Gooseberry Pie

I was planning on making concord grape pie, but while I was at the farmers market I found out that they aren’t in season. Silly me for thinking that just because the grapes at the grocery store are perfect, that concord grapes would be in season. But thankfully while I was perusing the stalls I found gooseberries. To be honest, I had never had a gooseberry but I figured I might as well try them. They are light green veiny balls of deliciousness. Similar in texture to a grape, but tart like rhubarb but without the astringency. Gooseberries are very good on their own, better frozen, and marvelous in a pie.

I discovered that while they start out green that they turn more red as they age, as well as get a little mushy in texture; similar to a mushy apple. So be sure to use them fresh. But if they do start to turn on you, freeze them and eat them as a snack on a hot summer day. They are a great refreshing treat, just like frozen grapes.

Ok, so back to the pie.

This pie is awesome! I made a small pie/tart for the 4th of July celebration my family was having and it was a hit! Just about no one had ever had a gooseberry before but everyone who tried a bite loved it. I am definitely adding this recipe to my signature recipe list. I love that it is tart but not overwhelming and sweet with just a hint of warmth from the cinnamon. I also added half of a vanilla bean to the sugar mixture. But I included that in the instructions.

This recipe makes a 9in pie but this is a picture of a 6in pie/tart that I made for the 4th.

Gooseberry Pie

makes 1 9in pie

Ingredients

2 pie crusts

1/4 cup rice cereal

3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cornstarch

pinch of salt

2 cups gooseberries, fresh, frozen or canned (feel like you can add more than that)

1 tbsp cold unsalted butter

* 1/2 vanilla bean scrapped (optional)

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk (for egg wash) *you don’t really even need the milk*

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a 9 in pie pan with 1 rolled out pie crust, then *sprinkle the cereal in the crust in an even layer.
  3. Put the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla bean seeds (optional) in a bowl and stir to combine. Drain the berries if using canned, then *stir the berries into the sugar. Spread the filling evenly in the crust, then scatter the butter over the top.
  4. Brush the rim of the crust with the egg wash, cover with the second rolled out crust, seal, and flute or crimp the edges.
  5. Brush with egg wash and cut a few *steam vents
  6. Sprinkle with sugar. I used vanilla sugar, but sanding sugar, or lemon sugar would also be great options.
  7. Bake 15 minutes then lower the oven temp to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hrs before slicing. Serve at room temperature.

Tips and tricks

1. Have you ever noticed that when you cut a slice out of a fruit pie, fruit juice tends to pool and make the crust soggy? Adding a thin layer (about a 1/4 cup) of crisp rice cereal, or dried cake crumbles, or even dry cookie crumbles will soak up some or all of those juices. You can either add crisp rice cereal which wont affect the flavor or add something that will enhance it. Such as adding gingersnap cookie crumbles to a pumpkin pie.

2. The sugar mixture wont stick to fresh berries unless they have been washed recently.

3. It is best to brush the top of a pie with egg wash first and then cut steam vents. If you cut steam vents first then the vents are likely to be sealed up by the egg wash and then you get a sliver of egg in your pie.

4. It is always a good idea when baking a fruit pie to put a baking sheet under or on the rack below the pie, you never know when it is going to bubble over.

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Rhubarb Pop Tarts

I really like this recipe,  it can be a little challenging but the end result is totally worth it. It is warm, sweet, buttery and flaky; the perfect way to treat your self in the morning, or for a simple summer dessert. Ok, well I mean you can eat it anytime of the year and it will be great, but I always think of it as summery for some reason.

I found the recipe a few years ago in a Bon Appetit magazine and I have been making it ever since. The only down side is that it does take a little bit of forethought. Which I have to admit isn’t always my strong suit when I am trying to satiate a craving.

I usually make it with homemade strawberry freezer jam, but since I had the rhubarb jam, I figured I would try that out instead. I liked it but not nearly as much as with strawberry jam. It takes a fairly flavorful jam to stand up to the flaky buttery crust. But I think any jam that is full on flavor would be a great substitute.

Rhubarb Pop Tarts

Makes 8

Ingredients

2 cups plus 2 tbsp AP flour

1 tsp coarse Kosher salt

1 tsp sugar

1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in cubes

4 tbsp ice water

12 tbsp strawberry preserves (about 6 oz)

Directions

  1. Whisk 2 cups plus 2 tbsp flour, coarse salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add butter. Using finger tips or the back of a fork, cut in butter (blend it in) until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  2. Add ice water by the tbsp, tossing until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball.
  3. Divide in half; shape each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hr.
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  5. Working 1 disk at a time, *roll out dough on a floured surface to about 13 x 11 in. Trim to 12 x 10 in rectangle, then cut into eight 5 x 3 in rectangles.
  6. Arrange 4 rectangles, spaced apart, on each sheet. Spoon 1 1/2 tbsp preserves in row down center of each rectangle.
  7. Top preserves with second dough rectangle. Using fingertips, gently press all edges of each tart to seal; press all edges with the tines of a fork to dbl seal. Using toothpick, *poke a few holes in the center of top of dough rectangle.
  8. Freeze tarts on sheets at least 2 hrs and up to a week.
  9. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Bake frozen tarts uncovered until golden, reversing sheets after 15 minutes, 25 to 30 minutes total (some preserves may leak out).
  10. Immediately transfer tarts to rack. Sift powdered sugar lightly over. Serve warm or at room temp.

Tips and tricks

Rolling out this dough can be a little tricky. The dough gets rolled out really thin so it really helps to have a bench scraper just in case it sticks to the board. I put “trim” in bold because I always forget that it gets trimmed and I get so focused on getting the dough out to exactly 13 x 11 in, and it isn’t necessary as long as it is at least 12 x 10.

I always like to poke the first letter of the preserves that I am using, i.e. S for strawberry or R for rhubarb.

I am including the “prep school” pictures as a how to.

Berry Custard Pie, conquer your fear of making pie

I had Berry Custard Pie for the first time a long time ago, maybe 10 years ago. I was visiting my cousin Joni (she is actually my moms cousin, but that is a long story) and after a long afternoon of picking, well mostly eating blackberries in their yard, we headed inside for dinner. While dinner was cooking she was busy making this pie. It was the best pie I had ever had, and it probably still is. It’s also probably the easiest pie in the world to make. It’s also AMAZING for breakfast, ever so slightly warmed in the microwave.

Over Christmas break, my brothers girlfriend Katie asked me to make this pie for her birthday. I didn’t have the recipe so I called up Joni to ask her. As well as giving me the recipe she told me the story of how she started making it. It was a couple of months ago so I apologize if it isn’t exact how she told it.

She told me how she had never made a pie until her friend/neighbor urged her to try it, because for years her mother told her she couldn’t make a pie, it would be to hard for her. Joni’s friend made the pie dough and helped her roll it out. I don’t remember if she suggested this recipe or if it was a basic fruit pie recipe. But anyway Joni finally got over her fear of pie! And if you are afraid to make pie then this is the pie recipe to help you conquer that fear.

I prefer to make this pie when raspberries and blackberries are fresh and local, but I make it year around with drained frozen berries. I have also made it with peaches and it will probably be amazing with what ever you have on hand. Oh and one fun fact is that all “custard” really means is that it is thickened with egg.

Berry Custard Pie

Filling

Whisk together

1 large egg
3/4 cup of sugar
6 T. melted butter
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Arrange fruit over the bottom of the crust. Pour the egg mixture over the fruit. Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Then reduce the oven temp to 300 degrees and bake until the custard is brown and crusty on top and appears firmly set in the center when the pan is shaken, about an hour.  Let cool on a rack.

This recipe is in the Joy of Cooking as Open Faced Peach Custard Pie.  I have made it with pears, plums, (it will get you rave reviews) raspberries, blackberries, and mixed berries.

I recommend if you are using frozen fruit to drain it well. And use more fruit than you would think, because the egg mixture is meant to pour over the fruit, meaning there should be more fruit than egg mixture.

This is the recipe for pie crust that Joni uses. Being formerly pie challenged, her friend Donna, gave her this recipe that she got from a friend in France. It is awesome for quiches, too. Joni likes the simplicity of the ingredients, and because it is easy to remember, so it is easy to share. A word of mouth treasure.

Tip: Grating the butter for a pie crust is a fast way to make a mealy pie dough. Which is the best choice for pies with wet fillings like fruit pies. If you want a flaky pie crust, it is best to have big pieces of butter.

Carlotta’s French Pie Crust

Ingredients

1 cup of flour

1 stick cold or frozen (4oz) butter

1large egg

Directions

Grate cold or frozen butter into the flour. Mix with fork, I use my hands to mix the butter and flour, You can mix it any way you like. Mix the egg into the bowl and stir it up knead it a little, form a ball and cover with a plate or wax paper refrigerate for 10 minutes or so and then roll out. 🙂 Easy as pie

Here is the pie dough recipe I use for all of my pies because it is so simple and goes with every kind of pie.

 Pie Crust

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, lard, or vegetable shortening, diced (or a combination of butter and shortening equal to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

Stir together the flour and salt with a fork to blend. Cut the fat into the flour using a food processor, pastry blender, or 2 knives. (For pies with liquid fillings like custard or cooked fruit fillings that are thickened with cornstarch or tapioca, the bits of fat should be evenly small, and the mixture should resemble a coarse meal. This will result in a mealy pie crust, which is less likely to become soggy as the pie bakes. For pies to be filled with fruit or another nonliquid filling, leave some bits of fat in larger pieces, about the size of a small pea, for a crisp and flaky texture in the baked crust.)

Drizzle a few tablespoons of the ice water over the surface of the flour mixture and quickly rub the water into the flour. Continue to add the water, a tablespoon or so at a time, just until it holds together when you press a handful of it into a ball. The dough should be evenly moist, not wet, and shaggy or rough in appearance.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gather and press the dough into a ball, wrap well, and let chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Unwrap the dough, place it on a lightly floured work surface, and scatter a little flour over the top. Alternatively, place the dough between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Roll out the dough for the bottom crust of a pie into an even round about 13 inches in diameter (for a 9-inch pie pan). It should be about 1/8 inch thick.

Fold the dough in half or roll it loosely around the rolling pin, and gently lift and position it over the pan. Unfold or unroll and ease the dough into the pan without stretching, making sure that the pan sides and the rim are evenly covered. Press the dough gently against the sides and bottom. Trim the overhang to 1 inch. Tuck the dough overhang under itself and flute the edges. Fill and bake the pie according to recipe directions.