Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Your Letters: Seven Species Pie

Today, January 23rd, is America's "National Pie Day." Here, at the Mini Pie Revolution HQ, we appreciate any pie-themed celebration. And yet, we have to wonder: what's so nationalistic about pie? Pie types prove regional, but pie itself ignores cultural, geographical, and political boundaries.

To celebrate International pies, we're posting a letter and recipe sent to us by a reader in Israel. His letter proves what we at HQ have always believed - that world peace (and the end of dinner table discord) depends on every eater getting an equal piece of mini pie.

We were interested to note a great technique several of our participants used for our first event: that of rolling out the pie crust and placing it on flattened muffin tin liners!

"I used to bake a "once-a-year" Arbor day (In Hebrew callled TU-B'Shvat) cake and cut it into eatable portions. We all enjoyed consuming it, but I always experienced a few complaints, such as "I always get a smaller piece!" - "Why did you give me the corner piece?" - "She got more crust that I!" etc. So this year, I decided that everybody would get an equal portion, a miniature pie. Then I stumbled upon your web site. Though I don't do these things for prizes, I like to contribute where I can. Therefore, I'm attaching a recipe for mini pies made from all of the "seven species" mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, where it is said: "You shall eat bread where aught is lacking therefrom."

Humbly, Shmuel in Israel"

Seven Species Arbor Day (Mini) Pies
"A land of wheat and barley and grapes and figs and pomegranates, a land of olive-oil and honey (dates). A land where no food shall lack when eating bread where nothing is missing from it, a land whose stones are iron and from who's hills shall copper be mined." (Parshat Ekev Devarim 8 : 8-9)

4+ cups of flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
1/2 cup oil (be sure to add 1 T olive oil!)
1/3 cup dark beer (barley)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup pomegranate juice (or grenadine)
1/2 t allspice
a pinch of salt
Date jam or spread
18 - 20 figs
300 grams raisins
2 eggs, beaten
1/6 cup sugar mixed with 1 t cinnamon, for topping

The utensils include: measuring cups and spoons, a large bowl, flour sifter, rolling pin, spatula, wooden spoon, a small pan, a sharp knife, a muffin baking tin, cookie cutters, and cupcake liners (I used size number 3).

Some people don't like the fig seeds, so in order to accommodate their wishes I boil up the figs while making the dough. This softens them up, making much easier to slit them in half.

The dough is kneaded thoroughly, rolled out thin, cut out in circles, and spread over the bottom and sides of each cupcake liner A dollop of date spread is applied over the bottom layer of the dough.

By now, the figs are soft enough to slice open and scrape out the seeds. This is a time consuming part of the preparation, but the figs are soft (and though a bit messy) not difficult to de-seed.

Over the date spread, we place a few raisins then half a fig. A smaller circle of dough is now placed over the fig and pinched all around to join the bottom layer, sealing the fruit into the pie.

(Karyn adds that you might want to pierce the tops of the pies with forks at this point.)

Place the filled pies into the muffin tin, and sprinkle them with the cinnamon-sugar topping.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 180 C , (about 400 F) or until the crust begins to tan nicely.

Remove from the oven and Voila! You have bread "where nothing is missing from it."

If you increase the number of figs to thirty and roll the dough thinner, you can produce sixty mini-pies. No more complaints of "I didn't get and end-crust" or "Why do I always get the edge?" "She got a bigger piece," etc.. Now, all the portions are equal.


Carla said...

Happy pie day Ladies!! I too have posted pie loveliness today, though no recipes yet. Enjoy!

baking history said...

I am not in time to try this pies for this year, but I will treasure this recipe to make it for the next Tu-B'Shvat. Thanks to Shmuel for sending it and to you at the Headquarters for posting it!