Monday, May 10, 2010

Lattice Topped

I love pie. It is my favorite dessert to eat and to make. Why? Because it is a challenge. Cookies, cake cupcakes, not problem. Follow the recipe (even with some changes) and you are golden, even if you don't it's most likely fine. But, pie. Pie is different. Even a fantastic recipe does not guarantee success. The middle can be too runny, the crust to dense or mushy or cracked. There is also no obvious way to sample and check to see if it is party worthy. You just have to slice in and hope for the best.

The crust is generally speaking the real challenge. To get it crisp and flaky but still flavorful. My go to pie crust recipe is the same one I used for my Birthday Pie Recipe. The Williams and Sonoma basic pie dough. I find this to be the most versatile, easy to work with recipe I have found. Just as easy to make ahead and roll out after refrigeration as it is when you make it. Thanks to this recipe, and trying out a variety of methods (Blender, electric mixer, hands, knives) I have become quite proficient at doing the bottom crust. I now can do that part with success and ease. So when I make pies with the crumb topping it is relatively stress free. So that must mean it is time to go on and concur the next stage. The lattice top. Nothing looks so elegant and beautiful as a perfect lattice topped pie. However, this is much easier said than done.

This one turned out pretty well. The pie tasted amazing (it was strawberry rhubarb, by the way), which more than made up for the less-than-perfect lattice topping. I rolled out the dough and started cutting the strips and placing them on as soon as I cut them, this was my first error. Next time I will roll out the dough, cut the strips and refrigerate them until they regain their firmness before covering the pie. This also led to my next mistake, I forget the weaving until I was half way done (oops) so some of it was weaved and some of it was not (this also would have benefited by refrigeration). Lastly the egg wash, I used egg yolk mixed with a little water, which I should have brushed on, but I couldn't find the brush, so i used a paper towel, which was not as good of a substitute as I thought and led to some uneven browning. I also dusted the top with sugar, which was definitely the right move. All and all, the pie turned out wonderful, while not perfect it still looked (and smelled) delicious (which it was) and was impressive enough to win over the Mother's day BBQ crowd.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie:

1 double recipe of basic pie dough
4 cups of strawberries, cut into quarters
3 cups of rhubarb (4 stalks, about), cut into chunks
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of corn starch
1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp of salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place rack in the lower third of the oven. Toss the strawberries and rhubarb with all of the above ingredients (except the pie dough). Place is a completely raw prepared pie crust (no pre-baking required), if it looks like its not going to all fit, push down of the topping gently, and kind of mush it in. Top with the lattice top according to your favorite method, or learn from my mistakes above. Brush top with egg wash made from 1 egg yolk and a little water, then dust with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes until crust is looking pretty golden and tasty, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another hour, if you are going to re-heat it or 1 hour and 20 minutes if you are going to serve it. Cover or tent edges with foil if it is browning too much. To re-heat, just put back into a 350 degree oven for another 20 minutes. Either way let cool a bit before serving. Rhubarb is mostly water, so this pie needs time to thicken. Serve and Enjoy!

Happy Eating.


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