You Don’t Have to Add the Orchidea Spice Blend, but it Adds a Beautiful Nuanced Flavor Element.
Baking a pie is one of my favorite ways to spend some time in the kitchen. Pie baking requires patience and forces you to slow down. And I’ve yet to meet the person who isn’t thrilled when presented with a piece of freshly baked pie. Blackberries looked good at the market, so I had some fun with this and added a couple of unusual ingredients.
Milk Street’s No Shrink Pie Dough is my go to crust. I’ve included a link to the pie crust recipe. If you are new to making your own pie crust, and freaked out over the prospect, I can’t recommend this recipe more highly. It removes all the guess work and angst. Simply follow the directions and you will have a successful pie crust. In this case I was using a 9 inch deep dish pie pan, so I made a double batch, adding an extra 2 T. flour, as Milk Street recommends when doubling the recipe. When shaping the dough into discs for chilling, I kept one a little bigger than the other and let them chill overnight. I used a 9 inch deep dish glass pie dish for this recipe.
As you’ll notice in the recipe, I used King Arthur’s Pie Filling Enhancer for my thickening agent. I’ve been using it for awhile now and like it a lot for my fruit pies. It remains clear and doesn’t conflict with the flavor. It also contains some sugar and acid. You could substitute 1/4 cup cornstarch. Now, here is where it gets interesting. I rarely buy spice blends, preferring to make my own, but I do buy a few from La Boîte in New York. I’m on my second jar of one called Orchidea. Here is how it is described on their website. “A deep floral blend of orchid root, Sichuan pepper, and lime.” I’m crazy about it and have never tasted anything like it. I decided to add 2 heaping teaspoons to the blackberry filling.
It is most discernible in the floral aroma of the pie. Otherwise, it adds a subtle complexity of flavor that’s hard to describe. It enhances the floral aspect of the berry flavor, while adding a touch of deep warm spice. And it’s balanced by the brightness of the lime. The pie would still be delicious without it, but my family has declared this the best berry pie I’ve ever made. I concur. I chose to garnish it with dried edible rose petals because they seemed to carry through the floral aspect of the flavor. And also because I have a bag of them which I doubt will ever be fully used in my lifetime.
Here is a link to the pie crust recipe: https://www.williams-sonoma.com/…/christopher-kimballs… .