We found that fruit pies pair particularly well with Curieux, our bourbon barrel-aged ale. So we solicited Sean Ellsworth, a native Mainer, graduate of Johnson & Wales culinary school, lover of rhubarb, and brewer here at Allagash to give a lesson in pie making. We hope you enjoy his recipe as much as we did!
The first step to making a pie is creating the dough. This is much easier than you may initially think, and while you can certainly use store-bought dough, it just tastes, and feels, better knowing you made it yourself.
The base recipe is a simple matter of ratios. A 3-2-1 dough is three parts flour, two parts fat, and one part liquid (all by weight). You have many options for fat. Butter is the most flavorful and delicious fat, while shortening or lard is known to give you the flakiest crust, but really doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor. Because of this, I like to use both together. Since we’re making a sweet fruit pie, I go heavier on the butter with a bit of shortening added in for textural benefit.
Curieux’s flavor notes of vanilla and coconut pair well with a pie’s mix of savory crust and sweet filling.
Keeping your fat cold is of utmost importance. The goal is get the fat to coat the flour, as opposed to hydrating it. This is what ensures that tender, flaky crust we’re looking for. You can work your cold fat into the flour (with a pinch of salt and a dash of sugar for this sweet pie dough) by hand, or more easily pulse them all together in a food processor. Once the fat and flour have combined to create pea-sized lumps, it’s time to add in ice-cold water. From there, all you need to do is a little kneading to make sure everything is uniform, then roll the dough into a ball, wrap it up, and keep it in the fridge until your filling is prepared.
One last rule of thumb: you need one ounce of dough for each inch of your pie pan. Be sure to double that for any pies that will need a top crust. Example:
9” pie pan required 9 ounces of dough.
There are 6 parts to our formula (3-2-1), therefore 9 ounces / 6 parts = 1.5 ounce/part.
4.5 oz. flour
3 oz. fat
1.5 oz. ice water
Remember to double this formula if you want to cover your pie.
Now for the filling. In this case I opted to do a mixed fruit pie. It is made up of half rhubarb, a quarter strawberries, and a quarter sweet cherries. Clean and cut the fruit in whatever way you prefer. Toss the fruit with enough sugar to give them a thin covering. This will not only sweeten the mixture, but begin to macerate the fruit. Feel free to include any additional seasonings you desire, like vanilla bean or peppercorn. A thickening agent can also be helpful depending on the filing. Flour, cornstarch, pectin, and tapioca are some of the most commonly used. I personally like tapioca for this sort of pie, it helps bind the extra water without imparting too much flavor or gumminess.
Sean’s pie contains a mix of rhubarb, strawberries, and sweet cherries.
Once the filling is made, it’s time to start rolling out the dough. If you are rolling out a top as well it’s a good idea to return the pie pan with the bottom layer to the refrigerator while you work.
Now it’s time to fill the pie. There will be a fair amount of liquid that has collected in the bottom of the fruit bowl, so use a slotted spoon in order to leave it behind.
Brush the top crust of your pie with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired. Place the pie pan on a sheet tray and place in an oven pre-heated to 375 degrees. The sheet tray will collect any liquid that may bubble out while the pie is cooking. After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 30-40 minutes. Once it looks golden brown and delicious, it’s time to pull it from the oven. After allowing it to cool a bit, dig in and enjoy!