Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Pie Diaries: Month 4

December: Cognac Cinnamon Blueberry Pie

As per the request of my family, December's pie continued the apparent tradition of alcoholic pies. (The choice was between the blueberry and a Creme De Menthe pie suggested by my friend Brece, which is sure to be January's pie!) The blueberries were hand picked and frozen by my mother and, working with what we had in the house, I decided to use Cointreau instead of proper cognac which I haven't drunk since having a particular experience one Tuesday evening in London. (Roskos, I'm looking at you. And I totally won that game of Rummy even though I think we lost most of the cards that night.)

(Twinkly liquor.)

As for this month's gluten-free pie crust solution, I used the often fabled, never before seen, store bought gluten free crust.

(Gasp! It's like catching a UNICORN!)

Here's the recipe:

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
5 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp cognac (Cointreau is nice as well)

Preheat oven to 350*. In a roomy bowl, mix together the blueberries, sufar, flour, cannamon, salt and cognac. Stir until thoroughly combined. Pour in the pie crust, top with the ipper crust and bake at 350* for 45-60 minutes or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling over.

Note: Cool overnight for the best setting up, but this pie is juicy. Uding the tiny berries it might set up nicely; with the larger berries it stays pretty saucy, in which case, you might as well cut it after 2 hours when it is still a bit warm and enjoy the delicious juiciness with ice cream!

Prep. time: 40 min
Baking Time: 45-60 min

There was much skepticism in the making of this pie. Firstly, we all had our doubts as to whether or not all five cups of blueberries would even fit into the shell. Next, 1 1/2 cups of sugar seemed an awful lot. Since there was no indication that I should thaw the blueberries, I added the sugar (and the rest of the ingredients) directly into the frozen berries. Well, the sugar was very resistant to being mixed up evenly... I let the mixture sit on top of the heated oven, hoping the rising heat would help everything blend, but eventually I just gave it one last stir and dumped them into the pastry shell. Lo and behold! They all fit. A miracle! Less of a miracle was what happened when I tried to use a second gluten-free pastry shell as a top crust.


The thing about gluten is that it actually functions like it sounds: as a glue... holding together flour and the other elements of pastries. Sooo... when you take the gluten out, even if you replace it with something similar, the resulting product tends to be a bit, uhm... crumbly? As demonstrated by the above photo. There was NO sculpting the ugly out of that pie. Every time I tried to reconfigure it, the crust simply broke off. I opted to stop trying and stuck it quickly in the oven as-was.

(Galaxy pie!)

It baked down to something at least a little bit prettier. (Thanks, mostly, to my mother's ingenious sprinkling of distracting cinnamon. Kudos, mom!) But, I have to admit that this pie did not live up to my expectations. The frozen crust wasn't all that tasty. As is common with gluten-free products that are primarily made with rice flour, the texture was kind of sandy... gritty, even. I wasn't sure whether it was the overwhelming texture of the crust or if the sugar never really had set in but the even the texture of the fruit filling was a little rough. Delicious, undeniably, but the texture was ultimately distracting. Also, you couldn't really taste the Cointreau at all. Bummer. Ahh well... not every pie can be a perfect success. Better luck next year!

**Anyone have any flavor suggestions, favorite recipes or events to which you would like to request the presence of a pie? Let me know! 2010 is gonna be the year of creative cooking. That... and, y'know, other stuff.

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