Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Things are looking up

Now doesn't this just make you want to grin out loud?  It did me.  Thank you.  I love it, love it, love it.

I decided to celebrate the Fourth with a pie.  But not just any pie.  No.  No run of the mill over here.  I decided to go for it.  To embark on the journey.  To open the book and dive in.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you with... Blueberry-Nectarine Pie (aka, a Julia Child's pie):

I know, I know- the crust looks a bit shoddy.  But really?  Really, really?  It tasted divine.  DIVINE.  I've included my own notes in the recipe- you can find them in italics.

The filling:
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (about 1.5 pints)
  • 2 cups sliced nectarines (about 3 large nectarines)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • large pinch of grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons (approximately) fresh lemon juice (I ended up using one lemon)
Although this was not noted in the instructions, I think it's worthy to share that you need to be sure to peel the nectarines prior to slicing them.  I think I stared at four different pictures of this pie, trying to figure out if the damn skins needed to come off prior to baking.  I know- might seem obvious to some, but to me, if it's not written down, well.

Put half of the fruit (which, by the way, my beloved managed to get 1 pint of blueberries instead of 1.5... it still worked out fine in the end) in a medium saucepan, keeping the remaining fruit close at hand.  Add the sugar, flour, and lemon zest and stir to mix.  Bring the mixture to a soft boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  The fruits will release their juices and the liquid will thicken. (At this point I was all, what?  Bring the mixture to a soft boil?  But there's no liquid to be found!  No liquid!  How can I boil no liquid!  But then, magic.  Just like she mentioned, the fruits released their juices.  And the smell from that pot?  Incredible.  I probably stirred for about 10 minutes, not sure when I should stop.  It seemed to be "thick enough" at that point, but what do I know?)  Turn the mixture into a  bowl and stir in the uncooked fruit.  Taste a spoonful (or three!), paying particular attention to the saucy liquid, and add lemon juice as needed.  Cool the filling to room temperature.

The crust:
  • 1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough, chilled (I'll share later- but please know that this recipe?  IT'S AWESOME!)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water, for egg wash
  • crystal or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (I ended up using granulated sugar- this did not have the same effect!  BOO! on granulated sugar!)
Cut the dough in half and roll one half out on a lightly floured work surface into a circle about 11 inches across.  Fit the crust into a 9-inch cake pan with 1-inch-high sides (Hmmm.  I missed this.  I ended up using a crappy Pyrex pie pan.  Also?  I didn't roll my dough out enough.  ALWAYS my problem.  It shows.).  Allow the excess dough to hang over the sides for the moment.

Roll the remaining piece of dough into a circle about 10 inches across.  Place the pie pan in the center of the dough and, using the pan as a template, cut the bottom round of dough so that it is about 1/2 inch larger all around the pan.

Spoon the cooled filling into the pie shell and dot the top with butter (DAMN!  I forgot to dot with butter!  I bet that would have made this even more amazing!).

Trim the overhanging dough to about 1/2 inch.  Left the rolled-out circle of dough onto the pie, aligning the edges of the top crust with the bottom crust (again, I didn't roll this batch of dough out enough).  Fold both layers of overhanging dough under to create a thick edge around the rim of the pan.  Crimp the edges by pushing the thumb of one hand against the thumb and index finger of your other hand, creating scallops every 1 or 2 inches around the rim (ummm, yeah.  I didn't do this part so well either).  Press the tines of a fork against the flat scallops (what?!  Where are the flat scallops?!) to decorate.  Paint the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little crystal or turbinado sugar (again- don't use granulated sugar!).

Using the point of a thin knife, cut 4 to 6 slits in the crust and chill for about 20 minutes (CHILL FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES?  I totally missed that.  How in the hell did this pie turn out at all?!).

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Place the pie on a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit bubbling.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before you cut it so that the crusts, top and bottom, have a chance to set.

Yep.  Now that I've typed it out, I can see that I missed a lot of details.  The good news?  It was the first pie to disappear from the pie table at the party, so hell ya.  Looks like things are finally looking up in my baking world....