Monday, January 9, 2012

Reconstructing a memory

My mother used to make pineapple-apricot pie using whole fruit. Given that this was the 60s and 70s, she probably used canned fruit; I'm pretty sure I never saw a fresh apricot until I was an adult, but still, this was a whole fruit pie.

Mom kept all her recipes in a little wooden box; after she died I always knew the recipes were in there, but didn't have the heart to open the box. Crispy, crumbly cheese crackers; spice cake with caramel icing; pineapple upsdie-down cake. And this pie.

I've written before about opening the box finally, more than a decade after she died, only to discover that the box was empty. Wrenching.

The pineapple pie is one I've always wanted to make, so I started hunting around the web for recipes, and I can't find one that uses whole, let alone fresh, fruit. One calls for dried apricots, another for frozen pineapple concentrate. All use canned fruit in heavy (!) syrup.  So I'm making it up folks. Call it hubris.

Fresh Pineapple-apricot pie
2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup finely ground walnuts
2/3 cup shortening (yes, I use lard)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 T apricot liqueur

1 fresh pineapple, cut into bite-sized chunks
2-3 T crystal sugar

1 quart halved, pitted whole apricots
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup wheat pastry flour
1 T corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 425

Toss the ground nuts, flour and salt, cut in the shortening until crumbly. Add the liqueur one tablespoon at a time, and work it in with a fork, using only enough to wet the dough until it sticks together. Divide into two equal pieces and chill. (You can roll them into thick disks first if you like.)

Butter or spray a 9-inch pie plate. Remove half the dough from the refrigerator. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to form a disc, 1/8-inch thick and 2 inches larger than the pie plate. If it's a weird shape, as mine always is, trim it and puzzle-piece it into a disc, lightly rolling again to make the extra pieces stick.  Use a spatula to help lift the dough and transfer it to the pie plate. Press it lightly in the plate to fit.  Trim, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Place in the refrigerator to keep cold. You'll use the rest of the dough to create a lattice top. Note: the nut crust is not quite as elastic as a traditional flour crust, so you have to handle it very gently.

For the filling, start by draining off some of the juice from the pineapples: macerate the pieces in the sugar for one hour. Because this recipe uses honey instead of sugar to sweeten, there's a lot of liquid, so don't skip this step. Drain and conserve the juice.*

Once you've drained the pineapple, place all fruit in a large bowl. Toss with the vanilla, honey, cornstarch and flour; mix thoroughly.

Lightly brush the bottom crust all over with the lightly whipped egg white; spoon in the filling and dot with butter.

Roll out the remaining dough and cut nto strips 3/4-inch wide to make a lattice cover over the filling. Trim the overhang to 1 inch. Moisten the edges of the crusts where they meet with a little water, then press them together lightly and turn them under. Crimp the edges.

Brush the lattice crust and the rim with the cream. Optional: sprinkle the surface with 2 tablespoons of turbinato sugar.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake until it is golden and the juices are bubbling, about 50 to 60 minutes.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack before serving. 

*Pineapple syrup
Use the rinds and conserved juice to make a simple syrup: Boil the rinds all in 5 cups of water until the fruit starts falling off the rind. Drain and continue to boil, adding juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1 1/2 cups sugar, until volume is reduced to 2 to 3 cups (depending on how syrupy a syrup you want). Drain thoroughly. Keeps about 2 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. I would never think to put these fruits in pie. Interesting!
    My pie crazy husband would love this.