September and October are my favourite months for baking pies. The end of summer in British Columbia brings its residents an onslaught of summer fruit ripe for the picking. BC boasts local blackberries, raspberries, pears, plums, and apples on its vines and fruit trees. To me, this time of year is ideal for fruity baking like canning, making jam, fruit flan, or assembling pies or tarts!
Early September is for the pears, and late October is for apples! Fall means it’s time to get outside to do some harvesting (or just get your butt to the grocery store to buy some of that local fruit!!). Do you fancy some apple pie, pumpkin pie, blackberry-plumb cobbler, or—-how about some grape pie for a change? If you can’t pick your favourite fruity dessert, you now know which friend of yours will be happy to whip you up some pie-oh-my!
By the way– Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’ve had some quiet moments over the last couple days to relax and take in some much needed mid-fall rest. If you’ve had a busy September like me, this weekend couldn’t have come at a better time, am I right?!
I’ve been enjoying some lazy couch/reading/cribbage sessions at my family’s cabin. It feels great to stretch out in the living room in undisturbed peace, especially after some enthusiastic turkey feasting. My family tucked into the bird last night and I’ve felt especially sloth-like since. (Keep blaming it on that tryptophan, although that gets old fast, haha!)
So how about you, what did you get up to this weekend? In Vancouver the rain has been sporadically drizzling down all weekend. Is it finally here to stay after our lucky bout of luxurious September sunshine? I won’t mind so much pulling the old gumboots on for some muddy tromps outdoors. Although– let’s be honest… opting for staying cozied up in the dry indoors for some fires and hot meals won’t be so bad either!! :)
So to get to today’s recipe– Why a grape pie, you ask? Pretty strange, right!? I completely agree, and certainly have some explaining to do! In summary, I wanted to try dabbling with a homemade recipe while featuring some of the fruit growing in our garden.
Here’s the story–For as long as we’ve lived in our house in Vancouver, we have had a vine of gorgeous green Chardonnay grapes in our garden which we to be quite honest never really know how to properly use (sadly, there are no wine-makers Chez Blue Owl). Our grapes are seedless and tiny with a firm and starchy peel. They can be quite sour when picked from the vine too early, but by mid to late September the little jewels drip from their vines in bountiful, juicy heaps!
My sisters and I usually pick the grapes as garnish for cheese plates etc., but we feel a tinge of guilt that we don’t feature the grapes as the “prima donnas” so-to-speak of the dessert buffet. The grapes are just such stunners! It was about time to use them in grand dessert fashion.
You can understand why I was pretty excited to finally bake with these special grapes. Not knowing how the pie would turn out, I boiled the fruit with some water and sugar, in a sort of jam-like fashion. The mixture boiled down to a sticky, sweet reduction with an exquisite tart taste.
Into the oven the pie went, and let me tell you this grape pie turned out to be one of the most delightful pies I have ever made! It was perfectly tart with a lovely light, flaky crust. I am not a super-sweet dessert fan and neither are my parents, so when we sat down for dessert, we were all pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the pie tasted (paired with some Chardonnay wine of course!). So if you happen across some green grapes at the grocery store this fall, or have some grapes that are getting lonely in your fridge, I would say go for it with this recipe! It was a huge hit. :)
Chardonnay Grape Pie
Yield: 1 pie Time: 1 afternoon Temperature: 375 F. Bake time: 45-50 mins.
2 cups white flour 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup crisco shortening, chilled 4-8 tbsp ice cold water
3 cups Chardonnay Grapes (or small seedless green tart grapes) 1 cup white sugar 1 cup water 1 tbsp cornstarch 4 tbsp butter 1 tsp salt
1. Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry knife, 2 knives, or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Sprinkle one tablespoon ice-cold water or milk over part of mixture. Toss gently with a fork; push to side of bowl. Repeat just until mixture is moistened and can be formed into a ball. (The dough shoud hold together when picked up and pressed, and should not crack).
3. Flatten ball of dough into disks (one for one crust, two for double-crust). Wrap tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
4. Remove one disk of dough from refrigerator. Turn onto very lightly floured surface. (If the dough is too hard, allow it to sit for 5 minutes to soften.) Roll dough gently, use a back and forth motion from center. Do not roll over the edge or it will be thin. Turn dough 45 degrees between each roll to keep it round. If dough sticks to surface, dust lightly with flour. Roll to 12 inches in diameter for a 9 inch pie.
5. Transfer dough to 9-inch, 4 cup capacity pie plate, being careful to avoid stretching pastry. Trim edge of pastry 1/2 to 3/4 inch beyond edge of the pie plate.
6. Fold extra pastry under to build up edge. Flute edge by using the forefinger of one hand and pinching the dough next to it between your forefinger and thumb of the other hand. Continue around pie.
7. Cover pie pastry with saran and refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight before baking unless otherwise specified in recipe.
1. Combine grapes, sugar and water and boil until the skins are soft and the grapes are squishy. Wait until mixture has reduced to a thicker state (15 mins). Remove mixture from heat and add cornstarch, butter and a dash of salt.
2. Strain mixture into a bowl to remove thicker peels, and any twigs that made their way into the mix.
3. Pour mix into the unbaked pie crust. Cover the top with a pastry top crust or with a lattice as I have done (directions below). Bake pie at 375° for 40-50 minutes. When baking, you may need to cover the crust with foil for half the time to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Plaid Lattice Top:
1. Roll dough as described for single crust; cut into strips 1/2 inch in width and half into 1/4 inch width. Some strips should be 9 inches long. (A pizza cutter works well for this) Place strips over pie in a horizontal direction. Fold alternate strips back; place a strip vertical across top. Unfold strips, and fold the strips back that are under the last vertical strip. Place another strip vertically across. Continue until pie is completed. Tuck the strip edges under the bottom crust and press to seal. Flour the edges of the pastry as described above. Brush the dough with a a lightly beaten egg, being careful not to get egg on filling.
Recipe Credit: Pastry: Crisco Flaky Pie Crust Recipe.
I hope you have a wonderful week ahead (post-turkey feasting) feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready for a new week of doing what you do best.
PS: A great idea for you and your friends this fall: Why not organize an Articles Club? (Perfect for those of us who are bad at book-club deadlines! ;) )
PPS: Why playing an instrument is so good for your noggen!!
PPPS: We watched this honey bee documentary film last night after our turkey feast. For all bee-lovers and honey lovers out there, I’d highly recommend it. It was fantastic!