I love to bake pies. I used to be afraid of pie crust until I took a class at Central Market and learned how to make pie crust. I like to make the crust with my hands – feeling the butter work into the flour until it is just right. I like how the crust rolls out just right and is ready for the filling. Making pie crust by hand is relaxing for me.
Thanksgiving is when I make the time to indulge in making pies. I have a book, aptly named, Pie by Ken Haedrich. It has 300 pie recipes. I spend days going through the book deciding which pies to make this year. However, one pie is such a hit that the group we celebrate Thanksgiving with each year demands that it arrive with us. This pie is Georgia Orcutt’s Thanksgiving Dried Fruit Pie (on page 307 of the Pie book). When I saw the recipe, I thought it sounded interesting. I decided to make it as a backup for the other pies. However, when we ate the pie everyone agreed it is AMAZING! Even better, it is easy as, um, pie to make. The recipe says 12 to 14 servings. This seems impossible out of a regular 9 1/2 inch pie, but it is true. The pie is so full of goodness, a small slice is all it takes. So, I’m going to share the recipe with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do on Thanksgiving. And, if you don’t want to make your own crust, feel free to use one from the frozen food section.
Crust (From Mary Cech’s Fall Pie Workshop at Central Market Houston; this is my go-to crust; dough can be made a day or two in advance. It will need to warm on the counter a few minutes until it is pliable for rolling if made in advance.)
Yield: One 9-inch double crust pie dough
– 3 1/3 cups All Purpose flour
– 1 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter – very cold
– 3/4 to 1 cup ice water
1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut butter into 1/2 walnut sized pieces and add to flour. With your hands, work butter into flour until butter is in pea sized pieces. (This involves rubbing the butter and flour across your fingers with your thumbs – kind of like you are snapping your fingers but using all of your fingers.)
3. Add water and toss dough until it sticks together, be careful not to break butter into small pieces while tossing in the water. (The butter pieces are what make the crust flaky.)
4. Turn onto table, knead slightly.
5. Divide into two portions with one being slightly larger for the bottom crust. Shape each portion into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until needed.
Georgia Orcutt’s Thanksgiving Dried Fruit Pie
Yield: 12 to 14 servings
– 1 pie crust (above)
– 2 cups pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
– 2 cups dried apricots, coarsely chopped
– 1 cup dried Bing cherries
– 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apple rings
– 1 1/2 cups apple cider (be sure to use apple cider, not apple juice)
– 1 cup chopped walnuts
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 2 to 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
– I often just grab a bunch of dried fruit at the store – whatever is available. Georgia says to keep the total to about 5 1/2 cups.
– I may also use 1 to 1 1/4 cup apple cider and 1/4 to 1/2 cup brandy rather than all cider.
– From my pie class, I learned to use a glass pie pan and to cook the pie until the crust on the bottom is golden. This is normally a lot longer than the recipe says. But, the pies come out with a wonderful bottom crust.
1. Prepare the crust and refrigerate until firm enough to roll.
2. On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the larger portion of pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and let the overhang drape over the edge. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3. Combine the fruit in a large nonreactive saucepan and add the cider (or cider and brandy). Cover the pan, place over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed into the fruit, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape the mixture into a shallow bowl to cool. When the mixture is nearly cooled, preheat the oven to 375.
4. Stir the walnuts, sugar, and lemon juice into the fruit.
5. On another sheet of floured waxed paper, roll the other half of the pastry into an 11-inch circle.
6. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell and dot with the butter.
7. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell with water. Invert the top pastry over the filling, center and peel off the paper. Press the top and bottom pastries together along the dampened edge. Using a pair of scissors, cut the pastry, leaving an even 1/2-inch overhang all around. Sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Poke several steam vents in the top of the pie with a fork or paring knife.
8. Place on the center oven rack and bake until the top (and bottom) are a rich golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pie 180 degrees halfway through the baking, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward (in my experience, it can take a lot longer for the bottom of the pie to be done – see note above. I just keep rotating the pie every 20 – 30 minutes to make sure it browns evenly).
9. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before serving.
I know this is a nutrition tips newsletter, but I haven’t run the nutrition information on this recipe and, honestly, don’t want to. I make, share, and enjoy this pie once a year. For a once a year indulgence, I don’t need to know the nutrition information.
I hope you enjoy the pie! If you make it, let me know how you like it.