Although we had enough food in our cupboards and refrigerator to carry us through the weekend, I braved the grocery store. The parking lots were full and the check-out lines were long, because of the panic brought on by the predicted snow storm. Their rush to buy toilet paper and groceries seemed silly to me until I remembered that a lot of people would rather order a pizza, get Chinese take-out, or run through a drive-thu than keep ingredients for cooking on hand. If you were that type of person and faced the prospect of not being able to get to one of these places or to have something delivered to you, you might just panic and start filling a cart with emergency supplies.
So, why was I there if my cupboard was not bare? Last Sunday we had been invited to Sunday dinner and were given the privilege of bringing dessert. I had baked a second batch of mini chocolate almond bundt cakes, but they had turned out more dense than the first ones, because I had used a different type of flour. Our host wasn’t intentionally criticizing when he used the adjective, “bready”, but he was right. On my last grocery shopping trip I had invested in a bag of bread flour and had run out of enough all-purpose flour for the cake.
We were invited to different couple’s house for this Sunday dinner, and again asked to bring dessert. I decided to make a fruit tart or a pie and knew that bread flour wasn’t going to work. Hence, the need to brave the grocery store and purchase a bag of flour.
When you’ve got electricity, heat, and water, being “stuck” inside because the wind is howling and the snow is swirling outside, isn’t so bad. We had our upstairs neighbors down for brunch, then, afterward I started to work on my dessert.
Pie crust isn’t my strength, but I had seen a recipe for something slightly different in the cookbook, Baking With Julia. The ingredients included almonds and sesame seeds as well as wheat flour. I hadn’t found affordable sesame seeds on my grocery store run, so I dared replace them with a bit more ground almonds. As a precaution, I made a sort of baker’s dozen and used pie crust scraps to make a mini tart. I didn’t have extra blueberry-apricot filling, but at least I could get a general idea of whether or not the texture would work.
I spread the smaller tart with fig jam, and added a layer of thinly sliced apples. Just a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar topped it off. The bigger crust was filled with 2 cans of drained blueberries and 2 small cans of drained apricot halves. I dissolved cornstarch in a bit of the juice I had drained off the canned fruit, added some sugar and poured it into the crust. The cornstach did a lovely job of holding the fruit in place when the pie was sliced.
When both were baked, we sampled the small tart with our afternoon coffee. The crust was neither flaky nor delicate, but the flavor was interesting if only because the almond and cinnamon weren’t expected. We really liked the apple-fig filling.
The crust wasn’t so hard that you wouldn’t be able to eat it, so we decided to go ahead and take the big pie with us and hope that the juicy filling would have softened things up without giving a “soggy bottom”.
One of the guests liked it well enough to say it was probably the best blueberry pie he had ever eaten (you never know whether to believe them or not, and it is probably better just to accept a compliment rather than analyze these things too much). The host couple split a second piece after eating one each of their own.