Personal Pan Pie-zzas

I’ve more or less been on vacation for almost a week. When I say vacation, I mean, like literally, I have no obligations work or family or friends, and I am as free as my wallet will allow, which is a strange feeling. 

In typical fashion, I am unable to actually rest, so I have been cleaning, crocheting, comforting Eric, who just turned 40 and is attempting to uphold his promise to quit smoking once and for all. 

Also, we traveled up north which was gorgeous and rugged and otherworldly. It reminded me why the Scandinavians moved here in the first place. It’s home. 

Pine and birch forests cut into jagged sheer rock face. It’s brutal. It’s gorgeous. 

I never want to live in a place where I can’t be close to my lakes. Superior makes me feel at home. It reminds me that I am not so far from the motherland. 

The drive up is so invigorating, and at this point I know what to expect. I know at a certain point we will spot signs for Betty’s pies, I will want pie, Eric will express his indifference about pie, I will spot that first swath of smooth rock in the median, then the climb before the breathtaking reveal of Superior. The first time we saw it it took our breath, almost literally. The same thing happened when we spotted ocean heading into Halifax in Nova Scotia. Something happens to you when you are deprived of something for that long, and then it is suddenly revealed to you in such a dramatic fashion. Now we brace for it like its a roller coaster. “Is this it!?… This is it!” 

By the time we were on our way home and I passed the sign for Betty’s Pies again, I knew that I needed to find a way to make Eric less indifferent to pie. This was quite rich coming from a person who can’t make a pie crust to save her life. I know it’s illogical, it’s my one fault…😂

I decided to make a rustic blackberry frangipane tart. I made a flakey pie crust by cutting 7 T of ice cold butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces into 2 1/2 C of flour with 1 t of salt. I cut it with two really janky spatulas, becuase I don’t own a pastry cutter, and it worked fine because I know how to improvise, until it was gravely textured. Then I added just enough ice water (like 7 TBS) to bring it all together. I divied it all up into 8 pieces, and flattened them and wrapped them and tossed them in the fridge. I set aside 4 in the freezer for later. Nobody needs 8 tarts at once unless they are a person with like, what? Friends?

I made the frangipane by mixing 1/4 C of butter, 1/2 C of sugar, creamed that in the mixer, added 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean and a fat pinch of salt. I added 2 eggs one at a time and whipped them in until fluffy. Then I added 2 T of flour and 1 C of almond flour. I whipped it in and threw that in a pastry bag.
I sliced all my blackberries (2 pints) in halves. I drizzled some tasty honey over them, a tiny pinch of salt, and some flour just to coat. 

I allowed each bundle of dough to warm up enough until it was pliable enough to not crack and rolled each out on flour. I piped a 1/4 inch thin spiral on each round and then layered the berries on top in concentric circles. I hoped and prayed as I folded in my first gold then my second all the way to the last. Very few cracks. Success!!!! I egg washed the outside and sprinkled liberally with sugar. I pitched the whole mess in the oven at 370ish and baked for about 40 minutes rotating half way through. I’m rather pleased. 

But not quite as pleased as I was sitting this close to certain death and even certainter majesty. 

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About iliketocookthings

I was born and raised in West Michigan in a small suburban/farming community called Lowell. I grew up cooking. My family has always been centered around the kitchen. Growing up I tended to cook a lot of Italian-American food, seeing as how I am a whopping 25% Sicilian. When I got into high school I got really into Asian cuisine. I went to college at Central Michigan University, and quickly became homesick and insecure about my areas of study (Spanish and Art). I decided to return to the motherland and begin Culinary School after 2.5 years of moderate success in traditional college. Culinary school was a fun experience, and I learned a lot, but I didn't really fit the profile of my fellow classmates. When finished, I moved to Chicago to explore carreer options. My first place of employment outside of Michigan was Green Zebra, where I learned a lot, but quickly learned that I wasn't cut out for the cooks lifestyle. I stuck it out though, and continued working at both of Shawn McClain's restaurants, for about a year and a half. I now work for Whole Foods, and while it is a corporate environment, three of the biggest perks are access to ingredients, the employee discount, and the 8 hour days that allow me time to do what I really want. I am most happy when cooking in my own kitchen for people that I love. I now live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with my husband Eric and my cat child Fergus. View all posts by iliketocookthings

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