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Jess and I entered a pie contest today, run by the fine bakers at Mission Pie. It was awesome wacky funtimes. I made my standby Best Blueberry Pie Ever (recipe below, of course), and Jess made a really interesting experimental tart that included:

- Crème fraîche custard
- Halved figs
- Mascarpone cheese sweetened with honey dolloped on top of said figs
- Thin slivers of prosciutto on top of the mascarpone cheese

It was quite delicious, but some of the taste combinations jarred a little, and Jess is going to tweak it until it's perfect.

We ultimately had enough leftover pie filling, pie crust and topping to make three miniature tarts, so we decided to enter the big blueberry pie and one of the experimental tartlets in the contest.

Mission Pie was MAD CROWDED when we got there, y'all. 27 pies went toe-to-toe (crust-to-filling?) in a battle for ultimate pie superiority, and many more people were there to sample the deliciousness.

I'm too tired right now to go into the technicolor details, but suffice it to say that Jess and I tasted some damn tasty (as well as a some fairly mediocre) pie, and after all the honorable mentions were given...my pie won the best filling award, even if it didn't win best overall pie. Hot damn! The prize was a red boa--not the feathery kind, but the wispy feathery kind. Anyway, I win I win I win I don't lose I WIN!

And now, pictures, courtesy of Jess!


The blueberry pie, pre-topping.


Delicious topping being applied RIGHT NOW.


The fig tartlet that was entered in the contest.


Jess's tartlet, all plated and ready to be nommed!


My plating? Much less pretty.


JESUS CHRIST LOOK AT ALL THOSE PIES.

And now, dear readers, my recipe!

Crust: Use your favorite recipe, enough for a single crust; if you don't have one, here's a pretty solid one I stole from A Baker's Dozen:
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water

1. Mix salt into flour. Cut fat into flour using your favorite method (I, personally, love using the food processor).
2. When mixture has pea-sized bits of butter in it, add water slowly and mix gently until flour starts holding together.
3. Flatten into a disc and store in fridge.

Filling:
6 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup corn starch or 1 tablespoon guar gum

1. Put everything in a large pot and toss all the ingredients together so that berries are evenly coated.
2. Cook on medium heat until mixture is starts to release water. At that point, start stirring fairly constantly to make sure it doesn't burn and leave you with an unholy gunky mess.
3. Cook until the mixture is thick and rather gummy.
4. Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until mixture is cooled (about 3 hours). This step isn't too super-critical, but it's cool the filling down somewhat before baking it.

Topping:
(Note: For something just about as delicious but somewhat less of a bother, buy a bag of almond meal from Trader Joe's instead of getting the whole nuts.)
1/3 cup whole raw almonds
1/3 cup whole raw pecans
Buncha brown sugar
A few generous pinches of salt
3/4 stick butter

1. Process almonds and pecans into a fine meal.
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan.
3. Throw in the nut meals.
4. Add brown sugar and salt until it tastes right--it should be assertive and sweet, but not gag-inducing, so add a little and keep tasting.
5. Cook until mixture starts to smell good but before it starts browning.

Assembly:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Roll out pie crust and put into 9" dish. If you want to be schmancy, bake in the oven while weighted down with pie weights until it's a pale gold color, about 10-12 minutes.
2. Put filling in.
3. Grab handfuls of pie topping, flatten between palms and place carefully on top of pie.
4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until filling bubbles up and crust is golden brown. Let cool for about an hour before cutting.

I'm now pondering the Ultimate Fruit Tart of Ultimate Destiny, which I'll hopefully be making when I get back to Portland. It'll contain:

- Tart crust (we learned today that my pie crust recipe also makes a fantastic tart crust)
- Mascarpone-honey filling as the base
- Fruit topping consisting of peaches, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, cooked with cornstarch and sugar

All of this will then be chilled and served cool with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

All hail my masterbakery!
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