the birthday ten! ::::
The pie theme for Grub’s birthdays have held strong for the past few years. We have a chill in the air in Georgia and it actually feels like autumn. Grub said I could choose the birthday pie filling so I opted for the traditional apple of the season, with a handful of errant late summer berries Georgia seems to find this time of year. Errant is a good word for 2020. (Maybe our next election can bring us back to a little more normalcy, ahem.)
We have ducked so far out of the meaning of seasonal foods, most of the time my children assume the plethora of berry pies I made in the summer can emerge just as easily in the off season. Maybe so, but the 99 cent a pint sale this summer for raspberries isn’t something I’d find in the almost chill of a Georgia September. (I bought 16 pints. We ate everything.)
So the answer is yes, there is a seasonlessness to pie fruit in this modern age of travel/shipment/supply chains and greenhouse factory fruit but I’m not willing to fork up the money to get them at my every whim. And sometimes fruit thawed from frozen just doesn’t cut it.
But he, he is whim and love. Grub is curious and funny. He’s so smart and fun to talk to about school when he has questions. He rolls with the online learning well though craving more social time with friends. Physically-distanced fun has turned into hours of tandem play on Minecraft with his best friend whose backyard touches ours. They’ve found other kids in similar situations, across the world in South Africa and Canada. Because our world has become a weird and limited place to interact closely with friends and strangers, they’ve taken to a new digital world to wrestle and joke virtually in pixelated and blocky bodies.
Grub invited two friends for a birthday sleepover, which we carefully planned to keep them distanced. It worked pretty well but it was hard to see the bursting energy of kids wanting to be closer to each other. I still get hugs though. Grub may be ten now but he’s still a great hugger and doesn’t mind me calling him by his baby nickname. Don’t lose the hugs, silly. The baby nickname will fade, but I’ll always want hugs from my bright, lovely boy. I love you.
One year ago: bibinkga (Grub’s ninth birthday)
Two years ago: key lime pie (Grub’s eighth birthday)
Three years ago: pandan cupcakes (Grub’s seventh birthday)
Four years ago: vanilla cake with pandan frosting (Grub’s sixth birthday)
Five years ago: chima (laval) cookies (and/or cupcake toppers — a photo tutorial) (Grub’s fifth birthday)
Six years ago: tomato-sunflower seed pâté and ninjago frosting redux (Grub’s fourth birthday)
Seven years ago: turtle cupcakes (Grub’s third birthday)
Eight years ago: turbinado sugar cookies (Grub’s second birthday) and no-knead bread and croutons
Nine years ago: plum kuchen and pimento cheese and pear galette [Grub’s first birthday — I used to call him Mr. Man here]
The crust – Stella Parks’s Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts cookbook, 2017.
The crumble – Lise Desrochers’s The Lompoc Cafe Cookbook. The cafe is located in Bar Harbor, Maine. It’s a spiral-bound book, no publication date. I think my mom got me the cookbook around ?2000.
- FILLING: 8 small apples, or about 5 large apples, mixture of Fuji and Gala, peeled. Use around 1234g; 2 lb 11 oz; 43.55 oz
- 1⅓ cups fresh blueberries or raspberries
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, less if the apples are really sweet
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- CRUST: Stella Parks’s recipe (see her cookbook for more tricks and tips — I’ve adapted her two-crust pie crust to a one-crust deep dish with extra dough)
- 1¾ cups + 1 tablespoon (8 ounces) all-purpose flour, and more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter (8 ounces), cold and cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup (4 ounces) cold water
- CRUMBLE TOPPING (from the Pear-Cranberry Crisp recipe in Lompoc Cafe recipe book by Lise Desrochers):
- ⅓ cup flour
- ½ cup old-fashioned oatmeal (not quick-cooking)
- ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅓ cup hazelnuts, chopped (or other nuts - I’ve used almonds)
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup softened butter
- SAVORY CRACKER RECIPE with leftover crust (optional):
- shredded/grafted Parmesan cheese
- smoked paprika (optional), or other spices/dried herbs
- MAKE PIE CRUST: Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add butter cubes and roughly smash each one. Toss with flour in bowl to prevent sticking.
- Stir in cold water (dry climes may need to use all ½ cup, whereas more humid may need less). Knead briefly to form a ball. Keep temperature of dough 70 deg F or less, to prevent the butter melting. Put in fridge for a few minutes if your kitchen is warm.
- Transfer to floured surface and roll into a large rectangle, to just under ½ centimeter thick. Check for holes and patch them—you don’t want filling leaking under the baking crust. My bane!
- Transfer the dough to the deep dish pie plate, making sure it’s flush with the plate, and check for holes again. Trim to about a 1¾-inch overhang and then scallop the edges. You’ll use about ⅔ to ¾ of the dough for a deep dish pie plate. It’s great dough to work with: it’s elastic and doesn’t crumble. Store the leftover trimmings in fridge (see later section on savory crackers).
- Wrap prepared pie plate in plastic and chill for 2 hours. This helps achieve the flaky crust. It needs to sit at least 2 hours (I’ve also done overnight) to relax the gluten.
- MEANWHILE MAKE FILLING: After peeling apples, cut into thin (3-4 mm) slices. My photograph above shows some pieces which are too thick--they were too crunchy. Make them as uniform as possible for better cooking.
- Toss apples with berries and lemon juice in large bowl.
- Mix cornstarch, sugar, and spices together and add to apple bowl. Add melted butter and give it all a good stir. Set aside.
- MAKE THE CRUMBLE: Mix the crumble ingredients together in a medium bowl. That’s it. Keep it loose and crumbly. Set aside.
- BAKING: Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
- Put apple mix in pie dish, leaving the juice behind in the apple bowl.
- Top with the crumble, without pressing down.
- Place the prepared pie onto a large baking sheet (important!) and bake for 20 minutes. THEN, briefly take the pie out and cover a pie crust shield to prevent the crust from burning.
- Place pie back in oven and turn the temperature down to 375 deg F (190 deg C). Bake for another 35-40 minutes. When done, the fruit juices will be bubbling.
- Allow the pie to cool for 3 full hours at room temperature before serving. This time allows the filling to thicken up. Serve with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream. Cover pie leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- WAIT: WHAT ABOUT THE LEFTOVER DOUGH? SAVORY, CHEESY CRACKERS! - Roll out dough on parchment paper.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut into bite-sized shapes and separate the cut dough pieces a centimeter or so, so they won’t melt into each other with baking.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and pepper. Add other spices or herbs if you desire.
- Transfer to baking sheet and bake at 400 deg F for about 8 minutes, though this will depend on how thin you’ve rolled the dough. I check after 5 minutes, then adjust timing.
- ADVANCE PIE PREP: I’ve made the pie crust and chilled overnight. The apple-berry mixture can be assembled in a large bowl, tightly covered with plastic, and stored in the fridge overnight. I have the bowl sit at room temperature for a couple of hours before using. The crumble can be assembled, covered, and can sit at room temperature overnight. Makes the pie baking day very quick!