last week, i checked my campus email for the first time in months. i haven’t been taking classes this semester but am graduating in may…it’s official, it seems! a month-old email was waiting in my inbox that said so much. may 9th: gold star day. admittedly, though, i’ve been looking for a reason to celebrate! this works for me!
the geese have returned. saw this the season’s first robin last week and one of my best friends had daffodils poking out of the earth that was recently snow-covered. a few days ago, crocus burst from the ground in my neighborhood. all of these things are signs of spring. indy (as do many college towns, i’m guessing) has one particular sign that heralds the end of the cold season: porch-sitting students drinking beers and wearing way-too-early-for-that-short-shorts and last season’s worn-out flip-flops. they hang off the porches late into the night. warmed with alcohol, they don’t seem to notice that the weather really probably calls for sweaters. this weekend, it was clear: spring is in the air!
to welcome the new season to town, i invited some friends to come and enjoy my porch at an impromptu-ish B.Y.O. Meat & Booze party. i supplied mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, corn (for the pickier eaters among my guests), and my first attempt at a mango pie. we had quite a turnout on such short notice–nine in total, ten counting liam (a delightful young crumb-snatcher!)
i have been trying to figure out what kind of pie to try making next. The Bear and i walked through the grocery stores trying to come up with something. i was bagging up a bunch of pretty pears when i eyed the four-for-$5 deal on mangoes and noted that this has been the special for awhile now. are mangoes in season? is that a good price? aside from knowing i enjoy mangoes, i don’t know too much about them. could i make a mango pie? yes, it turns out: i can.
i went home and searched the internet for mango pie recipes. i found a ton. some were for creme pies (i admit, i am not a fan of ’em.) others were for shallow tarts. i wanted something with mango heft. after my research, i found this recipe–but have made quite a few adjustments based on the other recipes i found. i think i ended up with a pretty good hybrid!
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 stick butter, chilled
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup ice-cold water
- 1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoons unbleached flour, toasted
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare pie crust by mixing together flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Cut butter and shortening into small chunks and add to the dry ingredients. Mix with a pastry blender or 2 forks until the mixture holds together in small crumbs. Sprinkle ice water over mixture and cut until the mixture holds together in balls. Gather it up, pressing it together and then divide into 2 even parts. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll out half dough and fit into 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Weight and bake bottom crust until golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and flour and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
- 5 cups (4 or 5 large) mangoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch slices
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 2 tablespoons flour (or more depending on how wet mixture is)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
- 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
- Whipped cream or ice cream, for garnish
Mix together mango slices, sugar, extract, spices, flour, zest and lemon or lime juice and pour into baked crust. Mixture should be moist but not wet. Roll out the other half of dough and fit over the pie. Crimp edges. Brush with egg and water wash. Cut vents in top and bake pie 45 to 50 minutes until crust is golden and filling is tender when fork is inserted.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
my notes on the crust:
- i purchased unsalted almonds and crystallized ginger from the organic section of my grocery store. a pretty large container of the ginger cost about four dollars. i’m sure there are other ways i’ll be using it but i’m not sure if this was a good price or not. before putting the almonds in the food processor, i toasted about a cup and a half of them on a cookie sheet for about five minutes in a warm oven. i added some crystallized ginger with the cooled nuts in the food processor and pulsed the two together until i had finely chopped nuts.
- in my research, i found a lot of recipes that called for crystallized ginger and very few called for lemon or lemon zest. i decided to get a little creative and replaced the lemon zest in the crust with about two teaspoons of powdered ginger.
- other than replacing the lemon zest, i pretty much followed the instructions on mixing the crust, chilling the crust for about four hours (this was an on-the-whim thing and i didn’t prepare the crust a night ahead as usual but four hours did the trick!) this is not my regular pie crust recipe but i’ve been curious about experimenting with other
recipes so this was a first try. i did partially bake the bottom crust with my dry bean pie weights nestled in foil holding down the crust. i pressed about a half-cup of the almond/ginger mix in to the bottom (rather than the instructed ‘sprinkle’) and baked a little bit longer. because this recipe called for a top crust, i was concerned about over-baking so i didn’t give the crust quite the amount of time called for. i did use the egg white method that haedrich suggests (as listed in my previous crust blog.) i allowed the crust to partially cool before putting in the filling mixture.
- as for the unbleached flour called for after the almonds? omitted completely.
- the crust itself was really delicate and didn’t get as flaky as i usually hope but i liked it nonetheless. do plan on rolling the crust out really thin with these measurements. if you’re still getting the hang of rolling out your crust, i suggest making the recipe + one half to leave yourself a little wiggle room. if you don’t want to experiment with making a fancy top-crust (as described below) you can instead roll out the extra dough, slap it on an un-greased cookie sheet and eat it with some fresh fruit or, like my dad likes to, some jelly, jam, or preserves for breakfast. yum much?
my notes on the filling (and top-crust):
to begin, when i went to the grocery store to pick up my ingredients, i was going with the idea of picking out four or six pretty mangoes and winging it on some spices. most of the recipes i saw weren’t very specific about what kind of mangoes they required–as is also the case with this particular recipe. other than saying
to use ‘large’ ones, it doesn’t offer much help on the matter. sorted through forums and recipe comments and found that greener mangoes are more tart and firm, pinkish or reddish mangoes are more ripe, more soft, and, i surmise, would probably make for a really soggy soupy pie. i opted for about four large firm (not hard) mostly green mangoes and two of the pinker mangoes (to add a little sweetness to balance the tart and a just a little liquid so it wouldn’t be too dry. i’m speculating here with no formal training, mind you…but i think haedrich’s advice about mixing apples probably carries to lots of fruit: get a variety so you’re not reliant on just one flavor. mix it up. (that’s the gist of it, anyway.)
- once again, i traded lemon zest for some more powdered ginger. also added a little bit of nutmeg for good measure–the nutmeg/cinnamon/ginger combination is one of my favorites. had i some, i may have added a bit of cardamom. (note to self: get some at the amish store on the next trip!)
- i mixed the remaining almond/ginger mixture in with the fruit.
- allow the fruit mix to sit a little (while that bottom crust cools a bit.)
the sugar will, as with most fruit, pull out a lot of liquid (kind of like with strawberry shortcake, you know?) with a large spoon, gently mix the fruit up now and then to be sure the spices are well-integrated.
- when the bottom crust has mostly cooled, roll out the top crust and quarter to have ready to put on top of that fruit (personal preference to just get the pie covered and in the oven!)
- use your hands to pile the sliced fruit in the pie crust, letting much of the liquid drain. i used about six mangoes but probably could have put in even more. strain the remaining nut/ginger mixture out of the liquid and throw away the remaining liquid.
- i did use the full amount of flour in the mix to help thicken the liquid in
the pie. i dotted the mangoes with butter.
- because this was sort of my ‘welcome, spring!’ pie, after i put the top crust on and cut four small vents into it, i rolled out the trimmings and put my new sun cookie-cutter to use…i stamped out a few sunshines and, using the same egg/water mixture i’d just painted on the top crust, i attached the sunshines to the top crust. i painted more egg/water over the whole completed pie and sprinkled it heavily with coarse raw sugar and some thinly sliced crystallized ginger. all told, the sugar and ginger gave the top crust a pretty shimmer and a neat gingery contrast with the sweeter fruit inside the pie.
i baked the pie for the full fifty minutes. i expect the baking time will vary depending on how much liquid you put in with your mangoes and how long you let them sit with the sugar. the top crust should be a golden brown, any liquids that might have bubbled through the vents should be thickened. i did put a foil-lined cookie sheet under the pie to prevent any juices that might have boiled out from dripping on the oven floor (it was unnecessary in this case but a good rule of thumb and the foil saves on an extra dish!)
in serving, we didn’t have ice cream. since my friends abe and sarah had to get little liam home at an early hour to get him settled and in bed, i served the pie warmer than planned but with no complaint to report! ice cream would have been a really nice touch to contrast with the temperature…something very vanilla beany makes sense, probably. i’m a bad judge at this…a pie purist who rarely has ice cream with her pie, admittedly.
i squirreled away one piece of pie to have for breakfast on sunday morning. as predicted by the porching college students, the weekend was absolutely gorgeous. sunday morning meant my first porch breakfast–a cup of coffee, last night’s pie, and a book. by breakfast time, the pie was much more settled in flavor and the texture was really something nice–something like firm peaches but with a more tropical note. so if you can make this one a day ahead, do it…though i’m starting to believe that no pie can really be made ahead in this house. we love pie too much to wait!
i give the recipe a “will make again” rating but with all of the changes i’ve made so far. if the price maintains and i give it another go, i may try soaking the mangoes in coconut rum (or something else if the experts at the liquor store can recommend something)–just to see whatthat would taste like. in general, i’m not a huge fan of fruit pies (it is just pie and fruit, after all!) but i like trying newt things and hey, mangoes were four for five dollars, after all. this recipe was new, interesting, and quite pretty!
happy spring, ya’all!