Confessions of a raspberry hoarder

When it comes to raspberries, I turn into a combination of a hoarder and the food police – at least when the harvest is scarce in mid-summer. It ticks me off when someone pops a handful of freshly picked raspberries in their mouth after I have spent so much time picking (needless to say, I am particular about letting someone else pick the raspberries in my garden).

I admit that sometimes, I even leave the raspberries in the garage and wait until I’m alone in the kitchen so I can spread them on a baking sheet and freeze them.  I keep hoarding until I have a couple of 1-gallon bags in the freezer to make cakes, pies and desserts when the children are home so everyone gets their equal share of raspberries. The addictive Raspberry Almond Vacherin from Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte is everybody’s declared favorite.

Now that I have reached my raspberry target for 2010 and I am still harvesting raspberries, I can finally relax! I used half of the two pints I picked today to make a custard pie just for my husband and me to splurge on.

One remark about shortening: Until I discovered the organic Jungle brand, shortening was a big no-no for me.  This is the only shortening I will use. It is non-hydrogenated and makes a great flaky pie crust.

Raspberry Pie with Crème Anglaise

Pie crust:

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3  cup (about 2½ ounces) shortening, at room temperature

¼ cup ice water

Crème anglaise:

¼ cup sugar

2 egg yolks

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat or whole milk

1½ teaspoons cornstarch

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling:

1 pint fresh raspberries

You also need:

A pastry blender

Wax paper

A 9-inch pie pan with removable rim

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. For the pie crust, mix flour, salt and shortening with a pastry blender until crumbly. Add water by tablespoons until the dough holds together in a ball. Blend briefly to get rid of any lumps.

3. Roll out the dough to an 11-inch circle between two sheets of wax paper. Remove the top layer of the wax paper and flip the wax paper over to fit the circle into a 9-inch fluted pie pan with removable rim. Carefully remove the wax paper. You might have do this by ripping off strips of paper in order to leave the dough intact (sorry, no recycling). Let the dough come up to the height of the rim. Trim the dough along the rim with a sharp knife.

4. Loosely line the crust with lightly greased aluminum foil (shiny side down) and fill with pie weights. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pie weights and the aluminum foil and bake for 10 to 13 more minutes, or until the crust has a golden brown color. Let cool on a wire rack.

5. For the crème anglaise, beat the sugar and the egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow. Cook with ¾ cup milk in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons milk and whisk into the mixture. Cook a few more minutes until it thickens. Make sure it doesn’t boil or the eggs will curdle.

6. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature, whisking a few times to prevent a skin from forming.

7. Whisk the crème anglaise, then spread it evenly on the cooled pie crust. If it is lumpy, strain through a sieve before spreading.

8. Set the raspberries into the custard and refrigerate until the custard has completely set and the pie is chilled, about 1 to 2 hours.

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