summer fruit pies (and some news!)

May 25, 2016

This time last year, I was packing up my house and preparing to move from Portland to San Francisco. I was nervous about the move, and wasn't 100% sure if it was the right thing to do. I'd lived in San Francisco before, and I wasn't a fan then. Would it be the right decision now, nearly five years later?

I don't think I can answer that honestly without disappointing everybody and myself, but let's put it this way: Everybody loves a good movie montage. You know, the kind where the dorky, scrawny nerd spends the summer training hard to become the high school's winning quarterback, or where the spunky, multicultural ethnic kids band together and fix up the old man's house? Well, real life seldom turns out like that.

Because it turns out that I don’t have the moxie that I once did. When I was 22, 23, or heck, even 26, moving to a new city to pursue a career was easier to do. But now that I've started to sprout roots — a house with a custom kitchen designed for this blog, a city I will always call home, a partner of almost six years, a furry ginger creature that's dependent on me completely — the game has changed for me. The struggle was no longer new and exciting, and the rewards didn't seem to outweigh the costs at all. Instead, all that hustle just felt like an unnecessary burden.

One that was hard to carry, especially by myself.

So I took a step back and decided that it was time to stop breaking my own heart and do the right thing for myself — in a little more than a month, I'm moving to New York City.

New York isn't home, but it'll be closer to something like it with Erlend and his family there. This past year in San Francisco has been quiet and lonely in a million ways, and I learned how heartbreaking it is to prioritize a career over a place to call home. But honestly, even as I type this, I feel all the weight and mistakes from the last year lightening already. I’m incredibly grateful and thankful to all the friends, family, and co-workers who made this year worthwhile, but boy, I’m ready for the next chapter:

Welcome to New York — it’s been waiting for you!


Some baker's notes:
  • This recipe is part of my #humhipieamonth project, where at the start of the year, I ambitiously vowed to make a pie every month to improve my pie making skills. This month, I was a bit of an overachiever and decided to make two pies to take advantage of California’s ever abundant bounty before I head on out — a rhubarb and peach pie, and two strawberry balsamic mini pies. The pie crust recipe quantity provides enough for one 9-inch double-lidded pie, or two 5-inch deep dish double-lidded pies (you can get the 5-inch pie plates here!). Double the recipe if you’re planning on making both types of pie!

  • The pie crust recipe is my favorite butter and lard pie crust recipe, but made with a food processor instead of a pastry blender (since I was pressed for time). If you don’t have a food processor, you can cut the butter and lard in by hand by following the instructions on this recipe for sour cranberry pie.

  • As always, it’s always a good idea to re-read all my best pie baking tips before embarking on a pie adventure. Good luck!

Summer Fruit Pies

Rhubarb and Peach Pie
Strawberry Balsamic Pie

(pie crust adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, filling by yours truly)




Special Equipment:

For the Lard and Butter Pie Crust:
(makes one 9-inch double-lidded pie, or two 5-inch double-lidded pies)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) cold water
  • 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick // 4 ounces) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) very cold rendered leaf lard, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the Rhubarb and Peach Filling:
(for one 9-inch pie)
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, ends trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • a pinch of kosher salt

For the Strawberry Balsamic Filling:
(for two 5-inch pies)
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the Egg Wash:
(enough for one 9-inch double-lidded pie, or two 5-inch double-lidded pies)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 tablespoons demerara (or other coarse) sugar



For the Lard and Butter Pie Crust:
  1. Combine 1 cup ice, 1 cup cold water, and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar in a large liquid measuring cup. Give it a good stir, and then transfer to the refrigerator to chill while you work with the dry ingredients.

  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Give the ingredients a quick pulse until well combined. Add 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup leaf lard, and process with quick pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal, around 8 to 10 seconds — don't go any longer than that or you'll overprocess the dough and end up with a dense pie crust!

  3. Remove the ice water mixture from the refrigerator. With machine running, add 1/4 cup of the ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, but don't add too much that you end up with a sticky dough.

  4. If making one pie, divide dough into 2 equal balls; if making two mini pies, divide the dough into 4 equal balls.  Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

For the Rhubarb and Peach Filling:
  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 pound sliced rhubarb, 1/2 pound slices peaches, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a pinch of kosher salt. Toss ingredients together until the fruit is coated with cornstarch and sugar. Set aside.

For the Strawberry Balsamic Filling:
  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 pints sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and a pinch of kosher salt. Toss the ingredients together and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the stawberries to mascerate and soften.

  2. Once the strawberries are juicy, sprinkle 1/2 cup cornstarch and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar over the fruit. Toss until the strawberries are coated with cornstarch. Set aside.

Making the Pies:
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pie dough disks — if making a 9-inch pie, roll into a rough 12-inch circle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick; if making a 5-inch pie, roll into a rough 8-inch circle. Transfer the circle to a pie pan and spoon the filling into the pie, using a spoon or the back of your hand to flatten the fruit across the pan and create an even layer. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the rest of the pie.

  2. Next, make the pie lid. If making a 9-inch pie, roll out the other disk into a 12-inch circle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick; if making a 5-inch pie, roll into a rough 8-inch circle. If using cookie cutters to stamp out any shapes or designs onto your lid, this is the time to do it! I recommend these mini alphabet cutters if you want to stamp out any indie folk song lyrics like I did. If the lid starts to feel soft or sticky while you're doing this, transfer the lid to a sheet pan and freeze for 5 to 10 minutes until you've finished your pattern.

  3. Once you've finished your lid design, remove the pie base from the refrigerator. Fold the pie dough circle for the lid over your rolling pin and transfer carefully to the pie base. Use a pair of kitchen shears to trim any excess dough hanging over the plate. Use your fingers to gently pinch or press the pie lid into the bottom crust. If you didn't stamp out any designs on your lid, use a sharp knife to make 4 slits to the top of the lid to allow the fruit to ventilate during the baking process (and prevent your the bottom of your pie crust from getting soggy!). Transfer to the freezer to chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight if you want your pie crust design to stay prominent during the baking process. 

  4. When you're ready to bake the pie(s), center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F).

  5. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 large egg yolks and 1 teaspoon water to create the egg wash for your pie. Remove the chilled pie from the refrigerator and use a pastry brush to evenly brush the pie lid and crust with the egg wash; sprinkle 2 tablespoons demerara sugar over the egg wash.

  6. Set the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the crust has turned golden brown and the juices of the fruit filling are bubbling. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.



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