Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cherry Streusel Pie

I have a love affair with cherry pie that dates back to my childhood. The recipe I always use for cherry pie is from Betty Crocker's circa 1969 3-ring binder cookbook, because it is the closest in taste to that of the ultimate Pie Queen, my Granny Mitchell. Granny's pies are the standard to which I aspire, and her cherry pie was perfect. This recipe is a streusel topped version. The buttery, cinnamon laced streusel takes the sweet-tart cherry pie to a another level.

My go-to pie crust is from the same cookbook, and I made the 9-inch single crust recipe with butter-flavor Crisco. Hubby, who declared this pie "excellent" in a forceful tone, said it was the best crust he had ever had. Love that man.

For me, the keys to a good flaky-crisp pie crust are to cut the shortening into the flour until it is the size of peas, to add the ice water one tablespoonful at a time, tossing with a fork, to use a very light hand when gathering the dough into a ball, and to handle the dough as little as possible. Butter is the current popular ingredient to use in pie crust, but in my opinion shortening yields a flakier, crisper crust.

After the pie crust is rolled out and carefully placed in the pie plate, I trim off the uneven edges and leave a 1/2 inch overhang, fold the overhang under and press it lightly till it is fairly smooth all around, then crimp or flute the edges.

Cherry Streusel Pie

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 -3 tablespoons ice cold water

Whisk together dry ingredients. Cut shortening into dry ingredients with pastry cutter until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle ice water over flour mixture one tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until mixture is moistened. Gather into ball. Place dough on floured surface and shape into flattened round. Roll into approximately 10 inch circle. I keep my pie plate close and loosely roll dough around my rolling pin, then transfer to pie plate and gently unroll it. Trim overhang to about 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate, tuck under and gently press to form even edge. Crimp with fingertips for fluted edge.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Add melted butter and vanilla; toss with fork until easily clumped.

1-1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cans sour cherries (drain but reserve 2 tablespoons liquid)

Toss filling ingredients including reserved liquid together; using spatula to scrape sides of bowl, pour into pie crust. Sprinkle streusel over filling, covering completely.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes; reduce to 375 and bake another 45 – 1 hour, covering top with foil when crust begins to brown. Let cool on wire rack. Cool before serving.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Layered Peaches and Cream Pie

Continuing my multi-post obsession with peaches, this week I made a layered dessert based on inspiration by my fourth grade teacher's Fresh Peach Pie and the old favorite Four-Layer Dessert.

I found my teacher's recipe while browsing an old church cookbook. I was intrigued by her technique: instead of adding flour, sugar, and spices to the fruit and baking it in the pie crust, she cooked the liquid filling first, added the peaches, placed them in a pre-baked pie crust, and topped it with whipped cream. With this in mind, I made a version of Four Layer Dessert using a cookie crust and substituting a layer of fresh peach filling for the pudding layer. The result was a cool, summery treat reminiscent of peach pie but without a pastry crust . My hubby is not a fan of cooked peaches. This dessert, with juicy bites of peaches, tangy cream cheese, fluffy cream, and a not-too-sweet crumb crust, made him go back for seconds.

Layered Peaches and Cream Pie
Inspired by Mrs. Shimp
Serves 4-6

12 Keebler Sandies or other shortbread cookies
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2-4 tablespoons peach preserves, melted and reserved until crust is cooled

3 peaches or nectarines, diced or small slices
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream Cheese Layer
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Cool Whip

Cool Whip or real whipped cream and a light sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Place cookies into bowl of food processor and process until crumbs form. Place in bowl and mix with brown sugar, cinnamon, and salted butter; press mixture into 7-inch X 11-inch baking pan or 9 inch pie plate. Bake 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. When crust has completely cooled, brush melted peach preserves onto crust.

Combine peaches, sugar, and lemon juice in bowl and let macerate for one hour. Meanwhile place cream cheese and powdered sugar in bowl of electric mixer and mix until smooth; add extracts and mix until combined. Add Cool Whip and mix on low speed till incorporated. Spread mixture over crust and refrigerate.

When peaches have finished macerating, drain, reserving juice. Add water to juice if needed to measure 1/2 cup of liquid. Place peach juice with flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in small saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth and bubbly. Add butter and vanilla, stir; remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add peaches, stirring to combine, and let cool to room temperature. Spread over cream cheese layer in pan. Top with more Cool Whip or freshly whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Refrigerate until serving.

Linking to These Chicks Cooked Link Party


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Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Peach Crumb Bars

Peach-based recipes are so appropriate for this blog, and this one is a keeper. I've had it in my "Make This!" file for some time, and the time was right. Brown Eyed Baker adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and Allrecipes.com. The only thing I added was vanilla, and I love to enhance peaches with vanilla.

I only had a small taste, since I was giving them away, but it was enough to tell me that these bars are rich and delicious with buttery crumbs above and below the jam-like peach filling, and I will make them again. I think cherry filling will be my next version!

Peach Crumb Bars
from the blog of Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 24 bars

3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten

5 cups (about 7 peaches) peeled and diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare 9×13-inch baking pan with baking spray or shortening.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender; add egg and continue cutting until dough is crumbly. Pat half of dough into prepared pan. Place pan and remainder of dough in refrigerator while preparing filling.

Place peaches in large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice; add vanilla and mix gently. In separate bowl whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.

Spread peach mixture evenly over crust. Crumble remaining dough over peach layer.

Bake 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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