Cranberry Curd Pie

I first saw this on the New York Times website, then saw it again on the Bon Appetit website, then about a bajillion other bot-driven websites (all looking the same, all “authored” by a single-named woman, who promised hearth and home and happiness while inundating the viewer with ads-ads-ads).  What is it with these robot websites??

I read about 90% of the comments on the NYTimes recipe site pertaining to this recipe, and have incorporated my changes below.  This pie is gluten-free because I wanted to make it for a woman at my church who can’t eat gluten, and has not had a dessert at a church dinner in a millenia.  This is my holiday gift to her, and to you.  First, the recipe, then the photos (reverse of the usual).

Cranberry Curd Pie

Almond Crust
2 cups almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
Place in medium bowl, stir to mix (or use food processor).

Cut in 6 Tablespoons of softened butter, until crumbs are fine, and you can gather the dough together in your hands.  If too dry, add 1-2 Tablespoons water, a bit at a time.  Press dough evenly into a 10-inch tart pan with removeable bottom; use half the dough for the sides and half for the bottom.  Prick all over with a fork.  Tear off a piece of aluminum foil the size of the tart pan, and butter the dull side.  Press onto your tart butter-side down; freeze for at least 30 minutes.  This can be made a couple of days ahead.  Just make sure the aluminum foil seals the tart well. (photos below)

To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chilled tart shell with the foil into the oven and bake about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully take off the foil.  Finish baking for another 5 minutes.  Cool.

Cranberry Curd Filling
12 ounces cranberries, washed and picked over (almost 2 cups)
1 cup sugar
Peel of one orange, removed with a vegetable peeler, in strips (then rip into about 2″ pieces)
Juice of one orange, or 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1-1/2 Teaspoons cornstarch
4 ounces (1/2 stick) butter, softened

Put cranberries, sugar, orange juice and peel in a saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, and liquid has diminished, about 10 – 15 minutes.  Remove orange peels.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until berries are not noticeable in the pan.

Set a medium mesh sieve over a bowl, and spoon the cranberry mixture into the sieve, pressing it into the bowl. (See note below about what remains in the sieve.)

Wash the pan (or get another).  Break in the two eggs, then add in the two egg yolks.  Stir to break up yolks.  Stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons (1/2 Tablespoon) cornstarch until blended.  You may see some white bumps; ignore.

Spoon cranberry puree into the yolk mixture.  Set over low heat, and constantly whisking/stirring, bring mixture to a temperature of between 140 and 160.  The commenters noted that when properly cooked, the curd should coat a spoon.  This took me about 15 minutes.  I did keep it constantly stirring, but I wasn’t beating it.  I didn’t want to incorporate any air into the mixture and disrupt the anticipated color.

Remove from heat, and stir in the butter a bit at a time, whisking well in between each addition.  Again, don’t incorporate air in your mixing.  Let cool to room temperature (mine was a little warmer), and pour into the prepared pie shell.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, in order to set the curd.  Cool on a rack.  Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Sugared Cranberries for topping

Boil together 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water until mixture is at a full boil and looks clear.  If you have time, let the syrup cool.
Wash and pick out your best handful of berries (3/4 to 1 cup), and stir into the syrup, making sure they are well coated.  Remove to a fine rack (or into a strainer).

Sprinkle some sugar onto a square of waxed paper, and sprinkle some more over the top.  Then roll the berries in the sugar.  If they are well-drained, you won’t get clumps of sugar, but a nice, even coating.  Let cool and dry, then decorate the top.  I meant to clip some mint sprigs to place at the center berries; you might want to consider this.

Cooks Notes:

After all was said and done, I had about 1/2 cup left of the cranberry mash in my sieve from making the curd.  This went nicely with a slice of Cranberry-Orange Bread that I had in the freezer, as it’s like a jam. Store in the refrigerator.

If using the almond crust, best eaten on the day you make it.
Day One: it was perfection.
Day Two: crust was really soft, but curd was still good.

Alternate crust: Sweet Tart Dough (more like a shortbread cookie)

Curd can made be ahead.  Cover curd with plastic wrap (pressing it against the surface of the curd) and refrigerate up to one week.

Now the photos!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Ice Cream

I seem to be haunting Smitten Kitchen a lot these days, as this one is another of her recipes, updated and improved since she had the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie contest and didn’t come out so well.  Read the whole story on her blog–it’s in vintage Deb language, and I love reading it.  I was in the market, thinking about this pie, and luckily it was online, so I picked up the pound-and-a-half of rhubarb and the strawberries, then went home to make it.

Strawberries and Rhubarb

I’m sure hacking the rhubarb out of your own garden would be the Best Thing, but the local grocery store is the best I can manage, and it seems they only carry rhubarb for a very limited time, so I have to jump right on it, when it shows up.

Crust

You’ll also need your favorite recipe for a two-crust pastry pie. Here’s my favorite: Quick and Easy Pie Crust.   AVOID those nasty pre-made pie crusts in the grocery store.  It’s quick and easy to make your own.

3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
OPTIONAL: 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze — see below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. (I like to roll it up over my rolling pin — gently — then lift it over to the pie plate and unroll it.  I then ease it into the plate.)

Strawberries and Rhubarb

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl.

Filled with Butter Dots

Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Trim bottom pie crust even with pie plate edge, then moisten the exposed edge by running your finger, dipped in water, over the dough.

Top Crust

Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. (I used a tiny heart cookie cutter for my vent holes.)  Transfer it to center over the pie filling, as above. Trim top of pie dough so that it hangs over the pie plate by 1/2 to 1.”

Prebaked Pie

Tuck rim of dough underneath the bottom crust and crimp it decoratively.  (I sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of the pie crust.  But others like to use the egg wash mentioned above.  Do one or the other.)

Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.  Mine weren’t visible, so I lifted the pie to the stovetop, and listened — I could hear it bubbling.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When full cool (several hours later) the juices gel.

Strawberry Rhubard Pie

She notes that pie can be made 2-3 days ahead.  But why?  Make it fresh and eat it all up.

IMG_1885

Something we like to do at our house is to place the cut pieces of pie dough on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon-sugar, then bake at 400 degrees until they are lightly golden, about 6 minutes.  We call them “crusties.”

Quick and Easy Pie Crust

Strawberry Rhubard Pie

Based on the old-fashioned taste test, this is a winner pie crust recipe, and it’s easy, too.  And it tastes WAAAAAY better than those things you buy in the store, although if you have broken your hand or something, you’ll just have to buy those instead.  This recipe makes a one-crust pie shell.  For a two-crust pie, please double.

In a medium bowl, place:
1  1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend together, then cut in 1/2 cup shortening until the pieces look like little peas.  Here’s a video, with an annoying beep, with the cook using a pastry blender, OR, here’s a video, with narration, of the cook using two knives.

pastry blender

I’ve done both (the pastry blender is easier).  Pictured above is my favorite kind.  If the dough stuff gets caught in the loops, just run a knife over it to get it out.  You’ll know what I mean when you use it.

Toss in 3-4 Tablespoons of really cold water, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, fluffing and tossing with a regular dinner fork, until the dough starts to hold together in clumps, and when you try to gather it together in a ball with your hands. . . you can.  The less you work your pie crust, the more tender it will be.  And the least amount of water you can put in keeps it from being soggy.

getting dough into pie plate

Roll it out to the desired size, usually about 11″ round for a regular pie, then roll it back onto your rolling pin, and lift it onto your pie plate.  This website has some pretty good pictures of the process, including the cutting in business (it’s where the picture above was taken from).

Crust

Follow the directions in your recipe for baking and filling, but generally, if you are going to cook an unfilled pie crust, you’ll need to weight it down with a square of tin foil, on which you’ve placed uncooked rice or beans.  Bake for about 10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Above you see my Foley Pastry Frame, which is a square of canvas stretched between two bars and held in place by wire thingies.  I also have a stockinette for my rolling pin.  I wash this only when it becomes heavily spattered with food, and believe it or not, I store it in the freezer to make sure the cupboard moths don’t find it.

And one last detail: I think a rolling pin with ball bearings makes life easier, but you get to choose.