Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple, Cranberry, Pear and Fig Pie with Crunchy Almond Topping (And Some Instant Gratification Knitting)

I know there's been this whole "fruit-for-dessert" thing here for several posts (mixed in with real life drama). I really don't have any explanation for this fruit obsession other than to say, it's what I've wanted. The Husband mentioned that it might be nice to throw in a chocolate dessert--then added, You'll have an apple pie for Thanksgiving. . . you always do. And just who does he imagine will be baking said pie? I mean, I'm not one to complain about my baking tasks. In fact rarely do I complain of being shackled to the kitchen. (Shackled might be too strong.) But the time of year being what it is: dark and more dark, sometimes my mood sways to things outside of the kitchen domain. I am sure I could handle juggling my cookie cravings next (oh there will be cookies) a chocolate dessert AND an apple pie all before Thursday. I know I can. My kitchen is my sanctuary. It has helped me cope during all of this "stuff" we've had to manage through. And are still managing through. 

When I'd settled on the next fruit dessert I wanted to try, I pulled out from my disaster-zone-baking-storage-cabinet an old ten-inch springform pan covered in stains, fingerprints and streaks of burned residue. It was my mother's. Leftover from her kitchen. It's funny to remember her this way--this baking way--so close to Thanksgiving. Her last years were not spent in the kitchen. At least not as much as she'd have liked. It would be hard to tell when exactly this pan was last used. I called my sister and told her what I'd found. Memories were shared.Then I got to baking my dessert.


With thirty or so days remaining until the official start of winter (my favorite season) and with Thanksgiving this week (yes, we are ready--it's an easy holiday for vegans), the kitchen beckons. Of course it does.

We've nibbled our way through this dessert for a week. I finished the last of it by myself last night. It was as good (maybe even better) than the first day. You can take almost any fruit you have on hand and work it into this dish. Apples could make an appearance. Or they should. And you can certainly play with the amounts of each fruit, which is what I did when I adapted the recipe. It comes from a wonderful little book entitled, Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. I've not found a single thing in this collection that I won't be trying. It's not a huge baking book, but it's full of insanely delicious treats. If you feel pear, cranberry and fig are all you need in your pie--so be it. Use any pie crust recipe you'd like. Though I will add that an all butter crust seemed to have done a nice job. When you bake the pie, bake it on the bottom third of the oven. That way the crust will have a better crumb. More sturdy. 
For the crumb topping--use 3/4 cup of flour (I used a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose), 3/4 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves, and about a 3/4 cup of almonds with 7 tablespoons of vegan butter. Pulse a few times in the food processor until a nice crumb forms.  
Like I said, any pie dough will work here. Just be sure to cover the entire bottom of the pie pan, plus come up the sides of the pan about an inch. If it falls apart, as they all invariably do with me, just piece it back together. 
A bowl of your favorite fruit totaling five cups will suffice. You can see how the fruit sets in the ten-inch pan. Not completely all the way to the top of the pan sides, but just so. Be sure to toss the fruit with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, some freshly ground nutmeg and a teaspoon of ground ginger. Then add 1/2 cup of brown or white sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and the juice of half a lemon plus 2 tablespoons of corn starch and a pinch of salt. Toss everything together really well. If you don't have any lemons on hand, an orange will work. 
Spread your crumb filling over the top. Before I popped this into the oven, I decided I wanted a layer of oats over my crust, too. They were the perfect addition--takes it up a notch in the Healthy Department. Bake on a cookie sheet for about 70 minutes at 375.
Mmmmm. 
So I needed an instant gratification knit. This hat was my answer. Two evenings. Just knitting in garter stitch. Some decreases for the top. Super easy. Even better. . . no hat head.
The yarn is so soft. I used Classic Elite Ariosa. It's the yarn suggested in the book. My LYS had some on hand. That made my yarn-decision-making-task much easier. Better yet. I had an old brooch i.e., "vintage" once belonging to my grandmother. She'd love this hat.
From the book, The Best of Knitscene by Lisa Shroyer. I love this little book.
In another book, and on a completely unrelated venture, I decided I needed this lacy vest this winter. It will come in handy during daily doses of hot flashing. This pattern is from the book, New England Knits by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre. There is not a pattern in the book I wouldn't love to knit up. So adorable. So wearable. And better yet--knit in chunky wool for both speed and ease on the eyes. 
I'm working on this vest using Bernat's Roving. And in case you're wondering, yes, I AM working my selfish knitting in between my Christmas gift knitting. And yes, I DID decide on knitting one in the exact same color as the pattern . . . again. I Raveled both projects here and here.

So if I don't make it back into this space before the holiday, I hope everyone has a lovely time doing whatever you've planned doing. Meantime, we'll be partaking in a very relaxed, movie-watching, PJ-wearing day giving a ton of thanks for all we have. 









4 comments:

  1. Mmmm, the dish looks delicious. I love fruit crisps-y things. I don't wear hats because of hat head, so I'm glad to see this one. It's very pretty! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

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  2. Thank you Bonnie! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, too!

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  3. Great looking pie! Chocolate is always good, but I love fruit desserts. For one thing, they are so easy to adapt to whatever you happen to have on hand (or feel like eating). Plus they're not too sweet. Don't get me wrong, I love sweet things, but my fav desserts are those that don't give me a sugar rush. Good stuff - thanks.

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  4. Hi KR--Thanks! I agree with you, especially here lately. The pendulum swings the way of the fruit here lately for sure!

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