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« My Sur La Table summer classes. | Main | the eggbeater T shirt has arrived! »

09 June 2005

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If you ask a hundred Americans to complete the phrase "As American as..." at least ninety-five will promptly say "apple pie." A few years ago, a Canadian magazine asked its readers to complete the phrase "As Canadian as..." The most popular answer was "...possible under the circumstances."

looking forward to recipes as I was given a most beautiful pie dish for my birthday. Although the giver suggested clafoutis and as it is cherry season, maybe I should try that first.

You're a badass wicked pie goddess. You've whipped it down and splayed it out. Now if I could just figure out where I hid the flour ... ?

Smooches


Dang, now you've done it! I'm just having my coffee and now I want p-i-e for breakfast, yummy buttery berry-ly pie. When I lived in the Midwest I was astonished to see people ordering a slice first thing in the morning -- having been brought up in a place where it was always served at the end of other meals. Soon I understood....Now let me see: I have a half a Meyer in the fridge, last one for several weeks off my little tree. Won't take long to run to the market for some berries -------------- Thanks
for starting my day in such a summery way.

I just need to stop coming here during work - i've had to come up with two new excuses to replace my keyboard due to the excessive drooling over your posts!


you guys are so silly! I love it! It's proof that pie is fun and makes people all sappy and cute. Even the pie-in-the-face is a gesture infused with politics and humour.

John-- I absolutely love the Canadian quote, I hope I can remember that one.
Sam--- remember that if you want to take a nod to the traditions of clafouti, do not pit the cherries. resting the appareil about an hour is nice too.
Kudzu-- you know what the difference between a child and an adult is?
Dessert First.
Fatemeh-- what about keyboard guards? or you could invite me for dinner and I'll bring a sweet thing....

Hi Shuna - Your berry pie is gorgeous! We grow boysenberries and there are blackberries wild all over California, but I've never heard of Tayberries. I'm wondering a couple of things - first, how well do nectarines hold up in a pie? We grow white nectarines and they are so delicate I can't imagine them cooking well. We also grow white peaches and tried making a white peach cobbler last year that was a waste of the peaches - to dull. Second question, I notice in most pie recipes instructions to add some butter to the top of the filling. How important is this? I figure we're getting enough butter in the crust (my recipe calls for 12 Tbsp of butter in addition to 8 of shortening) and haven't seen the need for it.

Elise,

These are good questions. The butter dots on top of the filling are there to enhance the flavour, but really you don't need anymore. (Although I would say yes is the crust had a lot of shortening in it.) Me personally I thing white stone fruit is best as fresh as possible. Sorbets, pannacottas, gelees, raw--- like in a fool,parfait or shortcake, etc. They are dull because the flavour is usually all sugar and little to no acid.
Because I don't mind a pie that is a little runny I think that nectarines & peaches would make great pies. I loved the apricots with the berries, each came through well.
Tayberries are related to raspberries, but more perfume and quite a bit larger. I used them because raspberries don't come to full sugar until a bit from now and the Tayberries are less pricey.
Thank you for visiting eggbeater!

Hi Shuna,
Thanks for the clarification on butter and white stone fruit. With the nectarines and peaches we usually macerate them in some sugar and freeze them to enjoy all year round. Those that we don't eat fresh from the tree that is. They really are best eaten immediately after picking. We have to eat them over a sink because they are so juicy. A sorbet might be interesting to try this summer. They'll be ripe in 5 or 6 more weeks. May try apricots with some berries in a pie too. Great idea. Thanks and I LOVE your site!

An option for thickening pie filling, if the fruit is super-juicy, is tapioca starch. (Not pearl tapioca which just sits there, as I found when somebody gave me incomplete information.) A tablespoon, or two at the most, for a big stone fruit or berry pie works very well.

i changed my mind about the calfoutis since i am working and can't get to the market. Instead I am going to make a mystery english tart ready for Sugar High Friday next week.
I already have all the ingredients at home. But I am going to follow your instructions for the pastry, but maybe without sugar. Would it work without?

Hey Shuna Baby,

Looks as though we're going to have a nice picnic soon, are you interested? I'm willing to host at Meathenge Labs. Please, won't you and your guest or two attend? Everyone is welcome.

Biggles

Summer is so tantalizing, n'est pas? Picnic? who me? I'm ALWAYS interested in outdoor ways of eating and enjoying others! Must have watermelon! (although am not a big camper...)

Sam-- The dough will work fine without sugar, just add a bit of some nice fleur de sel for added salty texture. Also you may want to par bake. { = Freeze, line with parchment and pie weights, bake until you see some color. Or else it remains a bit soggy.}

I like it when people ask me "What are pie weights?" because then I can say "They woam the seas in search of pwunder..."

I am so crap at baking blind
i need some proper equipment
beans never work well enough
I will see what I can do
I am not looking forward to the pastry making bit
Just to the pie innards
i think the salt will work well instead
thanks

My next pie, I'm going to try your dough recipe. The fact that you can use it right away, without a rest, is really intriguing!
Beautiful photos, Shuna!
Melissa

The pie looks and sounds delish. Apricots and berries, Yum!
I have a question for you: I made a strawberry rhubarb pie a couple of weeks ago, and the recipe called for arrowroot powder as a thicker. It was a warm day, and the pie only cooled for 2+ hours instead of the recommended 4, but when I sliced it, the lovely fruity pie guts were still like soup. I know you said you don't mind a runny pie, and I don't either, but this was a little more than that. I read the comment about tapioca, but I was told that tapioca turns rhubarb gummy. Thoughts? Recommendations? Thanks!

Sam,

maybe the next class at your house will be on pie dough and summer desserts...But because I know you have little free time I will try and post my favorite crumb recipe, as it is easier! Another way to hold the pie beans in there is with double folded cheesecloth. Use way more beans than you think you need, the crust should be cold and the oven very hot.

Melissa-- yes any pie dough that can be used right away is a friend of mine!
Julie,

thickeners are a hard one. I feel the same way as you do about tapioca anything. Flour is the oldest method and I add a little cornstarch in there for speed. Indeed a pie should be "cooled" to set the setting agent, but me myself I'd rather eat it sooner than way later. Pies are runny and messy and if we want them any other way they taste like the thickener relied on to make that happen.

Sometimes we have to make personal choices with what we bake. In this way i consider many recipes to be guides and suggestions, not facts. There is no way that I can mandate a sugar or a butter or a flour. Fruit, like all other ingredients, change and shift not only from region to region, but week to week!

Sometimes the hot soupy part of the pie melts the ice cream faster and in the end it is just Delicious!

I just have to say, John's comment about "pie weights" made me laugh aloud!

I made a pie using the double pie dough recipe you gave us in class at Sur La Table in Santa Rosa and it turned out super. You are a star. It was so easy and it looked beautiful. I used a combination of blackberries from my family's ranch in Healdsburg and blueberries from the Healdsburg farmer's market. Thanks for the tip to use lemon zest in with the fruit. I also added lemon juice, a little cinnamon, and just cornstarch. Everyone raved about the crust as well as the overall look and taste. I will be making pies all summer from all the wonderful produce at our farmer's market. THANKS!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'll admit it--I'm terrified of my own pie dough. I touch it as little as humanly possible and it always looks ugly and about to fall apart. How do you get yours so smooth? I've read that it's okay for pastry dough to be lumpy and rough, but yours looks satiny and even-textured. And the final pies came out gorgeous. Am I being *too* light-handed?

Also, have you ever tried mango pie? The juicy tartness of the fruit makes it a really wonderful filling.

Rachel,

yes the trick is not to touch it too much. Freezing the butter is a little bit of a safeguard though. One way to handle putting the dough together at the very end is to pour the mixture onto a table covered with plastic wrap, make a little package, and THROUGH the plastic, with the heel of your hand, press it all together. **Remember-- it is easier to add moisture to the dough than dryness!**

I can type and type, but in the end a class is really necessary. I can't tell you how many of my students, who are already proficient bakers, say, "Oh, THAT"S how you do it! It all makes sense now that I can touch it and see it!" Look under my 'classes' category, I have one coming up concentrating on difficult high fat doughs and desserts to make with them.

Funny you should comment today, I am right now making a berry & pluot pie!

Dear Shuna, I would *love* to come to your class, but I'm afraid my husband just wouldn't understand if I told him I was flying from Japan to the US for the day to learn about pastry.

Oh, that's a great suggestion about squeezing the dough together through plastic wrap. I'll try that!

I'm not a professional cook but I have always enjoyed cooking for large and small parties as well as my own family. Last night our church had a fund raiser dinner and they asked me to make the dessert. I decided to use your pastry dough recipe and I made 126 individual lemon meringue tarts. I made up the dough the day before and separated it into the pieces flattened and in baggies. All I had to do the next morning was roll out the circles. I have always rolled my dough in between plastic wrap. It took me about 3 hours to roll out all the pieces. Well they received rave reviews. Thank you for the addition to my bag of tricks. I found the recipe easy to use and since you mentioned using your Kitchen Aid I knew I was in good hands since my trusty one is always sitting at the ready on my counter. I very much enjoy reading your blog.

Melinda,

Thank you for posting this anecdote. What lovely images it conjured for me. Churches and other community gatherings are some of the best, most appreciative, and supportive people to bake for. (I recently volunteered my skill to my step-brother's B'Armitvah services: 7 solid hours of baking many a cookie!)

I made a pie on friday and I substituted a Tablespoon of raw sugar in the crust as well as 1/3 cup Anson Mills cornmeal. It gave it some body, but moreover it was proof that this recipe is so excellent that it can be played with a bit.

Thank you for visiting eggbeater, I hope that you remain a "regular"!

Dear Shuna,

Happy Fall. Now I am back to thinking Pumpkin Pies. Can I use your crust recipe from the June 6th Sur La Table class for a Pumpkin Pie? The pies you taught us and what I have been practicing is with fruit pies that have a bottom and top crust. I know this sounds like a stupid question but I don't want to mess up the pies for Thanksgiving. I have the perfect pumpkin recipe for baking in a good crust I just need to make sure the crust will be ok. Thanks for you time. Hope you had a nice summer.

Elizabeth Traverso

Hello Elizabeth,

The answer is yes and no.
First I would cut out some of the butter, start by taking out two tablespoons.
After the pie dough is in the shell, put it in the freezer and preheat your oven to 425F
"Blind Bake" this shell when the oven is fully pre-heated and shell is really frozen. Set timer for 20 minutes. (When a shell is blind baking you don't want to check on it too often in the baking process. But after @ 20 minutes it's ok.)
What you want to see is a dark golden color all the way around and on the bottom because a very liquid filling is going to keep that crust moist for most of the time that it's in the oven. Make sense?

Pumpkin, (and the like), pies need crusts that are more well done than berry pies, where no egg is involved.

I am about to try your Double Crust Butter Pie Dough. From your viewer comments, I figure I can't go wrong. One question: why if a recipe calls for UNsalted butter, why does it also require the addition of salt? I've often wondered...perhaps you can explain.
Thank-you very much. Elle

Hello Elle,

This is a great question-- one I hope people will ask when I teach baking.

If you use salted butter than it is more difficult to control the saltiness of your end result. Also I find that I like some salts over others for different recipes and i don't want someone else deciding what kind of salt flavor will be in my baked goods.

Although if you sent me some French salted butter I would never say no to it... mmmmmm.

What exactly is all-purpose flour? Flour with baking powder added to it, or without?

Hello Meenah Tariq,

All Purpose flour is wheat flour with a protein content near 10%. AP flour has nothing else in it except itself.

Self-rising flour can have chemical leveners in it, yes, and the protein content varies but is usually lower because it's generally used more for cake making.

If you're not sure about what your flour has in it you can usually call or email the company and they will tell you.

Thanks for the question, I hope this helps.

Dear Shuna,
Do you know the origin of the quote "Pie, pie, I must have pie!" ?

Hello Mary,

I don't know where that expression comes from, sorry. I think that's a question for someone studying American Gastronomy (NYU has a degree program) or the Library might have a book on the history of the pie. Good luck!

YES! I love pie! My favorite kind to make tho is a good old traditional apple pie ala mode. This looks like a great recipe too, Ill have to try it out!

Very nice.You're a badass wicked pie goddess. You've whipped it down and splayed it out. Now if I could just figure out where I hid the flour ... ?

I have been baking pies for years with Tayberries and I have found them to be one of the best berries out there in what we call the black raspberry family. The Tayberry is from Scotland and was originally cultivated along the Tay River. It was first brought to this country into Oregon and found it's way up to Whatcom County. The incredible thing about this berry is that it goes through a process of being tart of the vine to one of the most aromatic berries I have ever tasted in a pie.

I live in the raspberry capital of the world, near Lynden, WA and we produce approximately 70 million pounds of raspberries alone. Because of that, local farmers also try berries like the Tayberry, Marion, Bosen, Logan and several other berries in the black raspberry family.

Well enjoy your berry pies and all the health benefits from eating these berries high in antioxidants. Good luck everyone.

Shuna, thank you SO MUCH for this recipe and for the info @ Pie Crust II. I have literally been striving for years to make perfect delicious non-crumb-based pie crust and have always failed to achieve greatness.

I made this crust recipe, as per your directions, for a number of Thanksgiving pies last year. I didn't have a stand mixer so I used my hands. They turned out okay, but not super-good either. I am pretty sure I left my butter pieces much too large.

But, my in-laws gifted us with a KitchenAid for Christmas, so I decided to give it another go. I made a turkey pot pie the other night, and I used this recipe & your instructions, sans the sugar. And lo and behold, it turned out AMAZING and PERFECT. There were choirs of angels singing and everything.

So thank you for helping me to feel capable of, and to produce, great things.

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