Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vegan Blueberry Peach Pie

Sometimes forces converge, and I start producing a lot of pie. When I'm in a heavy pie-making phase, it becomes no big deal to whip up a ball of pie dough, roll it out, throw in some fruit/sugar/thickener, slap a crust on top, and there you have it. I happen to be in the mode right now, mostly inspired by the heavenly good fruit that's in season - it seemed like a good time to teach Henry how to make pie crust.

But the problem is, my confidence makes me bossy in the kitchen. I barked out orders at Henry - put ice cubes in a glass, fill it with water, put it in the freezer. He was quiet, annoyed. I let him take over pulsing the shortening into the flour and jumped down his throat when he, instead of pulsing, just ran the food processor. "No!" I shouted, "Don't over-mix it!"

"What's the difference?" he grumbled.

"I have a great idea," I snapped, "Why don't you teach ME how to make pie crust."

Oh dear. This wasn't going nicely at all. I mourned for the days when my kids believed what I told them, instead of doubting every single thing. But isn't this the adolescent's raison d'ĂȘtre? And really, wasn't I the problem here? Sometimes I worry that Henry is right on the brink of wanting nothing to do with cooking lessons, that one day I will push him irretrievably away.

"Look," I said, "I don't know why, but the crust needs these pea-sized lumps of fat to be flakey and delicious. Why don't you research it, and let me know."

Relieved, he ran to the computer. I proceeded, rolled out the crust, made the filling, while Henry shouted into the kitchen about air pockets and flakiness. Later he shouted in about using cold vodka in the crust. "What?" I said. "It's from that magazine with the bow tie guy," he said.

And so it went, a long distance cooking lesson, harmoniously yelling back and forth between rooms, a big improvement over bickering side-by-side.

Crust is the hardest part of making pie. When peaches and blueberries are amazing, the less you add to the filling the better. This is a pie I've been making for at least a decade; it has evolved to include fewer ingredients, less sugar (and maybe next year will include vodka). I dream about it all year. The window for making it is small, 3 or 4 weeks, maybe, so don't delay - there is such a thing as too late, when it comes to blueberry peach pie, and other things.

Vegan Blueberry Peach Pie

12-ounce basket blueberries (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 medium peaches, peeled and thinly sliced (slice over a bowl so you don't lose the juice!)
4 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Double Crust Pie Dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (cold - keep it in the fridge or freezer)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening (I use the non-hydrogenated kind) or 1/2 cup shortening + 1/2 cup coconut oil, semi-solid
8 tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 400

To make crust:
Measure flour and salt into food processor and pulse several times to combine
Add 1/2 cup shortening in tablespoon-sized blobs and pulse 6 times. Add remaining 1/2 cup shortening in blobs and pulse another 6 times. There should be uneven, mostly pea-sized lumps in the mixture. Look it up.

Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and add ice cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, using a fork to gently blend. You want to add just enough water for the dough to come together, not a drop more. Sometimes I only end up using 7 tablespoons, sometimes I use the whole 8, you just have to pay attention.

Gather dough and knead quickly and lightly into a ball, divide the ball into two roughly equal halves, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to rest while you prepare the filling.

To make filling:
Gently combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

To assemble:
Roll out one of the dough balls into a circle between two sheets of parchment paper, peel off top layer of parchment and fit into a 9-inch pie pan.

Transfer filling to pie.

Roll out remaining pie dough and cover pie. Pinch edges together and shape edges. Cut slits for steam vents. Cover pie with aluminum foil.

Bake covered 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake approximately 10 minutes more, until fruit bubbles and crust is lightly brown.

Wait at least 2 hours to eat. So very, very much better the next day, if you can wait.