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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bambi's Apricot Pie with Amaretto


This pie is really a tribute to my grandmother, whom we called Bambi.  Bambi, you say?  Story goes that my oldest brother, Chris, couldn't pronounce "grandma," so somehow 'Bambi' stuck.  It was always cool to have a grandmother with this very unique name.  

Bambi was legend just like this pie has proved to be.  

My uncle used to talk about "Mama's cot pie."  He mentioned once that he thought that Bambi cooked the apricots before placing them in the crust.  I've seen a few old-fashioned pie recipes that call for cooking the apricots in a cornstarch-thickened sugar mixture.  Kinda like the same filling used in lemon meringue pie.  

With that bit of baking 'hint' I knew I could use my strawberry rhubarb pie as a basis for this Apricot Pie with Amaretto.  So easy.

I wasn't sure which type of booze to add to the filling...Initially, I had thought about brandy.  But, apricots and almonds just seem to go so well together.  And, this time it's a hit!  

I think it's fitting, too, that these apricots are from an orchard adjacent to Bambi's property in Esparto, California.  Manas Ranch is located in Esparto, a very small town where my parents were born and raised.  I have many, many fond memories of spending time with Bambi in Esparto.  We'd stop by this orchard, right next to Bambi's almond orchard, pick some cots and drive around Capay Valley eating cots and chucking the pits out the car window.  

Probably the best parts of spending time with Bambi were listening to all the family stories and adventures she had, starting first with her experiences at the speakeasies in Sacramento as well as her teaching me to drive when I was 14.  Pretty cool when you can drive at 14, pass the local sheriff and not get pulled over.

That's what you do in the country.

I know you'll love this fresh and easy pie.  The amaretto really does add a nice depth to the filling.  I also used amaretto in the crust this time with great results.  


I hope you have a chance to make this pie.  For me, enjoying a sweet and silky piece of this memorable pie is truly like coming home.

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Step-by-Step

Get your cots ready.   If your fruit is very ripe or if you're cutting the apricots in quarters, increase corn starch to 5 tbp and Amaretto to 4 tbsp.

In the saucepan, combine water, sugar, salt, corn syrup and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.

Combine cornstarch and Amaretto.  

Add this to the sugar mixture and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.  Let cool.

Add the slightly cooled sugar mixture to the apricot halves and gently toss to combine.

To make the crust, follow the directions for my crust in this recipe.  This time, chill the amaretto and alternate the booze and ice water.  I've made a lot of pie crusts with various types of booze and I've found that chilling the booze and alternating the 2 types of liquid really does give a great final texture to the baked crust.  Always chill your dough completely before rolling out.  I've even started placing the dough is the freezer for an initial shock chill.

To assemble the pie, remove one disc from the refrigerator.  On a well-floured surface, roll out one disc to 12 inches for a 9 1/2 inch pie pan.  Carefully transfer the dough to the pie plate.  Pour the apricot filling into the crust and dot with 2 tbsp butter cut into pieces. 

Note: I've started placing my pie dish in the freezer before I roll out the bottom crust with great results!

Roll the second disc into an 11 inch circle and transfer to the top of the pie.  Pinch the edges together, trim and cut 3 vents in the top to release steam.  Transfer the pie to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

This time I tried to make a top with cut outs using a scalloped round biscuit cutter.  I tried to make a few leaves.  Although I like the different pattern, I think this pie may do better with a solid crust.

Brush the top of the pie with the milk or cream and sprinkle the sugar on top.  Place a crust shield or foil over crust edges.   I used an egg wash on mine.  I liked the shiny finish, but I think cream and sugar are the best.  

Bake as directed.  And, yes, you have to bake this pie at 375 after the initial higher temperature time.  Any lower and your filling will not set.  You can also bake at 400F for the entire baking time.  Be careful as the edges may brown too much.   

Cool on a rack until you can’t stand it anymore. 

Bambi's Apricot Pie with Amaretto
Makes one 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie

Ingredients for Apricot Filling
5-6 cups fresh apricot halves (wash and pit apricots)*
1 cup water
1 pinch salt
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp Amaretto
2 tbsp butter, small cube
2 crust Amaretto pie shells ** (or use your favorite pie crust recipe)
Cream or milk and sugar (white or raw) for the top

Directions for filling
1. Wash the apricots and remove the pits.  Place the apricot halves in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar, salt, corn syrup and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
3. Combine cornstarch and Amaretto and blend thoroughly.  Add this to the sugar mixture and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.  Let cool for 5 minutes.
4. Add the slightly cooled sugar mixture to the apricot halves and gently toss to combine.

Assemble the Pie
1. Remove one pie dough disc from the refrigerator.  On a well-floured surface, roll out one disc to 12 inches for a 9 1/2 inch pie pan.  Carefully transfer the dough to the pie plate.  
2. Pour the apricot filling into the crust and dot with the butter. 
3. Roll the second disc into an 11 inch circle and transfer to the top of the pie.  Pinch the edges together, trim any excess to 1/2 inch and crimp as you like.  Cut 3 vents in the top to release steam.
4. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  The idea here is to chill down the filling so that the crust and the filling are about the same temp. 
5. Preheat oven to 425 F.  Remove the well chilled pie from the refrigerator and brush the top of the pie with the cream and sprinkle the sugar on top.  Place a crust shield or foil over crust edges. 
6. Bake for 20 minutes and reduce the temperature to 375 F.  Bake for 40-45 minutes more, until the crust is brown and you see bubbles of filling coming through the vents. 
7. Cool on a rack until you can’t stand it anymore.  Best set after 4 hours.  Enjoy!

* For more ripe fruit or if cutting the apricots in quarters, increase corn starch to 5 tbp and Amaretto to 4 tbsp.


** Recipe for Amaretto Pie Crust
Makes one double crust pie

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
6 tbsp shortening, chilled and cubed
4 tbsp Amaretto, chilled (divided)
4-5 tbsp ice water (divided)

Directions
1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut in cold butter and shortening with a pastry blender.  Work quickly until the mixture is combined and the butter and shortening are about the size of peas.
3. Sprinkle in 2 tbsp Amaretto and gently toss.  Sprinkle in 2 tbsp ice water and toss.  Working quickly, sprinkle in the remaining Amaretto and ice water, alternating and gently tossing.  Add more ice water as needed, in 1 tbsp increments.
4. Add enough ice water until the dough just comes together.  Divide the dough in half and form into 2 flat discs (about 6” in diameter).
5. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour until ready to assemble the pie.


I enjoyed my first piece for breakfast the next day with a scoop of Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato.

I think Bambi would approve.

Ellen


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8 comments:

  1. I loooove amaretto. Anything with that, especially pie, is good for me!

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  2. Amaretto is perfect with apricots and these pie looks wonderful. I guess I don't feel so badly that my grands call me Mimi...it could be worse to explain, XOXO

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    Replies
    1. I know, I was thinking brandy, but the Amaretto is so subtle and a nice combo of flavors/does not compete. Really adds a lot of depth. And, I love your grands' name for you, Mimi! Something very special...lv, me

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  3. I am not the biggest fan of apricots but I bet I would love this pie!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Leah! You could totally switch our the apricots for some other stone fruit. Or, frozen berries (about 1 lb). I've made this pie with frozen boysenberries for years. :)

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  4. I love any pie that involves stone fruit--this looks great! And I love that you called your G-ma Bambi.

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  5. For some reason I just never got into apricots. And lately, I'm trying to figure out why. They are delicious, especially in some of the desserts I've been tasting at restaurants recently. I think I'm going to need to try this pie :)

    ReplyDelete

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