As we move into this summer, I’m wishing each of you peace, resolve, openheartedness, and perhaps even a few moments of glee such as the one pictured below.
Three Aprils ago, a pie was born in Santiago, Chile. Some pears and some apples lent themselves to the creation, along with, I believe, some blueberries and strawberries, and perhaps another odd fruit that I’m forgetting.
This feels like another lifetime now, in several ways. During our visit to Chile, we probably pinched ourselves daily, saying “WE’RE IN CHILE!” And yet there wasn’t anything terribly surprising about it, not for us; affluent, educated, healthy, non-parents. We marveled at our ability to go to sleep on an airplane and wake up halfway around the world as often as we did it; we marveled that it was…well…easy. Whether or not it should have been. It was just so easy. And now?
It would be easy for me to get caught up in wondering what is next. If we’ll ever leave the U.S.A. again in this lifetime. If so, when. My toddler has been to Spain. She’s been to Canada. Mexico, twice. Traveling feels like part of our nature, and there are places in nearly every continent of the world that are deep deep down in my heart. It is a blessing, a blessing that sometimes makes my heart ache and that I’ve never wanted to trade for anything.
Last night, I was listening to a friend go live on a social media platform. She talked about a perspective she has been trying to take, in light of all the uncertainty we’re entering Summer 2020 with. She shared that, instead of focusing on her sadness at very likely missing out on quality time with family and friends at a beloved second home of a campground, she is trying instead to focus on being grateful that she has something to deeply miss.
In other words, when we have those strong feelings of missing something or someone, it’s a sign or indication that those things are planted very solidly in our heartdepths. And that, in and of itself, is something to be profoundly grateful for.
Tonight, then, I poured a small glass of port and sat down here at my laptop to share with you a few photos of this trip to Chile that we’ve been reminiscing about QUITE a lot recently. Just thinking about it brings me such joy. We coordinated our travel with our friend Matt (who now lives in Canada), were visiting our friends Shaye and Andrew and Brydyn (who are all from New Zealand), and made a new friend, Rosie (who, along with her husband, just made it to her new temporary home in Bolivia before the borders closed due to COVID-19).
These are just some really home-y photos. I have photos from Pablo Neruda’s house, from Santiago’s incredible restaurants and wine shops, from mountaintop monuments, the beach, the Andes mountains, a nearby pottery village. But that’s not where we are right now, physically and mentally. Do you know what I mean? The memories of those adventures feed my soul, no doubt. But what I’m pulling out from my heartdepths right now are not tourist destinations. I’m pulling out feelings of togetherness. I’m pulling out memories of beautiful home cooked meals and a round of Pisco sours and a cat sleeping on a dining room chair and KIDS that keep us all in a state of delight.
As we’ve been singing a lot with Pippa: I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.
This post is so named, not because I put olives in a pie. Olive oil would be a yes, but olives, nah…unless we’re talking empanadas, which we aren’t. Not today, at least.
It is so named because we had a Saturday back in October in which we* harvested our olive tree and with many extra hands, pitted, crushed, and after a series of interesting events which included the realization that a centrifuge was needed, came up with about half a bottle of olive oil.
Asterisk on the we*: while Levi led the olive brigade, I hung with Pippa and her second cousins, Kaelie Marie and Audrie OLIVE! And I made an apple pie so as to provide a more immediate reward for the monotonous labor taking place at our back table (thanks to Sam, Jeff, Martin, Jess, and Ben!).
I’d recently come into a stash of bison tallow and beef tallow (remember my claim in the last post, I have never bought lard. Still true.) You’ll notice in the photos of the crust (the last two photos in this post) that using half tallow, half butter in the pastry resulted in a somewhat cracked, harder pastry than usual. The flavor was very good, but the texture was nowhere near what a pork lard crust flakes like. As an aside, if you found this paragraph remotely interesting, you may enjoy this NY Times article about how various fats manifest in baked pastry (I did).
Lard vs. Tallow. Do you know what difference there is, if any? I didn’t. According to my research, they’re the same thing (animal fat) but the terminology has to do with the animal that the fat is derived from. Tallow usually means we’re talking beef/mutton/cowlike animals. Now you know! If you knew already, or have anything to add or any previous experience cooking with tallow, leave a comment; I’d love to learn more! Seems like tallow is much more rarely used for pie crust and more so used for frying foods or non-cooking-related enterprises such as soap-making or candle-making.
I hope you enjoy the following photos from a day filled with hard work and an education in olive oil making, all made enjoyable in the presence of family, friends, and feasting.
While I have a few favorite scapegoats for the fact that for the past several years I’ve been hovering right around 150/300 pies completed from my Pie cookbook, my favorite favorite goes something like this.
“Well, I love using fruit that’s in season, and I’ve pretty much already made every fruit pie in the book…it’s all those chiffon and ice cream pies and so on that I never seem to get to…and it always seems like a waste to NOT make pie out of fruit I have around (DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I CAN FIND LOGANBERRIES?!) so I end up just making up my own fruit pies. So, please believe me, I AM making pie, just not making progress towards my 300 pie goal.”
It is pretty accurate.
But, for this story, I am proud to say, that I found a never-before-made double crust fruit pie recipe in Pie for which I did not need to find loganberries or marionberries or any other such nonsense. Georgia Orcutt’s Thanksgiving Dried Fruit Pie. Yes, it contains only readily available dried fruits (Bing cherries, apples, prunes, and apricots), which get stewed and simmered back to life in a pot of apple cider before melding with walnuts, lemon juice, sugar, and butter to become a unique and quite delicious final showpiece.
Why, you may ask, did I need this particular pie to be a double crust fruit pie? Well, I had come into possession of some very high-quality lard, hand-rendered by friends, and Ken Haedrich, in his lard pie crust recipe, notes that lard is a particularly good choice for a double crusted fruit pie. With an ingredient on hand that produces an impossibly flaky and perfect crust, it would be a mistake to fiddle around with distractions like crumb or streusel toppings. Let the crust shine. The more of it, the better.
A word on lard. I have never bought it in a grocery store. I probably never will. I was a vegetarian for six years. I will probably never be a vegetarian again. All this is to say, I care deeply about my food, and I like to know where it comes from. And if you knew the pig, (or the bear, for that matter) and it’s been killed for meat, and the fat is available as another useful product, I’m all about using it to create something delicious that can be enjoyed and that will give nutrients to the eater. (The pig that provided this particular jar of lard was one was raised at nearby Apricot Lane Farms. Thanks and respect.) And speaking of apricots…
You guys, now that I have a baby, it takes DAYS to make a pie. One to make crusts, one to prep ingredients, and one to hastily assemble it and get it in the oven before naptime’s over.
Here comes that apple cider action. About ten minutes of simmering on the stovetop and lots of stirring, and the dried fruit is nicely re-hydrated.
And here’s the regularly scheduled Trader Joe’s product plug you have come to love and expect from peace-of-pie.com.
Walnuts coming in for the win.
As I was rolling out this crust I was immensely pleased with the texture and knew it was going to turn out great. And that’s saying something. As Levi will attest to, even though I’ve made hundreds of pies at this point, I usually utter a few deprecating comments during the baking process (“This isn’t sticking together the way I want it to.” “It’s a little overdone.” “I should have left that in the oven for another five minutes.”) Silly, but true. Usually when I taste the pie I sheepishly agree that it’s totally fine (no, usually more than fine). Anyway…total confidence this time.
I texted the picture of the finished pie to our friends Johnny and Andy (the gifters of the lard) and told them I had made them a pie-o-nara pie and that they needed to come over and have some. They did, although it was later discovered that pie-o-nara was lost in translation/texting. Say it out loud. What do you think it means?
I updated the spelling of this made up word in the name of the post. Pieyonara. Sayonara. I think it’s more accurate. For a made up word. Johnny and Andy are heading out to some beautiful parts of the West and Southwest in their amazing renovated van for the first half of the year, so this pie was a little farewell for now.
More about Dried Fruit Pie. This pie is hearty and filling, truly a meal in and of itself. Ken Haedrich’s description speaks of the pie being present in Georgia Orcutt’s family’s Thanksgiving weekend pie buffet (in other words, they have a table of pies laid out that are available all weekend, and that can be eaten at any time, even for breakfast. Doesn’t that sound like a great tradition?)
This pie goes well with wine. Or, slightly warmed, with tea or coffee, in the morning.
Once again our glad thankgivings
Rise before our Fathers’s throne,
As we try to count the blessings
Of the year so swiftly flown.
So begins the poem “Let Us Give Thanks” by A. B. Simpson. Here we are again, two days before Thanksgiving, and I have two questions for all of you. 1. What have you been blessed by this year? 2. What pie are you making for Thanksgiving? Leave a response to these questions as a comment on this post and you’ll have a chance to receive a copy of my little booklet Love in a Crust in the mail.
I’m going to be making a Cranberry Pear Pie myself, from a recipe that my sweet older sister Marilyn gave me several autumns ago and I still haven’t tried! Very much looking forward to it.
As for what I’ve been blessed by this year, I hardly know where to begin. I will say that I am constantly amazed at the love God shows to me in the form of my fellow humans and that I’d have to count my family and friends at the very top of my blessings list.
Now, if you haven’t settled on a pie recipe for Thursday yet and are looking for something a little different but decidedly fall-ish, and if you have Ken’s Pie cookbook, may I suggest to you this absolutely delectable Cinnamon Applesauce Pie? It’s simple as anything, with a richer-than-you-would expect filling full of eggs and spices.
I got to make this pie for our friends Ben, Leah, and Jamil, when they visited us at the beginning of October. There’s Ben (he and Leah came all the way from England to visit), Jamil inspecting our wooden fruit bowl…he made the beautiful cutting board the pie is resting on, so he’s always looking for new woodworking ideas…Dante, our 18-year-old friend who is living with us for the school year, and Ricardo, another young friend from our LA church.
Another blessing for the list: having a home to share.
The list continues. For the oak trees, for the vineyards, for the sun and the occasional rain, for time spent in meaningful conversation, for God, who “has put gladness in my heart, more than when the grain and the new wine are increased,” as Psalm 4 says. It is through Him that all of these other blessings have such value.
We got to enjoy these blessings with our friends during their visit: here are a few pictures from a vineyard tour that we took part in (Saarloos and Sons Co. in Los Olivos).
While we love to “count the blessings”,
Grateful for the year that’s gone,
Faith would sweep a wider vision,
Hope would gaze yet further on.
For the signals all around us
Seem with one accord to say,
“Christ is coming soon to bring us
Earth’s last, best Thanksgiving Day!”