27 October 2008

Injured, Yet Ever-So Delicious Seasonal Pie

From Island Beach State Park in October, Granola, Pie

Pie! How I love pie. Sigh.

This pie is a bit of a twist on Elise's Old Fashioned Apple Pie. Her crust (as I make it) never fails. Ever. It's buttery, flaky, and rich in that I-know-this-has-almonds-in-it kind of way.

After a recent trip to upstate New York, where I bought local apples at a farmer's market, it was clear I needed to make some apple pie. I also had a container of organic cranberries from the co-op -- they'd need to go in as well. But I thought it would be interesting to add something else. Something with a little zing. Something that would bring the whole pie into focus like nothing else. Dried Bing cherries were the answer.

From Island Beach State Park in October, Granola, Pie

The secret ingredient was pears. Really ripe pears. They sweetened up the cranberries and balanced the whole thing out. I have finally discovered my go-to pie for fall. Although, if you know anything about me by now, you know I'll be tinkering with other pies until I love them as well.

Since my recipe doesn't stray very far from Elise's, I'll simply list my alterations as follows:

In the crust:

1. Instead of all all-purpose flour, I split the difference between ap and whole wheat pastry flour.
2. Instead of the sugar and the water, I used 3 tablespoons of agave nectar.

In the filling:

1. I used about 1/4 cup of agave nectar instead of the 2/3 cup sugar.
2. I added the juice from half a lemon to squeeze over the fruit (although, you could just as easily split open a few cranberries and not have to do that since they have a lot of antioxidants in them).
3. I increased the allspice and nutmeg to 1/2 teaspoon each.
4. I omitted the brandy and vanilla extract.
5. For the fruit, I used 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1 cup dried Bing cherries, 2 pears, and 4 apples (a split between empire and gala).
6. For the egg wash, I used the whole egg and water, not cream.
7. Nearly forgot! I did not use flour as the binder, I used corn starch. This is very important. It's a VERY wet pie. The corn starch does a much better job of gelling the pear and apple juices.

From Island Beach State Park in October, Granola, Pie

After baking the pie, I thought about soaking the cherries separately, but because I combined all the fruits with the lemon juice, spices, and corn starch for at least an hour while I made the crust, they were pretty well soaked. However, you could certainly boil some water, then soak the cherries in the water for 10 minutes, drain them, then add them to the other fruit. It might drain some of the flavor, though. Your decision.

From Island Beach State Park in October, Granola, Pie

My only regret is that I started the baking process with the aluminum foil around the edges of the pie to save the crust from browning too much. In the future, I'd bake it for 15 minutes first, then foil it. That's what caused the injury to the pie. The crust clung to the foil and did not let go when I tried to lift it off to finish the browning. It wasn't too damaged, but it kinda ruined the effect for me. Oh well. I'll just have to bake another.

The reviews of the pie were glowing. My friend Mark, who never ever compliments my baking higher than "It's good," said it was "excellent." In fact, I'm not sure I've ever heard him say anything was excellent, no less my cooking. ;D Last Monday, it didn't last very long at all. I am convinced that this is the best combination of fruits for a fall pie. Well, that is until I figure out another.

What are your favorite pie fillings?


The Diva on a Diet said...

It may be slightly injured ... but its still a thing of beauty, Deb! Delicious too, I'll bet. I'm not a huge pie person. I do love apple and lemon meringue but my all time favorite pie is a chocolate silk pie made with silken tofu. The recipe is Alton Brown's and its outstanding! For reference, I think he calls it "Moo-less Chocolate Pie."


Deb Schiff said...

Oh Diva, you are too kind! Thank you very much. It was a mighty tasty bit of dessert, if I do say so myself. ;D

How interesting! A moo-less pie!

Amy said...

I honestly have only eaten pie about 3 times in my life. Yours is really making me want some though! Yum!

Deb Schiff said...

Awww. Thanks! I'm going to try making it with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks at some point, just to see how it goes.

M.K. said...

Ohh my gosh, this looks fantastic. Cherry pie is my favorite, but all these fruits combined sounds so good. I have yet to conquer pie crust, but this may just be my inspiration.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, M.K.

I LOVE pie. ;D I also enjoy experimenting with crusts, so expect to see other incarnations of this very tasty pie.

Ginney Uhl said...

Just discovered your blog. Love it. But, why did you call this pie "injured"?

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Ginney. Glad you love it! It's a bit defunct since I've really been focusing on my other blog, Here and There (http://hereandthere123.blogspot.com), but there are plenty of recipes to keep you entertained.

If you read the second to last paragraph in the post, it explains the pie's injury. Enjoy!