Today is my 3-year anniversary with the city of Portland. In honor of it I decided to make a hazelnut-coffee pie (because duh and duh). It turned out pretty good. Takes some getting used to — like my adopted home — but… pretty good.
Despite really wanting to leave Arizona, it took my a while to get used to living here. One thing that helped was the food and the culture around food here. Not the obnoxious everything has to be free-range and organically composted culture, but the care that people here put into things like food. It’s hard for me to explain, but coming from the land of the strip mall drive through, I really appreciated that extra special something.That’s the spirit I tried to put into this pie, even though by now I feel like I can almost do this in my sleep.
First things first, the crust. This is a single crust pie and I used my typical “extra flaky crust” ingredients — a cup of flour, half a cup of cornstarch, half a stick of cold butter, 5 tablespoons of cold vegetable shortening and 1/4 cup of water.
I mixed them together in this order: flour, cornstarch, butter, shortening, water. I always use my hands. You know you’re ready to add the water when the dough looks like this:
Make your dough into a disk, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for an hour. I’m convinced that you can tell if your dough is going to turn out well by the way it smells. It’s kind of hard to describe the “good dough” smell, but it’s faintly sour and well, dough-y smelling. After you’ve made crust more than half a dozen times you’ll start to smell what I mean.
After an hour roll it out, then transfer to your pie pan. I have a transfer to the pan technique that I think is awesome — basically just roll your crust out on wax paper then flip the paper over your pan, press in and peel back. Like so:
I’ve been really into pre-baking my crusts lately — helps me solve the problem of preventing doughy crust (ew!) without drying out the insides (also ew.) To pre-bake, I freeze the crust for 15 minutes, then bake it at 400 degrees for 20. For the first 12 minutes I cover it in foil and weigh it down with beans on top of the foil so that the pastry doesn’t puff up and get all funky.
This is an extra, totally optional step, but I think it really makes a huge difference — I hate when the bottom of a pie is soggy.
The insides of this pie were really simple: a cup of chopped hazelnuts, two tablespoons of ground coffee a quarter cup of brown sugar, a cup of agave and three eggs. Beat the eggs, the sugar, the agave and the coffee together. Then add the nuts. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before pouring it into the pastry shell and baking at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
As a side note: Chopping hazelnuts really SUCKS. It takes a billion years. I hated it more than pitting cherries for last week’s pie. I initially tried putting the nuts in the food processor but it turned them to dust which wasn’t going to work. If any one has chopping technique here that doesn’t suck, let me know.