My daughter Gillian and son-in-law Jesse gave me this unusual Hanukkah gift: a rolling pin carved with the words “handmade by Ronnie Fein.” The words are mirror-image backwards, of course, so that when you roll the pastry it comes out right.
I couldn’t wait to use this thing so I decided to make a pie to freeze and then serve on New Year’s weekend. I rolled out the dough using this new device.
With pie dough, you have to keep rolling until you get the proper thickness. That meant I had to go over the words several times and so they got all jumbled and on top of each other.
Okay, so I used the mixed up piece of dough for the bottom crust and rolled the top crust using a regular rolling pin, then gave it a final flourish with the carved one, to get the words onto the pastry.
The result: really cute, but I have to say, this thing has limited value. In addition to its use for the final roll only, you really couldn’t see the words on the finished, baked pie.
Maybe it will work better on sugar cookie dough. I’ll try that next.
Meantime, the pie itself is worth making. It’s a riff on old-fashioned Prune and Apricot Pie, but no prunes. I used dates and raisins instead, and since dried fruit goes so magnificently with port wine, I included some in the filling. It’s a rich, sumptuous pie, perfect a New Year celebration and throughout the cold days of winter.
Dried Fruit Pie with Port Wine
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
- 4-6 tablespoons cold milk, juice, water or melted ice cream
To make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into chunks and add the chunks to the flour mixture. Work the fat into the flour mixture until the ingredients resemble crumbs (use your hands, a pastry blender or the pulse feature of a food processor). Add the liquid, using only enough to gather pastry into a soft ball of dough (start with 4 tablespoons). Cut the dough in half and flatten each half to make a disk shape. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it stand at least 30 minutes.
- 1 cup dried apricots (preferably California apricots)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup pitted, halved dates
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 cup port wine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the pie dough. Let the dough rest while you prepare the filling. Cut the dough in half and roll out one of the halves on a floured board. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Spoon the filling into the dough-lined pan. Cut the butter into smaller pieces and place the pieces over the filling. Roll out the second piece of dough. Place it over the filling. Crimp the edges to seal the bottom and top pieces of dough. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
To make the filling: Place the apricots, dates and raisins in a saucepan. Pour in the water and port wine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes, or until the fruit is soft. Strain the fruit into a bowl, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible. RESERVE the cooking liquid (about 1/2 cup). Place the sugar, cornstarch, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small saucepan and whisk to combine ingredients completely. Add the reserved 1/2 cup liquid (add water if you don’t have enough but only add 1/2 cup if you have more). Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Spoon the liquid over the fruit and mix ingredients thoroughly. Stir in the lemon juice.
Makes 8-10 servings