Kristin Kimball is a farmer and writer living in upstate New York. She is the author of The Dirty Life. Her farm is Essex Farm.
Our farm produces a full diet for about a hundred and thirty people, including beef, pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, grains and flours, milk, maple syrup, herbs and flowers, and some fruits. At this point in July, the strawberries, rhubarb, and sour cherries have gone by, and apples are not yet ripe. The red currants, though, are at their peak. I am a big fan of currant cake but this was my first try at a currant pie. The farm crew ate it for breakfast this morning and gave it a thumbs up. You could substitute any kind of fresh berry for the currants.
Crust-wise, I prefer a 50/50 butter/lard mix, but if you don’t have access to good organic lard, I’d suggest using 100% butter. For the filling, I went back and forth on whether to make a traditional cooked fruit-style pie with a lattice crust, a custard-based pie, or a cold, whipped cream kind of pie. We are in the middle of a heat wave, and I couldn’t bear the thought of having the oven on any longer than necessary, so I was leaning toward the whipped cream pie. Unfortunately, we were out of cream for whipping. We did have plenty of our sour cream, so I went with a sour cream custard. You could use regular cream instead, but I really liked the sweet-tart result with the sour cream.
Essex Farm Red Currant Pie
2 Cups pastry flour
Generous pinch of salt
A hunk of butter and/or lard, chilled, about the size of an egg
A little bit of cold water
1 cup sour cream
Sugar to taste (I used about ½ cup)
A splash of vanilla
A cup or so of red currants
1. Send a small child out to pick the currants for you. Reinforce concept that there will be no pie if she eats them all.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Mix flour and salt, and then cut in the chilled butter and lard.
4. Add just enough water to hold the dough together. Roll it out on a floured surface and put it in a pie pan or cast iron skillet.
5. Bake the crust until it firms and begins to brown slightly, about 20 minutes.
6. Beat the eggs with the sour cream, add the sugar and vanilla and stir until the sugar dissolves.
7. Pour the egg/sour cream mixture into the pie shell and bake until it begins to set, about 12 minutes.
8. Sprinkle the currants on top of the pie, and return it to the oven until the custard is fully set, another 8-10 minutes.