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by Heather Harris Brady

I came up with this recipe when I was trying to get around using a pie glaze with artificial red dye. I try to avoid the artificial dyes whenever I can, and I was thinking of all the naturally red things I’d made when I hit upon hibiscus punch. The dried flowers give off a beautiful red color and a nice faint floral note that accents the strawberries.

If you have trouble finding the dried flowers in your grocery store any Mexican/latino market should have them. I included a rhubarb cream layer at the bottom of this pie, but if you want to make it entirely with strawberries you can. This is a refrigerator pie, so it’s great for the hot days when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

Strawberry-Hibiscus Pie, Makes one 9″ pie

One crumb pie crust (storebought or made with vanilla wafers)

  • For the bottom layer:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 c. diced rhubarb
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin, soaked in 1/4 c. cold water
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 c. dried hibiscus flowers (also called Jamaica flowers)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 quarts fresh local strawberries, cleaned and sliced in half

Make the hibiscus water: Combine the flowers and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then set aside to steep for an hour.

Strain the flowers out with a fine strainer. Reserve 1/3 c. of the water and set it all aside.

Combine the 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar in a saucepan. Poach your rhubarb pieces over medium heat.

When they are just tender (about 8-10 minutes), take them off the heat.

Add the hibiscus water you reserved earlier, for color, and the soaked gelatin. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat the cream to soft peaks, then beat in the cream cheese.

Fold in the rhubarb mixture…

…and turn it all into the pie shell. Refrigerate until the bottom layer is set (at least an hour).

When you’re ready to finish the pie stir one package of unflavored gelatin into 1/2 c. of the hibiscus water. Heat just until it’s dissolved and stir it back into the rest.

Put your hibiscus glaze into the refrigerator until it’s barely started to set.

Arrange your sliced strawberries over the bottom. I start with one layer and then start tucking them in from there.

Spoon the hibiscus glaze over the top. I did one layer of glaze, let it set in the refrigerator, and then touched it up with a second layer.

Refrigerate until the glaze is set and serve.

This pie keeps nicely in the refrigerator for up to four days.


Four years ago: Seeded Crackers
Three years ago: Strawberry Sorbet
Two years ago: Sopapillas
One year ago:  Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding


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by Heather Harris Brady

It’s hard sending a child to college, it’s harder still when they come home down two jean sizes! So part of the reason I don’t post as much lately is simply that I spend a lot of time baking and mailing. While I do bake a lot of my son’s favorites to send, I do try to mix in surprises – like these apple pie bars. Apple pie is one of his favorite desserts, but it’s hard to deal with in a dorm room with a tiny fridge and no place to wash up.

Given that, I tried to pack all the pie goodness in these individual servings that he can take out of the freezer as need arises. I started with a base from my chocolate oatmeal bars and took it from there. You could have these as-is, or you could fancy them up by plating them and topping each one with a scoop of ice cream.

Apple Pie Bars, Makes about 16 2.5″ servings

For the bars:
2½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. light brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oats
5 c. peeled and sliced baking apples

For the glaze:
1 t. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. water

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl and mix well.

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Beat in the eggs.

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Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.

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Reserve a cup of the mixture, press the rest into a greased baking sheet (mine’s about 14″ square).

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You’ll have to flour your hands, the dough’s quite sticky. Put the sheet into the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges start to lightly brown.

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While the crust is baking, heat two tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. When the butter’s melted add the apple slices.

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Saute over medium heat until the apples are just barely tender.

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Reduce the oven to 375. Spread the sauteed apples over the hot crust and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Then dot the top with the rest of the reserved crust mixture.

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Return the sheet to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, until the streusel is brown.

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Cut into squares while still warm.

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When the bars are cool stir up the glaze (just stir all the ingredients together) and drizzle it over the top.

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Once the glaze has set you can package them (for college shipping!) or store them in an airtight container. I would put them in the refrigerator to keep longer than two days.

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by Heather Harris Brady

Guess who! I know, right? It’s been crazy, but I’ve come out on the other side of two graduation parties for my son and lots of other parties for graduating friends and family. I made most of the boy’s party food myself (with help from the aunts!), and I may get around to posting come menus and quantities. But not today my friends. Because today, while it’s still rhubarb season, you have to try this pie.

It is, in real life, the crazy red of the photo. It’s also crazy-good, and I’m not even that much of a pie person. There’s strawberries, raspberries and then a rhubarb filling holding it all together. It’s also no-bake, so if it’s hot where you are and you don’t have air conditioning either – you’re welcome!

I made this one with sugarfree raspberry gelatin, but you could sub in unflavored gelatin if you like. The redder your rhubarb the prettier the filling. If you have a dad in your life that loves pie, this would be a good choice (hint, hint).

Rhuberry Pie, Makes one 9″ deep dish pie

  • 3 c. diced rhubarb (1″ dice)
  • 1-1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 box of sugar-free raspberry gelatin, or one packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh sliced strawberries
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh raspberries, washed and picked over
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust (9″ deep dish) (or sub in a GF crumb crust)
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan.

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Simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until the rhubarb is just barely tender. Take out some of the liquid (about 1/2 c.) and stir the gelatin into it.

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Remove it from the heat.

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Fold the dissolved gelatin, strawberries and raspberries back in. Let it sit for a few minutes so the fresh berries can poach a tiny bit. Reserve 1/2 c. of the liquid. Put the rest of the filling in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, until it just starts to thicken.

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Pile the cooled filling into the pie shell. Cover the pie lightly and return it to the refrigerator to set completely. You can cut it in a couple hours, but if you can let it sit overnight you’ll get the cleanest slices.

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Beat the cream to soft peaks, then beat in the reserved liquid. It will stabilize the cream and turn it a lovely pink.

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Refrigerate the cream (covered) until you’re ready to serve the pie.

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Serve each slice cold with a dollop of cream. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Three years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
Two years ago: Michigan Fruit Pie
One year ago: English Muffins


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by Heather Harris Brady

This pie was something of a revelation for me, because I decided to apply my “browned butter makes everything better” theory. And you know what? So far, browned butter does make everything better.

In this case, I used it in the crumb crust. Normally I find crust a little ho-hum, to be honest, but with the browned butter the crust became one with the pie and it was amazing!

Butterscotch Banana Cream Pie, Makes one 8″ pie

Crust:

  • 1 pkg. vanilla wafer cookies
  • 5 T. butter
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar

Filling:

  • 2-1/2 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 large banana

Put the cookies and the sugar in the food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Set aside.

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Put the 5 T. butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until brown:

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Spread the cookie crumbs in your pie dish and mix in the browned butter.

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Pat the crumbs around the dish in an even layer and put the crust in the refrigerator.

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Combine the cornstarch and brown sugar.

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Put the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.

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Whisk in the cornstarch and sugar mixture, cook until thickened.

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Beat the egg yolks in a bowl, stir in some of the hot filling, and return it all to the pan. Whisk quickly until it comes back to boil and remove it from the heat. Stir in the 1 T. butter and the vanilla.

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Slice the banana over the crust.

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Then cover it with the filling.

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I saved a few crumbs for the top.

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The pie will cut into neater slices if you can refrigerate it overnight, and the flavors have time to blend that way too. To serve top it with fresh banana slices and a dollop of whipped cream.

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Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.


Three years ago: Preserved Lemons
Two years ago: Soft Buttered Pretzel Bites
One year ago: Skinny Brownies


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by Heather Harris Brady

Apples are just starting to come to market here, one of my favorite times of the year, when the Macintosh are still tart and snowy white under their snappy red skins. So when I saw a mention in Bon Appetit of an apple pie with pre-roasted apples, I had to give it a try, if only because the person requesting the recipe said it was the best apple pie he’d ever had. That is not a statement to take lightly.

I used a combination of gingergolds and a few Paula Reds here, as my preferred combo of Northern Spies and Galas are not quite ready. I did use their technique of pre-roasting, and combined it with my preferred crust and topping. I like most fruit pies best with streusel on top, so the crunchy oatmeal topping can contrast with the soft fruit underneath. This technique would work with most tree fruits, if you prefer something other than apple. You do have to start with flavorful apples, because even roasting isn’t even to compensate for insipid taste.

Roasted Apple Pie, Makes one 9″ pie

  • One recipe pie crust (under Basics, above)
  • One recipe 1-2-3-4 streusel (under Basics, above)
  • One 5-lb bag of baking apples, preferably mixed varieties
  • One mixing bowl of water with 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 3 T. butter

Preheat the oven to 375. Wash, peel and slice the apples into the acidulated water.

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When you’re finished drain the apples. Toss them with the 1/2 c. sugar and 1/3 c. flour.

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Spread them out on a baking pan in one layer. Slide them into the oven and roast them until they are just tender.

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Scoop the roasted apples into a dish, with any juice. Stir in the brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon.

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Cool the filling for an hour in the refrigerator.

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Line your pie dish with the crust and fill it with the cold apples.

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Top it with streusel.

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Bake for about 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

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You can serve this warm, and it will be slightly runny.

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Nice with vanilla ice cream.

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However, the verdict from my in-house pie experts was that this pie was best the second day, thoroughly cold. At that point it started to approach “best pie ever” territory. If you want to test it against my original fresh apple pie recipe, here’s the link.


Three years ago: Zucchini Streusel Teacakes
Two years ago: Cheese Burek
One year ago: Fresh Blackberry Rolled Cobbler

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by Heather Harris Brady

This pie happened and things got ugly at our house. When the last few slices got divvied up a riot practically broke out. And it all started innocently enough, when my son when to Chicago on a field trip and brought me back this from the Ghirardelli store:

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Which was nice. So I thought I’d pass on the wealth and make something for everyone to share. If you decide to do the same a word of advice – make sure the slices are even! This would be easy to adapt to gluten free with GF crumbs for the crust and GF cornstarch.

Chocolate Raspberry Cream Pie, Makes one 9″ pie

  • One graham cracker pie shell
  • One raspberry chocolate bar (this isn’t a sponsored post, use whatever kind you want!)
  • 2 c. half and half
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. dark cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla or Chambord
  • Fresh raspberries & white chocolate for garnish

I’m not doing a complete step-by-step here because we’ve done pastry cream lots of times. (Here’s a step by step if you want it.) Put the half and half in a saucepan over medium heat. Combine the sugar, cocoa and cornstarch well, whisk them in. Stir continuously as the cream thickens. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add half of the hot cream. Stir, and return it to the pan, whisking constantly. Break up the chocolate bar and whisk it in as it melts.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flavoring. It should look like this:

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Pour the cream into the pie shell.

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Garnish with the berries and white chocolate. Chill thoroughly before serving.

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It will cut in neater slices if you make it a day ahead.

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Two years ago: Macarons, French Pastry Week
One year ago: Fresh Rhubarb Cake with Cardamom Syrup

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by Heather Harris Brady

Since Saturday was PI day (3.14.15) and I live in a house with a bunch of math geeks/pie lovers pie there was no choice, pie had to manifest. The fresh fruit this time of year is somewhat expensive and questionable, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about the tricks of making pie with frozen fruit. Quick pie. Pie when you do not have the time to defrost because dinner is imminent. Pie when you want to clean out the freezer to get ready for spring.

Here I used a cup of small wild blueberries, about three cups of Montmorency cherries and one cup of raspberries – all individually quick-frozen last summer. Because you can’t tell with frozen fruit how much juice the berries will give off, things get tricky. So you guess at the start and then cheat if you have to later on.

I started this pie off in the oven without its topping. About halfway through the baking I checked to see if my initial guess was correct. Here I could have added in some cornstarch or tapioca flour, but I didn’t need to as you will see.

Mixed Berry Pie (with frozen berries), Makes one 9″ deep dish pie

  • 5 c. mixed berries of your choice, all individually quick-frozen
  • One unbaked deep dish pie shell (my recipe is above under Basics)
  • 2 c. streusel (my recipe is above under Basics)
  • 1-1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. small tapioca
  • 1 t. cinnamon

Mix the sugar, tapioca and berries together in a bowl. Let stand for about 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375.

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Fill the pie shell with the berries evenly.

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After 25-30 minutes, take the pie out of the oven. The berries should be giving off their juices and while it should be a bit watery (because the tapioca is starting to do its job) the berries should not be completely submerged.

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If you have too much juice at this point you can gently stir in some more cornstarch or tapioca flour mixed with cold water. Then proceed to cover the pie with the streusel.

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Return the pie to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes, until the streusel is nicely brown.

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The pie will thicken as it cools. I left it to cool at room temperature. Here it is six hours later.

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Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream.

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Two years ago: Cream Scones
One year ago: Key Lime Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

We had some colds in the house over the past few days so major comfort food was in order. We’ve done apple pie, so I was looking for a twist on that idea when I found this. It was just what the chef-doctor ordered. In Dorie Greenspan’s Baking cookbook, one of my go-to’s, it’s called Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie. With its sugar-cookie style crust in place of the traditional pie crust, it bakes up into a cuddly cakey-pie. I like to use a blend of apples in pies, here I used Ginger Gold and Macintosh fresh from the local farm market. Ms. Greenspan recommends making the dough ahead of time. I made mine one day ahead. I think you could get away with a quick chill in the freezer for a few hours if you’re pressed for time.

Apple Pie Babushka, Makes one deep dish 9″ pie

One stick of unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
One large egg
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T. lemon juice
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour plus additional as needed
5 medium apples
1/4 c. sugar
1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 T. flour

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg, then the baking powder and salt.

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Add half the flour, the lemon juice and then the rest of the flour.

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Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Flour a work surface WELL, and break off about two-thirds of the dough.

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Roll it out and fit it into your pie pan. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour on the counter. I did.

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Pat it even if need be. Put it in the refrigerator while you do the apples.

Peel and slice the apples, toss them with the cinnamon, sugar and flour.

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Pile them into the crust. I try to arrange them so they are dense, minimizing any large gaps.

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Roll out the remaining dough and cover the pie. It will be thin and there will probably be holes but again, that’s okay! Just bake it for about 65 minutes, until the apples are tender all the way through.

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See? The holes in the top make it pretty!

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Serve warm or cool. It should slice neatly.

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Store leftovers in the refrigerator, lightly covered.

One year ago: Peach Melba Pie, with a Lattice Crust

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by Heather Harris Brady

This was our dessert for Sunday family dinner, a request from darling daughter. For my readers around the world, Boston cream pie is a bit of a misnomer in that it’s not a pie at all – it’s a yellow cake with cream pie filling and a chocolate glaze – sort of like an eclair in cake form. It’s also the official dessert of the great state of Massachusetts. It’s been around a long time, it showed up on a Boston hotel menu in 1879.

You can make the filling and glaze ahead, or while the cake is baking, as time allows. I’m not giving a step-by-step for the filling, since I’ve covered that multiple times. (If you want to review the method search coconut cream pie or chocolate pudding.) I prefer splitting one layer, because I like a larger ratio of filling to cake, but you can double the cake batter if you want two full layers with the filling in between.

Boston Cream Pie, Makes one 8″ “pie”, eight generous servings

Cake

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1-2/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. milk

Vanilla pastry cream (filling)

  • 2 c. rich milk (you can use half and half too)
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. butter

Chocolate ganache (glaze)

  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Make the cake batter:

Cream the butter and the sugar together well, beat in the eggs one at a time.

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Beat in the vanilla, baking powder and 1/2 of the flour. Beat in the milk and then beat in the rest of the flour. You should have a thick, creamy batter.

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Line an 8″ cake pan with parchment and grease. Spread the batter into the pan.

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Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch.

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Turn onto a rack and cover it with a tea towel. Let it cool completely.

To make the filling:

Heat the milk over medium. Combine the cornstarch and sugar, whisk into the milk. Stir constantly until thickened. Beat the eggs well in a bowl. Stir in a large spoonful of the thickened milk into the eggs, stir, and then add the eggs into the pan on the stove. Cook for another two minutes until bubbly and thick. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and butter. Pour into a dish, cover with plastic wrap and cool completely in the fridge.

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To make the glaze:

Warm the cream in a pan over medium heat. Add the chips. Stir constantly until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

To assemble:

Turn the cake onto your serving dish and split the layer in half with a sharp knife.

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If you go around the edges first, then through the middle you can avoid some of the raggedy edges (don’t be like me).

Spoon the cold filling onto the split layer.

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Put the top back on and glaze it.

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Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before serving. Dipping a knife in cold water will help give you clean slices.

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Keep the cake cold and store any leftovers in the refrigerator. The cake will keep, refrigerated for two or three days, but it never lasts that long at our house!
One year ago: Fresh Blueberry Pancakes

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by Heather Harris Brady

I’ve been on something of a pie binge lately, between the fresh fruit on the shelves and the great pie place we passed while in the UP (twice). When we walked into the Three Seasons Cafe outside Manistique I told the DH, “Save room for pie, these ladies look like they know pie.” He said they would probably take that as a compliment, which I would hope, because it’s some of the highest words of praise I know. Where I come from, if you have a hand with a pie you have immortality.

When my first container of gooseberries came my way recently I was pretty excited.

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They were really tart, and I decided to turn them into a pie for no better reason than it sounded like something from a Beatrix Potter story – gooseberry, gooseberry, gooseberry PIE! I combined them with raspberries and streusel, then turned it into a crust. You could totally skip the crust though, and make it up as a crumble/crisp instead. In retrospect I think some diced dryish apples would be a good addition, to help soak up all the ample juice.

Gooseberry-Raspberry Pie, Makes one 9″ deep dish pie

  • 2 c. fresh gooseberries
  • 2 pts. fresh raspberries
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3 T. quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • One recipe pie crust (under Basics page, above)
  • One recipe streusel (under Basics page, above)

Slice a handful of the gooseberries in half and combine all the fruit. Toss it with the sugar, tapioca and cornstarch. Preheat the oven to 375.

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Line a pie pan with the crust and fill it with the fruit.

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Mix up the streusel and cover the fruit. Put the pie in the oven to bake for 40 minutes.

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If the streusel browns too fast, move the pie to the bottom rack and turn the heat down to 350. When the juice is bubbling around the edges take it out.

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While I first served this pie warm I thought it was actually better after it got cold. So it’s up to you. The filling will continue to thicken in the refrigerator. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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One year ago: Moroccan Style Semolina Flatbread

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