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The Food Dude — The Shortbread Epiphany

Citrus Shortbread Pie
Citrus Shortbread Pie - Terry Bursey

Those of you whom have followed this column for a while might recall my ironic difficulty with pie. For those of you who haven’t, it basically boils down to you getting to laugh at me for being terrible at making (famously easy) pie. To solve that, I took a different route, b’ys. I figured out (on purpose, believe it or not) that you can make a pie or tart with shortbread instead of traditional pie crust.

I know what you’re thinking. “Terry, have you lost your mind?”

Probably… but let me explain. Oh, and please ignore the yarn and pin thoughtweb on my wall. I got fixated on how to make a proper pie after I first wrote that piece about it, confining myself to research and practice to get better. After tweaking a few recipes I found online, I did, finally manage to bake three perfect pies in a row, which made me happier than I can safely express right now. I cheated though and had the sudden idea to create modified shortbread cookie dough in lieu of butter-cut flour.

Chef and connoisseur readers may cry heresy but before that, they may want to try:

Citrus Shortbread Pie

For Shortbread Piecrust:

2 cups real butter, softened

4 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp vanilla

1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)

For Pie Filling:

¾ cup sugar

1/3 cup corn starch, sifted

1 cup orange juice

½ cup lemon juice

¼ cup cold water

3 tbsp orange zest, grated

1 small orange, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine all filling ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until it begins to fluff, add remaining shortbread ingredients and mix until smooth. Using a rolling pin and a lightly floured surface, roll the shortbread into a 1–2 cm thick sheet. Press metal pie pan lip-down into the dough like a cookie cutter to size the dough well for the pans bottom. Add pie filling to the pie(s) and roll the remaining dough into a second sheet. Cut the sheet into desired pie top style or into 1 inch long rectangles to crisscross the top. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool, cut and serve (with a scoop of chocolate ice cream if preferred).

This somewhat gooey (yet firm) pie is one of the newest and proudest tricks of my sleeve and I’m far too excited about it not to share. The flavours compliment each other in such a way that I don’t have the words to do it justice in front of this laptop. I hope you’ll try it out at home instead and experience it for yourselves. It’s worth mentioning that this shortbread style pie pairs beautifully with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and a few chunks of chocolate orange. I’ve also experimented with a light chocolate version of the shortbread crust that merely requires the addition of a tablespoon of cocoa powder and totally rocks it with a cherry pie filling.

Until next time, this is your Food Dude, signing off.

Sorry, that was lame, let’s pretend I said something cool.

Check out my previous column: The Food Dude — Roasted over Roast and Toast

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