Since it’s just about pie season, I thought it would be a good time to review a cookbook that’s been on my to-do list for a while: Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented.
Bullock-Prado wrote the charming Sugar Baby last year, a cute ode to all things made of sugar. This time she’s doing a repeat performance with the wide world of pies. Bullock-Prado cheerfully embraces a generous definition of “pie”: to her, “anything with a crust that’s not a cake” is a pie. So her cookbook includes traditional flaky pie crust as well as French pate brisee tart crust, puff pastry, strudel dough, and pizza dough, and recipes for everything from two-crust pies to tarts, turnovers to napoleons, baklava to calzones. Pretty much anything with a crust!
I’m really happy that all the recipes give measurements in both weight and volume – the ingredient list in each recipe is laid out all nice and scientific-like. And Bullock-Prado give copious helpful advice in sidebars “from the sweetie pie”, reassuring nervous bakers about potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Now, there are quite a few tempting tart recipes in there, but tarts are my comfort zone, whereas pies are not, so I figured I’d be interesting instead of predictable and make some buttery, super pie dough.
The pie dough recipe is a pretty straightforward basic. Bullock-Prado offers both an all-butter version and a butter-and-lard version: she says the lard makes the dough easier to handle, but all-butter is flakier. I used all butter and found it perfectly workable, and baked up nicely delicate and melt-in-your-mouth. The pastry basics section of the book is really well done; I think the instructions are clear and approachable, and there are a plethora of hints and tips to perfect your pastry.
The filling I chose was blueberries in brown butter – an irresistible sounding combination. Although the recipes is called Blueberry Brown-Butter Tartlets, it uses the pie dough recipe and tucks it into individual tartlet tins. I had just picked up some really wonderful looking blueberries at the farmers’ market that looked like they were begging to be put in a pie. The blueberries are piled into the tartlet crusts and then covered in a fragrant brown butter, egg and sugar filling.
When baked, the tartlets give off the richest, buttery-nutty scent. The size of the tartlet tins she specified seemed a little deep – 2″ high. I actually only had 1 1/2″ deep tins, but I used them and they came out fine. You actually do want that many berries so their sweet-tartness comes through and isn’t overpowered by the filling. The final result is a fresh and summery fruit pie enhanced with caramelly butter notes to make it even more gooey and satisfying. Bullock-Prado notes that you can substitute any number of fruits in the recipe, such as peaches, apples, or cherries – this is versatile treatment that can easily take you from summer to fall.
Are you ready for pie?
- This recipe is adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado's Pie It Forward. I love the added intensity of the browned butter.
- 2 cups (250 g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-in pieces
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) ice water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (30 g) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
- 1 pint (340 g) blueberries
For the crust:
- Combine flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles small peas.
- Combine lemon juice and water together. Add a little at a time to the food processor and pulse to combine. Stop when the dough begins to come together - don't let it form into a solid ball, but if you press the dough together it should hold and not fall apart into pieces. You may not need all the - I used about half.
- Turn out dough and divide into two pieces, one twice as big as the other. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least half an hour until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take out larger piece of dough and roll out to about 1/4" thick. Cut out six 6-inch circles and line six 4-inch by 2-inch tall fluted tart tins. Dock bottom of dough (prick a few times with a fork) and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Take out the other piece of dough and roll out to about 24 inches long and 1/8" thick. Run a lattice cutter along the length of the dough. Carefully spread the lattice apart - if it's too soft, you may need to refrigerate the dough again to let it firm up a bit, but don't let it harden too much or it will be too stiff to pull apart. If you don't have a lattice cutter, you can always cut strips of dough and layer them over the top of the tart the old-fashioned way. Transfer lattice to a parchment lined sheet pan and refrigerate.
- Remove tart tins from refrigerator and line each one with some parchment paper. Fill with pie weights.
- Bake crusts for about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside. Leave the oven on.
For the filling:
- Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Sift flour over the mixture and carefully fold in.
- Place butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking until butter has browned. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Pour browned butter into egg mixture and whisk to combine.
- Divide blueberries among the tart tins. Pour the butter mixture over the berries until they are just covered.
- Remove lattice from refrigerator and cut into six pieces, each large enough to cover the top of the tart. Place each piece over the tart and press down the edges onto the crust.
- Bake tarts for 25 to minutes, until the top crust is browned and filling is bubbly.