Summer Fruit Pies

by Ann Marie Michaels on July 8, 2008

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“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmmm, boy.” — Jack Handy

We had a few people over for a BBQ on Saturday, to celebrate my 40th birthday. My friend Steven came over on Friday to help me make some pies and cobblers.

Steven Making Pie

Pie Crust

This is what a good pie crust should look like. See those hunks of butter? That is what ensures a flaky crust.

The trick to a good pie crust is this: You don’t want to handle your pie crust too much and overincorporate your fats. Also, start with very cold (frozen even) fat. You don’t want it to melt while you are working the dough. The more the fats stay together, the more air pockets you will create — which creates the flakiness.

This pie crust is made with 1/2 cup of lard (Steven rendered it at home and brought it over) and 1 cup of butter (KerryGold Irish butter — from grass-fed cows). The only other ingredients are unbleached white flour, cold filtered water, a little salt and a little stevia. — where to buy flour; where to buy filtered water; where to buy sea salt

It is essentially the recipe from Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything. (Except I used stevia instead of sugar.) This is the recipe I have followed for years, and it comes out perfect — I mean perfect — every time. The first time you read the recipe, it is a little intimidating. It’s like 9 pages long! But once you learn how to do it, you will never use any other method.

We also brushed a little milk and egg yolk onto the tops of the pies to give them that nice golden brown tan.

Here’s the blueberry pie before we baked it:

Blueberry Pie

And here’s the apple pie prior to baking:

Apple Pie

Here’s the apple pie:

Apple Pie

And here’s the apple cobbler:

Apple Cobbler

Cobblers originated on the American frontier — when they were in the stage coaches traveling west — they could not roll out the pie dough so they had to be creative.

We used organic blueberries and organic Pink Lady apples (I prefer tart green Granny Smiths but I could not find any).

We used sucanat instead of sugar. For the apple pie, I added a little orange-flavored Armagnac that I smuggled back from my last trip to Paris. I did not add any cinnamon or nutmeg – just a little vanilla extract. — where to buy sucanat; where to buy vanilla extract

Here’s the blueberry pie out of the oven:

Blueberry Pie

The blueberry pie was quite possibly the best pie I have ever tasted. I know, I’m being immodest. But it was!

We also made a cherry cobbler. Here it is before we baked it:

Cherry Cobbler

We used organic cherries, and sucanat instead of sugar. Plus some corn starch, a little lemon and vanilla extract. And a pinch of salt.

I didn’t make enough dough so this one’s a little short. But people ate it anyway.

It was really good with the sucanat. Not too sweet. You could really taste the fruit and it was not overpowered by sugar.

We also made raw homemade ice cream to go with the pies — made from Organic Pastures raw cream (from grass-fed cows), egg yolks, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Because how can you eat pie without ice cream? — where to buy maple syrup

Here’s Seth feeding Kate ice cream at the party:

Seth and Kate on My Birthday

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