Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nectarine Raspberry Pie #27

I loved the flavor of this pie. Prior to looking at this recipe, I hadn't even thought about cooking nectarines and was a little bit skeptical of how they would turn out. However, it had as much tang as the apricot raspberry pie, from a few weeks ago, but a better texture and, a much better flavor. It was like a sour peach pie with raspberries. I loved it.

Also, I bought myself a little present for reaching my halfway mark, a pie bird. I first heard about them in the one of the pie books I've been referring to, and I thought they were so cute, I really wanted to give it a go.

Apparently, they add some function to your pie as well. They are supposed to keep your bottom crust from becoming soggy because they let all the steam out of their beaks while cooking.

Another thing that interested me in pie birds was the old nursery rhyme:

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh, wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?

Because of this poem, I was under the impression that the bird would sing at some point. I assumed it would be from the steam while it was cooking; and if that didn't work, I had read that someone, somewhere in the pie-bird world said that when you cut into the pie the hot air mixed with the cold air will rush up the bird's throat and make it whistle.

But no. Not a even a single note for either situation. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. How many old ladies do you know that actually lived in a shoe? 

As I've done a little more research (read: googled "pie birds" a few times, and read testimonials which are probably not based on fact), I've found maybe the most interesting thing that there is to know about these birds or, really, this poem. 

Apparently, back in the day a lot of nursery rhymes were a front which pirates used for recruiting methods (you can read about it here). Blackbirds in this poem are code for Blackbeard, the infamous pirate. And the pie is the ship where they would hide Blackbeard, feign helplessness, and attack any good Samaritan ship that came their way.

So, more than you wanted to know about Blackbeard, nursery rhymes, or pie birds, but hopefully it will come in handy one day when you're playing Trivial Pursuit.

Any way, the pie was delicious. I would totally recommend making it. The filling was scrumptious and I enjoyed the crust (I haven't come to a conclusion on which crust I like best, but butter/shortening combos tend to be my favorites).

As far as the pie bird goes, the crust didn't seem completely free from sog. It wasn't much different than what I expected which means that I should probably test it out on the few pies that I've previously made and compare them with how the crust normally turns out.  So, if I come to any more interesting pie bird updates, I'll let you know.

And while it didn't actually sing to us, I wasn't entirely disappointed. I like how it looks and even more importantly, the pie was good enough to put a happy little song in my heart--and that's no hot air. 

Nectarine Raspberry Pie
(adapted from
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes but left in sticks 
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free) 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
6 tablespoons ice water 
1/2 tablespoon milk 
1 tablespoon sugar 

3 lb nectarines
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups sugar 

For pastry--Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 5 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water to dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until just combined. (Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.)

Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 2 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all of dough together with scraper and press into a ball. Divide in two and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Chill dough, each disk wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Prepare filling while dough chills:

Cut nectarines into 1/2-inch-wide wedges, then toss with raspberries and lemon juice in a large bowl.

Whisk tapioca with cornstarch, salt, and sugar in a small bowl (do not toss with fruit until dough is rolled out).

Roll out pastry and prepare pie:

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and put a large sheet of foil on rack. Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll out 1 disk of dough--keep remaining disks chilled--on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, into a 13-inch round, then fit into pie plate (do not trim) and chill until ready to use.

Roll out remaining disk (for top crust) in same manner and set aside (keep flat).

Gently toss sugar mixture with fruit and pour into pie shell.

Cover pie with pastry rounds and trim edges with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together, fold edges under and evenly tuck them into the pie pan and crimp decoratively. Brush pastry top with milk and sprinkle all over with sugar (1 tablespoon total). Cut several steam vents in top of each pie with a small sharp knife.
Bake pie on foil 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake, checking frequently and covering edge of each pie with a strip of foil or pie shield if crusts are browning too fast, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more.

Cool pie to room temperature on rack, at least 2 hours.

1 comment: