Saturday, August 9, 2008

Easy as pie.

I'm not sure why I have such a hang up on making pie. Perhaps because my mom makes such a great crust and I can't compete. Sometimes I just like fruit in their most natural state because it often doesn't get better than say a peach with so much juice it runs down your arm. Why bake it? Perhaps it's because you have to make the dough, then chill it, then roll it out, sometimes blind bake it, then fully bake the pie. Too fussy. When I want to bake, I usually want to do it right now. But I'm finding now with a toddler underfoot, what I once deemed fussy actually works into my life a little easier. I actually get a lot more done if I do things in steps over the course of a day with no problem. What I can't do is plan to do one thing for very long.

We've stocked the kitchen with plenty of blueberries ever since they came into their prime season. It's the recent crack fruit for The Boss. I don't blame her, they are good. So good that I planted two blueberry bushes of our own a few years ago. The problem is, the birds get them before I do and the spot where I planted them isn't exactly ideal. So far I've scored one that I spied one day as The Boss swam around to her content.
While we've been eating them in their natural, unadorned state, I remembered how much my middle brother, Joe, loves blueberry pie. He just turned 30 the other day and invited us over for a party that he threw for himself today. Despite my brother's wishes, I normally wouldn't think of turning on the oven and heat up the house during the summer, but today was oddly cool and pleasant and I was inspired.

I've always loved the rustic look of a free-form galette which means no edges to pinch around a pie tin, no lattice work to weave (both pretty things in their own right) and no worries about unslightly rough edges if you don't do either of these things. In essence, a galette really means lazy man's pie. I'll take it.

I didn't have quite enough blueberries on hand, but we've had some amazing tree ripened nectarines and I thought the two fruits would go together quite nicely. The dough I chose was yes, a little fussy, but it was totally worth it. It was so easy to work with, easy to fold without cracks, and turned out crispy yet with a little bit of chew. The bottom was not the least big soggy or overly thick and crumbly, like pie crusts so often are. I will definitely be using this one again for both sweet and savory versions , much like the ones made by Smitten Kitchen (of course, who else?). Oh and the blueberry and nectarine combo...a good call!
Goodbye 20s Blueberry and Nectarine Galette
Dough (from Williams Sonoma recipes by way of Smitten Kitchen):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

Filling (adapted from Martha Stewart's blueberry pie):
2 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
2 large nectarines, peeled and chopped into medium chunks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar

Prepare the dough:
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. My adaptation to this part of the recipe is to simply use the food processor to pulse ingredients in the same order as it calls for in the above instructions. The key is to not overwork the dough, so use food processor with a very light hand! Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round, no need to be perfect! Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. I used a silpat mat, just in case of overflow juices, but I would also recommend parchment paper for ease of clean up as an alternate.

Mix filling: Over a large bowl, crush half of the blueberries with your hands. Add in the rest of the whole blueberries and diced nectarines. Mix in cornstarch and sugar just until fruit is coated.

Dump the filling into the center of the dough and gently spread it leaving at least a 1 1/2-2 inch border. Fold the border over the fruit, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool. Of course, it's fantastic served warm with vanilla bean ice cream, but it's just as good at room temperature. Even better, enjoy it while you watch Michael Phelps kick ass.


jen said...

You've created another blueberry fiend - I bought Finn some blueberries at the Farmer's Market on Thursday and they were gone in no time (all him since his parents don't eat them).
I also have a raspberry and blackberry galette recipe that I want to try and the crust recipe is totally different from this one, so I'll have to let you know how it turns out.

Amanda said...

Yummmm, those pictures look so yummy! And I don't really like fruit pies

Beth, Dave and Cori said...

Blueberry and necatrine - yummy!!