21 July 2013

Slab Pie & Homemade Ice Cream


This household's affinity for pie-making has been well-documented, we've made crumble and cream pies, infinite chess pies in my family's tradition and chocolate and mango and everything in between. Our pies, however, have always been made in a pie pan, as would seem obvious. Sure, there are hand-pies, and weird people who stack pies, and then there's Martha Stewart's slab pie, but I've always sort of ignored them. However, this year when I was planning a 4th of July meal that was as traditional as you could get (burgers, from scratch baked beans made with homemade BBQ sauce, potato salad with homemade mayo - okay fine it wasn't so traditional, I put sumac in my potato salad!). Anyway, this slab pie kept popping up in my internets and just screaming 4th of July at me. Maybe it's those interminable flag cakes and colored jello but rectangular desserts just seem so American holiday to me.

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So slab pie it was, to be filled with the last of our local strawberries and cherries. And no pie is complete without homemade ice cream, especially on the 4th. This ice cream is a super simple mix of some common local ingredients (creme fraiche and honey), and all you have to do is whirl it in a blender, chill it, and freeze. The honey not only is a healthier sweetener but keeps the ice cream from freezing too hard in the freezer.

Making a slab pie is a breeze, you just roll out two squares of dough, pile in some fruit, and crimp the edges together. Unlike a triangular wedge of pie, you don't have to worry so much that the filling will be soupy and runny, plus you get a higher crust-to-fruit ratio, which is a definite plus. I used Martha's pate brisee recipe and honestly, it's not my favorite. I think it can be a bit too soft and difficult to work with, so feel free to use your favorite dough recipe if you prefer. The slab pie is very easy to serve and the ice cream is a snap, I think they may become a summer tradition!


Strawberry Cherry Slab Pie
Adapted from Food52 and Martha Stewart. You can use any combination of berries you like but we thought the strawberry-cherry combo (about 2/3 strawberries to 1/3 cherries) was really perfect. Don't forget to sprinkle the sugar on top before baking, it gives the crust a nice crunch!

6 to 7 cups mixed cherries and berries, a mix of berries of your choice
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling over crust
1/4 cup (4 tbl) cornstarch
juice of half a lemon
pinch salt
for the dough: 
4 cups all purpose flour 
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons sugar
24 tablespoons (.75 pounds) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water 
equipment: jelly roll pan or a 10x15 inch rimmed baking sheet

 1. Make the dough: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, sugar. Add butter. Process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream just until dough comes together. (Do not process more than 30 seconds.) Divide dough into two, pat into discs, wrap and refrigerate until ready to make pie.
2. Make the pie: Preheat oven to 375 F. Take out the dough to soften slightly. Grease a jelly roll pan.
3. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl, stirring to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, working on a well-floured surface roll the two dough rounds out into large rectangles, slightly larger then your baking pan (about 13x18). If desired, cut out shapes from the top dough piece. Fit one dough sheet into the bottom of the jelly roll pan. Scoop the fruit into the baking dish, leaving behind any juice that has accumulated in the bowl. Lay the top dough sheet over the top and trim the dough so that it just fits inside the baking sheet. Flip the edges of the bottom crust over top the top crust and pinch together. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of sugar over the crust.
5. Place the jelly roll pan onto a flat baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake for 45-55 minutes, rotating the pan front to back about halfway through, until the top is nicely browned and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Creme-Fraiche and Honey Ice Cream
16 ounces creme fraiche
1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or the seeds scraped form 1 vanilla bean
1 cup honey

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender. Chill the mixture until very cold, at least 2 hours in the fridge.
2. Process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer to a container and store in the freezer until ready to serve. Take out about 20 minutes before serving to allow to soften.

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