Thursday, April 4, 2013

Very Easy Fruit Pie (Pineapple)


Very Easy Pineapple Pie
I (and by extension my children) do not come from a pie-baking tradition. My mother insists that we learned to bake pie from watching her bake her "famous blueberry" pies during the summers we spent in the Catskill mountains. It is true that she armed my sisters and me with empty milk containers that hung on strings around our neck and sent us off to pick blueberries. The blueberry patch was a clearning in the woods with what I would guess were several dozen blueberry bushes.  I have no idea if they were cultivated or how all of us knew the berries were there, but to us it was our  exciting opportunity to go berry picking.  When we returned with the berries I'm sure that we ate them with sour cream; however, I'm just as sure that my mother's blue berry pie, if there was any pie, came from a Daitch-Shopwell box (the Supermarket she shopped at while were in the "country").  

I never had pineapple pie as a kid, I learned to make fresh pineapple pie in Manila from an excellent self-taught baker named Dhadie. Her pie lives on in my limited pie-baking repertoire.  The pie made in this photo was baked in a prepared pie shell; I have made pie crust from scratch, it is definitely superior, but in a pinch a pie baked in a frozen-prepared crust is still superior to packaged fruit pie. (Sorry, Ma.) This entire project took less than 2 hours this evening and required only sporadic attention (it's always good to multi-task). 

Ingredients: 
1 pie crust (home made or a deep-dish style frozen prepared pie crust).  

1/2 fresh (large) pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped (4-5 cups of cut-up fruit)
1/2 c sugar (the lower calorie sugar blends work well, with minor affect on taste)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp corn starch (or another thickener if you have a preference),mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water 

Choreography:
Have all of the ingredients prepared and waiting.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Set the top shelf in the top third of the oven. 
1. Peel, core and chop the pineapple and pour into a heavy saucepan. The fruit will release some juice, you do not need to add liquid. 
2. Peel and chop the fresh ginger and add to the saucepan along with the cinnamon.
3. Mix and bring to a slow boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. While the fruit is simmering, "blind bake" the pie crust.  Blind bake means to place a weight (pie weights are available at many cooking sites including Williams-Sonoma and King Arthur Flour.  A low-cost substitute (the method I use) is to create small aluminum foil packets filled with dry rice.  Place the weights in the center of the pie, place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the weights. 

5. Turn your attention back to the simmering fruit. Lower the heat so that the fruit is barely simmering. Add the cold water to the corn starch, mix and pour into the hot fruit. Mix well, it will immediately begin to thicken the mixture. Pour the fruit into the partially baked crust.  

6. Return the filled crust to the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit looks a bit bubbly. Cool before slicing.  The pie will stay well for a day or two in the fridge, double wrap and freeze if you want to use it at another time. 

OPTIONS: This a a basic recipe that lends itself to a more elaborate presentation, if you choose. For example, you can cut strips of dough from another crust and form a lattice on top of the pie or add a crumb topping. My goal was at this time was to bake a basic dessert that would be served with coconut sorbet.