Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Long Overdue Blog Post

Well, it's been a very long time.  I took a "break" in April 2012 due to my lupus flaring up...then the Beau and I had a set back of our own, and I found I lost my ability to want to create.   I lost my passion for cooking, for writing, for expressing myself.  And the ups and downs continued right up till my recent surgery to have kidney stones removed.  In that time I have gained back the weight I lost (ugh) gained back the Beau (hooray).  My love for cooking and creating wonderful tasty food has been reinvigorated and I have been writing like you would not believe!!!  Maybe someday I will actually write a novel....I think I could!!!

The thing of it is, the river of life carries you on your journey and we all know there are bends in the river   and you don't know what's around that bend; you can't see what's coming at you next.   You can spend your time fighting the current, tiring yourself out and going under, or you can relax and let the current take you.  It's frightening, exhilarating and challenging but eventually the river becomes calm and you can swim in it with sure, strong strokes.

Once you are in that sweet spot, things catch your eye, pique your interest Pinterest!   I have pinned hundreds and hundreds of recipes, found great DYI projects.  So for the last month I have been toying with doing one recipe from Pinterest and writing about it.   And of course I will continue my running commentary on life, present and past.

So here it goes:    The Beau and his family love pie.   They would far rather celebrate momentous occasions with pie than cake.   This recipe for Summertime Strawberry Pie on Pinterest had the most fabulous picture, which I kept ogling until I decided I would  make it for the Beau the next time he was in Calgary.   And I did make it, but he left unexpectedly without even tasting it!    I ended up giving that first pie to my new neighbour as a welcome to our building present.  She cut me a piece of it, and I was thankful not to have any more than that tempting me.  The pictures below are the second pie, which I made today as a special ending to a family roast chicken dinner.   I am NOT a good photographer, but I think I captured how pretty this pie is. 

The recipe is simple as can be and was posted by Julie @  but the recipe really comes from Worth the Whisk.  The recipe is just as originally posted, and after the recipe I am going to add some suggestions and tell you how I tweaked my second pie.

Recipe by: Worth the Whisk
Yields: one 9-inch pie, serves 6-8

Pie Crust Ingredients: (or you can use an unbaked, prepared crust)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cold lard (non-hydrogenated if available)*
1/2 cup cold butter, chopped
3-4 tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg and 1 teaspoon heavy cream for egg wash
*you can substitute vegetable shortening here if you wish, but I highly recommend the lard!

Filling Ingredients:
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar, reserve 1 tablespoon
Dash salt
1 cup sour cream (not fat-free)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. To make the crust, pulse flour and salt together to combine. Add scoops of lard and pulse into the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Add in chunks of butter and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses. Add minimum amount of water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another tablespoon of water. Add as little as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30.

Roll disk of dough out to around 2 inches larger than your pie plate and transfer it, situating it in the plate. Fold the excess dough around the edges and crimp, trimming where necessary.

Hull and wash the strawberries and slice them in half. Set aside. Sift flour, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add sour cream, blending until creamy. Gently fold in the berries without overmixing. Pour fruit into pie shell and spread to edges without packing down — there should be spaces throughout the filling. Sprinkle the top with the last 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (I leave the oven door open a minute during this period to let the temperature drop a little) and bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Broil the pie for 2-3 minutes to brown up the top. Allow to cool completely (4-5 hours in the fridge, I’d say) before cutting, and serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

My comments and tweaks:

The pastry part of the recipe gives you directions for an egg wash....I didn't know why a single crust pie would have anything about an egg wash, but then thought well the recipe makes two pie crusts, so maybe the egg wash is for the times you make a two crust pie - like saskatoon berry pie, or apple pie, peach pie, pear pie, pie obsession is showing!

I asked my neighbour how the crust on the pie was...she told me it was "kind of soggy in a few spots" but otherwise really good and she loved the creamy custard of the sour cream filling contrasted by the sweet juicy berries.   My own piece of pie, I felt, showed the filling hadn't set enough in the centre of the pie, and the crust was not baked enough either.    I decided if I made the pie again I would:

Blind bake the pie shell.  Blind baking is baking an unfilled pie shell to produce a partially- or fully-baked crust.  Blind baking the crust prevents the crust from becoming soggy from custard based fillings, and is necessary for pies which have the fillings either cooked separately or not at all.  
To blind bake a crust, once your crust is prepared and placed in your pie pan, prick a few holes (this is called "docking") or fill it with pie weights (do one or the other, if you fill it with weights, you don't need to dock), and bake until browned (or just for several minutes if your goal is a partially-baked crust).  I prefer docking over's what my mom taught me and it works every time for me.

To fully blind bake, bake it at 425 degrees 10 to 15 minutes or until the sides begin to brown.  (The initial high heat will force much of the steam out, helping the crust become flaky.)  Remove the pan from the oven. Gently remove your pie weights(if you are using them). Reduce oven to 375 degrees and continue to bake the crust for several minutes until it's golden.  

Now for that egg wash:     You can moisture-proof your crust when blind baking by removing the crust from the oven when it has about 5 minutes left to bake and applying your egg wash with a pastry brush on the bottom of the crust and about an inch up the sides.  Then resume baking the crust for the remaining 5 minutes.

Now that I have given you the technical info on blind baking...I think the pie crust could just be partially baked (the 10 to 15 minutes at 425) and then you could carry on with filling it, baking at 450  degrees for 10 minutes, then 350 for 30 minutes.   

That would probably fix the weakness with the pie crust part of this recipe. 

I tweaked the filling too:  I cut the sugar down to 1 cup from 1 1/4 cups.    You will never miss that 1/4 cup of sugar.  The berries are sweet enough to carry the pie.   I added a tsp of fresh lime juice to the sour cream filling, because I like the tartness of lime and strawberries together.   It just adds another subtle layer of tang to the sour cream custard.  I still sprinkled 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top of the pie to give it that sparkly finish.   

But you know what?  I think you could cut the flour, sugar and sour cream down to 3/4 cup of each, and the pie would still be fine.   And remember the recipe says not to pack the filling down...that's so it has air holes and cooks the way it needs to.  My first pie I smoothed the filling down quite a bit and I think that was a HUGE mistake.  I think a little less of the custardy filling would still work very well.    

So, I intend to make this pie a third time:   the Beau's parents recently moved into a 65+ community and have invited us for supper the next time I am in Saskatchewan.   I said I would bring dessert.   I know my almost father in law will have more than one slice of this baby!!!!  I intend to use my tweaks and will update you on how these changes worked...or didn't.

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