Monday, November 16, 2015

Chardonnay Winter Fruit Pie

I have been on a pie kick lately and wanted to make this creation from Ken Haedrich's superlative tome on all things pastry-encased, Pie. I tweaked the recipe just a bit, but it is a sophisticated and drunkenly delicious dessert no matter what you do. Imagine immersing winesaps, bartletts, and braeburns in white wine and sugar for an hour, simmering the wine to reduce it to a heady syrup, and then baking both wine and fruit in a tender crust, resulting in woozy spoonfuls of flaky dough, winter fruit, and buttery white wine reduction. Try it for yourself and wait for your neighbors to come knocking on the door clamoring for whatever you've got in the oven.

That layer of soup at the bottom is a puddle of Chardonnay goodness.

for one 9.5-inch deep dish pie pan

Flaky Mostly Butter Crust

I've been experimenting with crusts and decided to go with a 3/4 butter, 1/4 shortening crust for flavor, flakiness, and ease of rolling. The results were tasty and produced a delicate crumb. 


3 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks cold butter (12 Tbsp)
1/2 stick cold shortening (4 Tbsp)
1/2 cup ice-cold water 


Sift flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Slice the butter and shortening along the tablespoon markings on the wax paper and crumble them into the dough with your hands until the pieces are as the size of small peas. No wait, I'm sick of that comparison! The size of those pebbles that get into your shoe and annoy you, but not enough for you to take the shoe off and do something about it. The size of the camera window on your iPhone. The size of those Cheez-It bits you get at the bottom of the box that are too small to eat one by one but too big to ignore, so you pour them into your palm and stuff them into your mouth as quickly as possible. Much better!

This is where I take my little bowl of water that I put in the freezer five minutes ago out of the freezer and sprinkle it on the flour. There is some ice lining that bowl. Scrape it in as well. Mix everything together with your hands until you get a shaggy lump, adding a tiny bit more water as needed.

Divide the dough into two rounds, one slightly bigger than the other. Wrap in plastic and slide those frisbees into the refrigerator. Now break out the bottle opener or, if you're like me, ready your hand for the screw-top, because the wine is coming out!



4 large apples: a mix of varieties delicious for pies, such as winesap, jonagold, braeburn, etc.
3 large pears, preferably comice, bartlett, and/or bosc
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio (I used Concha y Toro Xplorador: $10 cheap!)
3 Tbsp cornstarch
zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces


Slice the apples and pears. No, don't peel them! The skin is good for you, it doesn't mar the flavor at all, it doesn't taste obnoxiously granola once baked for an hour, and who doesn't want those red color accents making the pie look as if it really is full of apples? Keep that crispy, yummy skin on and slice that fruit up as thinly as you can. Toss it all in a bowl.

Stir in the 1/3 cup of sugar, mix, then pour that cupful of wine into the bowl. Your fruit will gurgle happily.

Leave the fruit to luxuriate in its Chardonnay bath for an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Strain the liquid into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer at medium-high heat until you have about 2/3 a cup. (I kept measuring in my glass measuring cup, which seems to handle heat pretty well.) Be careful: if the liquid gets too hot and stays that way, you'll start to smell burning sugar. You want your wine happily toasty, not snapping at you.

Pour the reduced syrup over the fruit and mix well. Ohhhhhhh, that smells good.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining two Tbsp of sugar and the cornstarch. Stir the mixture into the apples and pears, then stir in the lemon zest, vanilla, and salt. 

Preheat the oven to 400.

It's time to pour your beautiful mess into a pie shell. But wait, where's the shell? Take the larger of the two dough disks out of the refrigerator. On a floured surface (I use a silicon mat), roll it into an even circle that looks to your spatially challenged eye as if it could cover the interior of your 9.5-inch pie pan.

This is the first time I tried this, but it worked like a charm. Place your silicon mat on a surface where it doesn't matter if it gets rained on by a little flour (not my tablecloth, alas). Place your pie pan top-down on the pie crust. With a confidence you may not really feel, flip pan and mat over. Gently prise the edges of the dough from the mat: voila! Your pan is filled. Nudge any overhang to the top edges of the pan to create a fancy edge for your crust. 

Pour the fruit mixture into the shell. Top with the two Tbsp of butter and place in the fridge.

Now, roll out the top crust. Once your spatially challenged eye has hazarded that it may cover the pie, take the pan out of the fridge and use the same technique as above to top the pie with the dough.

Does the dough cover the pie? Why yes, it does! Form a rustic edge with your fingers. You can crimp if you want; I used a fork to tame my voluptuous hillocks.

Slash the top of the pie with a knife a few times to create steam vents, or prick with a fork.

I then like to put the pie back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Colder is always better when it comes to pre-baked pie crust.

Line the bottom of your oven with foil, especially if you went overboard with the Chardonnay like I did.

Place the pie on the center rack and bake for 30 minutes.

Lower the heat to 375, rotate the pie, and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. The filling should be bubbling through the golden-brown crust.

Pull the pie from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before trying a slice. The book says to cool the pie for two hours, but you are not likely to do that: if you had that kind of willpower, you'd be baking broccoli! The pie will be runny when you cut into it, but slurping up the hot, winey filling will more than make up for any aesthetic discomfort, and anyway, more Chardonnay means a brighter post-baking glow.


  • I used bosc pears, but found them to be slightly watery and insipid. I'd go with a firmer, tarter green variety next time.
  • Next time, I think I would use 14 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp shortening for the crust, just to experiment. You could also try 8 Tbsp butter and 8 Tbsp shortening: you won't regret anything so long as you make your crust from scratch.
  • This pie needs no ice cream or whipped topping! The flavors are so good, you won't want to obscure them. This is a complex pie that needs to be savored on its own to be fully appreciated.


5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment