Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dinner, Day 5: Pop Tart (Slab Pie)

First, I have to admit I'm cheating a little, but you should have known it was coming if you read my blog. I never blog daily. Even when it sounds like a good idea. So to prevent myself from being way behind (and move myself to only slightly behind), I'm eliminating a few dinner nights.

In the spirit of truth, however, I will fill you in on what dinners I will not be posting about: 1. Nothing. This was two nights in a row, actually, when I was feeling sick as a dog and my good husband continued to make sure the kids got random food or found some good leftovers for them. 2. Costco hot dogs. This is actually part of number 1. 3. Little Caesars. Sometimes we're just busy. This is decent, inexpensive fast food. Probably the fastest, now that they have $5 pizzas always ready to go.

I guess I just posted about those. But we're not counting them in my 14 days of meals because I don't care for them. And it's my blog, so I get to say.

So Day 5 was actually Sunday, Day 6 was Tuesday, and Day 7 is tonight (Thursday). See how it works?

Day 5 was our turn to host family dinner, a favorite of mine. Not only do I love, love, love cooking/baking/toiling in the kitchen, I love hosting. I don't know why, and I'm not going to figure that one out, but I love it. I don't put doilies on the tables and vases with flowers throughout the house, but I do vacuum. I think I just like being home, and I like other people being in my home, rather than going to them.


My father-in-law took a trip to Alaska with his brothers and they caught some mighty fish – salmon and halibut, to be exact  – and he brought some to us to grill for family dinner. Mark marinated the fillets for about an hour in olive oil, salt, sliced onions, garlic, and lime zest. They were very good.

Family dinners are a little potluck, with the host choosing what to base the meal around. Since we had the fish already planned, I made ciabatta, sourdough, peach pie, and nectarine slab pie. What's slab pie, you ask? Well.

Slab pie is a pie made on a sheet pan (with edges). It contains roughly one and a half times the pie dough used for a double-crust pie with the same amount of filling. And when you drizzle a little frosting over the top, it looks very much like a large Pop Tart. Well, more like a Toaster Strudel, I guess. But it tastes a wee little bit better. At least. And it serves a large amount of people, which is a bonus. Still great with ice cream.

My sister-in-law and her husband planted a nectarine tree two or three years ago and asked me a bit ago if I could use the nectarines for pie or something. Never one to turn down free ingredients, I gladly peeled, sliced, and froze the nectarines until it was time to host dinner. Their generosity was a benefit to me: I wouldn't have tried using nectarines otherwise, and I think they may be one of the best fruits for slab pie. They formed a dense, smooth, soft filling, rich in flavor, that was a nice center for such a thin pie.

Let's talk about the crust for just a minute. It's important that you still use the very best crust for this dessert, as the crust is even more predominant than in a regular pie, but keep in mind that you will need to roll it out until it is quite thin, thinner than a regular pie. This is probably the most difficult part of putting the dessert together, but it's not rocket science. Just take your time and be mindful of trying to make a rectangular shape.

My half sheet pan that I used is about 17" x 12", or perhaps just a bit more, with sides that are about 1/2" high. This recipe should work for any pan that is no larger than this size and any pan that is smaller. If you're only going to make a 9" x 13" pan, you'll want to cut back on the pie dough and a third of the filling.

I lined my baking sheet with parchment paper to be sure I could easily remove all the pie pieces. That part is optional but recommended.

I also think this recipe would be terrific with apples. No matter what fruit you use, it really looks perfectly created for breakfast.

Nectarine Slab Pie

for the dough (adapted from Sherry Yard):
3/4 lb. (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt (table, or finely ground Kosher)
3/4 c. ice water
3/4 t. white wine vinegar
6 c. peeled, sliced nectarines
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour

2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk
1 T. fresh lemon juice

For the dough:
Cut the butter into 1" pieces and place in the freezer for 15 minutes (no more).

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the flour and sugar. This lightens the flour to make the dough more tender. Add the butter and salt. Mix on low speed for at least 30 seconds and no more than 2 minutes, until most of the butter is about the size of walnut halves. Stop the machine and pinch all the large pieces of butter flat. Be careful not to just mash the pieces; the goal is to create flat, flaky layers in your dough.

Combine the ice water and vinegar, then add the liquid all at once to the flour mixture. Blend for no more than 15 seconds, until much of it is just coming together.

Spread out two sheets of plastic wrap. Bring the dough together just a bit with your hands, just enough so that it's not all crumbs, but do not work it much at this point, as working the dough while it's slightly warm from this process will damage the layers of flakiness and cause the dough to be tough. Divide the dough into two rounds, one larger by about 25%. Wrap in plastic and square off the edges. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. If you refrigerate it an hour or more, let it set at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling out. 
Just before rolling out the dough, prepare the fruit and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400˚.  Line your baking sheet with parchment paper if desired.

On a well-floured surface, heavily dust both sides of the larger piece of pie dough and roll into a rectangle slightly longer and wider than your baking sheet. Be sure to dust the dough with flour a few times, brush the flour around, and flip the dough over to be sure it doesn't stick to the work surface. Once it is large enough to fill the sheet, come up the edge, and lean over the edge enough to crimp later, fold it in half and transfer it to the pan. Then unfold. 

Roll out the top dough. Fill the bottom dough with the nectarine filling, making sure you get all of the extra juice into the dough. Top with second rolled dough and crimp edges.

Bake at 400˚ until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Since the filling is thin, it will be done as soon as the crust is done. You can reduce the oven temperature to 375˚ if you feel the crust is browning too quickly. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack.

Stir together the confectioner's sugar, milk, and lemon juice. If it needs to be thinned a bit more, you can add a little more milk or lemon juice. Drizzle over the slab pie.

Let cool. Slice into 20 pieces. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. 


Heidi said...

My youngest son just asked me to make him some pop tarts. I never thought about doing one big one. Very smart idea!

char_char said...

That looks so incredibly good Rachel.

char_char said...

What a cool mom, making homemade poptarts!!