Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chai Pear Pie and Dancing the Horah

 A very lovely couple, who are dear friends of my sister and brother-in-law, were married this weekend. The wedding was gorgeous, thoughtful and perfect. In lieu of a tiered wedding cake, they opted for dessert table and asked close friends and family to bring pies.  I helped my sister Julie bake an elegant Pear Chai Pie for the autumn, outdoor event.

You must Chai the Pie ...  
We were inspired to bake this pie because Louisiana is most beautiful in the Fall (specifically October) and it would only be natural to honor the weather and date with a seasonal pie.  We found the recipe here at Fork This. But we varied it ever so slightly — adjusting the recipe for a spring-form.

For the Crust:
I used my favorite pie crust from Oma. You may remember it from this post, and this post.

-       3 cups all-purpose flour
-       ¾ cup sugar
-       3 egg yokes
-       1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
-       1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
-       1 ½ teaspoon lemon zest
-       9” bottom, 3” high spring-form baking pan (no smaller)

Grease sides and bottom of a spring-form baking pan.  Remove side of spring-form pan and set it aside.  In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and lemon peel.   Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and cut the butter into small pieces and into the well.  Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the well.  Quickly mix all ingredients with fingertips until it holds together and you have a smooth ball of dough. Break off a small piece and roll it with your hands into a long strip that will fit the circle of the spring-form: set it aside. On the bottom of the spring-form pan, roll out dough to cover the bottom of the spring-form pan, right to the edge of pan (the thickness of a cut-out cookie, about 3/8 inch).  Bake this for 6 to 8 minutes (do not over bake: it will be baked again with filling).   Cool on rack.  Pat the rest of the dough all around rim wall of the pan (3”high).  Assemble spring-form rim piece with the cooled bottom piece.  Take the reserved strip of dough and press it as a leak-proof seal all around the edge of where the rim dough meets the bottom crust.  Set the spring-form pan aside.  Any dough not needed for crust can be saved & baked into cut-out cookies.

Chill crust for thirty minutes in spring-form pan (we used the spring-form to make it a little more elegant).

For the filling:
We used this recipe, but did not use fennel. As we used a spring-form pan we had to be very careful to keep the pie from burning the second time it was in the oven with the walnut crumble.  Robert placed a cookie sheet on the lower oven rack to better distribute the heat and we checked it every 10 minutes.*

2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 lbs Bosc pears
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped 

My sister and me reading the recipe from Fork This.
We have Julie's husband chopping pears and my boyfriend taking pictures.
Photos by Robert Giglio.
Julie measuring the ingredients.
Combine the filling and put inside of the dough after it has chilled.
Add small chunks of butter.
Bake for 30 minutes at 425. (Crumble is chilling.)
Lower to 350, add crumble, check every ten minutes so rim does not burn.*
Bake 50 minutes.
Cool for 2-3 hours.
All dolled up for the wedding with our pie.
Please excuse my shaky iPhone pic of the dessert table.
Photobooth fun at the wedding!

P.S. I added some brie to my piece of pie at the wedding and it was amazing! 

Served a la Tradition: The Horah
AKA the Jewish Wedding Chair Dance

Mazel Tov Adam and Leah on your fabulous wedding!

This was my first Jewish wedding and I was very excited to witness all of the traditions from Charlotte York Goldenblatt’s wedding in real life.

The dance, which begins as a circle dance around the bride and groom (or honoree at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah), symbolizes the interconnectedness of the Jewish people.

The circle then breaks apart.  Dancers stay on the outside circle, but the bride and groom are hoisted above the crowd on chairs. The origin of the circle is easy to find, meaning community and is common to folk dance. But, it is harder to know where the lifting of the bride and groom comes from. Many hypothesize that this is symbolic of lifting royalty and signifies the importance of the milestone the honoree(s) are meeting.

This tradition actually did not originate in the Jewish faith … It is said to have originated in Romania and travelled to Palestine in the early 20th century where its choreography was adopted by the Jewish people. The dance is also performed at other joyous Mediterranean celebrations in Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia, to name a few.

The last component of the Jewish Horah (or Hora), when danced at weddings, is the connection of the bride and groom by handkerchief. This facet of the Horah was harder to research than the chair-lifting.  Apparently, it stems from the seperation of male and female dancers at Orthodox Jewish events.  This way the bride and groom are connected without touching. 

The Jewish Horah, is usually danced to the song Hava Nagilia, but Adam and Leah decided to choose something a little less mainstream for their Horah. It should also be noted that my non-Jewish brother-in-law who helped hoist the bride, took his job and yamaka very seriously.  

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