Winter Berry Pie – attempt #3

I think this is the first one on the right track. Oh it still needs work, but it feels like tweeking work rather than ‘well that‘s not right, find a new direction’. Which is really good since I took it into work for the holiday luncheon party (yes, back in December). Yeah, there’s no after-hours company party, just the team bringing in dishes and having an hour long lunch together. Time we need to make up or use our PTO (personal time off) for. Whee. Food’s usually really good though. My poor colleagues, every time someone asked what type of pie it was, I responded “experimental”. And then explained what was in it and that I was developing the recipe.  I experiment on and use people as guinea pigs with my food. BUT never without fair prior warning!

So, we’re still using William-Sonoma’s flaky pastry dough for the crust – I’m pretty sure this is a permanent feature. Even if it’s not close to Dangerously Delicious Pies’ version, a) we like it and b) the filling was what I actually remember from their pie. This time we didn’t par-bake the bottom crust (crust in the pan, layer of foil, pie weights on top, bake for 20 minutes to partially bake the crust) – par-baking usually keeps juices from fruits from soaking into the crust and making it soggy before the filling cooks. In this instance, since the filling was mostly jam (see next paragraph 🙂 ), the juice was already pretty cooked down and cooking everything together worked.

To continue the quest for non-soup pie, I thought turning most of the blackberries and blueberries into jam using the methodology from my Triple Berry Quick Jam ought to work. Plus, if I reserve some of the whole berries, I can mix them into the jam with the pear for the whole berry taste. This mostly worked – the jam, even with berries and pear chunks in it, wasn’t very deep and overall the pie wasn’t that tall, purely height-wise. Also, for the first time, I was under on the amount of sugar in the pie.

Adjustments for next time – more sugar overall and make less jam, mixing in more whole berries.

Winter Berry Pie the Third

  • 6oz blackberries, 1 cup for the jam, reserving the rest
  • 6oz blueberries, 1 cup for the jam, reserving the rest
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 medium comice pear
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  1. Make your pastry dough and set-up the bottom crust in a pie pan.
  2. Wash all the berries and gently drain. In a pot, gently mix together 1 cup of blackberries and 1 cup of blueberries. Coat with ¼ cup brown sugar and stir; let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and 1 tsp lemon juice. Cook on the stove top on medium heat until the berries begin to break down. Blend until smooth and simmer, without a lid, on low for 12.5 minutes. Cooking without a lid allows the berries to cook down but will splatter.
  3. Wash, peel, and cut the pear into chunks, until have 1 cup – approximately one medium pear. In a large bowl, gently mix together the jam, reserved berries, and cup of pear. Add the ginger, nutmeg, and flour (to thicken pie even further). Gently stir until flour is incorporated.
  4. Pour filling into the pie crust. Top with the second pie crust and seal the edges. Cut a steaming slit in the middle of the pie.
  5. Bake in 375°F oven for 40-45 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In case you’re wondering what happened to Winter Berry Pie #2, that was one of Adam’s experiments and involved using up some raspberry confit he just happened to have extra from making a two-layer chocolate cake. Also, hours of steaming the berries in a sifter to try and get them to break down (didn’t work so well). The end result of which, while I enjoyed eating it, is not really reproducible. At least by people with a reasonable sense of time and cooking and effort! Good thing I don’t know anyone like that 😉

Winter Berry Pie – Who knew?

So. Dangerously Delicious Pies. Truth in advertising there. They are most dangerous – to your waist-line because you will totally want to live there with the delicious, delicious pies and to your wallet. Because, living there. And eating pie.
A few Sunday’s ago, Adam and I had lunch there with a friend, splitting a quiche slice, because that’s what we do – split meals at restaurants. And sometimes still take home a meal-sized amount of leftovers. American restaurant portions. They are the huge-ness. Anywho, this also meant we had room for dessert – whee! – and split a slice of their ‘Winter Berry Pie’ – blackberries, blueberries, and pears.

Joy in a forkful. Closest I’ve come to rapture (from food).

Totally decided that I needed to be able to make this pie. Because that’s what I do, I bake. And did I mention the joy on a fork part?

A perusal of the internet later and I have not only learned that a) no one has posted a knock-off recipe but also b) I’m not finding any recipes that combine those three fruits. Blueberry-blackberry pies, tarts and cobblers, sure. Pear-blueberry pies, sure. Maybe one pear-blackberry pie in there.

Fine says I, I’ll just have to make one up.

This is where raucous laughter from the audience would be cued for during the sitcom.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I decided that for the first time ever, I was going to develop a recipe. So there’s going to be a few posts on this process over the next several… months? well, however long it takes for me to get happy with the recipe. Because I don’t want to ask the lovely people at Dangerously Delicious Pies for their recipe until I can compare how close I got.

Attempt the First;
otherwise known as Soup the Pie. Also, WAY too Frickin Sweet the Pie

So mentally the first step, for me, is the balance of fruits – every combo recipe I saw used a 1:1 ratio, why not try a 1:1:1 ratio for mine? Thus, step one:

  • 1 cup cubed pears
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup blueberries

What next? well, spices are easy(ish…) – ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla extract… Let’s try 2tsp, 1/4 tsp and 1 tsp respectively, so:

  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sweetness next: well, let’s try…

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter cubed

And binder, need to bind that all together:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Oh pie crust! Need that too. Well, Adam’s had a standard pie crust recipe he’s been working off of – came etched into our big pastry board – but he’s been pretty unhappy with it for a couple months, so we pulled out our copy of The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book for their Flaky Pastry Dough. Fair warning, this is not a pastry recipe for anyone watching their heart health – it calls for 1/2 cup butter per crust. It does, however, live up to its name – very flaky and good.

The results:
FillingSealedWashed

Baked Baked-crust-edited
Sliced-Souped

Slice-Edited

So, yeah, the filling was pretty much soup – very juicy, spilling everywhere once the pie was cut. Tasty, but definitely in need of a fork plus spoon to eat. Also, teeth achingly sweet.

Next round: turning the fruit into a jam-like filling before cooking and using much less sugar.

In which there is Pumpkin Pie – Just for Thanksgiving

Adam here.

I have been doing a lot more baking than I usually do. This most recent run came about because of our first Feastly. You see, although I’d been stupid busy I wanted to help out somehow. So, I thought I would make dessert. All that and I’d needed to do something with the pie pumpkin that had been a part of the  bounty we got through RelayFoods. Since that Feastly there have been the recently featured cake and another pie or two. If this keeps up it’s going to get dangerous.

Very dangerous.

Anywho, this post is about taking this pie pumpkin:

I, also, used that orange juice. It's my favorite kind.

and turning it to something more like this:

Serving of Pie

Now part of making this particular treat is that, at the time, I was on the look out for a new pastry crust. I was not feeling up to experimenting so I decided to go with an old standby: the graham cracker crust. It’s quick. It’s really, really easy. Most importantly, it’s tasty.

The other nice thing about graham cracker crusts or really any other crumb based crusts is that you don’t really need a recipe. Someone else has done the baking for you and all that is left is adding a little flour and butter and baking it again to turn it into a pie crust. For this particular crust, I went with 7 or so graham crackers. I smashed them to bits. Then I added a 1/4 a cup of flour and some cinnamon and grated nutmeg. Then there was the butter. I melted 5 tablespoons of butter, poured that into the mix, made a doughy-goo, and pushed it into the pie plate.

Then it got baked at 350 for about 20 min. Turns out that was about 4-5 minutes too long. The crust ended up being a little too dark along the edges. Still, it was tasty.

I need to level with y’all – when it comes to things I don’t do very often or that I’ve never tried. I’ll go with a recipe. I’m not going to promise that I’m going to pay attention to the recipes every detail. But, approximations need a place to start.

So it was with the filling. I’ve made a few pumpkin pies. Usually from can o’ Libbys. This time though I had this nice looking pie pumpkin. So where did I turn? The Joy of Cooking, 1975 edition. One of the things I love about the Joy is that each recipe is a narrative that comes with these little tidbits about how the authors really feel.

Anywho, the pumpkin pie recipe directs you to cut the pumpkin in half, seed and de-string it, then cook it on baking sheet in the oven (shell-side up) at 325 for about an hour. Fair warning: pumpkins, unlike squash, are full of juice and leak like the dickens. Once that pumpkin had gone from pretty looking gourd to bright-orange pulp, it went right into the food processor with a little bit of orange juice and was converted to pumpkin goo. It was at this point that all the other ingredients for what is, in effect, a custard pie, had to go in – a cup and a half of cream, two eggs, white and brown sugar, and the spices. Intermediate result? Behold:

Makin' Pie

After some judicious blending in Laura’s stand mixer, it came together nicely and was poured into the pie crust:

Pouring in the Pie(As you can probably tell there was some extra – more on the attempt to make a pumpkin creme brûlée later.)

So, in it went into the oven and after 15 minutes at 425 and then another 45 minutes at 350, there was pie:

A Finished Pie

 It was delicious.

Recipe from the Joy of Cooking follows.

Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • a dash of ground cloves
  • 2 slightly beaten eggs
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425º F
  2. Mix all ingredients until well blended.
  3. Pour into a pre-baked pie shell. (I’ll actually come up with a graham cracker crust to share one of these days)
  4. Bake at 425º F for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the oven down to 350º F and bake for another 45 minutes or until a toothpick / knife inserted about halfway between the center and the crust comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool about 15-20 minutes and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Pie Cooking!