• “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade, “ by Rachel Saunders, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2014, www.andrewsmcmeel.com
• Blue Chair Fruit Co., artisan jams and marmalades, made by hand in Oakland, California, www.bluechairfruit.com
It’s not Thanksgiving dinner without pie.
We know you’ll save room for a slice of pumpkin, apple or pecan pie Nov. 27.
We’d never suggest going without your favorite pie recipe, but how about changing up your baking routine this year with a twist on the classics?
Pie expert Ken Haedrich has written two comprehensive and fun-to-read pie cookbooks (see sidebar), and we’re sharing three of his recipes: Pennsylvania Dutch Sour Cream Apple Pie (with a crunchy pecan topping), Harvest Pie with Autumn Leaves (it’s a melange of apples, pears, diced pumpkin and dried cranberries inside a double crust) and Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping, any of which would make a grand finale to a Thanksgiving feast.
Haedrich’s “Apple Pie” cookbook (The Harvard Common Press) has 100 recipe variations on America’s favorite pie, along with 10 crust recipes, including basic butter, shortening and oil versions, cheddar cheese pastry, and graham cracker crust, too.
This is a guy who knows how to jazz up an apple pie.
“It’s important to not mess with tradition too much, just play with it. I think people appreciate something a little different,” Haedrich said in a phone interview from his home in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. “The Pennsylvania Dutch Sour Cream Apple Pie is a great pie for Thanksgiving, and there’s no whipped cream needed. It’s in keeping with this whole idea of tweaking tradition a bit. It tweaks apple pie without taking it in an outrageous direction. It’s just a really good pie.”
If you’re an experienced baker and want to make a more adventurous pumpkin pie this year (instead of the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can), you’ll be interested in jam and marmalade maven Rachel Saunders’ recipes.
She’s the owner and founder of Blue Chair Fruit Co. in Oakland, California, an artisan jam company specializing in sustainably farmed fruits of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Apple-Pumpkin Pie in her new cookbook, “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade,” (Andrews McMeel Publishing) is visually stunning with pumpkin slices (like apple slices) instead of puree, along with the subtle addition of homemade sweet tomato jam, golden raisins and freshly ground spices, including mace, which comes from the nutmeg seed.
If you’re too busy to make tomato jam before the holidays, you can buy it from her company, www.bluechairfruit.com.
“I’d never seen a pumpkin pie with sliced pumpkin in it, and I thought it made so much sense. I wanted to inject some unusual spice in the Apple-Pumpkin Pie, and mace boosted the flavors. When I think about that pie, it has a nice, spicy, holiday quality to it,” Saunders said in a phone interview from Northern California.
If pecan pie is a must at your house on Thanksgiving, take a look at Saunders’ favorite pecan pie recipe for a spin on the usual ingredients.
My Pecan Pie gets its sweetness from maple syrup, not corn syrup. Seville orange marmalade, dark rum, coconut, dates and vanilla give the pie its intense flavor and makes it more interesting than the traditional version that’s so sweet it almost melts your teeth.
This is the pie that Saunders told us she will be making for Thanksgiving this year.
“It’s just wonderful because the orange marmalade adds an undernote to the traditional sweetness of pecan pie, and it has maple syrup in it, a very underutilized ingredient. Maple syrup also has acidity to it, and it’s a perfect flavor with pecans,” she said.
Saunders’ “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade” includes more than 250 recipes for using jam in a wide variety of dishes, from breakfast to savory lunch and dinner options, and even cocktails.
“I love to put a little jam in any fruit pie,” she said. It’s something you can try too, with any of your homemade fruit pies.”
If pie making makes you a little nervous, you’re not alone.
Haedrich, a food writer, cookbook author of more than a dozen books and cooking instructor, is so passionate about pie-making that he started The Pie Academy website in 2012 (www.thepieacademy.com). Its goal is to become the top online resource for pie-makers of all levels, from novice to expert.
He knows that anyone can learn to make great pies from scratch, because that’s what he did.
Haedrich, 60, has been making pie for more than 40 years. Because pie-making became second nature to him, he told us he got into the habit of telling people that it was easy.
“But since I’ve been running The Pie Academy for almost three years, I’m getting questions from people who are having problems making pie, primarily with the crust: it falls apart, it doesn’t cooperate, it shrinks.
“So now I take exception when people say ‘easy as pie.’ It’s not. There are basic things to learn, like keeping ingredients cold, using the right surface to roll pastry on and the right pressure with the rolling pin,” he said.
Haedrich also created an online video class called The No-More-Tears-Pie-Pastry Course where anyone can learn pie-making techniques and get hours of instruction at a personalized pace.
“In this day and age, we’re anxious to be instant experts. You’re not going to be when it comes to making pie. Think of it as a journey to enjoy. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with the process,” Haedrich said.
Some home cooks, overwhelmed with cooking the whole Thanksgiving meal, may choose to go with a store-bought pie. Costco, for example, reports that in 2013, during the week leading up to Thanksgiving, its bakeries sold more than 1.5 million pies in the United States, including more than 1 million pumpkin pies.
Haedrich thinks it’s worth the effort to bake a pie at home.
“I get that people are too busy or too overwhelmed at the holidays. If you’ve done everything else on your own, something’s got to give, so maybe you fall back on the $5.99 Costco pie.
“To me, making pie is the same as writing a handwritten note. Not enough people write handwritten notes today, and not enough people make pie. When you do it you’re saying, ‘You mean something to me, you’re special, and I’m doing this for you because I love you.’ And it’s a very different experience than serving Costco pie,” he said.
Pennsylvania Dutch Sour Cream Apple Pie
(8 to 10 servings)
Good Basic Pie Dough — single crust, refrigerated (see below)
5½ C peeled, cored, and thinly sliced baking apples (Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious are all good)
2 TBS apple cider or water
¾ C plus 2 TBS sugar
2 TBS all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 lg egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 C regular sour cream
1/3 C half-and-half or milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Crunchy Pecan Topping:
1 C all-purpose flour
½ C sugar
1/3 C packed light brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¾ C coarsely chopped pecans
6 TBS unsalted butter, melted
On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9½-inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding rim. Place in the freezer until needed. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put the apples in a large nonstick skillet and add the 2 tablespoons cider or water. Turn the heat to medium-high, cover, and cook the apples for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. You want them to steam and soften slightly, but not get all limp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl. Put the skillet back on the heat and reduce any liquid in the pan down to about 2 tablespoons. Stir into the apples. Cool.
Using a separate large bowl, combine all of the sugar, the flour, and salt. Whisk to mix. Add the egg and yolk, sour cream, half-and-half or milk, and vanilla. Whisk well, to combine. Stir in the apples.
Carefully pour the apples and custard into your chilled pie shell. Take a moment to distribute the apples evenly in the shell.
Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, start making the topping.
Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt, and pecans in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter. Stir it in, first with a large fork, then switch to your hands and rub everything together well with your fingers. Refrigerate until needed.
After the pie has baked for 30 minutes — 15 minutes at 400 and 15 minutes at 350 — remove it from the oven, place it on a heatproof surface, and spread all of the topping evenly over the pie. It will seem like a lot, and that’s fine. Put the pie back in the oven and bake another 20 to 22 minutes, just until the top turns golden — a shade or two darker than it was.
Transfer the pie to a rack to cool. Refrigerate while it is still slightly warm. I like this best served cold, but room temperature is fine also. Some may even prefer to serve it warm. Your choice.
(Makes a single crust for a 9- to 9½-inch standard or deep-dish pie)
This is a simple, reliable pie crust you’ll find yourself making often. Tip: Make this twice, while all your ingredients are out, so you have an extra pastry on hand. Wrap as indicated, and freeze for up to one month. — Ken Haedrich
1½ C all-purpose flour
1 tsp confectioners’ sugar or granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
5 TBS cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
4 TBS cold vegetable shortening, in tablespoon-size pieces
1/3 C ice-cold water
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and toss gently with your hands, to coat with flour. Using your pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour to break it up partially. Large, random-size pieces of butter will remain.
Add the cold shortening, toss lightly, and then continue to cut both fats into the flour until the flour has a meal-like consistency. All of the flour should look as if it has been “touched” by the fat, and small pea-size pieces of fat should remain.
Drizzle ¼ cup of the cold water here and there over the mixture. Using a pastry fork or other large fork, quickly stir the mixture with a few strokes, “lifting” the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl as you stir. Sprinkle on the remaining cold water and continue mixing, with as few strokes as possible, just until the dough pulls together. Gently pack the dough into a ball.
Place the dough on a long sheet of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour. Flatten the dough into a disc slightly less than ¾ inch thick. Wrap in the plastic, place this inside a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours before rolling.
The filling is a real grab bag of fall favorites: sliced fresh apples and pears, diced pumpkin, and dried cranberries for extra sweetness and a splash of color. I use the pastry trimmings here to create a center spray of leaves. You can use a leaf cookie cutter, but even for someone as artistically challenged as myself, it’s no trouble to cut a basic narrow leaf shape, and make a few veins in it with the back of a paring knife. I put four of these on the top crust, stems ends in the middle, with the leaves pointing out to the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. I love the juiciness of this pie, so I recommend serving it within an hour of baking. Do use a small sugar pie pumpkin, by the way — the larger pumpkins tend to be too watery to use in a pie. — Ken Haedrich
1 Recipe All-American Double Crust, refrigerated (see recipe below)
1 C fresh apple cider
4 C peeled, cored, and sliced apples
3 C cored and sliced ripe pears
1½ C peeled and seeded sugar pie pumpkin cut into ½-inch chunks
1/3 C dried cranberries
1/3 C granulated sugar
2 TBS cornstarch
1/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the larger portion of the pastry into a 13½-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Center it, and then peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and let the edge of the pastry drape over the side of the pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Put the cider in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and let boil until it is reduced to ¼ to 1/3 cup; keep a heatproof measuring cup nearby to check it. Set aside. Put the apples, pears, pumpkin, and cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Add the reduced cider and granulated sugar and toss well to mix. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch and brown sugar. Add this to the fruit and mix again. Mix in the lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.
On another sheet of floured waxed paper, roll the other half of the pastry into an 11½-inch circle. Moisten the rim of the pie shell with a damp pastry brush or finger. Turn the filling into the crust, smoothing the top with your hands. Invert the top pastry over the filling, center it, and peel off the paper. Press the pastries together at the dampened edge, then trim the pastry flush to the edge of the pan with a paring knife. Using a form or paring knife, poke several steam vents in the top pastry; put several of the vents near the edge of the pie, so you can check the juices there later.
Gather the pastry trimmings into a ball, and then roll the dough about 1/8-inch thick on a sheet of floured waxed paper, flouring the dough as needed. Cut the dough into 4 leaves (see head note), using the back of a paring knife to make a lengthwise vein down the center and smaller ones running diagonally to either side of the line. Lay the leaves on top of the pie with the stem ends in the center and the tips pointing out to the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. Brush the top of the pie lightly with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Place the pie directly on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a large, dark baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Put the pie on the baking sheet back in the oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly at the edge, another 30 to 40 minutes.
Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for 30 to 60 minutes before serving.
— From “Apple Pie” by Ken Haedrich, The Harvard Common Press
All-American Double Crust
(Makes enough pastry for one 9-inch deep-dish double-crust pie or two 9-inch deep-dish pie shells)
To my mind, an all-American crust should include butter, for great flavor; vegetable shortening, for tenderness and flakiness; and white flour, not whole wheat. You can make this pastry by hand (directions follow), but I nearly always make mine in a food processor. This is about as large a pastry recipe as I would recommend preparing in a food processor, for the simple reason that an overcrowded processor will not mix the pastry evenly, likely resulting in a tough crust. To prevent this from happening, whenever I stop the machine, I “fluff” the ingredients with a fork to loosen anything that may have begun to compact under the blade. — Ken Haedrich
3 C all-purpose flour
2 TBS sugar
¾ tsp salt
¾ C (1½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
¼ C cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
½ C cold water
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine 5 or 6 times to cut in the butter.
Remove the lid and fluff the mixture with a fork, lifting it up from the bottom of the bowl. Scatter the shortening pieces over the flour and pulse the machine 6 or 7 times. Remove the lid and fluff the mixture again.
Drizzle half of the water over the flour mixture and pulse the machine 5 or 6 times. Remove the lid, fluff the pastry, and sprinkle on the rest of the water. Pulse the machine 5 or 6 times more, until the pastry starts to form clumps. Overall, it will look like coarse crumbs. Dump the contents of the processor bowl into a large mixing bowl.
Test the pastry by squeezing some of it between your fingertips. If it seems a little dry and not quite packable, drizzle a teaspoon or so of cold water over the pastry and work it in with your fingertips. Using your hands, pack the pastry into two balls, as you would pack a snowball. Make one ball slightly larger than the other; this will be your bottom crust. Knead each ball once or twice, and then flatten the balls into ¾-inch-thick disks on a floured work surface. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling. About 10 minutes before rolling, transfer the pastry to the freezer to make it even firmer.
To mix by hand: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients; toss. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of split peas. Add the shortening and continue to cut until all of the fat is cut into small pieces. Sprinkle half of the water over the dry mixture; toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture. Add the remaining water, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Pastry made by hand often needs a bit more water, so add it one to two teaspoons at a time — if it seems necessary — until the pastry can be packed. Form the pastry into balls, as instructed above, then shape and refrigerate as directed.
— From “Apple Pie” by Ken Haedrich, The Harvard Common Press
Apple Cherry Pie with Coconut Almond Crumb Topping
(Makes 8 to 10 servings)
Sweet summer cherries (or frozen cherries), coconut, and almonds make for an irresistible pie combination. I can’t get sour cherries often, but when I can, I like to use them here, increasing the sugar just slightly. — Ken Haedrich
1 recipe Flaky Cream Cheese pastry (see below), refrigerated
5 C peeled, cored, and sliced apples
3 C pitted and halved fresh cherries, or 3 C frozen cherries, thawed (keep any juice that results from thawing and add it to the pie)
If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, 1.5 to 2 hours.
On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13½-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Center it, and then peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Put the pie shell in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling, combine the apples, cherries, amaretto, vanilla, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl; toss well. Mix in ½ cup of the sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cornstarch. Sprinkle over the fruit and toss well. Turn the filling into the frozen pie shell. Smooth the filling with your hands to even it out. Place directly on the center oven rack and bake for 35 minutes.
While the pie bakes, make the topping. Put the flour, sugar, salt, almonds and coconut in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine repeatedly, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the milk, and pulse again until the crumbs are more gravelly in texture. Refrigerate.
After 35 minutes, remove the pie from the oven and place it on a large, dark baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie and spread them evenly over the surface with your hands. Press on the crumbs gently to compact them. Put the pie on the baking sheet back in the oven and bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, another 35 to 40 minutes.
Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.
— From: “Apple Pie” by Ken Haedrich, The Harvard Common Press
Flaky Cream Cheese Pastry
(Makes enough for one 9-inch deep-dish pie shell or one 9-inch thin-crusted double-crust pie)
I love this fine, tender pastry. One thing you should know about this crust is that a cream cheese dough, once you start to roll it, gets soft quicker than an all-butter pastry — don’t delay when you’re working with this crust. If the dough starts to get soft and sticks to your rolling pin, simply slide the pastry — waxed paper and all — onto a baking sheet and put it in the fridge for 5 minutes. Then take it out and continue to roll. This recipe is written for a large stand-up mixer fitted with a flat beater. If you don’t have one, use the hand method. — Ken Haedrich
½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 C all-purpose flour
½ C cake flour
2 TBS confectioners’ sugar
Put the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a large stand-up mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment. Blend for 30 to 45 seconds on medium-low speed.
Sift the flours and confectioners’ sugar into a medium-size mixing bowl. With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture about 1/3 cup at a time, blending reasonably well after each addition. You don’t have to wait until the previous addition has been entirely incorporated before adding the next, but do give it some time.
When all of the dry ingredients have been added and the dough starts to ball up around the beater, stop the machine. Remove the bowl and scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough gently 3 or 4 times, then shape it into a ball. Place the ball on a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it in to a disk about ¾ inch thick (unless the recipe instructs you to shape the dough into 2 balls for a double-crust pie). Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours, until firm enough to roll.
To mix by hand: Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter and cream cheese together in a medium-size mixing bowl. Sift the dry ingredients together, as instructed above, then add them to the creamed mixture about 1/3 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough coheres, proceed as directed above.
— From: “Apple Pie” by Ken Haedrich, The Harvard Common Press
(Makes one 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10)
This standout pie captures all the warmth, spice, and earthiness of Thanksgiving. To make it, the pumpkin is sliced, not pureed, which gives the pie an unexpected sophistication. Tomato jam adds a touch of acidity, while golden raisins provide sweetness and texture. This gorgeously playful mix of flavors and ingredients, encased in an exquisitely flaky crust, makes this pie a Thanksgiving highlight. — Rachel Saunders
2½ C unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
5 TBS high quality lard
15 TBS unsalted butter, preferably European-style
9 TBS ice water
4 TBS (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, preferably European-style, plus for more buttering
1½ tsp apple balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2/3 C sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/16 tsp freshly ground mace
2 TBS and 1½ tsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 C golden raisins
1 lg egg white, beaten until frothy
To make the crust, place the flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Cut the lard and butter into ½-inch cubes and sprinkle them over the flour. Place the bowl in the freezer to chill until very cold but not frozen, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the flour-butter mixture to the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a metal blade, keeping the frozen bowl close by. Pulse the mixture several times, until the largest pieces of fat are pea-size. Immediately transfer the flour mixture back to the frozen bowl. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and stir immediately and quickly with a wide sturdy butter knife held at a vertical angle until the mixture comes together, adding a little more ice water if needed.
Transfer the dough mixture to a lightly floured board and gather the dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other. Do not handle the dough too much, as you do not want it to warm up. Flatten the dough balls into 5-inch discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours or as long as 48 hours. The dough can also be frozen for future use.
To make the filling, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the ¼ cup butter in a 12-inch saute pan over low heat and saute the pumpkin until slightly cooked but still firm, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and saute for 5 minutes, then cover and braise for another 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Transfer the pumpkin and apples with their juices to a large bowl to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the tomato jam, vinegar, sugar, salt, cloves, cinnamon, mace, and flour. Distribute this mixture evenly over the cooked fruit in the bowl. Add the raisins and toss gently to combine. Set the filling aside.
To assemble the pie, very lightly butter a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate. Place the larger of the 2 chilled pastry discs on a lightly floured board. Beat the dough briefly with a rolling pin to soften it if needed and roll it out into an even 12-inch circle, turning it often and flouring your board and rolling pin lightly as needed. Carefully fit the dough into the prepared pan. Using sharp, clean scissors, trim the overhang so the dough extends 1/8 inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Brush the entire inside of the pie shell with the beaten egg white.
Roll the remaining disc of dough into a 10½-inch circle. Pile the filling mixture into the waiting pie shell, pressing down on the fruit to create as even a distribution as possible. Center the top crust over the filling, then fold the edges of the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust, trimming any excess as needed. Crimp the edge of the pie with your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp paring knife, cut several slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the entire top crust with the egg white.
Bake the pie for 25 minutes at 425, then lower the heat to 375 and continue baking until the fruit is very tender and bubbling, about another 30 minutes. Place the pie on a rack to cool to lukewarm before serving.
Early Girl Tomato Jam
(Makes approximately 11 to 12 8-oz jars)
Tomato jam should be a sweet, fruity jam, no different from plum or apricot jam except that the fruit used to make it is tomato. Once you have tasted this extraordinarily bright jam, there will be no going back. — Rachel Saunders
9 lbs medium-sized sweet tomatoes, preferably dry-farmed Early Girls
3 lbs and 15 oz white cane sugar
4 to 5 TBS strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 sm blade of mace
2 pinches of kosher salt
Place a saucer with 5 metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.
Have a large bowl of ice water close at hand. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and then carefully drop the tomatoes into the water to loosen their skins. Leave the tomatoes immersed for 30 to 60 seconds and then transfer them to the ice water with a slotted spoon. When they are cool enough to handle, peel them over a large bowl, discarding the skins. Place a cutting board on a rimmed baking sheet and coarsely chop the tomatoes into medium pieces. Return the tomatoes and their juices to the bowl. Add the sugar and ¼ cup lemon juice, stirring well to combine. Dip a small spoon into the mixture and taste. If you do not detect a bright, tart lemony flavor, cautiously add a little bit more lemon juice, stirring and tasting as you go, until you can just taste the tartness and lemon flavor of the juice in the mixture.
Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or wide, nonreactive kettle. Place the mace into a fine-mesh stainless-steel tea infuser with a firm latch and add it to the mixture. Add the salt.
Bring the jam mixture to a boil over high heat. Skim off any surface foam with a large stainless-steel spoon. Cook, stirring often with a heatproof spatula and monitoring the heat closely, until the jam thickens and no longer seems watery, 30 to 45 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan often with the spatula, and lower the heat gradually as more and more moisture cooks out of the jam. For the final 15 to 20 minutes of cooking, or when the jam starts to visibly thicken, stir the jam gently and frequently to prevent burning.
To test the jam for doneness, transfer a small, representative half-spoonful to one of your frozen spoons. Place the spoon back in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Nudge the jam gently with your finger; if it seems thickened and gloppy when you nudge it, it is either done or nearly done. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs; if it runs very slowly, and if it has thickened to a cohesive consistency, it is done. If it runs very quickly, or seems watery, cook it for another few minutes, stirring, and test again, repeating more times if needed.
When the jam is ready, remove the tea infuser. Skim any remaining foam from the surface of the jam. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Shelf life: 2 years
— From: “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” by Rachel Saunders, Andrews McMeel Publishing
My Pecan Pie
(Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8 to 10)
This is a very grown-up pecan pie with intense flavors. Unlike many versions, its sweetness is anything but one-dimensional. This recipe eschews corn syrup for a heady combination of maple syrup, Seville orange marmalade, dark rum, coconut, dates, and vanilla to achieve its flavor. Serve it with whipped cream to cut through the sweetness. — Rachel Saunders
1 C pecan halves
5 TBS and 1 tsp unsalted butter, preferably European-style, melted, plus more unmelted butter for buttering
½ batch pie pastry (see recipe in Apple-Pumpkin Pie recipe above), chilled but not rolled out
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting
3 TBS heavy cream
3 lg eggs, at room temperature
2/3 C Grade B pure maple syrup
1/3 C packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
2 TBS dark rum
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 C thick-cut Seville orange marmalade
1/3 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 C chopped dates
½ C heavy cream, whipped into soft mounds
First, lightly toast the pecans: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until very pale golden brown, about 7 minutes. Transfer them to a plate to cool completely, and then chop them coarsely.
Increase the oven temperature to 425. Very lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured board. Beat the dough briefly with a rolling pin to soften if needed. Roll it out into an even 12-inch circle, turning it often and flouring your board and rolling pin lightly as needed. Carefully fit the dough into the prepared pie plate. Using sharp clean scissors, trim the overhang so the dough extends ¼-inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Turn the overhang under and crimp the edge all around.
Prick the bottom of the pie shell all over with a fork and freeze the shell until firm, just a few minutes (5 to 10). Line the shell with a 12-inch square of parchment and fill the shell to the brim with pie weights. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights and continue baking until the shell is pale golden brown at the edges and dry to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes more. If the bottom of the shell puffs up, prick the bubble in a few places with the tip of a sharp knife and gently press down on it with an oven mitt to flatten. Transfer the pie shell to a rack to cool. Decrease the oven temperature to 375.
To make the filling, whisk together the cream and eggs in a medium bowl. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, salt, rum, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the marmalade and then the pecans, coconut, and dates. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and place the pie in the middle of the oven.
Bake until the top is golden and the perimeter is cracking slightly but the middle is still slightly jiggly, about 45 minutes. Place the pie on a rack to cool to room temperature before serving. Serve with a dollop of the whipped cream on the side.
— From “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” by Rachel Saunders, Andrews McMeel Publishing
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