Bon Appétit (August 2009)
When we saw this Peach and Cardamom Pie while leafing through magazines earlier this month, we immediately knew that we'd be making it. After having a cardamom flavored dessert this summer at Chez Panisse, we've been dying to give the spice a whirl ourselves.
Plus, we were eager to try out the concept of a "top crust" pie. A new spice and a new technique? Sign us up! And because that wasn't enough, we also tried our hand at making a homemade cardamom ice cream to accompany the pie.
Let's see how it went.
In the August issue of Bon Appétit, the magazine unveils a new technique from its test kitchen: the Top Crust Pie. Billed as an "easier, prettier top crust," the technique is designed to save the cook the time of rolling out and placing a bottom pie crust.
To accomplish this, a basic pie dough is rolled out and then cut into rounds using a cookie cutter or a biscuit cutter. The rounds are then layered on top of the pie filling in an overlapping fashion, creating a nice design on top of the pie.
The technique itself is easy, though not significantly easier than rolling a top and bottom layer pie crust. Though you're making a top crust, you're still rolling a pie crust, which only takes a few minutes, and if you've made the mess of rolling one, why not just roll two?
The resulting look of the pie crust is undeniably beautiful, though we did run into a few small hitches while doing ours. Chiefly, as you can see (left), we ran short on dough, perhaps because we didn't roll our dough thin enough. So there were small gaps between our crusts in places.
The second issue we had was in the serving of the pie. A top crust pie is extremely difficult to get out of the pan looking like an actual piece of pie. Instead, we ended up with something looking more akin to a cobbler.
Regardless of the crust, we were crazy about the peach and cardamom combination. The two flavors play well off one another, though the cardamom was definitely subtle in the pie (only 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom is used).
To accompany the pie and bring the cardamom flavors more fully into our dessert, we made a Cardamom-Vanilla Ice Cream, using David Lebovitz's guidelines from the Fine Cooking that we wrote about earlier this summer. Cardamom isn't one of the suggested flavors from Lebovitz's guide, but using his great technique for creating our own flavors, we experimented by infusing our cream with a vanilla bean, its seeds, and one and one-half tablespoons of coarsely chopped whole cardamom pods. We bought ours at Whole Foods.
It's difficult for us to describe the taste of the cardamom in the ice cream. It brings a very fragrant and aromatic flavor, with hints of lemon or almost lavender. We absolutely loved the flavor though, and we look forward to playing with more Middle Eastern and Indian flavors in ice creams. Paired with the pie for some cardamom-on-cardamon action, it was a spectacular ice cream.
Next time, we'll probably skip the top crust and go for a regular pie crust. After all, if it ain't broke ...
Ingredients -- Crust
* 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 3 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Ingredients -- Filling
* 2 1/2 pounds firm but ripe peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, sliced 1/2 inch thick
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
* 1 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar*
* Honey Yogurt
* 2 1/2- to 3-inch heart-shaped or scalloped cookie cutter
Preparation -- Crust
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons ice water; process using on/off turns until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead briefly just until dough comes together, 4 to 5 turns. Flatten dough into disk; wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer dough round to prepared baking sheet and chill 20 minutes. Using 2 1/2- to 3-inch heart-shaped or scalloped cookie cutter, cut out shapes from dough, spacing close together (leave cutouts on baking sheet). If necessary, remove dough scraps, reroll, and cut out additional shapes for total of about 20. Chill on sheet while preparing filling.
Preparation -- Filling
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Place peach slices in medium bowl. Add sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cardamom and toss to coat. Transfer peach filling to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Carefully arrange cutouts atop filling in slightly overlapping concentric circles, starting at edge and working toward center, covering filling completely. Brush crust with beaten egg, then sprinkle with raw sugar.
Place pie on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden brown, peaches are tender, and juices are bubbling thickly at edges, about 45 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool at least 30 minutes. Spoon warm or room-temperature pie into bowls. Serve with Honey Yogurt.
Cardamom-Vanilla Ice Cream
Inspired by Fine Cooking's Create Your Own Ice Cream Guide
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Yields about 1 quart
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cardamom pods
5 large egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the split vanilla bean and its seeds and cardamom pods. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavor.
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175˚ to 180˚F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the split vanilla bean and its seeds and cardamom pods in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavor as possible.
Cool the custard to below 70˚F by stirring it over the ice bath.
Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.