Monday, July 25, 2011

Raspberry Pie

Yesterday was a chilly 79 degrees, and I decided to make a raspberry pie.

Let's face it, fresh raspberries are amazing and awesome.  And raspberry season only lasts, like, a week.  Blink and you miss it.

I bought two pints of raspberries at the farmer's market two Thursdays ago, but two pints of (extremely expensive) raspberries does not a batch of jam make.  So I decided to wash and freeze them, so later on I could either make a pie or possible acquire more berries and make jam.

I decided on pie.

Here's a really quick note about washing raspberries, whether you're going to freeze them or use them immediately.  Raspberries are very delicate fruit.  It's easy to squash them - which is fine if you're making jam or pie, not so much if you're planning on using them to top a cake or do something decorative with them.  I suggest placing them in a sieve or colander and washing them with the spray hose rather than the faucet - it's a gentler stream.

Anyway, back to the pie.

There are about a million variations on raspberry pie out there.  You can, of course, make your raspberry pie filling however you like.  But here's what I do.

Start by coating 3 cups (or more if you want a bigger pie) of berries with 3/4 cup of white sugar, 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and however much ground cinnamon you feel like using.  I tend to be rather heavy handed with spices when I bake.  I'd guesstimate that I used almost a full teaspoon of cinnamon.

Mix well and then set aside while you make the crust.

Just as there are a million recipes for filling, there are a million recipes for crust.  You can certainly use your old family recipe, or even *gasp* frozen pie crust, if you really have to.  I'd prefer if you didn't.  Homemade pie crust is so much better than frozen, and it's a lot easier than people usually think.  But whatever.  Do what you must.

I use the recipe out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook (I happen to have the Bridal edition, which has an awesome section at the beginning about kitchen supplies and whatnot - but I digress).  I've found it's a reliable recipe.  Truthfully, the thing about pastry dough is that you do have to get a feel for it - it is something that practice makes perfect.

For a two-crust pie (or lattice top), you need to combine two cups plus two tablespoons of shortening, two cups of all-purpose flour, and a teaspoon of salt.  Use your largest mixing bowl.  You can use a fork to cut the flour into the shortening, but a pastry cutter works way better.  Mine is from Pampered Chef, but you can use whatever you've got handy.  You'll know you've incorporated the flour and shortening enough when it starts to resemble coarse crumbs - be careful not to over do it, however, or the dough will be tough instead of flaky.

Next, add 4 to 5 tablespoons of very cold water.  I'd start on the lower end of things, because you can always add more water if necessary. I usually end up needing about 6 tablespoons, especially if I'm baking in the winter when the air's dry, but if it's humid (like it's been here lately) you might be able to get away with less water.  Work the water into the dough with the pastry cutter, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.  It will start to come together in a big ball and be almost the consistency of Play-Doh.

Separate the dough into two roughly equal balls.  Flour your rolling surface well.  I like to wash down my counter and put a layer of plastic wrap, then flour the plastic wrap.  This helps with clean up, as well as transferring the dough to the pie plate.  Flour the rolling pin well also, then flatten one of the dough balls into a thick round with your hand.  Sprinkle lightly with flour and begin rolling.  Always roll in one direction, never back and forth, and sort of rotate around the dough like you're going around the face of a clock.  This helps to make the dough a nice round shape (though I have never been able to make a perfect circle).  Sprinkle on more flour as needed.  You'll want to make the dough quite thin, an 1/8 of an inch or less.  If the dough breaks, tear off a piece from the edge, flip it over, and press it onto the broken dough, then roll it smooth.

Once the dough is the size you need, fold it in half and carefully transfer to the pie plate.  You can trim the edges now if you like, or wait. Add the filling, dot with butter, then make the top crust in the same manner.

Trim the edges of the top crust so it's just a little larger than the bottom crust.  Then fold the top crust under the bottom crust and pinch to seal.  I then like to cut eight vents in sort of a star pattern (it also is a nice cutting guide).  For a raspberry pie, I like to also sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar.

Bake the pie in a 450 degree oven for ten minutes.  Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and back for another 30 minutes.  The crust should be nice and brown, and you'll probably have some juice leaking out of the vents.  Don't worry, it won't change the taste of the pie.

The longer you let the pie cool, the more set the filling will be. If you just can't wait, dig into that fresh from the oven pie.  Add a scoop of ice cream if you like.  Or just eat it as is.

If your family is like my family, this pie will last about six minutes.

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