We've reached the conclusion of Pie Week 2014! I'm a little sad about it. The last recipe I have to share with you this week is probably the strangest...Mincemeat Pie!
Did you know Mincemeat Pie can be traced back to the 1400s is also sometimes called Christmas Pie? It's a super old school British treat. Back in the day, different types of meat were combined with all sorts of booze and dried fruit, and baked up into a giant, coffin-sized pie. Then, in the 1800s, they shrank their pies to normal people sizes and pretty much stopped using meat in the filling (except sometimes suet). So...nobody panic...you don't actually have to use meat in mincemeat pie.
This is probably not what you think of when you think of your average pie -- it's kind of like a pie version of a panettone, stollen, or boozy fruitcake. It's decadent without being overly rich. The dried fruit provides a concentrated sweetness, and because of the dried fruit, it's a little chunky and more solid than a normal fruit pie. It's definitely not dry or chewy, though, thanks to the sugar, lemon juice, and brandy. Brandon described it as "beefy" in texture...I think he meant that the texture makes it feel like a hearty pie. The crust holds up to the filling incredibly well, and the sugar topping adds a bit of a satisfying crunch.
Serve it with whipped cream or ice cream to help balance the flavor. Oh, and you don't need huge slices of this one -- a small slice feels like plenty.
recipe adapted from First Prize Pies, Alton Brown, and America's Test Kitchen
*important note: this pie requires a few days advanced preparation!*
one batch of double-crust pie dough (recipe follows)
3 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and minced
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pitted prunes, chopped
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (or, shredded suet if you're looking for authenticity)
1/2 cup applejack, calvados, brandy, or rum
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch of cinnamon
- In a large bowl, stir together all filling ingredients. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days (or more) so the flavors can meld and the dried fruit can soak up some of the liquid.
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Roll out half the dough and fit to pie pan. Trim excess dough, leaving about a 1-inch overhang.
- Add the filling to the pie pan, distributing evenly.
- Brush the rim of the dough with egg wash or milk.
- Roll out the second half of the dough, and lay over the filling. Trim excess, and crimp edges as desired. Cut a couple of small vent holes decoratively (or not) in the top crust.
- Brush crust with egg wash or milk and sprinkle with turbinado (raw) sugar.
- Put the pie on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.
- Drop oven temperature to 350F and bake for 30-40 more minutes, until crust is golden. If you notice parts of your crust starting to darken while others are pale, you may want to tent your pie loosely in foil to help keep it from burning.
- Cool pie for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
- Pie can be refrigerated, covered in plastic, for at least several days. Let come to room temperature, or warm slightly, before serving.
Foolproof Single-Crust Pie Dough
recipe from America's Test Kitchen
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
12 TB unsalted butter, cut into quarter-inch pieces and chilled
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
1/4 cup vodka, chilled (yes, you need it, and yes, it makes a difference!)
1/4 cup ice water
- In your food processor, process 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour, and the sugar and salt together until combined.
- Scatter butter and shortening over the flour mixture, and process until incorporated and the mixture begins to form uneven clumps with no remaining floury bits (about 10 seconds).
- Scrape down the bowl and redistribute dough evenly around the processor blade.
- Sprinkle the remaining cup of flour over the dough, and pulse until the mixture has broken up in to pieces and is evenly distributed around the bowl (4-6 pulses).
- Transfer the dough to a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the vodka and water over the dough. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula, until the dough sticks together.
- Split dough into two equally sized portions. Turn each half of dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a 4-inch disk, and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 2 days.