fresh grape pie: a labor of love or never again

I love it when  big shopping malls put on a farmer’s market–you never have to break a sweat in Bangkok’s heat and you can shop for fresh food just as if you were at the “real”  market. There were all these grapes on sale for cheap so we bought red seedless grapes and these clusters of tiny blue-black grapes. I wanted to make a fresh grape cake and a grape pie. But before I get to the cake, let me mull over the grape pie a bit. It took Andy and me two days to peel a kilogram of these tiny grapes. I’m glad it wasn’t more. So this is the first and the last time I will ever bake a fresh grape pie. So let us savor this moment.

DSC04673Before it went in the oven, I had a to make a double pie crust. I used America’s Test Kitchen’s Foolproof Double Pie Crust recipe, and foolproof it isn’t to this fool. So I decided to abandon the recipe and used my own judgment. Because the dough was too wet to roll out, I added another cupful of all-purpose flour. Then it was too dry, so I added the 1/4 cup chilled vodka but skipped the 1/4 cup water. The dough was so slick it wouldn’t absorb the vodka so I had to help it out by kneading in a cup of bread flour. In for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose. I divided the dough in half and rolled one half out between two sheets of parchment paper with a little flour on the bottom sheet. I tried lining a 9-inch pie pan with half the dough.  The filling wasn’t enough to fill the pan. So I tried again–this time using an 8-inch tart pan. Just for fun, I covered the top with stars. There was just too much liquid in the filling so I tried spooning out the excess. Still, I knew there would be boil-over so I put the tart pan on a baking tray and put the whole contraption in the oven.

DSC04676Forty minutes later, I got the result. It looked all right; lightly browned, and the grape filling had boiled over the sides as I expected. Two of the stars got stained by the grape juice but apart from the looks, the pie seemed to be okay. The crust looked edible but I didn’t know if it would be flaky after adding the additional flour.

Andy and I decided we had to have this a la mode, so he went out to the “corner store”–really the 7-Eleven two blocks away– and got some Bud’s vanilla ice cream. I cut into the pie and held my breath. Each slice released from the pan without sticking, and the crust was flaky as ATK had promised. But would it have true grape flavor?

DSC04680It did. The fruit was tart, because I only added 3/4 cup of sugar, so this played nicely with the sweet coldness of the vanilla ice cream. We savored every mouthful–not only because it was delicious but because we both knew I would never make this pie again. Too labor intensive for this foodie. The truth is I had never tasted a grape pie before so I didn’t know what it was supposed to look like or taste like. The recipes I consulted, before deciding on the Allrecipes grape pie recipe, never explained why it was crucial to peel each grape, save the peels and mash the pulp then put the two back together again. If I ever made this pie again, and I won’t, I wonder what would happen if I didn’t peel the grapes? What if I did peel the grapes but didn’t process and strain the pulp? These are not burning questions, folks.

Grape Pie a la Mode with Green Tea