Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Baking for America: min-pies and crumbles four ways

Happy birthday, America! 

To celebrate the Fourth of July, most folks probably spent last Thursday drinking beer, grilling burgers and trying to make stuff blow up in their backyards. 

Sadly for Jake and I, we no longer have a grill or a backyard. Last year the Fourth fell right after our move, so we did the whole fireworks on the National Mall, celebrate our nation in the nation's Capital thing. 

This year, we decided to honor America with old-fashioned desserts like pie and crumbles. 

There aren't a ton of fruits that I like to eat cooked. Jake's fillings are on the left: rhubarb mixed with cinnamon, vanilla and bourbon; then strawberries, rhubarb in orange juice. My fillings, made up of the two fruits I will eat cooked: raspberries with orange juice, and blackberries with lemon zest. 

We used a simple butter crust recipe, using Michael Ruhlman's Ratio method. Measurements to create a double pie crust for a standard sized pie dish made enough for these two mini-pies and had some left over.

This was my first attempt at doing a double pie crust. Jake's rhubarb pie had a simple covered crust with a slit, and I tried a lattice for my blackberry. (Sadly, I burned the lattice a bit)

Next we moved onto attempting to make fruit crumbles. Jake had a delectable-looking peach crumble down at the Waterfront a few weeks ago, and we've both been thinking about trying out hand at it since.

Again, having never done this before, most of this was a stab in the dark.

We learned the hard way, for instance, not to use frozen berries for this. My raspberry filling (above right) was a bit thin and the berries essentially turned to slush. I had a few blackberries leftover from my other filling and added a couple of strawberries to try and bulk the filling up. I also used quite a bit more flour for the raspberry filling than we used for Jake's strawberry rhubarb. 

Doubled up on this tasty crumble topping recipe: brown sugar, oatmeal, pinch of salt and a little flour. We added the zest of a grapefruit to Jake's crumble topping, I added a little cinnamon and chopped pecans to mine. 

All in all, the baking for America was a success. I found I enjoyed the cooked berries in both of my desserts, and got some great use out of my mini pie plates (mine are similar to these).

Inside peek at Jake's rhubarb pie.

Raspberry, blackberry and strawberry crumble with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

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