Persimmon, Ginger & Brandy Pie with Streusel Topping

Hello, everyone.  Meet my new friend, the persimmon.

This is the Fuyu persimmon, often described as “short and squat.”  She takes offense to that. She’s naturally sweet and has the consistency of an apple.  Her cousin, the Hachiya is otherwise known as the “baking persimmon.”  People like to put its super ripe pulp in cookies and muffins.  But the Fuyu persimmon would like to think outside the box for a little bit, which is why I’m using her, like an apple, in a pie.

This pie started during a natural disaster and sort of turned into its own disaster, except, it might be the most delicious disaster I’ve ever tasted.  Hurricane Sandy, as you surely know, is ravaging the East Coast.  My husband, who lives outside of Philadelphia has been without power for nearly 24 hours.  And my crust shrunk.

My husband loves apple pies.  I love to experiment.  So I decided to pick up some persimmons the other day, a lovely autumn fruit, to make a variation on the normal apple pie.  We’re supposed to go to the mountains in Western North Carolina this coming weekend, so I wanted to make him some homemade food during the week for our trip.

In many ways, making this pie is a sign of optimism.  I decided I would believe that he will get his power back in a reasonable amount of time.  That flights would resume out of the Philadelphia airport.  That the sudden blizzard in the Carolina Mountains would stop and melt in time for our tiny car to make it through its curvy roads.

I added all kinds of things to this optimistic pie: candied ginger, cinnamon, brandy.

Not just any kind of brandy.  A Chilean version of brandy called “Pisco.”  While you usually find it clear like vodka, I used an aged version that turns gold. Unless you have devoted a significant amount of time to diversifying your liquor cabinet, you most likely don’t have this sitting around your house (unless you live in Chile or are Chilean, or Peruvian!).  So it’s fine to substitute something else, like rum, bourbon or cognac.

He still doesn’t have power back.  It’s still snowing in Western Carolina.  We have no idea if his flight is going to take off.  Everything with the pie was going great.  I followed Mark Bittman’s Flaky Pie Crust directions religiously.  (If you still don’t own How to Cook Everything you need a copy.)  I was super careful not to overwork the dough, let it get too warm, or touch it too much.

But I got a little bit reckless as I was rolling it out.  I didn’t use enough flour.  It was too sticky and I was ignoring it.

And alas, I rolled out the dough too thin.  I thought about rolling it up in a ball again and starting over, but I knew it would result in a tougher crust.

So, for the sake of flakiness, I left it alone and attempted to shape it into a design. Which completely shrunk and disappeared.  But it’s still the most delicious, flaky, buttery crust.  So readers, here’s the deal.  You’re going to make this pie, but you’re going to do it right.  We’re going to learn from my mistakes.  The Kitchn has a great tutorial about why my crust shrunk and other great tips for handling dough: Questions for Allie: Why is my dough shrinking?.

 Because I’m so not a baker, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be a baker!  And this pie is too amazing not to give it a go.

Persimmon, Ginger & Brandy Pie with Streusel Topping

(Flaky Crust Recipe by Mark Bittman but the Persimmon Filling is mine!)

Ingredients

The filling:

  • 6-8 Fuyu persimmons, tops removed, skins peeled-off, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (I used pisco dorado)

The crust:

  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

The streusel topping:

  • 1 stick butter, chilled
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

When getting ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the filling:

  1. Mix together persimmon slices, brown and white sugars, corn starch, candied ginger and cinnamon.  Add brandy.  Mix well so that all persimmon slices are coated in sugar-brandy sauce.  Allow to rest.

For the crust:

  1. In a food processor, mix together flour and salt until combined.
  2. Cut butter into chunks and place inside food processor.
  3. Run processor for 10-15 seconds until butter is completely chopped and mixture has the consistency of cornmeal.
  4. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.
  5. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water.
  6. Using fingers, work together the dough into a ball, adding more water if necessary.
  7. Once formed in a ball, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  (If in a hurry you can freeze it for 10.)
  8. Flour a clean working surface.
  9. Roll out chilled dough with a rolling pin, making sure to adequately coat both surface and pin with flour.  (If dough is too hard, wait a few minutes until you can roll it out.)  Avoid pinching the dough to patch up any holes or tears.
  10. Roll out so that it is 2 inches larger than your pie plate.
  11. Carefully draping your dough over your rolling pin, or alternately, gently folding into quarters, move your dough to your pie plate.
  12. Gently place it inside, being careful not to stretch or pinch the dough.
  13. Refrigerate for 30 minutes-1 hour before filling.

To make the streusel top:

  1. Allow chilled butter to soften, just slightly.  Add flour, sugar, cinnamon to a large bowl.  Using a pastry knife, combine butter into flour.  Streusel should be just combined but chunks of butter can still be present.

To fill and bake the pie:

  1. Pour persimmon filling into refrigerated crust.
  2. Sprinkle streusel topping over pie.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 degrees F.  Bake for another 40-50 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool before serving.

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