Tessa Huff

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Apricot Raspberry Pie + Real Talk: Migraines

Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.

This pie makes me happy for so many reasons.  As a cake maker, I don’t make pies very often.  In fact, I can’t even recall the last double-crust pie I even made - perhaps it was even years ago!    The fact that it ended up a success in both taste and appearance is only one piece of the puzzle, er pie.  This was my redemption pie.  My comeback dessert.  My “Get Well Soon” treat that I made for myself.  After three weeks of hellish migraines and a case of vertigo, this was the dish I was determined to make once I could stand on my own two feet without the world spinning around me.

As a life-long sufferer of motion sickness and migraines, I’ve pretty much accepted the occasional day (or few) stuck in bed.  When I was kid, I’d get sick nearly any time I was in the car longer than 15 minutes.  As an adult, I’ve been able to mange most cases and can fend off the migraines by keeping healthy and hydrated.  I tend to keep my suffering silent, as I can typically just sleep it off.  There are so many other debilitating illnesses that are much more serious than a bit of car-sickness, after all.  But not this time.  This time it was the perfect storm of extreme stress just after my book my released, the recent passing of my grandmother, and a last-minute trip to Cali with my toddler, fatigue, hormones, and travel that sent me spiraling….

Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.
Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.

Lesson learned: never hop on a plane immediately after a horrendous migraine, especially if said plane ride includes wrangling a toddler and a layover.  Weeks went by after getting off that plane before I was back on my feet again.  When I would lie down, it felt like I was drifting on a boat.  When I would walk around, it felt like I was going room to room in a fun house.  A don’t get me started about trying to take a shower – more like being in a phone booth on a rollercoaster.  I didn't dare look at a screen of any kind and tried to keep the house as dark as possible.  Closing my eyes sometimes made things worse, leaving me to mostly just sit there and listen to podcasts all day (thanks to Bon Appetite, Food 52, Radio Cherry Bomb, and Food Blogger Pro for saving some of my sanity!).  They say that moms don’t get sick days, but it got bad enough that it was no longer safe for me to watch Everett by myself.  By the end of the first week, I landed myself in the ER.  “Sounds like vertigo,” the doctors said.  Treatment?  Get moving.

Are you kidding me?  Rolling over in bed makes me want to “toss my cookies,” and you want me to try to get back to normal and do ridiculous eye, head, and balance exercises?  The ENT specialist apologized for not having a good solution, for there really is no magic cure for vertigo and balance disorders.  She braced me for how awful the vestibular therapy would be, how crappy I would feel before getting better, how staying in bed all day would be the worst thing I could do to help restore everything even though thats all I will want to do, and that it could take weeks until I was some-what back to normal.

Like I mentioned earlier, I tend not to talk about this sort of thing – it’s only a headache, not a life-threatening disease.  But this time, I thought I would share.  And as it turns out (from posting on social media over the last couple weeks), a lot of you have had vertigo and debilitating headaches, too.  So while this post is not all sugarcoated or candy-filled (although there is pie!!), I thought it would be a good place to share the not-so-great parts of life too. 

I find that I can be really hard on myself sometimes.  I’d say that I am a pretty hard worker, fairly competitive, and a wanna-be perfectionist, so it’s easy to beat myself up a bit when things don’t go according to plan.  I thought I could will myself to feel better.  Perhaps it was all in my head?  And as the days went on and I actually did start to feel better, I’d get out of bed and try to walk around, only to quickly realize that it all was indeed real.  I started to negotiate with myself into doing small tasks, like if I get up and get something to eat from the kitchen, then I could have my vertigo medicine (that required food) and even bullied myself into things like taking a shower.  I’d go from feeling sorry for myself, then being mad at myself for feeling that way.  I couldn’t help but think of my friends that have suffered much worse through chemotherapy and horrible pregnancies that left them bed-ridden for months.  I was reminded of their strength and resilience, and some-how muscled through the spinning in order to get to a place that wasn’t so horrible, maybe just a mild headache and only slightly exhausted.

Thankfully, with the support of my husband (who made me breakfast and delivered Everett to my parents’ house every day before work), my parents (who babysat, cooked meals, and did our laundry for three weeks and counting), and my darling boy (whose gleeful cheers coming from the other room where motivation enough to get up and join him), I am back on my feet, messing up the kitchen, and finally able to chase down an energetic, curious 16-month old.  It probably could have been worse (I’ve heard of people having vertigo for months!), so I am so grateful to be putting this chapter behind me.  And to celebrate, I made pie.

Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.
Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.
Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.
Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.

I’ve had my eye on all the fancy pies lately.  Is it more, or is pie having a moment right now?  Surely we have Four & Twenty Blackbirds to thank, but I have been silently drooling over the gorgeous pies my fellow bloggers have been producing.  So creative!!!  Between Thalia’s heart-shaped polka-dot slab pie on Butter and Brioche and Alana’s braided plaid beauty on Fix Feast Flair, I’ve been dying to try my hand at a decorative pie.  This stunning rose top-crust creation from The Kitchen McCabe was the last straw.  “When I feel better, I will make a gorgeous pie,” I told myself.  And so I did. 

I don’t make pie often, I’m talking like once a year (or two years!), so I was a bit intimidated at first.  Between all the decorative cakes I make, I never found pie-making all the creative.  I was wrong.  I LOVE making pie!!  Or at least I loved making this one.  First, I filled an entire Pinterest board with decorative pies.  Second, I read up on all-things pie dough (see Baker’s Notes).  Then, I decided on my creation: a diamond lattice with a braided border.  Lastly, an early summer filling: apricots with peaches and raspberries. 

Not only did this pie turn out beautifully (if I do say so myself), it tasted amazing!  The crust was exactly how I like it: flakey, buttery, and crispy on top (both the egg-wash and turbinado sugar are key).  The added vanilla bean and lemon really elevated the flavors of the fruit– the perfect sweet with a touch of tart filling.  If I am being honest, there may have been a touch too much corn starch, but the filling stayed perfectly within each slice once completely cooled and cut, so I am not complaining about it too much.  All in all, I am pretty thrilled about my pie-making experience, and I can’t wait to make more all summer long!

Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.
Apricot Raspberry Pie with an all butter crust and braided, lattice design.

Baker’s Notes

      I hardly ever make pie, so I didn’t have a go-to pie crust recipe on hand.  I relied on this all-butter crust from my pie-making pal Michelle of Hummingbird High.  Be sure to check out her post all about pie for more information.

      Speaking of great pie tips, check out Adrianna’s pie post on A Cozy Kitchen.

      When in doubt, keep that butter COLD!!  Be sure to refrigerate the pie dough between each step.  Keep the butter cold will help prevent the baked crust from shrinking.  Don’t quote me on this, but cold butter should also make for a more flakey crust as it helps keeps gluten formation in the flour to a minimum (please forgive me, as I may have just made that up…).

      Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar in the filling slightly to adapt to the ripeness of the fruit.

      Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.  As you can see from my photos, the first slice I cut was a too bit warm and some of the filling started to ooze out everywhere.  The last photo of the remaining pie in the tin was taken after the pie had a change to cool completely, and all of the filling stayed intact within each piece! 

Apricot Raspberry Pie Recipe

All-Butter Crust
adapted from Hummingbird High

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
1 egg
splash milk
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Place the ice in the water and set aside.

2.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms.  Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.

3.  Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar.  Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl.  The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky.  Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed.  Do not over-mix.

4.  Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).

5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll.  Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. 

6.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin.  Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang.  Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.

7.  For the lattice top, repeat step 5.  Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut about 16 strips, about a ½-inch wide.  Place on a baking sheet or cutter board and place in the refrigerator, along with any leftover dough.

8.  Meanwhile, make the filling (recipe to follow).

9.  Fill the chilled pie crust with the filling (fruit and juices).  Remove the cut strips from the refrigerator and begin creating a the lattice pattern, carefully weaving over and under each strip of the opposite direction.  Allow for some excess dough on the end of each strip, then trim.

10.  Gather the remaining dough and scraps and roll out.  Cut long, thin strips (thinner than those for the lattice) and gather in sets of three.  Braid these strip together to use around the top edge of the pie (to cover the ends of the lattice).  I used four separate braid pieces to go all the way around the edge.  Secure with just a dab of water, if needed.

11.  With any remaining dough, cut out decorative leaf-shaped pieces.  Place around the pie, if desired.

12.  Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

13.  Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk.  Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

14.  Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

15.  Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.

 

Apricot Raspberry Filling
adapted from Yossy Arefi

¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup corn starch
1 vanilla bean, seed scraped out
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt
about 5 to 6 ripe apricots, quartered
2 medium ripe peaches, sliced about ¾ inch thick
6 ounce fresh raspberries
juice of ½ a lemon

1.  Combine the sugar, corn starch, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
2. Add the fruit and toss to combine.
3. Add the lemon juice and stir until everything is evenly coasted, taking care not to crush the raspberries.

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