A Good Bake A Good Bake by Melissa Weller

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie; serves 6 to 8

If you’ve never heard of Johnny Cash’s mother’s pineapple pie: it’s a thing. A quick Internet search will turn up endless recipes for the pie, all more or less the same, with the main variable being canned or fresh pineapple. Most recipes use canned. I use fresh. The most important factor in this is making sure the pineapple is ripe; if it’s not ripe, it won’t be sweet enough, and you also won’t get as silky a texture. So just be patient; let the pineapple sit on your counter until it’s ripe. To tell, first smell it; a fragrant pineapple is a ripe pineapple. Also, pluck one of the greens from the crown; if it comes out easily, the pineapple is ripe.

Note You will need a 9-inch glass pie plate to make this. You will also need pie weights (or dried beans) to blind bake the crust.

For the crust

Master Recipe for Pate Brisee      (you only need a 1/2 recipe)

24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold  (339 grams)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (300 grams)

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (150 grams)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar (38 grams)

1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt  (9 grams)

1/2 cup water,  cold   (118 grams)

Unsalted butter, for greasing

All-purpose flour, for dusting

For the filling

1 ripe pineapple                                      

3 Large eggs (150 grams)

1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)

2 tablespoons coarse cornmeal (22 grams)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (3 grams)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (113 grams)   

3 tablespoons dark rum  (45 grams)

Make the Crust

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Lay the pieces in a single layer on a plate and put the plate in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed to combine the ingredients. Remove the butter from the freezer, add it to the mixer bowl, and combine on low speed for about 1 to 2 minutes,  until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some large chunks of butter remaining. Turn off the mixer and use your hands to check the size of the butter; if there are any pieces larger than a nickel, pinch them between your fingertips to flatten them. Add the water and combine on low speed until the dough comes together but is still slightly shaggy; do not mix it until the dough is smooth and homogenous, like cookie dough.

The more you mix pie dough, the tougher the crust will be because you develop more gluten. And, when you overmix the dough, the chunks of butter break up; those chunks are what create the nice layers in a crust.

Put the dough on your work surface. If you are making the Chestnut Honey Walnut Tart (page 281) or a slab pie, leave the dough in one piece. If you are making a traditional round pie, cut the dough in half with a bench knife.

Lay two long sheets of plastic wrap in a crisscross formation on your work surface. Place one piece of dough in the center, where the two sheets cross. Use your hands to pat the dough into a round disk for a pie or tart, and into a rectangular block for a slab pie. Loosely wrap the dough in the plastic, leaving a few inches of slack all around. Run a rolling pin over each package of wrapped dough to roll it out in the plastic to a ó-inch-thick round or block. (For more detail, see Wrapping Dough, page xl.) Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days; or freeze it for up to 1 month. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set it on the work surface to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is pliable but not soft.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate with butter. 

Roll out the dough and line the pie plate

Lightly dust a large flat work surface with flour. Unwrap the round of dough and place it on the floured surface. Lightly dust the dough and the rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to a ⅛-inch-thick circle (at least 15 inches in diameter), rotating the dough and dusting the work surface, dough, and rolling pin with flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface as you roll. (For more detailed instruction, see Rolling Dough 101, page 250.) 

Gently fold the dough in half, pick it up, and place it on the pie plate with the fold running down the center of the plate. Unfold the dough and adjust it so the circle of dough is centered over the plate. Use your hands to guide the dough into the bottom crease and up the sides of the plate. Using kitchen shears, trim the dough so it hangs over the edge of the pie plate by 1 inch all around. Tightly roll the overhanging dough toward the center of the pie plate to create a lip that rests on the ridge of the plate. Crimp the crust. (For more detail, see “Crimp the crust” in Master Class: How to Make Perfect Pie, page 238.) Put the pie shell in the refrigerator while you make the filling, and up to overnight. (If you are refrigerating the pie shell overnight, cover it with plastic wrap before refrigerating.) 

Blind bake the crust

Arrange the oven racks so one is in the center position. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator. Cut a piece of parchment paper that is larger than the pie and lay it on top of the crust. Using your fingers, press on the paper to line the crust, working it into the crease and making sure it fits snugly against the sides all the way to the crimped edge. Fill the pie with pie weights or dried beans.

Put the pie shell on the center rack of the oven to bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown and dry looking, and the shell is beginning to brown, rotating the pie shell from front to back halfway through the baking time so it browns evenly. Remove the piecrust from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool to room temperature with the pie weights or beans in place. Gently lift the edges of the parchment paper to remove the paper and weights. Put the weights or beans in a container to use the next time you need pie weights. (If you used dried beans, be sure to label them as pie weights before returning them to your pantry, so you don’t try to cook them.)

Make the filling

Use a large serrated knife to cut the top and the bottom off of the fresh pineapple. Stand the pineapple on the cutting board and use the knife to cut the peel from the sides, working from top to bottom and rotating the pineapple as you cut until you’ve removed the entire peel. Discard the top, bottom, and peel. Quarter the pineapple through the core. One at a time, lay each quarter on its side, cut out and discard the cores, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place the slices in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse for about 30 seconds, until the pineapple is about the texture of applesauce. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and put the pulp in the strainer so the bowl catches the juice.

Put the eggs, sugar, cornmeal, and salt together in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the pineapple pulp and stir with a rubber spatula. Add the butter, rum, and 2 tablespoons of the juice that you strained out of the pineapple. Whisk to combine.

Bake the pie

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pie shell on it. Open the oven and pull out the center rack. Place the baking sheet with the pie shell on the oven rack and pour the batter into the prepared pie shell. (The filling is so thin that I add it to the pie shell when the pie shell is on the rack to avoid spilling it.) Gently slide the oven rack back in and close the oven door.

Bake the pie in the oven for about 1 hour, rotating it from front to back halfway through the baking time so the crust browns evenly, until the custard is set; it will jiggle, but firmly, when you wiggle the pie. Remove the pie from the oven and set it on a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

Excerpted from A GOOD BAKE: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home by Melissa Weller with Carolynn Carreño. Copyright © 2020 by Melissa Weller. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.