When my husband Mr. Tofu talks about our early courtship, he likes to tell the story about the day he took one of my homemade pies to work. He put it on the break room table and co-workers flocked. One particularly astute pie-loving colleague took a bite, smiled at Mr. Tofu and said, “This is pretty much the best dating experience for you ever, isn’t it?”
Which is funny, because I’m not even good at pies. I fall down when it comes to the crimping part, every time. My crust is flaky, my fillings divine, and I dare say I’m a struesel specialist. But when it comes to the edges, my pies are not perfect, they’re shaggy as hell. I end up apologizing for my crimping and every time Mr. Tofu looks deeply into my eyes and says, “Hon, it’s fine. It’s perfect. It’s the best pie I’ve ever had.” Sigh. He always does that, assures me when I’m freaking out because it’s not perfect.
But come to think of it, that’s a good part of why I married the guy. Who doesn’t need that assurance now and then? Especially when it comes to pie dough. That’s why Shauna James Ahern has decided to put all of the blogosphere’s pie dough fears to rest with this pie e-event. Well, I can’t really coach you on perfect crimping technique (see the photos), but what I can do is give you a really kick-ass huckleberry pie recipe and some pie dough tips.
In this recipe, I use pie filling from Packard Orchards and Bakery, a nice stop on the stunning Hood River Fruit Loop here in Oregon. They are also at farmer’s markets around Portland, and if you call them in advance, I’m sure they’d be happy to bring some huckleberry filling with them to the next farmer’s market.
Huckleberries are wild, tiny, and they’re only around for a fleeting week or so in summer. They also cost a mint when they are around. Add all this up, and I don’t feel too bad using a pre-made huckleberry pie filling. Packard’s pie filling is a really good choice–full of the sweet, grapey, blueberry flavor that only my favorite berry can deliver.
And as for the crimping? Well, Mr. Tofu swears the crust is just fine. That’s good enough for me.
Huckleberry Pie with Hazelnut Streusel Topping
Makes 1 8 to 9-inch pie
For the pie dough (makes dough for two 9” pies):
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6-8 tablespoons ice water
For the streusel:
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped
Half of a 32-ounce jar huckleberry pie filling
In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and sugar until combined. Add the shortening and process until it looks like coarse sand, 10 seconds. Add the butter pieces and pulse the food processor on and off until you’ve got coarse meal….no butter pieces larger than the size of a pea.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour-butter mixture with 6 tablespoons of water and toss with a fork. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough just come together, about 2 more tablespoons. Divide the dough into 2 discs, wrap them in plastic and chuck them in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Return the food processor work bowl to the processor and pulse the streusel ingredients until you have a coarse, crumbly texture. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Very lightly flour a work surface and roll one disk of dough into a 11-inch disk. Carefully center the dough over a pie plate. Tuck in the dough hanging over the sides of the pan to make a double-thick edge all the way around the edges of the pan. The crimping is up to you.
Fill the pie with the filling to within 1/2 inch of the top of the pan. Sprinkle with the streusel and freeze the pie for 15 minutes to set the crust. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve warm, with ice cream on the side.
PIE DOUGH TIPS
Keep shortening in the refrigerator at all times to make sure it’s chilled thoroughly.
If you undermix, the crust will shrink when you bake it and be crackly.
If you overmix, the dough will be crumbly and hard to work with.
Too much water and the gluten will overdevelop, making the crust tough.
Don’t use too much flour when rolling it out, it dries out the dough and toughens the dough.