Everyone thinks about the type of filling put in a pie, but hardly anyone considers flavoring the crust. Flavored pie crusts, such as this one based on walnuts, cinnamon and orange juice, are my latest inspiration. A flavored crust makes a better-tasting pie and is unusual enough to draw attention to the skill of the cook who made it.
The walnut-orange dough can be used for any nine-inch pie with a pierced or lattice crust. This summer, with raspberries at their height of popularity, nothing seems quite as tempting as a pie made from juicy, fresh raspberries. The berries are eminently compatible with the walnut flavoring in the dough, and since the crust is very sturdy, the pie is perfectly transportable to picnics or pot luck suppers.
In addition, the crust is rapidly mixed in the food processor once the nuts are finely ground into the flour. Even though walnuts are very oily, they can be ground to flour-like consistency by processing with other dry ingredients.
While grinding nuts, the processor simultaneously sifts together all the dry ingredients, including spices and brown sugar. This automatic sifting method is a good shortcut that eliminates tedious hand-sifting.
Although the recipe calls for frozen butter, the dough is so tender that it does need a brief period of refrigeration (about 20 minutes) before rolling.
Another key to continual success with pie crusts is to be sure that all-purpose unbleached flour is used in the recipe. This is my standard flour for most pastries because it is strong enough to make doughs easy to roll while producing a tender result.
Should you not have all-purpose unbleached flour on hand, you can substitute all-purpose bleached flour and begin by adding one-third cup orange juice to the dough. With either flour, remember that liquid is always mixed into pie doughs with half-second pulses and that as soon as the dough begins to mass together, processing stops. Do not let the machine run continuously after the liquid has been added.
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 pound frozen unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch or instant tapioca
2 tablespoons vodka, optional
2 pints fresh raspberries
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
Additional flour for rolling dough
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon milk
For dough, insert metal blade in dry processor. Add flour, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Process until nuts are ground to flour consistency. Add shortening and butter. Process until butter completely disappears. Mix 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup orange juice into dry ingredients with half-second pulses just until dough clumps. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 20 minutes.
For pie filling, mix granulated sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice and cornstarch in small saucepan. Stir until simmering, then simmer about 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl and stir in vodka. Add raspberries and mix gently to coat with liquid.
On lightly floured work surface, roll 2/3 of dough to 13-inch circle. Loosen from work surface and roll up on rolling pin. Unroll over 9-inch pie plate and trim to 1 inch beyond pan rim.
Sprinkle bread crumbs over bottom pie crust. Gently add raspberry mixture. On lightly floured work surface, roll remaining dough to 13-inch circle. Carefully loosen dough from work surface and brush off excess flour. Roll up on rolling pin, then unroll over pie.
With tip of sharp knife, begin at center of pie to make cut-out design of 6 ovals or diamonds in top pie crust. Remove pieces of dough as necessary for cut-outs. Crimp edge of crust. Brush top of crust and rim with egg yolk glaze.
Place pie plate on baking sheet. Bake on lowest rack of oven at 350 degrees 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until crust is golden. Cool to room temperature before slicing. Makes 6 servings.
Note: Bleached flour can be substituted for unbleached flour. Begin by adding 1/3 cup orange juice to dough.