Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vegan Cranberry-Pear Pie

I am having a very hard time deciding how I am going to organize the menu for the bakery. This makes sense, considering how anal I am. I just got a new wallet today, and deciding how to organize my stuff in it has been driving me nuts. There are too many different compartments, and I the stuff I have doesn't organize into the compartments properly. Frustration.

 Anyway, so I've been throwing around ideas for the bakery menu, and it's giving me trouble. Should I separate it by baked good type (breakfast, breads, desserts), or by specialized type of good (regular, vegan, gluten-free, vegan and gluten-free)? Should I only offer specific combinations of dessert, or offer different crusts/fillings/cakes/frostings etc. and for orders let people put together whatever they want? I could also just have a menu of desserts and specify what they were available in, whether it be vegan, gluten-free, both, or neither. I'm beginning to lean towards doing it by make-your-own, at least for the desserts, since there are so many specialized types of goods, and then I could make menu suggestions and then just bake whatever combination I wanted on whatever given day depending on how I felt.
Let me know what y'all would think, plz.
Anyway, here is my pear-cranberry pie with almond crust. The recipe I used actually had so much leftover filling that I made another open-face pie with an oat crust. Overall the feedback was pretty positive. People also thought the pear was actually apple at first, but most people figured it out after a few bites. I think next time I will add more cranberries and less pear, because while it was good, I felt it was bordering on apple-pie-like, and I'd prefer for it to have more of a punch than apple pie. The only criticism was that a crispier crust would have been good. I covered it with tin foil for the first two thirds of the baking time, so next time I'll lower that time or not do tinfoil all together.

The filling for the pie was fairly simple. I took 5 pears of various kinds (Bosc, D'Anjou, and Bartlett), then peeled and cored them (a very difficult task without a corer) and cut them into 1/4" cubes. To that I added 1 C. frozen cranberries, which I cut in half. I've read in some recipes that you can boil them until they pop, but since they were semi-frozen and kind of easy to cut in half, that's what I chose to do instead. Next time I think I will cut the pears down to three or four and up the cranberries to 1.5-2 cups.

I tossed the pears and cranberries with 2 T. cornstarch (essential to any pie filling), 1/2 C. sugar, 1/2 t. almond extract, 1 T. cinnamon, and 1/2 T. nutmeg. I was thinking of adding crystallized ginger chunks, which I think would be deliciously awesome, but I was too lazy to go to another grocery store (Whole Foods is the only damn place that carries it) just for that, so no ginger in this version. I set that business aside and let it stew while I threw together the crust.

For the crust, I took 1/2 C. toasted slivered almonds and pulsed them in the blender until it was a flour-like consistency with a few chunks (For the second crust I replaced the almonds with 1/4 steel-cut oats, but I think it was too much for the crust). I mixed it with 2 C. chilled flour and 1/2 t. salt. Then I sprinkled 6 T. cold sweetened rice milk and 1/2 C. canola oil and mixed it with a fork until it was crumbly. I think next time I might also add a little bit of sugar for sweetness. I separated the mix into two balls and flattened them into disks. I then placed the disks between wax paper and stuck it in the fridge for a half hour.
After that I removed the disks from the fridge and used a rolling pin to roll them out into roughly ten-inch circles. The hardest part was positioning them properly; since the crust was especially crumbly it didn't hold together very well. I managed to get one disk into the pan and neatly flatten it into a 9-inch pie pan.

I then eased the filling into the crust and had a hell of a time getting the second circle of dough over the filling without ruining it. I cut a few slits in the pie and covered it with tin foil.
After that I stuck the pie in the oven at 375 degrees for a half hour. I removed the foil and let it bake another 15 minutes. I let it cool for a little bit and...yum. This pie was vegan, but could easily be modified to be gluten-free, or neither.
Next up:
Vegan lemon gem cupcakes with raspberry filling

1 comment:

  1. i think you should organize within each category (breakfast, breads, pies, etc.), and then within each of those, have a few vegan options, a few gluten free and so on (don't do sub-sections, just have letter codes next to each one to denote special diets). maybe make non-menu combinations available only for special orders, placed in advance, with a minimum purchase amount.

    you should never offer EVERYthing to your customers. i think, based on the niche you're looking for, the more boutiquey you get, the better. so limiting yourself to in-season ingredients and constantly switching out items on the menu would probably appeal to your clientele.

    also you should buy fresh ginger then freeze some and crystallize the rest. or grow some. how do you grow ginger? i don't know. now i have to look it up and get some started 'cause, damn, i love me some ginger.

    also also you should have vegan soft serve. i lurves.