Jamie’s Birthday Pie
Luckily, I am not one of those fated bloggers who receives SO MUCH love that they simply cannot reply to all the gushing.
I try my hardest to reply to every email I get. About a week ago, I got an email that made my day. I got permission to reprint part of it from the sender.
So my boyfriend Jamie is truly in love with your blog, he thinks you are the beez knees and piranha of cool cooks. We are really into cooking and baking and love trying the inventive recipes you post (the macaroni and cheese with black beans and roasted poblanos almost killed him -in the best way possible-). To get to the point, it is his birthday this Friday and we are in the midst of moving to Bend, Oregon and we (I) haven’t really gotten much together to celebrate his birthday, and I’d love to surprise him with something like…..A shout out from you!? He asked for a “pie with rhubarb and something in it” and I was hopingggg that maybe you would consider posting a recipe for a creative rhubarb pie and title it with his name in it/ something to know it’s for him?
I will make your recipe and be the best girlfriend in the world, and you will remain the much heralded and unchallenged pariah of chefdom.
I had never been called the flesh-eating fish of cool cooks before so I had to accept.
Jamie asked for a pie “with rhubarb and something in it.” For my “something”, I chose plums, mint, and lemon zest. As far as I can tell, nobody in the history of the Internet has ever made a filling like this and put it in a pie. But they should, because it’s really good.
For pie crust:
1) Mix sugar, salt, and flour in a bowl. Cube butter and cut butter into flour using a fork or your fingers until it resembles pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle in the vodka and water and stir until the dough comes together.
2) Turn dough out onto a clean surface and press it into two balls, make one slightly bigger than the other (top crust versus bottom crust). Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least an hour.
3) When you're ready to bake the pie roll out the doughs working slowly so they don't crack and with lots of flour on the counter. If they crack a bit it's fine... nobody is perfect.
For the filling:
1) Stir all the ingredients together in a large bowl and let sit for ten minutes.
2) Use a slotted spoon to remove filling leaving most of the liquid in the bowl. You don't need or want all the liquid in your filling or it will be super-runny.
Roll out the dough and form the larger half into the bottom of a 9inch pie pan. Spoon in drained filling. Cover with top half of dough and crimp edges closed. Make a few slits in the top of the pie crust. Sprinkle the pie with coarse sugar.
Bake pie at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then down to 350 degrees for another 30 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing into it.
This is pretty much my standard pie crust recipe these days. My favorite thing about it is that it’s really easy to work with. It uses a Cook’s Illustrated trick which involves adding a fair amount of vodka to the dough. The makes it more pliable and easy to work with but then the vodka cooks off quickly during cooking and leaves you with a really flaky crust.
You can use a food processor to make the dough, but I like to use my hands. I just mix up the dry stuff and then mash in the butter with my fingers until it is pea-sized pieces. Then you just need to stir in the vodka and water and press it into two dough balls. I like to make one ball slightly larger than the second (bottom crust vs. top crust).
Wrap them in plastic wrap and let them chill in the fridge for at least an hour and then you can roll them out!
I was really proud of this filling. It was one of the best pie filling I’ve made I think. My favorite part of it is that it wasn’t completely runny like some pie fillings can be.
You’ll need about two large stalks of rhubarb for the recipe. Just dice them into smallish pieces.
Then dice up your plums as well. I was able to find some really ripe plums at the store and they were sweet and wonderful.
Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a large bowl. Whatever you do, do not leave out the lemon zest and the mint. They are not optional.
Stir this all together and let it sit for 10 minutes. The sugar will out a lot of the moisture that’s in the filling.
When you are ready to fill your pie, the trick is to make sure you drain your filling before you add it to the pie. There will be over a cup of liquid in the bowl most likely. You don’t want this in your pie!
It might seem like you are draining off all the flavor, but trust me that you are not. This is mostly water and will wreck your pie filling.
Then add your filling to your rolled out crust.
If you made your own crust, PROPS to you. Crust is my favorite part of the pie so I always try to make my own. Sometimes I cheat though if I’m running short on time.
Put the top half of the dough on and crimp the edges.
Whatever you do, don’t stress about this part. I’m not a professional baker and my pies normally look like a seven year old put them together. They taste delicious though.
Baking the Pie
Before you bake the pie, make some slits in the top of the crust so steam can escape and sprinkle the crust with some coarse sugar. The coarse sugar is optional (unlike the mint and lemon), but I think it adds a nice crunch.
Bake this bad boy at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350 and back it for another 30 minutes.
It should be golden brown and starting to bubble up a bit.
It will be hard, but don’t cut into this immediately.
Wait thirty minutes and the filling will set up perfectly and then you can slice it up.
I am not the best at pie-making, but I think this was far and away the best pie I’ve ever made.
The flavors were a really unique combo and the crust was about as good as I can do!