I didn’t calculate something into my pie baking adventure equation….the giant muggy, overwhelming heat that we’d experience this week before I put in any of my air conditioners. Baking pie gave way to cold sandwiches and ordering pizza so as to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible.
However, this opportunity gave me lots of time to think of new pies. People love touting the tastes that make the place they live in special. Around here, we’re always bragging about our salt potatoes, or Dinosaur BBQ (which originated in Syracuse), or apple cider.
What would a Syracuse Pie taste like? Salty or sweet? An orange creamsicle pie? A Hoffman’s Hot Dog Quiche?
My Syracuse Pie Challenge
I am challenging YOU my readers to a flavor challenge.
What would a Syracuse Pie taste like?
What ingredients might it have?
Post your ideas in the comments. You could be the start of Syracuse pie fame!
I will collect the entries, bake them, and put the best ones up on the blog. There could even be a taste testing session for those who “bleed orange” (it’s a Syracuse thing *wink*).
If you’re not familiar with Syracuse, but have a regional pie flavor of your own, leave a comment to tell me what it is!
*Entries must be recieved by June 10th to be considered for the Syracuse Pie Challenge
Flash back to when I was a little kid, spending every summer at my Grandmother’s house. Grandma had a pool, a giant farm to adventure on, and a whole room full of toys we loved to play with. My little brother and I would wake up every morning just waiting for the moment our mother would let us race to Grandma’s house on our bikes.
Grandma employed us during the summer to pull weeds from around the tomato plants (for a quarter a bushel…we were rich!), pick zucchini and squash, and carry bundles of dill to the truck to go to market. We were treated to hot dogs and ice cream cones and popsicles after (what felt like) a long day of work, and then a dip in the pool. Farm life was good.
I can see my Grandma in her kitchen, wearing one of her colorful homemade aprons and always smelling of sugar and butter. One of her specialties was a rhubarb cake. A vanilla cake, almost sponge like, with a layer of sugared rhubarb and a meringue top. It was heaven on a plate. The sweet, the tart; nothing could beat it. And I’d wait all year for it.
I have been anxiously awaiting this pie blog entry. My grandmother and her fostering my love of rhubarb is the whole reason I started baking pies. The rhubarb growing in my backyard came from my Grandma’s farm. On a scale of difficulty the pie isn’t very hard to make, but sentimentally it is huge.
This pie is an homage to my childhood and to the most important pie lady: my grandmother. I love you.
Grandma’s Rhubarb Pie
1 single crust
4 ½ cups rhubarb cut into ½" pieces
1 ½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup flour
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup butter cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out bottom crust and place in pie pan. Blind bake crust for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Combine rhubarb, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Beat eggs with vanilla in seperate bowl. Stir egg mixture into the rhubarb. Pour into bottom crust.
Stir together flour and sugar for crumb topping. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over pie.
Bake in 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 30 minutes more. Rotate pie halfway through so that the side of the pie facing the back of the oven is now facing the front. Cool completely before serving.
Spring is finally here in Syracuse. The sun is shining, the trees and flowers are in bloom and everyone is rejoicing so much that it almost makes you forget about that 7 months of misery that winter can sometimes bring. Don’t get me wrong…snow is gorgeous the first month you have it. It’s even lovely all the way through the holidays. Then it goes from bad to worse, but if you can hold out, you’re then rewarded with some really great weather and scenery.
As days get warmer we maximize every waking second of that sky filled with Vitamin D. Schedules seem to get busier and calendars fill up with birthday parties and baby showers and weddings. Some of my favorite moments are the ones filled with silence. Sitting in the house or even on my porch as the sun sets with a sweet breeze, curled up reading a good book.
When the sun sets and the heat of the day begins to cool, take some time to relax and snuggle into pillows of flaky crust and the warm filling of a homemade chicken pot pie.
Well, Tamale Pie is what this entry would have been. Apparently since I am only half Mexican, this pie only came out half good. Hah!
Above you can see the ingredients…Red chili sauce, which was surprisingly easy and delicious once I found this recipe to take inspiration from. Pork butt (Which I learned isn’t actually THAT butt, but a butt of meat from the shoulder! What can I say, I’m literal sometimes.) that has been slow cooked for 4 hours with garlic, onion and chili powder, then shredded…YUM. Finally, the masa (dough) is made from harina de maiz. That’s where the hard part came in.
Traditionally, tamales are assembled as follows: stir the red sauce into the meat, spread masa into a corn husk that has been soaked overnight, spoon a little meat into the middle and wrap the tamale into a cute little package. Then the cute little packages get steamed to cooked perfection.*
With my tamale pie, I wanted to recreate the same dough. However, even with extra moisture in the masa, baking just made it crumbly and still gritty. Back to the drawing board. I will conquer this tamale pie!
Have any of my readers worked with traditional masa before? Any suggestions on how to get the steamed effect in my pie? Help! ¡Ayudame!
*Tamal Trivia: Tamales were often served by female soldiers (later named “soldaderas” in the Mexican revolution) as a portable food in times of war.