try to take things in stride. So while part of me is freaking out over the still distant, yet ever-growing avalanche (aka Christmas), the rest of me is reminding herself that it's still early November, and everything will be okay...really.
To help keep me grounded in the present, or to "live in the now", as Cesar Milan so adequately puts it (I don't have a dog, yet I find his show strangely addicting), I had the privilege of preparing this appropriately autumn-themed pie.
Tuesdays with Dorie, and even though I joined the group when they were already almost half-way through Dorie's amazing book, my baking prowess has grown tremendously, especially when it comes to pie crusts.
Pie crusts used to induce a feeling of dread and a primal urge to want to snap my rolling pin in half.
Double pie crusts made me want to curl into a ball and take a long nap.
Just last year, I experienced something I never even knew was possible; a melting pie crust. But because I believe in second chances, I decided to give my Achilles heel, the double crusted pie, another try. It has redeemed itself.
We're tight now, the pie crust and I.
The rest of the filling consists of pears, brown sugar, spices, walnuts, and raisins (or dried cranberries or diced apples). As you can see, it really lives up to it's seasonal name. I think fall would be honored to taste like a slice of this fabulous pie.
Fall deserves a little bit more recognition before it's frigid older sibling steals the spot-light.
If you're not feeling up to making a pie, please hop on over to this week's other Tuesdays with Dorie recipe host, Di, of Di's Kitchen Notebook. She chose some darling mini Madeleines. Thank you, Di. I'm sorry I didn't get around to making the cookies. Mending the estranged relationship between pie crusts and my rolling pin was a huge milestone, and I didn't want to push my luck with a clingy Madeleine pan.
Thanks to everyone who baked along with us this week! xxx
Depths-of-fall Butternut squash pie (recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan)
Crust Ingredients (makes enough for a 9-inch double crust)
[Note: If you have a small food processor, divide the following recipe in half and make 2 separate batches.]
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 1/2 sticks (that's 12 Tablespoons, or 10 oz) cold, unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoon-size pieces) [Note: I found it easier to cut the butter and freeze it overnight. The colder it is, the better.]
1/3 cup of very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces [Note: Just like the butter, it's better to cut the shortening ahead of time and allow it to freeze overnight.]
About 1/2 cup of ice water
In the bowl of your food processor, fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse about 5 times to combine.
Scatter the frozen butter and shortening on top of the dry ingredients.
Pulse only until they're cut into the flour. Try not to overmix. You should have pieces the size of peas, barley, and oatmeal.
While pulsing the machine, gradually add about 6 Tablespoons of the ice water.
Add a little bit of water and pulse once, add more water, pulse again, and keep going.
Once 6 Tablespoons have been added, give the machine a few long pulses (about 8 seconds), to the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough still looks dry in some areas, pulse in just enough of the remaining water (or even a few drops) to get a dough that will stick together when pinched and has developed small curds.
Don't worry if there are still chunks of butter, they will give the crust that coveted flakiness.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly work in any crumbs that may have escaped the blade.
If you made the the double crust in one batch, divide the dough in half. Gather each half into a ball, and flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap each half in plastic.
If you're making one batch at a time, simple gather up all the dough, form it into a ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap it up, chill, and repeat.
Refrigerated, the wrapped disks for at least 1 hour.
Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 months.
Butternut squash pie ingredients
Double pie crust dough (recipe above)
1 1/4 pounds (about 2 cups) cubed (1-inch), peeled *ready-to-cook butternut squash
2 ripe **pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup moist, plump dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or finely diced apples or pears
1/4 teaspoon pure ***almond extract
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons plain, dry breadcrumbs
Granulated sugar (just for dusting the crust)
*If you can't find pre-peeled/cubed butternut squash, 1 medium-size whole squash should give you the required amount. (Instructions for cutting butternut squash can be found here.)
**I used one Bartlett pear and one Anjou
***Almond extract is optional. It's not in the original recipe...I just love the stuff.
Prepare the crust: Butter a 9-inch pie plate. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (be sure it's large enough to accommodate a rolled-out 11-inch circle of dough).
Working on a well-floured surface (or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch.
Fit the dough into the prepared pie plate and trim the edges, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a circle that's about 1/8-inch thick and about 11-inces in diameter, and slip it onto the lined baking sheet.
Cover and refrigerate both until needed. (Well-wrapped, the crusts and be refrigerated overnight.)
Getting ready to bake: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven (usually the slot that's second from the bottom). Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Prepare the filling: Place the cubed squash into a large, microwave-safe bowl and cook it on high for about 6 minutes, or until almost cooked through. About half-way through, give the squash a quick stir. (Alternatively, you can stream the squash.) Pat the squash dry and toss it back into the same large bowl.
Add the remaining filling ingredients to the bowl and turn them gently with a large rubber spatula to blend. Let the filling sit for 5 minutes or so, just long enough to give the sugar time to melt, then mix again.
Remove the pie plate and top crust from the refrigerator and put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (just in case the filling spills over).
Spoon the filling into the bottom of the crust and level the top. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with a little bit of water and center the rolled-out top crust over the pie-if the top crust is too cold and not pliable, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
Using your fingertips, press the top crust gently against the bottom. You can either fold the overhang from the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp the crust attractively, or you can press the top crust against the bottom crust and trim the overhang from both crusts even with the rim of the pie plate. If you're pressed and trimmed the crust, use the tines of a fork to press the two crusts together.
Using a small, sharp knife, cut 4 1 1/2-inch long slits in the top crust, and, using the wide end of a pastry tip, cut a circle out of the center of the top crust. (If you have time, refrigerate the pie for about 30 minutes.) The pie can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. When frozen, bake directly from the freezer, adding about 10 minutes to the baking time.)
Brush the top of the pie lightly with a little bit of water and dust with a little bit of granulated sugar.
Bake the pie for 55-60 minutes, or until it is deeply golden brown and the filling is bubbling up through the center hold.
Check the pie after 40 minutes-if it's browning too fast along the edges, cover it loosely with a foil tent.
When it's finished baking, transfer it to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or room temperature.
This pie is best enjoyed on the day it's made, but if it lasts long enough to make it to a second day, be sure to cover it well and refrigerate it overnight.
Bring it back to room temperature before serving, or warm it in a 350 F. oven for a few minutes.