Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie

March 3, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 23 Comments
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not-your-usual lemon meringue pie

I’ve done a pretty traditional LMP here before, so I guess it’s time to try out Gale Gand’s Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie.  Forget about making pie crust for this– lemon curd and meringue are sandwiched Napoleon-style between layers of crispy sugared phyllo dough.  BTW, based on the previous Gale Gand stuff we’ve made, I was not at all surprised to see phyllo pop up here.

This is a pretty dessert and it’s pretty straightforward, too.  It does need to be served fairly soon after it’s stacked up, but you can make the lemon curd and bake the phyllo crisps plenty ahead of time.  Wait till the last minute to get the brown sugar Swiss meringue done, though.

We liked this “pie” a lot.  The pretty layers do smoosh as soon is they’re hit with a fork, but that’s okay.  The lemon curd is a gentle one…not too puckery.  The recipe left me with extra curd, which is no problem in my books, but I would recommend reducing the meringue amount by at least a couple of whites, if not by half.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here).  Here’s a video of the BWJ episode (this dessert is in the second half).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Blood Orange Tart

February 24, 2015 at 8:05 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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blood orange tart

I only seem to get my hands on a few blood oranges each winter and when I do, I always think I should to do something special with them.  That’s why last week I took Dorie’s Pink Grapefruit Tart and turned it into a blood orange one.  This tart is a take on a favorite of hers called Pétale de Pamplemousse from Hugo & Victor, a swanky shop in Paris.  It has a sweet tart shell with a layer of lemon-almond frangipane cream hidden under a rich citrusy crémeux.  Frangipane we’ve done before, but crémeux is a pastry cream luxuriously enriched with heaps of butter and softly set with gelatin. These several steps each have their own wait times as well, so it’s best to spread the process out over two days.

OK, here’s where I ran into trouble on this one…I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat red meat so I try to avoid gelatin, too.  I also try to not get too crazy about it, because I’ve worked in kitchens for years and I know that gelatin gets slipped into things one would never even suspect.  But if I know it’s in there, I don’t go for it on a menu and I don’t make it at home.  The word “crémeux” is a tip-off that gelatin is involved (although some chocolate ones don’t need it to set), so I wanted to find my way around that to make this tart.  I tried agar-agar once, likely messed it up, and haven’t tried it again (although Zosia did and it looks great!).  I tried fish gelatin another time, had good success, but have since decided that I’m creeped out by it.  Poking around, I found that I had half a packet of a plant-based kosher gelatin in the cupboard.  I have absolutely no clue what I did with the other half of the packet…I remember buying the stuff but have no memory of using it….but it was about equal in amount to half the gelatin called for in the recipe, so I made a half-batch of everything (for a 7-inch tart) and added that to my cremeux base.  The next morning, however, my crémeux was still very loose, so either the setting ratio is different (the packet didn’t compare it to regular gelatin), or it was too old (I admit that I’d had it in the cupboard for quite a long time).  I broke down and brought home a leaf of sheet gelatin from work that night, scraped the cremeux back into the mixer, blitzed in the bloomed gelatin leaf and poured it straight into the crust to set.  Fine, that worked.

This tart was beautiful and perfectly delicious, and fresh citrus can certainly brighten up a frosty late Februaury day.  Dorie says you could omit the almond cream to skip a step and keep it simpler, but I really think the flavor adds a lot to the tart.  All that said, while I’m willing to tinker around with different gelatin alternatives (has anyone tried Natural Desserts Vegan Jel??), I’m not sure this will be a repeater for me.  If I make something this butter-heavy, generally I want it to be because frosting is involved…yeah, yeah, I’m a cake person.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.:  Enter my blogoversary GIVEAWAY here!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Cranberry Crackle Tart

November 25, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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cranberry crackle tart

If you’re still on the fence about what to make for this Thursday’s dessert, let me make your decision harder by throwing one more option your way.  This Cranberry Crackle Tart from Baking Chez Moi is for people who don’t mind breaking a bit with Thanksgiving tradition.  It has a cookie-like base of sweet tart dough (fondly known to those in professional pastry circles as “STD”…we keep it classy), a layer of jam (which you can’t see here) and a meringue topping with cranberries folded though.  The topping is like a crispy-edged marshmallow– the sweetness is interrupted by little bursts of softened, tart berries.  This is meant to be a larger tart, but I didn’t need so much for the two of us on a random weeknight, so I just made a couple of individual tartlets (they took quite a bit less time to bake, btw).  The big one, with its pretty, swirly meringue top and ruby-colored berries peeking through, would make an impressive dessert for a crowd.  And it’s a light one, too, after a big dinner.

The hidden jam layer can be any red jam, really, like strawberry, raspberry or cherry.  I made a cranberry sauce ahead of time from the extra berries that weren’t going into the tart and I used that instead.  We ate our tarts with whipped cream, and my husband said it reminded him of pavlova with a cookie crust.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll and please join us, if you haven’t already!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Raspberry-Plum Crostata

September 30, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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raspberry-plum crostata

I’ve had a busy September.  It’s one of the nicest months of the year in New York City, but I’ve hardly been home to enjoy it. (Not that I’m complaining…I’ve been here and here instead, and it was all in the name of fun.) Luckily, I was able to squeeze in the Raspberry-Plum Crostata from Leslie Mackie before I began running around.  This crostata recipe originally called for a raspberry-fig combo, but I swapped out the figs for plums, just because I already had them.  I also tweaked the proportions a bit, and instead of a 1:1 ratio of each fruit, I used 2 parts plums to 1 part raspberries (keeping the combined weight the same 1.5 pounds called for in the recipe).  I decreased the sugar in the filling a little, too.

The crust dough is soft and needs to be worked with gently and quickly.  Despite its fussiness, it’s easily patched, and I liked the interesting sesame-almond flavoring it has going on.  The filling was tasty, too, and that hot pink color makes me a happy girl.  I’ll make this one again, and maybe next time I’ll go buy the figs.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here and there’s a video, too). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

French Fridays with Dorie: Gâteau Basque

August 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Posted in french fridays with dorie, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things | 20 Comments
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gâteau Basque

Somehow I almost never miss a week of TWD but I hadn’t made an FFWD recipe in like forever.  When I saw that Gâteau Basque was up, I thought it would be a good time to pop back around and say hello.  Not surprisingly, Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry of the French Basque Country.  You can read up on it here and here, but it’s basically a layer of either pastry cream or cherry jam sandwiched between two almost cookie-like tart crusts.  Hmmm…I wonder if it was the inspiration for Dorie’s Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake?

We made Gâteau Basque on weekends at the shop where I used to work (and they probably still do).  We used a bit of almond flour and almond extract in our dough there, so I had assumed that flavoring was traditional…but that’s not in Dorie’s version, so maybe it’s not.  Sometimes less is more, but sometimes more is more, so at the shop we always filled ours with pastry cream and fruit.  I can admit that I’m a little greedy when it comes to sweets, and “more is more” is the way I like it, so that’s what I did here at home, too.  I didn’t have cherry jam but I did have some dark cherries that I candied a couple of weeks ago…I dropped them on top of the pastry cream and they worked nicely.

This is pretty easy to make, and you can bust out all the components a day ahead of time.  The dough is sticky, but forgiving, and you can even more or less pat it into the round shapes you need without too much rolling.  It’s really delicious, and beautiful, too, with a pretty crosshatch pattern on top of the golden crust.  For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts.

Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie

February 8, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Posted in pies & tarts, sweet things | 13 Comments
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dahlia triple coconut cream pie

I grew up in Virginia.  Just as soon as I moved up to Boston for college, my family moved out to Seattle.  I go visit once or twice a year (I was just there a couple of weeks ago, in fact), so have a fondness for Seattle.  Being a born Southerner, I also have a fondness coconut and for cream pies, and, interestingly enough, Seattle has a legendary combo of the two– Dahlia Bakery’s (and Lounge’s) Triple Coconut Cream Pie.  It is dangerously good, and I’ve been holding off making it at home until I had a real excuse.  The Seahawks’ Sunday performance was good enough for me.

This pie has a coconut crust, a coconut filling and toasted coconut on top…hence the whole “triple” thing.  You’ll notice the recipe instructions are…ummm….lengthy.  Nothing’s hard, though, especially if you break it up a bit.  With a multi-step pie like this, I like to get ready the day before by processing my crust, letting it chill a bit and then getting it in the pan.  That way it can really set in the fridge overnight, which not only helps it hold a better crimp while baking, but it means a lot less work the following day.  Another crusty trick I have up my sleeve is that after the crust is fully baked, but still piping hot, I paint a touch of egg white on the bottom.  It gives it a little barrier of protection from the soft filling and helps keep it crisp.  Usually the residual heat coming off the pie shell will set the egg white straight away, but you can always pop it back in the oven for about a minute to make sure.  You can also make the coconut pastry cream a day ahead if you’d like…just keep it airtight in the fridge overnight with some plastic wrap pressed on the surface.

This coco pie is soft but crisp, rich but light.  It’s no wonder, really, that Dahlia has sold something like 350,000 of these things.

dahlia triple coconut cream pie

Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie– makes a 9-inch pie
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance

for the coconut pastry dough–makes a 9-inch piecrust

Steph’s Notes: The crust must be baked and cooled before you can fill your pie. If you’d like, you can “seal” the bottom your just-out-of-the-oven hot crust with a little thinly brushed on egg white…this will help keep it crisp when it’s filled.  I also like to go ahead and toast the coconut chips for garnish while I have the oven on during this step.  400° is a little high for coconut, so I do this while the oven is coming up to temp or after I’ve turned it off and it’s coming back down (watching closely so it doesn’t burn).

1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour (165 g), plus extra for rolling dough
1/2 cup (50 g) shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup (113 g or 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup (75 g) ice-cold water, or more as needed

-In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flour, coconut, sugar and salt and pulse two or three times to combine.  Add the diced butter and pulse to form coarse crumbs.  Gradually add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time.  Use only as much water as needed for the dough to hold together when pressed gently between your fingers (don’t work dough with your hands, just test to see if it is holding).  The dough will not form a ball or even clump together in the processor, it will be quite loose.

-Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the coconut dough onto it.  Pull plastic wrap around dough, forcing it into a rough flattened round with the pressure of the plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes before rolling.

-When ready to roll dough, unwrap round of coconut dough and place it on a lightly floured board.  Flour rolling pin and your hands. Roll out dough in a circle about 1/8-inch thick.  Occasionally lift dough with a bench knife or scraper to check that it is not sticking, and add more flour if it seems like it’s about to stick.  Trim to a 12- to 13-inch round.   Transfer rolled dough to a 9-inch pie pan.  Ease dough loosely and gently into pan.  You don’t want to stretch dough at his point, because it will shrink when it is baked.

-Trim any excess dough to 1- to 11/2-inch overhang.  Turn dough under along rim of pie pan and use your fingers and thumb to flute the edge.  Dock the bottom of the shell with a fork.  Refrigerate unbaked pie shell for at least 1 hour before baking (this prevents the dough from shrinking in the oven).

-When ready to bake piecrust, preheat oven to 400°F.  Place a piece of parchment in pie shell, with sides overhanging the pan, and fill with dried beans or wieghts (this prevents the bottom of the shell from puffing up during baking).  Bake piecrust for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pastry rim is golden.  Remove pie pan from oven.  Remove paper and beans and return piecrust to oven.  Bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until bottom of crust has golden brown patches. Remove from oven and allow pie shell to cool completely.

for the coconut pastry cream:

1 cup (230 g) milk
1 cup (230 g) canned unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
2 cups (170 g) shredded sweetened coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. (125 g) sugar
3 tbsp. (26 g) AP flour
4 tbsp. (57 g or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

– In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, coconut milk and shredded coconut.  Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add both scrapings and pod to milk mixture.  Stir occasionally until mixture almost comes to a boil.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and flour until well combined.  Temper eggs by pouring a small amount (about 1/3 cup) of scalded milk into egg mixture while whisking.  Then add warmed egg mixture to saucepan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more.  Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter and whisk until it melts.  Remove and discard vanilla pod.

-Transfer pastry cream to a bowl and place it over another bowl of ice water.  Stir occasionally until pastry cream is cool.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until completely cold.  The pastry cream will continue to thicken as it cools.

for the whipped cream topping:

Steph’s Notes:  This is a ton of whipped cream!  If you’d like to be a little less extravagant here, cut it in half and you’ll still have plenty of topping.

2 1/2 cups (600 g) heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup (63 g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

-In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape.

for the garnish:

2 oz (57 g) unsweetened chip or large-shred coconut (about 1 1/2 cups), or shredded sweetened coconut (about 2/3 cup)
a chunk of white chocolate (4-6 oz ,to make 2 oz of curls)

-Preheat oven to 350°.  Spread unsweetened coconut chips (or large-shred coconut, or sweetened shredded coconut) on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, watching carefully (coconut burns easily) and stirring once or twice until lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

to finish the pie:

-When pastry cream is cold, fill pastry shell, smoothing the surface with a rubber spatula.

-Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe it all over the surface of the pie (or just mound it on top and swirl with a spoon).

-Sprinkle toasted coconut over top of pie.  Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 ounces of white chocolate curls on top of the pie (or you can cut pie into wedges, garnish each wedge individually on the plate) and serve.

-Store the pie in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potato Ginger Pie

November 25, 2013 at 11:39 am | Posted in pies & tarts, sweet things | 14 Comments
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sweet potato ginger pie

I’m not making Thanksgiving dinner myself this year.  You never know what you’re gonna get when you’re not in charge, so I had to make a pre-Thanksgiving pie for the two of us here at home.

I mixed things up from the typical pumpkin pie by making a sweet potato one.  To tell you the truth, I think that pumpkins and sweet potatoes can make pretty interchangeable pie fillings in terms of taste, because they’re often identically spiced.  This pie, though, mixes it up a bit in the spice department.  It’s a little more ginger-heavy than most– a little more zippy– and leaves out the traditional cloves entirely.  When I make a pumpkin pie I normally reach for a can-opener, but this filling uses a fresh-roasted sweet potato.  If you have a big potato left over from last night’s dinner, you can use that, no problem.  Using a fresh sweet potato for a custard pie gives a slightly different texture than canned pumpkin does.  The sweet potato filling is not quite as velvety smooth as pumpkin filling– it’s a little more dense and substantial.

Happy Thanksgiving!

sweet potato ginger pie

Sweet Potato Ginger Pie- makes a 9-inch pie
adapted from the wonderfully reliable Melissa Clark

Steph’s Note: To speed things along, you can cook the sweet potato in advance or use a leftover one for this pie.  Just bring it to room temperature before processing the filling.

single-crust recipe of your favorite flaky pastry dough, well-chilled
1 c cooked sweet potato

3/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c milk
3 eggs
2/3 c light brown sugar
2 tbsp brandy, bourbon or rum
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt

-To make the filling, cut a slit into one large sweet potato and wrap tightly in foil.  Bake at 400°F until sweet potato is very soft, about an hour.  Let cool.

-Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the piecrust to a 12-inch circle.  Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate.  Fold over any excess dough, then crimp as decoratively as you can manage.

-Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze it for at least 15 minutes.  Cover the pie with aluminum foil or parchment and fill with pie weights.  Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes (you can do this while the sweet potato is also in the oven).  Remove the foil or parchment and weights and bake until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes more.  Cool on a rack until needed.

-Scoop 1 cup of cooked, cooled sweet potato into food processor, discarding skin.  Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.  Add all remaining filling ingredients to food processor and puree until smooth.  You can skip this, but if you want to smooth the filling out a bit more, strain it by pressing through a fine sieve.

-Spoon filling into pie crust and spread until flat and even.  Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the custard is mostly firm and set but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 55 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Baked Yogurt Tart

July 2, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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baked yogurt tart

Leslie Mackie ‘s Baked Yogurt Tart was one that I was rooting for in this month’s recipe nominations.  The combination of fruit and yogurt in a pie crust sounded pretty good to me!

Instead of using berries for my tart, I pitted some of the sweet cherries I got from my CSA.  I see now that I could have squeezed lots more cherries in there…I’ll keep that in mind when I make this again (which may be for this weekend’s BBQ with the in-laws).  Also, I left the chopped almonds off my tart and added in a little almond extract instead.

The recipe says to bake it till brown on top.  Mine took the full baking time but was nowhere near golden brown afterwards.  I didn’t want to overbake it and since I could tell the custard was set, I just went ahead and took it out.  When cut, this tart held its shape and reminded me of a cheesecake.  I actually thought the filling could be a tad softer– I’m not sure if it was the thick Greek yogurt I used, or if the amount of flour used to thicken the filling could be reduced a bit (3/4 cup is a lot of flour!).  I may fiddle with a couple of things next time I make this, but, all in all, it’s a tasty spin on a summer fruit tart.

baked yogurt tart

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, and there’s a video, too).   Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: French Apple Tart

January 22, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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French apple cake

I made Leslie Mackie’s French Apple Tart back in the fall, when I had heaps of pink-skinned apples from my CSA.   Good thinking, because the apples I’ve had lately haven’t been so great.  If the tart looks a little familiar, maybe that’s because it’s a sister to the Normandy Apple Tart we made in TWD 1.0 about a year ago.

This tart is easy to make, but it isn’t a quick throw-together.  Get prepared…you can do some of these things in advance.  You need pie dough, apple compote for the filling (this one’s made in the oven) and lots of thinly sliced apples to spiral on top.  It certainly is pretty, though, not to mention delicate and delicious.  Your friends will think it came from a pâtisserie.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Gaye’s Laws of The Kitchen.  It’s also here (and there’s even a video of Leslie and Julia making the tart together).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Concord Grape Pie

September 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Posted in pies & tarts, sweet things | 16 Comments
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concord grape pie

Last Saturday, my CSA workshift rolled around (cuz you know, apparently CSAs are socialist).  To tell the truth, I was kind of dreading standing there for three hours early on a weekend morning, but as it turned out, the weather was great and I got the job I wsa hoping for.  I got to weigh out the coveted concord grapes that were last week’s fruit share.  Actually I got to dole out both grapes and advice.  Pretty much everyone who came through asked what to do with them.  How about eat them…juice them…jam them…pie them?!?!  Being the grape mistress also meant I got first dibs on leftovers when we cleaned up.  I took home a few extra stems…enough in total to make both concord grape jam and a little pie of my own.

Concord grapes are like the grapiest grapes there are.  They’re the grapes that “grape-flavored” things imitate.  And they are the most dreamy shade of purpley blue.  When I recommended to my fellow CSA-ers that they make a pie, most of them looked at me like I had two heads.  I guess a grape pie does sound a little weird, but it is so, so delicious.  Jammy and sweet and purple.

Now that I’ve talked up these grapes, here’s the bad news.  They have seeds.  Hard seeds that are unpleasant to eat, and IMO must be removed.  Making a pie from them is a labor of love, but I’m willing to put in the time to de-seed.  I don’t mind so much turning on the radio and zoning out with a little kitchen prep.  Anyway, it is a once a year treat, and the time spent makes every bite taste that much better.

concord grape pie

Concord Grape Pie- makes a 9-inch pie
heavily adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit (September 2008)

Steph’s Note: If concords aren’t available where you live, or you’d like a more year-round, less labor-intensive alternative, see the original recipe (which uses seedless red grapes).

8 cups stemmed concord grapes (about 2 1/2 pounds), rinsed well and patted dry
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
squeeze of lemon juice
double-crust recipe of your favorite flaky pastry dough (I used Dorie’s), divided into two disks and well-chilled
1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
1 T turbinado or granulated sugar

-Slice grapes in half and remove the seeds.  Transfer grapes (and their skins, which tend to easily slip off–don’t worry about it) to large sieve set over large bowl.  Drain off grape liquid, saving 2 tablespoons.

-Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt in another large bowl to blend.  Mix in drained grapes, reserved juice and squeeze of lemon juice.

-Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Roll out one disk of dough on floured surface to a 13-inch round; transfer to pie dish.  Brush dough edge with egg glaze.  Fill with grape mixture.  Roll out the second disk of dough to a 12-inch round.  Top pie with dough; trim overhang to 1/2 inch.  Roll edge under and crimp.  Brush top of pie with glaze; sprinkle with raw sugar.  Cut several slits  in top crust to allow steam to escape.  Chill the pie until your oven is fully heated.

-Bake pie until golden and juices bubble thickly, 60 to 70 minutes, slipping a baking sheet under the pie plate at the halfway point.  Cool the pie on a rack to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.  You should think about having vanilla ice cream on hand.

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