Summer Fruit Pie Smackdown

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's summer time, and what better time to enjoy a fruit pie or the triumph of culinary competition? We're doing both in The Takeaway's summer fruit pie smackdown.

Melissa Clark from the New York Times is ready to rumble with her sour cherry pie. And Deb Perelman of smittenkitchen.com brings her own strawberry rhubarb pie to the competition.

Serving as the judge is Emily Elsen, third-generation pie maker, featured chef on the Cooking Channel's Unique Eats, and owner (along with her sister Melissa Elsen) of Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Shop in Brooklyn, NY.  (recipes after the jump.)

Melissa Clark's Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie

  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, more for rolling out dough
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pounds sour cherries (about 6 cups), rinsed and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Demerara sugar, for sprinkling.
  1. To make dough: in bowl of a food processor pulse together flour and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until chickpea-size pieces form. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until mixture just comes together. Separate dough into 2 discs, one using 2/3 dough, the other using the remaining. Wrap discs in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before rolling out and baking.
  2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place larger dough disc on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  3. While pie crust is baking, prepare filling. In bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tapioca and cinnamon (use more tapioca if you prefer a thicker, more solid filling, and less if you like a looser, juicier filling). Run the motor until tapioca is finely ground. Place cherries in a bowl and add sugar and tapioca mixture. Drizzle in kirsch or brandy and toss gently to combine.
  4. When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Remove foil and weights. Scrape cherry filling into pie crust.
  5. Place smaller disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it 3/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or several round cookie cutters of different sizes) to cut out circles of dough. Arrange circles on top of cherry filling in a pattern of your choice.
  6. Brush top crust with cream and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar. Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling begins to bubble, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, allowing filling to set before serving.

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes, plus chilling time. Yield: 8 servings.

* * * * *

Deb Perelman’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • 1 recipe All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough (below)
  • 3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.  (I like to fold my gently into quarters, to transfer it more easily, then unfold it in the pie plate.)
  2. Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, vanilla, salt and tapioca in a large bowl. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch.  Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.
  3. Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
  4. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. Near room temperature, the juices should gel a bit.
  5. Do ahead: Pie should keep, in theory, for two days at room temperature but I have never, ever seen this one last that long.

 

All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough

Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 cup ice water
  1. In a large bowl — I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in — whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into small pieces and use a pastry blender or your fingertips to break down the butter so that the largest pieces are no bigger than small peas. Don't worry if the texture looks uneven.
  2. Drizzle mixture with 1/2 cup ice water and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix it together until large dough clumps form. If this does not happen easily, add additional ice water, one tablespoon at a time and mix between additions until it does. Use your hands (see how that large, wide bowl came in handy?) to knead the clumps together into one mound.
  3. Divide the dough in half and pat halves into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic warp and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably two.
  4. Do ahead: Dough can keep for a week in the fridge, and longer in the freezer.

Guests:

Melissa Clark, Emily Elsen and Deb Perelman

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [1]

Peg

In an attempt to make a pie crust a little more healthy - I added a tablespoon of whole fax seeds to the recipe. To everyone' delight - the flax seeds puffed like popcorn in the dough while baking and gave a wonderful airy flakiness to the crust. Now I always add them to all crust recipes.

Jun. 23 2010 07:01 AM

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