Haskap Meringue pie
If a blueberry and a cranberry had a baby, this would be their love child," says Kassy Boulay, co-owner of Perth Pie Co., speaking of the haskap. "It's delicious. The colour is vibrant and beautiful, but it's the flavour that get's me."
Boulay agreed to take on an assignment for this issue — to develop a recipe for haskap meringue pie. It was the first time she had ever heard of or even tasted the elongated blue berry, but as someone who makes pies for a living, she was ready for the challenge. Truth be told, she doesn't even like meringue pie. She prefers to eat the less-sweet, lattice-crusted pies — Perth Pie Co.'s signature style — instead. But after this exercise, the not-to-tart, not-to-sweet haskap meringue pie ousted Boulay's all-time favourite sour cherry pie.
In fact, the few lucky taste-testers, who happened to score one of the few slices Boulay prepared as she worked on the recipe, would likely agree. She quickly sold out of slices at the shop and immediately received requests for whole pies.
Boulay and her husband, Josh Riel, purchased Perth Pie Co. in 2013, after friends mentioned that the baking business was for sale. At the time, Boulay was working for Fairmont Hotels, and had been, in administrative and marketing roles, for more than 10 years. Plus, commuting to the Château Laurier from the couple's new home in Perth was starting to wear thin.
“It was terrifying,” Boulay says, "but totally worth it. I’ve always had a passion for baking. I learned the craft by baking with my grandmother and mother, although I usually did the dishes.”
Boulay and Riel initially focused solely on wholesale orders, as the original owner, Joan Stephenson-Bowes, had for 10 years — selling pie shells, butter tarts, cookies, fruit crumbles and cinnamon buns to grocers throughout Lanark County. In July of last year, the couple added a retail space on Foster Street in downtown Perth to the mix, while they continued to sell wholesale.
The quaint 450-square-foot shop is wallpapered with recipes torn from old cookbooks found at the antique shops in town — recipes for aspic, maple nut tapioca and decadent chocolate mousse, illustrated with simple black-and-white line drawings. Bright red accents punctuate the space inside and out. On top of a short countertop, a tiered stand displays pies, and often cookies and cinnamon buns too. The house specialties include sweet pies — apple, tart cherry, raspberry-peach and wild blueberry — as well as tourtière, Guinness-beef potpie and curried chicken pie with almonds, apples and wild rice. Agapé Gardens kombucha is served on tap and Fluid Solar Roasted Coffee in the cup.
After receiving rave reviews and scarfing down slices of it herself, Boulay plans to add haskap meringue pie to the menu. She’s looking for a regular source for the berries.
"It's a labour of love," says Boulay, as she reflects on the decision to buy the baking company. "Food brings people together — it makes them happy."
Perth Pie Co.
73 Foster St., Perth, Ont.
Haskap Meringue Pie
Recipe by Kassy Boulay, Perth Pie Co.
Haskap juice Yields 1/2 cup juice
2 cups (200 grams) haskaps, washed, leaves and stems removed
2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
1/8 cup water
Mix the ingredients together in a medium-sized saucepan on low heat from 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until simmering. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the juices.
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup haskap juice (recipe above)
1 scant cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
To make the curd, combine the first four ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat using a heatsafe spatula, stirring constantly (making sure to scrape the sides of the pan) until thickened. Remove from heat and add butter, mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool. Once cooled transfer curd to a baked pie shell.
1/2 cup egg whites (approximately 4 egg whites)
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
In the heat-proof bowl of your electric mixer, combine ingredients, set bowl over a pot with 3/4 inch of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and whisk the mixture until it reaches 140F on an instant-read thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to your stand mixer and beat on high speed with the whisk attachment until stiff glossy peaks form. Transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe onto the curd filled pie. Use a kitchen torch to lightly brown the meringue (or you can use your oven broiler).
While Boulay isn't giving up Perth Pie Co.'s coveted lard-based pie dough recipe, she's happy to share the pâté-brissée recipe she uses at home, made with butter.
5 cups of flour, sifted
2 tsps salt
2 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup cold water
Start with cold ingredients. Whisk the flour and salt to combine and add to the bowl of a food processor. Adding in the butter pieces, pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of small peas. Working quickly with the food processor on, add the cold water to the mixture and pulse until it resembles a somewhat dry dough (do not over mix and do not add too much water, the dough should not be sticky or wet).
The dough should hold its shape when a small amount is squeezed into a tight ball. Empty the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a thick disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Remove from fridge and roll out onto a floured surface. This recipe should make four pie crusts or enough pastry for two full-top pies. The dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.