After a visit to the Farmer's Market at the Crossings a few weeks ago, I was inspired to try my hand at making fruit pies.
I grew up with a mom who baked like a fiend, and I watched her roll out pie dough countless times as a child. Yet for some reason, making pie crust seemed like it should be something really difficult. It wasn't. I used a modified recipe I found at Hillbilly Housewife, substituting dairy-free margarine for the shortening. I wouldn't normally bake with margarine, but I was going to be sharing the pie with a friend who needed it to be so. I also discovered I was nearly out of all-purpose flour, so I ended up subbing whole wheat flour for half of the recipe.
The crust came out just fine, though it wasn't as flaky as I'd hoped, but it rolled nicely and tasted ok. The filling, however, was gorgeous. If you needed a reason to be convinced that farmer's markets are worth shopping at, summer fruit is the reason. I bought juicy, sweet peaches from George Markets in Latham (I think! - I should have written it down) and a reasonably priced quart of blackberries from the vendor at the back of the first row towards the back near the playground - helpful, isn't it? These blackberries put those blackberry shaped things the supermarket sells to shame. I payed $5 for a quart of really delicious, sweet, flavorful blackberries and they were worth every cent.
I blanched the peaches and then peeled them, sliced, and added to a mixing bowl with the blackberries. A cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour, and a sprinkling of cinnamon, and the filling was complete. Here's how it looked once added to the crust, before it received its dough hat.
Ah! A thing of beauty!
Once the top crust was on, I brushed it with an egg wash, pricked a pretty (off-center) design in the top, and sprinkled it with Sugar in the Raw for sweetness and crunch and put the whole thing in the oven. Here it is before baking:
The question that sets fear in the pie-baker's heart is one that can only be answered by slicing into it: will the filling have set? I don't like the texture cornstarch adds, so I put my faith in flour. And the results...
Delicious, and not too runny at all.
I highly recommend peach-blackberry pie, but even better, if you can believe it, was a peach-strawberry pie I made the following weekend.
Method was largely the same, except my pie crust was made with butter this time. Oh, what a difference the fat makes! This pie crust, while handling, was supple, pleasantly elastic, yet silky and tender. It was really a pleasure to work with. I also purchased more all purpose flour, so I didn't use any whole wheat this time around. The resultant crust was golden, crisp, and so very tasty.
The only change to the filling was strawberries in place of blackberries, and I think I preferred it that way. Either way, you can't lose. I'm only sorry I didn't take a picture of the peach-strawberry pie.
If you've been afraid to try your hand at pie crust in the past, don't be! It's very easy, and in the end, you have pie! What could be better?