Put Heart in Your Valentine's Day Baking with Valentine's Pie from 'Sweet!'

Why do it half way

Put heart in your Valentine's Day baking with Valentine's Pie from Sweet (Artisan Books, October 2013) by Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections (Los Angeles)

Valentine’s Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 6 to 8

There is nothing wrong with giving a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day (of course!), but sometimes an alternative can be refreshing. Consider this heartwarming crimson fruit pie. Serve a slice to your Valentine, perhaps accompanied by a glass of Rosé Champagne.

12 ounces (about 10 medium stalks) rhubarb, rinsed, trimmed, and sliced into ½ inch pieces (3 cups)
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar, or more to taste
3 cups (12 ounces) strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 cups (8 ounces) raspberries, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons cornstarch
20 to 25 organic rose petals, rinsed and dried

Pie Dough (below)

1 ½ teaspoons Pie Dust (below)
1 egg, beaten

142_Valentine's Pie

Put the rhubarb and sugar into a medium saucepan and cook over medium- heat, stirring periodically, until the fruit softens, about 5 minutes. Add the strawberries and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring frequently-.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the raspberries. Taste the mixture, and if you would like the pie a little sweeter, add more sugar. Stir in the cornstarch and rose petals and let the filling cool to room temperature. (The filling can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured cool surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle: Start from the center of the dough and roll outward, rotating the dough 2 to 3 inches after each roll—this will help create a true circle. After every four to five rolls, run a large offset spatula under the dough to release it from the work surface. Add a little flour to the surface, rolling pin, and/or dough if the dough sticks or becomes difficult to roll.

Roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, then unroll into a 9-inch pie pan, centering the round. Gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan and against the sides, making sure there are no air pockets. Press the dough against the upper edges of the pan so it extends about ½ inch beyond the edges, then trim any excess dough with kitchen shears. Chill the crust for 15 minutes, or until the dough is cool and firm.

Meanwhile, roll out the second disk of dough into a 12-inch circle. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut a shape in the center of the pie round and remove it. (See Tip.)

Cover the bottom of the crust with the pie dust. Fill the crust with the filling. Using a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg around the edges of the crust.

Roll the top crust up onto the rolling pin and drape the dough over the filling. Trim and crimp the edges of the double crust (instructions below). Refrigerate the pie until the crust is cold and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges of the crust look golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and cover the edges of the crust with a pie ring (below).

Bake for an additional 35 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Start checking the pie after 30 minutes, then continue baking, checking at 5-minute intervals, until the crust is golden, with no translucent areas. Remove the pie ring and bake for an additional 5 minutes or so, until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack to cool completely-.

The pie can be stored in the refrigerator, to serve cold, or at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 days.

Tip: If you like, brush the heart-shaped cutout with beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar, and bake on the baking sheet beside the pie for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Serve with a dollop of jam for a mini-pie treat.

Pie Dough:
Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie, two 9-inch single-crust pies, or fifteen 4-inch hand pies

Given the choice between a piecrust made with butter and one made with shortening, I always choose butter. If you keep your dough cold at every step of the way, you can achieve the same flakiness that people attribute to shortening with the incomparable flavor of butter.

2 ½ cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
¼ to 1/3 cup (2 to 2.5 ounces) cold water

To make the dough in a food processor: Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the processor bowl and pulse once or twice to combine. Drop the pieces of butter through the feed tube, continuing to pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add ¼ cup water as you continue pulsing a few more times, then add more water if necessary; stop when the dough just starts to come together.

To make the dough by hand: Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and mix together with a fork or small whisk. Cut the butter into the dough using a pastry cutter or a large fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle ¼ cup water directly over the dough, mixing with the pastry cutter or fork, then add more water if necessary, mixing until the dough just comes together.

Remove the dough from the processor or bowl and form into 2 equal disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. The dough can be frozen for up to 2 months; thaw in the refrigerator.

Pie Dust
Makes ½ cup

A scant sprinkling of this simple mixture prevents piecrusts from getting soggy on the bottom-; I use it with all wet pie fillings.

¼ cup (1.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (1.75 ounces) sugar

Sift the flour and sugar together into a small bowl. The pie dust can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Crimping a Piecrust

Crust design, or crimping, is a way to add a personal touch to your creations. Once you’ve mastered a few versions, try to do them more quickly without sacrificing precision; pie dough holds its shape best with minimal handling.

Forked Crimp
For a single-crust pie, using a fork dipped in flour, press the dough against the rim of the pie pan all around the pan, making sure you don’t overlap the fork impressions. Chill the pie as directed in the recipe before proceeding.

For lattice-topped and double-crust pies, trim the top crust to a ¾-inch overhang if necessary. Fold the edges of the top crust over the bottom crust and proceed as for a single crust.

Simple Crimp
For a single-crust pie, place your thumbs about ¼ inch apart on the edge of the crust and press them toward each other to create a crimp, then continue all around the edge of the pie. Chill as directed in the recipe before proceeding.

For lattice-topped and double-crust pies, trim the top crust to a 3/4-inch overhang if necessary. Fold the edges of the top crust over the bottom crust and proceed as for a single crust.

Fancy Crimp
For a single-crust pie, put your left index finger on the edge of the dough at a 30-degree angle. Using your right thumb, lift the edge of the dough just to the right of your index finger and press the dough between your index finger and thumb to create a crimp. Using your right thumb and index finger, press the dough together just to the right of the crimp, extending the dough down about ½ inch. Put your left index finger to the right of the established crimp and, with your right thumb, lift the extended dough up to your index finger, creating a second crimp. Continue all around the edge of the entire pie.

When the crimping is complete, pinch all the crimps one more time to give them more height and definition. Chill the crust as directed in the recipe before proceeding.

For lattice-topped and double-crust pies, trim the top crust to a ¾-inch overhang if necessary. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together around the entire edge and proceed as for a single crust.

Making a Pie Ring

A pie ring, or pie shield, is used to prevent the edges of a piecrust from burning while the filling cooks through. Commercially made pie shields are available at kitchen supply stores, but you can easily make your own using the following instructions.

Cut a 30-inch-long piece of aluminum foil, and fold it lengthwise in half and then in half again. This makes a sturdy pie ring that can be used multiple times.

Wrap the foil around the edges of the partially baked pie, gently pressing the foil so it hugs the crust. Press the foil ends together to seal them. When the pie is baked, carefully remove the pie ring and save it for your next pie.

(*Excerpted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon -Artisan Books- Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Peden + Munk.)

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