Perhaps my penchant for maple-walnut delicacies is slightly preposterous. Like a wave on the sea that crashes the moment after it peaks, I fear my love for maple-walnut things should soon die. Sailing along is good and well, but only with your flavors in moderation, lest have day follow day without realizing you have made a great number of errors in your judgment…
As you can see, reading Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno has finally gotten to me! The flowery language is seeping into everything! Who knew that you could make one’s love of a flavor combination a metaphor involving sailing? I surely didn’t-I know positively nothing about sailing. Or at least I didn’t until I read Melville’s story about slaves who mutinied in 1799. The story reminded me of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, a book from 5th grade. Both are mysterious, and dark, right up until the end where the curtain is lifted and everything placed right in front of you, no more shadows and sidelong glances, just the facts. I actually really enjoyed Benito Cereno. The long descriptions brought you to a full understanding of what it was like to be Captain Delano-a man who’s generosity and optimism kept him from seeing the evil right in front of him.
I might say that the story relates metaphorically to my experiences with pecan pie ( this is my first time actually having a walnut pie). That I had lived unknowing the heights it can attain if prepared correctly. I had lived believing rock-hard, sickly sweet was the best pecan pie could ever be until the curtain was lifted with this recipe. Though I could say this, I won’t, because it wouldn’t be really true. In fact, though this pie is good, in fact, quite good, I think it could be a little better. Thus, my true experiences would be misconstrued had I devised such a metaphor. Evidently, my life in the kitchen isn’t as dramatic as those in Melville’s literary works.
But the pie was quite good. The maple flavor was nice, and it wasn’t rock-hard. The nuts, toasted beforehand, were rich to balance with the sweet maple syrup. And the crust actually wasn’t that bad for gluten-free. The only issue I had with this was that the custard wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked-kind of jelly-like. From notes I read on the development of the recipe in the book it seems this was because the filling wasn’t hot enough, so all I can say, is make sure your filling is at the right temperature before adding is to the very hot pie shell. That’s all I can think would be the reason; even so, the pie was still quite good.
Maple Walnut Pie with Gluten-free Piecrust
Serves 8, makes one, 9-inch pie
Filling Adapted from The New Best Recipe, and crust adapted from King Arthur Flour website
1 1/4 cups King Arthur gluten-free multi-purpose flour blend or:
6 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur stabilized brown rice flour; 2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) potato starch; and 1 cup (4 ounces) tapioca flour or tapioca starch. ~This is what is specified, but you could probably work out another blend.
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
1-3 Tablespoons cold water (if necessary)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk together dry ingredients. The recipe originally says that you should cut the butter up and then work it into the dry ingredients, which you could do with either your hands or a pastry blender. You can use a food processor, which I did, but you won’t get the big pieces of butter that really contribute to the flakiness of the crust. If working it in by hand, you should do this until it is crumbly, with some pea-sized chunks as well.
Then, whisk together the egg and vinegar, and using a rubber spatula, work it into the dough. Then add the water so that you can, with you hands forma cohesive dough. Shape this into a ball and flatten into a disk about 5 inches in diameter. Chill the disk for at least an hour or overnight.
When you need to roll it out, let it sit first at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Then, flour a piece of parchment paper well( it also says you can use saran wrap here, though that seems like it would be difficult. It also mentions using a pie bag, or a silicone rolling mat.), and lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll it out until the size to fit the pie plate (use a 9-inch pie plate), and invert it over.
Place pie in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. remove from the freezer and pace aluminum foil in the pan, and fill with pennies, beans, or pie weights. Cook for 20 minutes, and then remove pie weights. Cook until just starting to brown, about 5 minutes more.
Make sure to remove it from the oven right when the filling gets done.
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped into small pieces (Before toasting and chopping this will be about 2 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup maple syrup
4 Tablespoons salted butter
In a heat-proof bowl over simmering water, melt the butter. Remove the melted butter form the heat and stir in the sugar until absorbed. Then, add in the eggs, one at a time, and beating well after each one is added. Then, whisk in the maple syrup. Return the bowl to the simmering water, and whisk until the mixture is shiny, hot to the touch, and 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. ( I’m not sure if my mixture was quite hot enough here, so take care). Remove from the heat and add the walnuts. Add immediately to the hot pie shell. Cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil and place into an oven at 275 degrees. (You should have turned down the oven upon removal of the crust). Cook the pie for 50-60 minutes, or until the pie feels moderately firm when pressed. Once, removed, cool for 4 hours on a cooling rack. (do heed this, it eventually firms up)