Summer Blackberry Bourbon Pie

Summer Blackberry Bourbon Pie

  Pie tends to be a neglected dish on my site. I’m not sure why this is, but I think one of the reasons is because I’m a perfectionist and assembling the top crust of a pie to look decent can be difficult. There are many ways to style a pie; so many creative people out there coming up with all sorts of elaborate designs. But every time, I fall for a simple lattice pie. I like the rustic look it gives a berry pie, as well as it’s moderateness on difficulty.

  I have to remind myself I’m not at all about extremely elaborate recipes, but I’m not about taking the easiest route, either. It can be strenuous staying on this road in the internet world, where the theme most favored seem to be, “what crazy, extravagant, and excessively sweet thing can I come up with quickly in order to go viral?”.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing other people being creative with food, I myself am creative with it; but on my own blog, I try to keep the things I bake simple, delicious, and seasonal so people can recreate it without too much difficulty. So, what do I do? I walk outside and find a thicket full of plump blackberries, pick as many until my hands are stained purple, and soak them in bourbon. The next step is to spend quite some time working the flour, butter, and water together with a spatula. It’s a trick I discovered from Serious Eats a few days ago for a flakier pie crust, so I used the method with the pie crust I made for my cherry hand pies. It turned out so flaky and delicious.  Nothing says summer like a pie filled with tart, freshly foraged blackberries(spiked with bourbon at that)- along with a great scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tip for a scrumptious tasting pie crust: use a good quality butter (preferably unsalted); so good you could eat it alone! It may cost a few more dollars, but it’s worth it.


Summer Blackberry Bourbon Pie

   ingredients:

240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour { 2 cups }

2 tablespoons raw cane sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8-ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

7 tablespoons water, ice-cold

   filling:

1.5 pounds fresh blackberries

1/4 cup bourbon

1 tablespoon raw cane sugar

1 cup raw cane sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

   Method:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add to a food processor along with the cold, cubed butter. Pulse 27-28 times until most the butter is coated with flour and the mixture resembles small pebbles(it’s okay if there are larger pieces as well). Pour the mixture back into a bowl and sprinkle with the ice-cold water. Use a spatula to work the dough together until it forms a ball. This may take a few minutes. It will be dry and crumbly at first, but once the flour absorbs the water it will begin to come together. Divide the dough into equal halves (using a scale is the best way) and press into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, combine the blackberries, bourbon, and sprinkle with the one tablespoon of sugar. Give a slight stir and cover the bowl. Soak the blackberries for 30 minutes. 
  3. Once the dough has chilled, turn one-half out onto a floured surface (leave the other half in the refrigerator) and roll into a large circle that will fit into a 9-inch pie tin and still overlap along the sides slightly. Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and transfer to the pie tin. Using your fingers, carefully press the dough to fit the tin. Place the tin in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling:
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 tsp of cornstarch until combined, set aside. Drain the juices from the blackberries, add the sugar mixture, and gently toss until all the berries are coated. Remove the pie shell from the fridge, pour the berries inside, and gently spread them around with a spoon. Place the pie back in the fridge while you roll out the remaining half of dough to cover the top. Cover the pie with your preferred style(I prefer to lattice, but you don’t have to do it that way) and crimp or flute the edges to seal them together.  If you aren’t doing a latticed pie, cut slit vents for steam release. Place the finished pie back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F and make sure the first rack is placed in the middle position in the oven. Place a large baking sheet on the lowest rack to catch any juice that might fall.
  5. Once the pie has chilled, brush the top with egg wash(1 egg + 1 tsp milk, beaten), and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes until the pie filling is bubbly and the crust golden brown. Cool completely before serving, about 1-2 hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream on the side.

 

Cherry and Thyme Hand Pies with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

Cherry and Thyme Hand Pies with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

  It’s officially cherry season in the state of Virginia. My first thought at the beginning of any fruit season is to bake a pie with the fruit I’ve obtained from the farms in my area. And that’s precisely what I did when I discovered my usual grocery store of choice was selling fresh, local sweet cherries from one of my favorite orchards. Such a find can be a rarity in my small town, there’s a slim selection of local vegetables in the summer if any; in the fall there might be apples. But, when it comes to common fruits such as strawberries, peaches, or blueberries, you can only find them at the farmers market once a week. Many times I’ll drive up to an hour to pick fruit from the local u-pick farms in my area, as I love going out and about to visit beautiful places.

  Each pie is filled with a delicious cherry jam, subtly flavored with fresh thyme. Accompanying these hand pies is a creamy, no-churn vanilla bourbon ice cream. There are many no-churn ice creams out there that commonly call for heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk- a canned milk with the water removed and a copious amount of sugar added to make a sweet, sticky dairy product. The condensed milk is usually folded into the whipped cream and the flavoring(s) of your choice is added. Once frozen, the result is a rich and creamy ice cream. To avoid so much sugar, I simply made my own sweetened condensed milk that doesn’t use any canned dairy product, but instead raw cashews and maple syrup. Just blend until smooth and creamy and fold into the fresh, whipped cream along with a good quality bourbon and vanilla.

CHERRY AND THYME HAND PIES WITH BOURBON VANILLA ICE CREAM


   bourbon vanilla ice cream

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight then drained

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons good quality bourbon

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

  cherry + thyme jam

1-pounds sweet cherries, pitted and stems removed

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

  pie dough

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon raw sugar

12 tablespoons salted butter, cold

5-6 tablespoons water, ice-cold

   method

  1. In a high-powered blender, add the maple syrup, vanilla, bourbon and the cashews; blend until smooth and creamy. This may take a few minutes depending on your blender. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks, then gently fold in the cashew mixture with a spatula until combined. Place the mixture in an air-tight container and freeze for 2 hours until firm, or overnight.
  2. In a saucepan, add the cherries and lemon juice and mash them slightly, then add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add the sugar. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often until the cherries are very soft and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the thyme. Cool the jam completely before using. 
  3. In a bowl, lightly whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. Pour into a food processor and add the cold butter, cut into cubes. Pulse until small, pea-sized pieces form(it’s okay if there are larger chunks, too). Pour back into the bowl and add three tablespoons of ice cold water to one side of the bowl; then gently work the flour into the water with a fork. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, when needed. You should be able to gently work it into a ball. Split the dough into four, golf ball sized pieces and gently press them into disks. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to use.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. 
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough disks, one at a time, until they’re about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Move them onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the freezer for about 2 minutes to quickly become firm again. Add the jam to the center of each disk, leaving an inch of space from the edge. Fold one side of the dough over the jam and crimp the two sides together until sealed. Gently press a fork around the sealed edges. Brush the tops with egg wash (1 egg, beaten) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Cool until just warm, then serve with the ice cream.

PECAN PIE WITH BOURBON CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM

  With Thanksgiving just a mere two weeks (plus a few days) away, I thought I’d post a classic dessert that is often found on holiday dinner tables this time of year here in the South- pecan pie.  This recipe hails from an old 1930’s church cookbook I found while walking about an antique mall not too long ago.  I adapted it a tad bit as I am not very fond of using corn syrup, so in its place, I used maple syrup.  Which, in my opinion, adds so much more flavor to the pie.  The crust is buttery and the pecans on top are crunchy while underneath is perfectly gooey; combined with the boozy caramel whipped cream, the entirety of it all is delicious.  Like other pies, this one did not last long in my home.

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I really love finding such things in antique malls or thrift stores.  The pile of church cookbooks sitting in small corners of such places is often neglected.  But they can be little treasures, really, especially the really old ones.  You don’t know what you’re going to get from them as it’s a collection of recipes from various people of various heritage. Each person contributed one recipe they deemed as a favorite that was passed down to them from generation to generation.  This cookbook I bought has many interesting recipes inside(some advertisements as well that I can’t help but chuckle at; oh, how far we’ve come!) which had me researching the ones I wasn’t familiar with.  The recipes range from fattigmann, rødgrød, and vanillekipferl; to blushing bunny, chicken cacciatore, and stuffed eggplant.  Then you have American classics like apple crisp, this pecan pie, and many others.

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PECAN PIE WITH BOURBON CARAMEL WHIPPED CREAM

pie crust:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

5-8 tablespoons ice-cold water

pie filling:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup dark maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups pecan halves

 

for the caramel

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

caramel whipped cream:

1/2 cup heavy cream, cold

1/4 cup bourbon caramel 

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

pinch of salt

METHOD:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  Add the cold butter in cubes and using a pastry blender or food processor, blend it into the flour till it’s crumbly(crumbles should be pea-sized).  Push the mixture to one side of the bowl and add 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water to the other side.  Using a fork, gently toss the flour into the water.  Add more water by the tablespoon when it becomes dry.  Repeat this until the dough comes together and all the flour is incorporated; it should be a soft, moist dough when complete.  Using your hands, shape it into a disk and loosly wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 25-30 minutes; meanwile, preheat the oven to 350°F.   Once the dough has firmed up some, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it until it’s about 10-inches in diameter.  Gently wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unravel onto a 9-inch pie tin.  carefully press the dough into the pan using your hands and then finish by crimping the edges however you would like it to look.  Place the crust in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2.  In a medium sized saucepan, melt the tablespoon of butter; add the brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla.  Whisk over medium-low heat until warm(not hot).  Slightly whisk the eggs together and add to the sugar.  Whisk until all is combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and sprinkle on all the pecan halves.  Brush the crust with egg wash(1 egg + 1 tablespoon water)  if you would like it browned.  Bake for about an hour to an hour and 40 minutes.  It will be done when tapped with a spoon and the top is hard.  Cool completely and serve with whipped cream.  

for the caramel and whipped cream:

  1. In a small saucepan, add the water and sugar.  Whisk over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved, once the sugar is dissolves stop whisking and watch the mixture very closely for the next 5-10 minutes.  It should start to turn a light amber, when it does so, quickle remove from heat and stir in the tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter has melted, slowly stream in the cream and stir.  Heat the bourbon until warm and stir into the caramel.  Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cold. 
  2. Place a medium sized mixing bowl in the freezer along with a whisk that attaches to an electric mixer.  Chill for 5 minutes.  Once chilled, add the cold cream, caramel, and powdered sugar.  Whip until soft peaks form.  Serve atop the pie.  

APPLE RUM PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

  Almost two weeks have passed since I went traversing through an orchard in search of my favorite autumnal fruit.  It was the first of September, a very damp and dark one at that, but not at all in a depressing way.  It set the mood for the month, and since that day I have found myself wishing the last of summer away and yearning for fall to arrive with all its color and ecstasy.   

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  I rather loved the weather that day, I’m typing this now wishing I could go back as it is currently miserably hot and humid today.  It was quite cool that day and the fog was hanging low in the mountains; both the peaches and apples looked like candy dangling from a tree, but the apples looked especially pretty as they were bright red and glimmered with fresh droplets of rain.  I’m already excited about going back the end of this month or in early October when all the other varieties are ready.  

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  Walking under that canopy of peach trees reminded me somewhat of Alice in Wonderland as if in any given moment a white rabbit would emerge from somewhere, wearing a waistcoat and brandishing a pocket watch.  As silly as that sounds, that was the vibe I had while walking under these trees.  I really did have a smile on my face the entire time, I felt like a child who found a hideout somewhere amongst the brush.  I brought my baby sister with me (who is ten years old) and she had the same air to her.  She had so much fun picking the peaches all by herself.  I’m not sure how it would’ve felt if the sun was bright and shining.

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  Since I’ve probably talked enough about my orchard trip, I will now talk about these pies.  I’ve had this idea for mini pies, each donned with a different look, for quite some time but I didn’t have any mini pie tins.  Lucky for me I stumbled across a few just recently and was able to make them with the fruit I had just picked.  You don’t have to use mini pie tins as I did, though.  The dough amount is a perfect fit for an eight or nine-inch pie.  

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  I really love the combination of apples and peaches, though the sound of such a pie doesn’t flow as well as “apple and pear”, which was my first idea, then I switched fruits.  I see this combination as a last hoorah to summer, as peaches go out of season here around the first or second week of September and then the apples begin to arrive.  When the two are paired with rum it really is delicious!   

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RUM APPLE PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

pie crust

12 ounces all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

3-4 ounces water, ice cold

filling

3 peaches, cut into thin slices

3 apples, cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons rum

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

dash of ground nutmeg

oat topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

other 

egg wash, (1 egg, 1 tablespoon water)

turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

for the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Have on hand three, 4-inch pie tins or one, 8 or 9-inch pie tin.  
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, whisking till combined; add the cold butter and cut into the flour using a pastry blender or by pulsing in a food process till it clumps into pea-sized nuggets.  Push the flour to one side of the bowl and then add about two or three tablespoons of the cold water.  Gently toss the flour into the side with the water, using a fork, till it all comes together and forms a soft dough.  Add more water if needed.  Cut the dough equally in half and press each half into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes or till ready to use.
  3. Cut the apples and peaches into thin slices and place in a bowl, toss in the lemon juice, then add the rum.  Let the fruit soak in the rum for about 25 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and spices.  Drain the rum from the fruit, add the sugar mixture to the fruit and toss gently with your hands or a spatula.
  5.  In another bowl, combine the oats, finely chopped nuts, one-half teaspoon cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Stir till it all comes together and is crumbly(but not dry).

 Assemble the pie:  

  1. Remove one of the dough halves from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface.  Gently roll into a wide enough circle that will overhang your pie plate by about 3 inches.  Press the dough into the pan and add the fruit, then place the pie in the refrigerator as you roll out the other half of the dough the same as you did the bottom crust.  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place over the top of the pie.  Crimp the edges together and brush the pie top with egg wash. Using a sharp knife, cut slits around the center of the pie.  Sprinkle on the oat topping and extra sugar and bake for 35-45 minutes.