We are nearing the end of the warmest summer I’ve ever experienced living in Alaska, thank goodness. The Other Fisherman bought a portable room air conditioner and parked it in the bedroom so he could sleep at night. It sat right next to my side of the bed and I felt like I was sleeping on a glacier. I kept a fan on in the kitchen while cooking and the black lab flat-out refused to go for his late afternoon walks. He’d sit down in the driveway and look at us like we were nuts.
Memories of hot and humid Wisconsin summers came flooding back to me. I thought how refreshing it would be to go swimming in a lake or run through the lawn sprinkler. Us kids would try to escape the heat by playing Monopoly all afternoon in the basement of my folks’ house eating endless popsicles. I totally understand why I chose not to use the oven much, just as Mom didn’t for most of the summer, as it would make the house all that much warmer.
Eat? Who has an appetite when it’s so hot? Work in the yard or go for a walk? Not happening. I sat on the deck in the shade with a cool glass of ice tea or rosé and prayed for a little breeze. We are not used to all this sunshine and heat. I used to enjoy the comfort of Homer’s cool summers — that’s why we love it here.
The raspberry patch is going to produce more ripe berries than ever if we don’t pick them every day each day. I think they get ripe around the clock and I swear that they ripen right behind me as I pick me way up the row.
What in the world are we all going to do with all the raspberries we picked and froze? Make wine? Maybe eat a raspberry smoothie every morning? Last year the raspberry patch decided to take a little break and the precious supply we had was used sparingly and only for special recipes. What a different situation we are in this year.
What is summer without fruit pie? When the pie recipe calls for an entire pound of raspberries, which I just happened to have, and cream, which I had left from making ice cream for my cooking class, you make Food52’s Amanda Hesser’s Raspberry Swamp Pie. It reminds me of my mom’s rhubarb custard pie, sort of. It’s cooler in the evenings now, so I think it’s OK to turn the oven on and make a pie.
Raspberry Swamp Pie
For the pie crust
1⁄4 cup turbinado sugar
2 1⁄4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
2 sticks salted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and chilled
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water, plus more if needed
For the filling
1⁄3 cup vanilla sugar (or sugar blended with either the seeds of half a vanilla bean or 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg, separated
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
Place the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and puree until the sugar granules are fine. Add the flour, and pulse the mixture to blend.
Add the cubed butter, and pulse until the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. With the motor running, add the ice water through the feed tube, and stop the machine as soon as a mass begins forming. If you pinch a small piece of dough and it holds together, this means it’s ready.
Lay out two large squares of plastic wrap and divide the dough among them, making one lump slightly larger than the other. Use the plastic wrap to help you shape each mass into a disk, then wrap it up and chill for at least 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured board (or between layers of lightly floured plastic wrap), roll out the larger disk of dough to a circle 1⁄8-inch thick, about 12 inches in diameter. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough. Chill the lined pie dough, while you roll out the other disk to a circle 1⁄8-inch thick.
In a mixing bowl, fold together the raspberries, vanilla sugar, and flour. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy.
Fill the lined pie plate with the raspberry mixture. Top with the second layer of dough. Trim the edges with scissors so there’s ¾-inch dough hanging from the edge of the pie plate. Roll this under to meet the edge of the plate and pat it down lightly to seal and flatten the edge. Brush the top of the pie with the egg white and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Cut a cross in the center of the pie and 4 vents around the rest of the pie.
Bake the pie for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the cream and egg yolk in a measuring cup with a spout and leave out at room temperature. After 40 minutes, the pie top should be golden and there should be raspberry juices bubbling from the vents. Remove the pie from the oven.
Press a funnel with a narrow tip into the center pie vent and slowly begin pouring in the cream mixture. Pour the cream into each of the pie vents. Some of the cream will sneak under the crust and some will pool on top. Don’t worry about how it looks, but go slowly so you don’t completely drown the crust.
Set the pie back in the oven and bake until the cream just sets but is still a little wiggly in the center, about 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let the pie cool off before serving — or it will be more soupy than swampy.
By Teri Robl
For the Homer News