Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My First Failure, Second Success Story : Peach Crème Fraîche Pie

WARNING: I made this pie a long time ago, therefor errors in my memory of this experience may exist. However, to the best of my knowledge, this is my peach and crème fraîche pie story.

I first saw this pie way back in July. I knew immediately I would make it. I had not made a peach pie yet (remember my issues with peaches) AND it was written by my favorite food blogger, Deb of Smitten Kitchen, who got the recipe from one of the most credible recipe sources on earth herself: Martha Stewart.

Sidenote: Martha is, in my mind, the epitome of evil genius and although I am pretty opposed that much of what her genius represents I also have this weird respect for it. I even did a college research paper on her. I believe she is a ruthless business women. She understood brand identity before it was conceptualized as an overt marketing philosophy. She also marketed and sold “women's work”. It turns out it's worth a billion dollars. Thats what I call feminism.

Anyway, back to the pie...with this kind of endorsement it was a shoe in.

But of course it took awhile. (To be fair I just did not do a lot of pie baking this summer, there was simply no time because I was too busy playing.)

August was coming to a close and I still had not made it. And I was starting to get worried about peach season coming to an end. And we were having a bit of a heat wave. And I have no air conditioning. And I decided to make it anyway. With whole wheat pastry flour.

My thought process when making these decisions was simply flawed. Maybe it was the heat. But I just thought: “How

hard can it really be to roll out pie dough in a 90° kitchen?” Answer: VERY HARD!

And I had gotten this whole wheat pastry four awhile back because it was on sale, I am super cheap, and I though it might be interesting to play around with some different flours. I used it once and it was a bit of a disaster, but I OWED the flour and myself a second shot. Since this recipe only requires a bottom crust it seemed like a good time to try again (½ the trouble if it's difficult again.) FYI: Most people don't really use this kind of flour for pie crust and when they do- totally different recipe! Something about wheat gluten levels and moisture absorption...

And so I made this pie:

Rolling it out was so difficult I had resorted to breaking off pieces of dough, flattening them in my hand, and pressing them together into the pie plate. Which, yes, did lead to some sticking if that what you were thinking might happen. And overworked dough.

And see how the top of the crust is missing. Yeah, it burned and shrunk and I decided it was best to just break it off, especially since the overall pie plate I used was too big anyway so this still left a crust rim sized edge sticking up above the filling.

To top it all off, my crème fraîche was...not right. Runny, like a heavy c

ream instead of the sour cream consistency it should be. I thought it should be thicker, but having never used this stuff before in my life, I didn't really know.

So, to sum it up: This pie sucked. I knew it sucked. And it was mostly my own fault.

I don't really know what there is for others to learn from my stubborn insistence on making this pie that day. Crème fraîche should be thick? And don't even TRY rolling out a crust in this kind of heat? I realize these are lessons unnecessary for most reasonable people.

After this failure I was not very interested in making this pie again (at least not this peach season.) But then I was blog browsing and I saw it again. Another baker who had successfully produced an eatable pie from this recipe.

It mocked me.

So round two. The weather had cooled. I used a smaller pie dish. I bought a different brand of crème fraîche – see how it is all thick, like it is supposed to be.

The pie I baked this time?

Eatable! Not embarrassingly ugly! Success! (It's really not even a hard one to put together.)

It is not overly sweet. I was expecting it to be more custardy, so that was a little disappointing. The way you can see the reds of the yellow peaches poking out amongst the lite crumble topping is very pretty- so presentation points. And it has a good lightness for a summer dessert on warm days.

Like maybe you can make this on one of those freak rainy chilly summer days and eat it on the next day when summer has returned and it is warm again. That would be a good plan.

To Make This Pie Follow These Directions:

Pastry for bottom crust


1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup cold (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Peach Filling:

1 1/2 pounds ripe (4 to 5 medium) yellow peaches, pitted and quartered

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

5 tablespoons crème fraîche

Roll out bottom crust. Line with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake at 400° for 10min. Remove weights and foil, bake for another 5-8 min until crust begins to turn golden. Turn over temp down to 375°.

Toss peach slices with sugar and salt, set side.

Spread 2 Tbsp of crème fraîche on bottom of crust.

Mix dry ingredients for crumble. Cut in butter until it it is blended with pea size lumps of butter remaining.

Sprinkle 1/3 of crumble mixture over crème fraîche.

Arrange peaches in a layer, fanning out from the center. Dot remaining crème fraîche over the peaches (like pictured). Sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over the top of peaches and crème fraîche.

Bake about 45min until crème fraîche is bubbling and crumble is a light golden brown. Serve warm or chilled.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Because the Amish Like It: Oatmeal Pie

And I am somewhat fascinated by the Amish. Why? Well...

#1 Because Devil's Playground was probably the most interesting documentary I have ever seen. If you have not seen it, go rent it. Watch it. Then watch it again with the Director's Commentary.

#2 I may be related to some Amish. Due to their practice of shunning people who leave, I will never know for sure but apparently my Great-great-grandfathers last name is a common last name among the Amish and we don't know anything about where he came from. So there is a family suspicion.

#3 I have a tendency (as my friends out their know) to become fascinated with random things for no particular reason.

So when perusing the pie section of Tasty Kitchen and finding Oatmeal Pie, which the poster described as popular among the Amish, I knew I had to make it.

The original recipe called for currents, as an optional ingredient. I think of currents as very similar to raisins. And I hate raisins. I think thats what it would taste like to eat ants (I don't know why, they just make me think of ants OK!?)

But I had these delicious fresh Medjool Dates that I had picked up at the farmers market so I used those instead. So I just chopped them into pieces. I probably used about ½ to ¾ of a cup.

First I mixed together the filling:

2 whole eggs

½ cup Honey

¾ cup Quick Cooking Oats

¾ cup Flaked Coconut

¾ cup packed Brown Sugar

½ cup Unsalted Butter, softened

½ cup Walnuts, chopped

At this point it looked pretty delicious. Very sweet. The author suggested cutting back on honey or coconut if you want it less sweet. The coconut is good for texture though, so I wouldn't opt for less of that.

I rolled out my single 9” crust and added half the filling. Then I kind of smashed my dates and spread them out into one layer across the pie like this.

I had this idea that with-in the pie there could just be one tasty layer of date, like a date bar, that would be really pretty. It did not work. It seemed to just melt into the pie while it baked and no layer was visible. But I took all these pics so I decided to tell you about it anyway.

As you can see, I also decided to flute the edges of the pie crust. I never do this. I AM a perfectionist about my pies, but this usually just seems like a waste of time. It doesn't make the pie taste better. And it's not even that much prettier then just trimming it off or folding it over for a rustic looking edge. I guess I was just feeling really motivated the night I made this. Anyway, fluting didn't work for me either. Live and learn.

Then I filled it with the rest of the filling and baked at 350°. The posted recipe said to bake for 40-45min until the top browned and a knife inserted came out clean.

In my oven, the top browned rather quickly, with-in the first 20-25 min and I was worried it would burn so at that point I just covered the whole thing with foil and kept baking until it was done, which took a long time. I'm not sure how long. At least an hour. I just kept checking and eventually I had a clean knife.

And here is what came out:

A beautiful, golden topped, loved by the Amish oatmeal pie (sans fluted edge).

When I started this pie I really had no idea what the resulting pie would be like. It turns out this pie is very sweet (I knew this once I was done mixing the filling) and very similar to a pecan pie. Similar enough that more then one person asked me if it was a pecan pie.

I have not made pecan pie yet, I don't know hard or easy they are to make, but this one was pretty easy. And different. No one I served it to had heard of oatmeal pie, therefore providing me lots of opportunities to talk about the Amish.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Guess what I'm making this weekend...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's a Miracle! Microwaveable Milk Pie (Seriously, Microwaveable Pie!)

This is my first Tasty Kitchen pie recipe.

It made me think of some of my friends who, since staring this blog, have told me maybe I will inspire them to make a pie. And in particular one who said baking scares her. You can make this whole pie without ever turning on an oven. Or using the stove.

This Milk Pie was described by the person who posted it as being very light tasting, so I decided to put it in an Oreo cookie crust, and sprinkle some mini-chocolate-chips on top.

For the crust:

Mix 1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs and 4 Tbsp melted butter. Press into pan. Voila! You are finished! (I was actually a little nervous about this so I baked it for 5 min at 375. Alternatively, stick it in the freezer for 30 min before filling.)

For the filling:

2-1/4 cups Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1-1/4 Tbsp Flour
1-1/4 Tbsp Cornstarch
2-3 Tbsp mini-chocolate-chips, chilled in freezer.

Microwave milk 7 min.

Beat together sugar and eggs. Add flour and corntarch, beat until smooth and no lumps remain.

Add mixture to milk and beat until combined.

Microwave 1 min. Beat until smooth. Repeat until semi-thick. For me it took 5 more minutes.

Fill pie shell.

Sprinkle chips evenly across top of pie.

Chill in refrigerator until firm.

Warning: If you taste the milk mixture when filling pie shell, it will taste like warm milk. At this point I did not think it would make a very good pie filling. However, when it is all set it has a nice mild flavor and light custardy texture. I really like it and so did my co-workers.

Note: I am pretty sure this pie would turn out just fine made over the stove. I would suggest simply whisking together all ingredients until smooth and then heat over med heat until it is semi-thick, continuing to whisk constantly. And if anyone tries it this way, post a comment to let me know how it works out!

Not A Foodie Blog and Other Random Thoughts

#1 I would just like to state for the record that this is NOT a foodie blog.

I have nothing against foodie blogs, in fact I spend a lot of my time perusing them, getting recipes, and envying their photography. But I am not a foodie. Foodie to me is someone who may be a bit of a food snob expecting the best ingredients and has high standards for the finished dish. This is not me.

I was recently drawn in by a box of Hamburger Helper. It WAS gross, but I bought, made, and ate it. These are not the actions of a foodie.

#2 I have not been using my own voice.

It's like my sub-conscious decided that since I am writing about pie I have to use some weird family friendly voice or something. I'm going to try to stop. It's not me and this SHOULD reflect me and my personality along with my pie experiments.

And besides, 5 year olds don't make pies anyway.

#3 I just can't keep up.

When I started this I worried about if I would have enough to post. If there would be large gaps during those periods when I do not have lots of time for pie baking.

Now I worry because I am so far behind! Seriously, I may not remember what a pie tastes like by the time I write about it.

And if I take a pie baking break, well, that will just give me a chance to catch up.

#4 I am generally averse to joining any of the on-line recipe sites. Even all-recipes. They are just so big and it doesn't really seem to matter if you comment on a recipe 500 people have already have reviewed.

But this week I joined The Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen. I have already found a great pie recipe there (look for the upcoming Milk Pie post) and it is small enough that I feel like commenting is actually worthwhile. She did not start it that long ago so I may not continue if it blows up into a huge thing, but for now I like it.

So far I have only posted my Concord Grape Pie, but plan to post more pie recipes when I make enough adjustments to consider them my own.

This is also a place for me to put up things other then pies. I am still struggling with how pie and/or dessert exclusive to keep this blog and have not quite decided yet, so for now...sticking to pies.

If your interested in anything else I might be cooking I can be found over at Tasty Kitchen.