Tag Archives: fruit

Mixed-Berry Pie for Pi Day

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

Thanks to Pi Day, everyone in the food blogosphere gets an update on their elementary-school math: Pi, the the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is always the same number, approximately 3.14. An irrational number used to find the area of a circle, its digits go on forever, but the next two are 15, making this year’s Pi Day – 3/14/15 – even more special than any other year’s March 14.

What do food bloggers do for Pi Day? Make pies, of course. Shepherd’s pie, pumpkin pie, pizza pie – it’s all fair game. I decided to go with a traditional fruit pie. No ground-breaking interpretations of pie here.

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

Since I missed the last holiday I celebrated on my blog – National Banana Bread Day – by about a mile, I’m going to make this post short and sweet. I made my first pie of the year, a mixed berry recipe from Food Network, for my grandparents, who were visiting from South Dakota. The crust was a trusty Martha Stewart recipe that, I should note, is the only Martha Stewart recipe besides her apple-cheddar dog treats that has turned out well. (I love Martha Stewart – and I think most of her haters are just uncomfortable with a woman so unapologetically in power – but her website’s cookies tend to spread like pancakes and her macaroni and cheese to congeal in a puddle of grease.) I’d never made a lattice-top pie before, but thanks to the wonders of step-by-step guides on the Internet, it actually turned out pretty well. And the process wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d anticipated – about as easy as weaving those paper placemats kids make alongside memorizing the value of pi.

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

As cool as Pi Day is, I’m enough of a nerd to remember celebrating Mole Day – October 23, or 10/23 – in high school chemistry class. Mrs. Hogfoss, an institution at my Catholic school who probably taught some of my classmates’ parents, drilled Avogadro’s Constant – roughly 6.022 x 1023 – into our heads. For the sake of brevity, let’s just say it’s the number of particles (say, atoms or molecules) contained in one mole, a unit of measurement based on the number of atoms in 12 grams of pure carbon-12, the isotope of carbon with an atomic mass of 12. (Are your eyes still open? Good.) Chemistry and math geeks will probably point out a dozen – a baker’s dozen, for the sake of irony – in that definition, but it’s as good as the combination of my memories from high school and a little help from Wikipedia gets. At any rate, Mrs. Hogfoss celebrated October 23 by marching into the chemistry lab with a stuffed mole (actually a stuffed Oregon State University beaver with its tail lopped off) wearing a red cape with Avogadro’s number emblazoned on the back.

I would much rather celebrate Mole Day than Pi Day – it’s a lot more unique, for one, and I’ve never tried to make Mexican mole sauce. (OK, so the pronunciation is different . . . so sue me.) That, however, will have to wait until this fall. For now, pie is on the menu. Enjoy.

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

Mixed-Berry Pie


For the Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

1/4-1/2 cup ice water

For the Pie

2 cups blueberries

2 cups raspberries

2 cups strawberries

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 Tbs. butter


For the Crust

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the processor is running, slowly add the ice water through the feed tube until the dough comes together.

Remove dough from the food processor and divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the Pie

Preheat the oven to 350.

Roll one half of the chilled dough into a 9-inch circle and slide onto a pie plate, trimming the edges and folding them under. Crimp the edges by pinching the dough between your thumb and index finger.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and cinnamon.

Mix the berries together and sprinkle with the flour mixture, stirring the fruit or turning it with your hands until all the pieces are coated.

Mound the berries into the pie crust.

Roll out the second half of the chilled dough into a 9-inch circle and cut into strips approximately 3/4-inch wide. Weave your lattice-top (see this excellent guide from Simply Recipes for better instructions than I could ever write). Press the ends of the strips into the edges of the crust, then brush the top with melted butter or an egg whisked with 1 Tbs. water.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool. The pie will set as it cools; if you can resist digging in right away, you'll get a much firmer and less liquidy pie than the one in my photos.

Pie recipe adapted from Food Network . Crust recipe from Martha Stewart .


Quince Quick Bread

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

Have you ever eaten quince? Until very recently, I hadn’t. I had a vague notion of a quince as some sort of large fig that went into holiday pies . . . . but that was more a conflation of “quince” and “mince” than anything else. It turns out that quince is a staple of cheese platters – the local natural foods store sells blocks of quince paste in little plastic containers alongside the Stilton and Camembert – and is indeed used in pies, though not necessarily for the holidays. I got my first taste of quince from a friend who has her own quince tree and gave me a tiny can of the paste she’d made. (Appropriately, very thick quince paste is called “quince cheese.”) The fruit, which turns up in stores starting in October, looks like an acne-prone pear. It’s lumpy, bright yellow, and hard as a rock; this is not something you can eat raw, and for that reason, it’s something of a forgotten delicacy in the U.S. When cooked, the fruit softens and its acidic flavor mellows into something sweeter. It’s known for turning a rosy pink color when poached, when the tannins in its flesh release a red pigment called anthocyanin. (Fine Cooking helpfully explains the chemistry of quince, which sounds a bit like trees changing colors, here. FYI, cooking the quince in an aluminum pot, which reacts to tannic acid, deepens the pink color. Good to know, since my quince – ooh, a rhyme! – only turned a pale peach.)

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

I’m not big on cheese platters, so what was I planning to do with the quince? Bread. There were some gorgeous recipes for tarts and pies online – upside-down quince and honey spice cake – but I wanted something that I could bring to Kathie, the friend who introduced me to quince, for Christmas. So quick bread it was. Try to find a quince quick bread recipe, however, and even Google comes up empty-handed. (Well, almost empty-handed. Weirdcombinations.com does have a recipe for an almond-quince cake.) Since I was going to be poaching and mashing the quince into a paste anyway, I decided that tweaking a recipe for applesauce bread – of which the Internet has plenty – was the way to go.

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

Did it turn out? Yes and no. My mother thought it tasted “funny,” but Kathie liked it. And since that was the point, and because quince is supposedly something of an acquired taste, I called this recipe a success. The only thing that would have made it better would have been electric pink quince, which might have yielded pale pink bread. I’ve never been a fan of oddly colored breads or cakes – what exactly does that tablespoon of red food coloring add to red velvet cake except a fake-y element? – but this could have been an exception. Maybe next time.

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

Quince Quick Bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 1 loaf


For the Quince Puree

2 pounds quince (about 3 large)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

Large strip of lemon or orange peel

3 Star anise

1 whole cinnamon stick

For the Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups quince puree

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/2 plain yogurt

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

3 Tbs. rolled oats


For the Quince Puree

Peel quince with a vegetable peeler. Cut off four sides, avoiding the core.

Mix four cups water, sugar, honey, citrus peel, anise, and cinnamon in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil and slip the quince into the liquid.

Partially cover the suacepan with its lid. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes. Quince will be tender and will turn color, ranging from a pale yellow to a bright pink.

Drain liquid from saucepan and allow quince to cool. Mash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor.

Recipe from The Kitchn

For the Bread

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat together oil, egg, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and quince puree.

Mix dry ingredients into wet until just moistened. Spoon batter into a 9x5 loaf pan misted with cooking spray. Sprinkle rolled oats on the top.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center is removed without crumbs.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking