05 July 2007

Star-Spangled Pie

My dear friend Richard and his lovely friend Barbara throw an annual 4th of July party each year to the delight of his employees and friends. For this festive occasion, I thought I'd bake a pie. Little did I know it would become such a spectacular hit!

The crust is an altered version of Elise's All Butter Crust, originally adapted from Oprah magazine. I've used this crust many times before, but I made it slightly different this time to ensure a less sticky dough.

My changes included:

  1. Omitting the brown sugar and water, substituting a total of 4 tablespoons of agave nectar (very cold).
  2. Using roasted, unsalted almonds instead of blanched almonds.

For the first time ever making this crust, I also happened to have heavy cream in the house, so I used her glaze of heavy cream and egg yolk to top the pie before I baked it. Her glaze is just genius. It works brilliantly.

Well, on to the process. You've waited patiently enough.

In my food processor, I pulsed the almonds until they were pretty finely ground.

Then I added the flour and salt before pulsing a few more times, and the almonds were incorporated well into the flour.

Next, I added the butter and pulsed until I could see the coarse meal above.

Cautiously, I added agave nectar one teaspoon at a time until I saw these streusel-like clumps. Then I took the dough out of the processor and formed it into a disk.

I wrapped the disk in plastic and let it chill while I created the bottom crust. If, on the other hand, you have a processor big enough to handle the entire recipe (lucky duck!), divide the dough in two, and wrap each disk in plastic. You'll need to chill yours for at least an hour.

While all the dough chilled, I prepped my fruit.

I really need a cherry pitter. It took way too long to cut these up and remove the pits.

Blueberries are so great in this pie. Heck, they're great in any pie!

I'd made a syrup using agave nectar, water and lemon juice a few days prior to making this pie, and poured the remains over a pint of raspberries. It macerated them over the course of three days.

The surprise fruit in the pie (no one ever guesses it) -- nectarines!

I drained the syrup from the berries and added some arrowroot to it in hopes of thickening it a bit.

Next, I mixed the fruit into the arrowroot syrup until all was coated.

When the dough had chilled enough, I rolled it out on a silicone mat.

I always wanted to try the trick where you roll out your dough and use your rolling pin to transport it to the pan. It worked well enough, although you can see a tear in the bottom.

After a small amount of patching, I was able to fit the dough into the tart pan and put the pan into the fridge to chill while I rolled out the excess dough.

With the excess crust dough from the bottom, I cut tiny butterfly cookies and spread a little strawberry jam on each. They were so tasty, they didn't last the day.

Oh, my! Such a wet pie! I really should have drained the syrup off the fruit, but I thought it would be alright. Next time, I'll do that.

Next, I rolled out the top crust and cut out some stars to make it more festive. Then, I used Elise's great cream and egg glaze on top.

About 20 minutes into baking, I should have switched pans to one with more of a lip. Already, the juices were flowing.

Messy, yet tasty. I switched pans to save the oven from being completely covered in fruit juice. Still, the pie was a huge hit at Richard's party. I've never had so many compliments on my baking.

Juicy! Lesson learned.


Anonymous said...

That pie crust is brilliant. I also love the surprise fruit. I haven't made a pie in a long time.

For the 4th of July I made flan. I feel guilty as I ate most of it.

I would love to see your version of flan.

Deb Schiff said...


While an altered version might be interesting, I'm honestly not a fan of flan. I'm still working on my dulce de leche recipe, so keep posted!

Tara said...

Just dropping by to let you know I have tagged you for a meme, visit my blog for the details!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Oh my goodness, that pie!!! Too gorgeous for words. I'm afraid that my skills aren't that advanced yet, but I will bookmark this recipe to try in the future :0)

Deb Schiff said...

Oh, I'd bet you'd do a bang-up job, VG. ;D

Thanks for the compliments!