Ahh… Pie. Who doesn’t love pie? I’ve talked about my friend’s love of pies in posts and have even won a few pie contests but I’ve never had the pleasure of making pies with anyone else. So when Shauna, Garrett, Justin, and Ashley all started tweeting about having a virtual pie party together, it was a given that I would join in. Shauna decided to open the pie party to everyone (and I mean everyone) by creating a facebook invite for it, and next thing you know, we got nearly 1500 people posting about pies today, for our virtual pie party. Pie for everyone! For me though, I knew that I wanted to post about the real life pie party I had with 18 Reasons as part of their DIY Desserts event. The theme, in June, was “Pies. Tarts. Galettes.” My contribution: The Blood Orange Lemon Vanilla Infused Shaker Pie.
Summer is finally here, and that means pie season. Cherries, peaches, plums, pluots, apricots, and so many varietal of berries (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, tayberry, ollalieberry, loganberry, boysenberry) that I can’t keep up with them all. With those summer fruit, come pies of all sorts. The only problem for me, was that I was traveling out of town right before the DIY Desserts event for the Thermador Steamy Soiree event, and in fact, flew back home the day of the DIY desserts event. It was to be a whirlwind day, getting up at 6am, flying back from Phoenix, going directly from the airport to my client’s vendor (with luggage in tow) to check on a deliverable, then back home to bake a pie for the event that night. I needed a pie that I could whip out fast and could do in my sleep.
Thankfully the Shaker Pie is a simple one. Invented by the ingenious Shakers (you know, the people who invented the clothpin, the flatbroom and the apple peeler -which is a huge time saver for me every fall) this pie uses ALL of the citrus fruit, meaning there’s no waste in the fruit. You basically just slice the citrus fruit thin (traditionally a lemon) and macerate (left in sugar) overnight to soften the rind. Then the ingredients are poured in with eggs and baked, so the filling becomes a lemon marmalade like curd. Since I was going to be gone for a few days, I went ahead and made the crust beforehand as well as the filling, letting it sit in the fridge for 48 hours. That way, I could come home, roll out the dough, pop it in the oven and bake the pie lickety-split for the event.
This DIY Dessert event was the last of the monthly DIY Desserts events, as we have been having rather sporadic attendance to the event all this year. 18 Reasons, along with Melanie, my co-leader and I decided to change the format of the event, to a quarterly timeslot, four times a year and this evening was going to be the last one until September. On top of that, our fearless leader Rosie, who is the Executive Director of 18 Reasons decided to stop by as well (she hadn’t been to one of our evening since the first Ice Cream Social). Melanie and I had our fingers crossed that this event would be successful.
We had nothing to worry about. It was probably one of the most attended events in the recent past. Perhaps it was the announcement that the event was the last one for while, or perhaps it was the publicity that 18 Reasons, Melanie and I did for the event, or maybe just because it’s the power of pie but we had people showing up all the way until the very end with amazing pies. The creativity and the energy of the evening was just fantastic.
There was another citrus pie at the event, a Meyer lemon double crust pie that had an incredible flaky crust. Most pies, however, utilized the awesome summer fruits that were abundant in San Francisco. My friend Sabrina, of the Tomato Tart was competing in the SF Food Wars, Pie or Die competition and she brought some prototype pies, a lovely nectarine and blueberry pie with honey caramel (she also made a note to warn vegetarians that she used lard in her crust, which was very kind of her). There was a gorgeous cherry blueberry yogurt tart that happened to be gluten free so all the gluten free people could enjoy their pie. as well I don’t know why, but whenever you make a tart in a square or rectangular it just looks so fancy.
I love that pies are such a blank slate in experimenting with fruit. The Peach, Nectarine and Blueberry Crème Fraiche pie was such a refreshing way to put a twist on a classic pie. And there was a hilariously labeled “Mostly Apple Pie (blueberries & apricots too)” which totally had me thinking about how you can throw in whatever fruits you have on hand, and mix it up to get a different dessert. A few blueberries or apricots and you have a completely different flavor than just a basic apple pie. What a great way to experiment! There was another apple pie there as well, but it couldn’t have been more different in make up, almost cake like in it’s filling but so wonderful as well.
There was a white chocolate and raspberry pie, with the raspberries snuggled in the white chocolate mousse in an elegant fashion. The rustic nectarine and raspberry pie was the opposite, equally tasty, but down home, almost country, like it had just been put out in a roadside diner off of Route 66. I love that! And the cherry custard tart which struck a balance between rustic and elegant. I dunno how, but it did.
Speaking of country, at the end of the evening, someone showed up with a fresh strawberry pie in a basket, and it’s shiny red glazed fruit just sparkled with invitation. I was smitten and had to help myself to a slice, even though I was stuffed from all the pie I had.
Of course, a few people “cheated” and showed up with non-dessert pies, even though the event was called DIY Desserts. One of them being my coworker Melanie! She showed up with a mushroom and spinach quiche, which was devoured instantly. She apparently had a very good “egg pie argument” about how the pie could be construed as a dessert but I never did hear it. And my friend Stephanie of Desserts for Breakfast showed up with some amazing BBQ chipotle cherry pizza pies. I, of course, was baffled that someone who blogs about desserts would show up with savory pies, but I wasn’t going to complain, because those suckers were SO GOOD. I scarfed a few down.
It turns out that everyone loves pie. It’s probably why when the few of us started tweeting about hosting a virtual pie party, with nearly 1500 people saying that they would be attending the event. And it’s probably why we had such an huge turnout for the event at 18 Reasons. Maybe one of these days I’ll get to make pies with Shauna, Justin, Garrett, and Ashley in real life. But until then, we’ll just celebrate virtually, a slice at a time.
If you’re on Twitter, follow join in on the virtual pie party by sharing your pie pics and pie blog posts. Just tweet with the hashtag #PieParty and join us or leave a comment below with a link to your pie blog posts/pie pics. And if you live in San Francisco, mark you calendars for September 1st. It’ll be our next DIY Dessert event at 18 Reasons: The 2nd annual Ice Cream Social!
Blood Orange and Lemon Vanilla Infused Shaker Pie
Blood oranges aren’t in season anymore, but don’t let that stop you from making this pie. Substitute regular navel oranges, or use grapefruit or tangerines or more lemons or nearly any other citrus fruit with an edible pulp. I used Tarocco blood oranges, which happen to be a blood orange of Italian descent and sweeter than the Moro blood orange that are more commonly found, but either are fantastic in this pie.
This pie crust also uses corn flour, a specialty flour that can be found at health food stores and online. It’s a wonderful slightly sweet flour that is a finer grind than cornmeal but still retains the flavor of corn (unlike corn starch which has all the corn flavor stripped out of it). It lends a nice smooth feel to the pie crust. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute the same amount of all purpose flour.
Adapted from the Tartine Cookbook.
1 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup ice cold water
375 g (2 1/2 cup) unbleached all purpose flour
80 g (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) corn flour (not corn starch, corn meal, or masa)
300 g (1 cup + 5 tablespoons) refrigerator cold unsalted butter
1 large egg plus 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1 large blood orange
1 large lemon
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon (generous pinch) of salt
2 tablespoons of sparkling white sugar or granulated white sugar for sprinkling on top
1. Sprinkle the sea salt in the ice cold water and set aside.
2. Place the all purpose flour and corn flour in a medium sized mixing bowl and, using a balloon whisk, vigorously stir the flours until uniform in color.
3. Cut the butter into 1/4” square cubes. Sprinkle the cubes over the flour, and then, using your hands, toss the cubes with flour, coating them with the flour. Then, using your hands again, squeeze the cubes of butter flat, until all the butter has been flattened. Then start rubbing and squeezing the flour and butter together, until the ingredients start to clump together.
4. Sprinkle the salt water over the dry flour butter mixture and toss with a fork until it forms a shaggy dough. Gather half the dough (you may have to press the remaining dry ingredients into the dough and fold them with your hands) and flatten into a 1/2” thick disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and do the same with the other half of the dough. Place in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight (up to three days – you know in case you have to go on a quick business trip).
5. Make the filling by slicing the blood orange and the lemon as thinly as possible (discard the end parts that are all rind). If your lucky enough to have a mandoline, use that to get even the super thin slices, but I’m not that fancy, so I used a sharp paring knife. Put the slices and any accumulated juices in a medium non reactive mixing bowl (when I say non-reactive, I mean don’t use aluminum or copper – use glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Aluminum and copper will react with the acidity of the lemon juice and can make your filling taste metallic).
6. Add the sugar then slice the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp paring knife and scrape the inside seeds into the bowl. Cut the vanilla beans across and then put the pod in the bowl as well. Toss the ingredients together until the lemon and orange slices start to exude juice. Cover with plastic wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight or for a couple of days (the longer you let the filling sit, the more vanilla it will taste and the sweeter and more tender the rind will get).
7. Once the dough has chilled and the pie filling has had time to macerate (sit in the sugar) pull one of dough disks out of the refrigerator, generously flour a flat surface and roll out to a 12” circle (the dough will be stiff from the cold fridge, so you’ll have to use some muscle at first, but it’ll be easier to work with as you get it going). Fit it into a 10” tart pan. Roll out the second disk to a 12” circle as well.
8. Place the 4 eggs in a bowl, along with the salt. Beat the eggs with a fork or whisk until it is well blended (when you don’t see any more translucent egg whites and the mixture is uniform in color). Pour the eggs in the orange/lemon filling and stir to incorporate. Then pull the vanilla pods out of the filling and discard them. Pour the filling into the pie crust bottom, making sure to distribute the orange and lemon slices evenly throughout the bottom of the pie. Brush (I say brush as a verb, you can use your clean finger too) some of the filling up onto the edge of the crust and then fit the second crust over the pie. Press the crusts together firmly and trim all the way around the tart pan. Decoratively crimp the pie edges.
9. Place the pie back in the fridge to chill for half an hour. This will allow the butter in the crust to firm up, so when it melts in the oven it will create a super flaky crust. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Once the pie is chilled, beat a large egg with the tablespoon of water and brush it over the top of the crust. Cut decorative vent holes in the crust and sprinkle with sugar (I used sparkling sugar, which has larger sugar crystals but if you don’t have any of that regular granulated sugar will do). Place the tart pan on a baking sheet (I used a round pizza tray) to help facilitate easy removal of tart from oven.
10. Bake the tart for 40-50 minutes or until the filling is bubbling up through the vent holes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Serve to lots of friends, real and virtual.