Baker’s Solstice Countdown: December 20: Liisa’s Salmon Christmas Pie

The whole family loves this pie, which was a relief the first time I made it, because I didn’t tell them what the filling was until after they had eaten it. I love this pie for its appearance, its flavor, and how easy it is to make. The potato pastry is forgiving of the most wanton abuse, putting up with being squished together and re-rolled again and again, and it stays splendidly workable even as it warms up, which makes it perfect for giving all those fancy decorations a go. Be sure to allow it to bake long enough to go deeply golden, to be sure it’s baked all the way through. The filling is moist and flavorful, but not heavy, and it’s all pre-cooked, so you can taste it as you go, and add more lemon juice and pepper if you like.

Liisa’s Salmon Christmas Pie

Ingredients:

-Crust-

  • 3/4 cup dry potato flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firm butter
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups ice water

-Filling-

  • 1 pound smoked salmon (I use smoked salmon lox)
  • 1 cup cooked medium-grain rice
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons dried dill weed or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

-Glaze-

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Method:

  1. Combine the potato flakes, salt, baking powder, and flour in a bowl or in the food processor with the steel blade in place. Cut the butter into small cubes, add to the dry ingredients and cut in using a pastry blender or fork, or using on/off pulses of the food processor, until butter is in pieces the size of split peas. Add ice water just until dry ingredients are moistened. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 45 minutes.
  2. Flake or chop the salmon into small pieces, and place in a bowl. Mix in the rice, eggs, dill, lemon juice, and pepper, until all ingredients are well blended and evenly distributed. Honestly, the best tool for this job is your clean hands, but you can use a fork if you prefer. Mix in the heavy cream with a fork until well incorporated. Chill until ready to use.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Mix the egg and water glaze in a small bowl, and have a pastry brush handy.
  1. Divide the dough into two parts. Roll out each part to 1/8-inch thickness, then use a plate and a sharp knife to cut a 10-inch circle. Save any trimmings for decorations.
  2. Transfer one of the dough circles to the prepared baking sheet. Spread the filling in an even layer over this dough circle, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge, and brush the edge of the crust with the egg glaze. Cover the filling with the other pastry circle, completely encasing the filling. Brush the underside edge with the glaze, then press the edges together to seal, with your fingers, or with the tines of a fork make a pretty design. Brush the top of the pie with glaze, roll out scraps of dough and cut strips, hearts, stars, or whatever strikes you to decorate the top of the pie. Brush again with the glaze. You can wrap the leftover dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. It can be rolled out thin, pierced all over with a fork, cut into crackers, and baked until crisp in a 400 deg. F oven.
  3. With a toothpick or sharp tip of a knife, make evenly spaced holes in the top of the pie to vent steam. Bake until deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve either warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

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