someone told me it's pi day today. pi, you know...3.14. math was never really my thing so when every time i heard someone say "happy pi day," it really just made me want to eat a slice of pie.
on my last trip to sweet adeline bakeshop in berkeley, i was pleasantly surprised to see their new cookbook for sale. after skimming through the cute little book, my gentle surprise suddenly turned into overwhelming enthusiasm when i saw the recipe for concord grape pie. my reaction is the result of a couple good memories from last fall.
one day in october, i stopped by sweet adeline when i had a sweet tooth. after surveying all the goodies behind the glass, i had a detailed conversation about this important decision with the patient front counter person. finally, i decided to try a slice of concord grape pie. until that moment, i had never heard of this pie but i was more than ready to give it a try.
the crust was securely centered in that magical space between flaky, crisp and tender, and it was an appropriate foundation for the fruity filling. memories of welch's grape juice and jelly played like a slide show over my closed eye lids. then the brightness and warmth surfaced, followed by the crunch of the crust. i opened my eyes wide with surprise. the experience was satisfyingly familiar and new...at the same time. unfortunately, i ate my slice of pie so fast, i didn't have time to identify the source of this new flavor experience.
the pie was on my mind for the next few days, so when i found out my family was going to tailgate at the next 49er game, i immediately offered to bring dessert. i attempted to describe it to my mom, but i just stumbled over my words as i tried to locate adjectives that would explain what i felt when i ate it: comfort, excitement and confusion. somehow, she understood my gibberish and reassured me that she would be able to solve the mystery.
on the morning of the game, i picked up the pie from sweet adeline and an intoxicating aroma filled my car. my index finger couldn't help but reach through the crumbly streusel topping to land in the gooey, purple goodness that lay waiting underneath. it was a beautiful sunday in san francisco. sunny and warm, with a gentle breeze - perfect weather for tailgating. my dad stood over the grill while my brother handed him the hot links. i decided a quick bite wasn't going to hurt anything, since i had to wait for lunch anyway. so i found a fork and sat down with the pie box in my lap. again, i was so overwhelmed with the familiar and new feeling, i didn't slow down to actually taste the pie. after listening to a few squeals of delight coming from my direction, my mom came over and took the fork out of my hand to see what the fuss was about. she brought the glossy and matte jumble of fruit, crust and streusel to her mouth and after a few milliseconds, her eyes rolled up and to the left. my mom exclaimed, "Oh my goodness!" as her fork took another dive into the box on my lap. i looked up at her and shaded my eyes from the sun: "what's in it?!?" my mom expertly tapped her tongue against the roof of her mouth and stood with her hand on her hip, deep in thought. after what seemed like an eternity, she confidently said "Lemon. And cinnamon. And the crust is really good." after another fork-full to confirm her hypothesis, i confidently agreed. the mystery was solved. and my purple lips smiled.
a baker's dozen
recipes with love and appreciation from sweet adeline bakeshop
concord grape pie
yields one 10 inch pie - serves 8
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
8 ounces salted butter, cut into 1 x 1 inch pieces, frozen
2-4 Tbsp ice water
1 tsp lemon juice
place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. using the plastic bread knife (not the steel cutting knife), pulse the butter into the flour, until the butter pieces are one quarter their former size. add the lemon juice and enough water for the dough to just come together. pat the dough into a round disk, and refrigerate over night.
roll dough to fit a 10 inch pie pan, flute the dough decoratively. chill until it is form. line the pie shell with parchment paper and raw beans or rice. be certain that the rice or beans come to the top of the shell. place on a lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees in a convection oven for 10-40 minutes. remove the weights and parchment paper, continue to bake the shell until golden brown.
3/4 cups flour
1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
7 Tbsp butter
combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumble. chill.
concord grape filling
1 1/2 pounds concord grapes
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp butter
preheat oven to 350 degrees. stem and wash grapes. mix dry ingredients together, then mix with the grapes. place the fruit in a non-reactive sauce pan, on low heat begin to cook the grapes, stirring the mixture until the grapes begin giving up their juice. bring to a boil and simmer the fruit for 10-15 minutes until it thickens. take the mixture off the heat and add the butter. let the grapes cool slightly and pass them through a food mill. pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie shell. top with the streusel. place on a lined jelly roll pan and bake the pie for 40 minutes until the streusel is golden and the mixture is bubbling and gelled. the filling will look loose.
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