Food & Drink

Watermelon Chiffon Pie

Makes one 10-inch pie

The throwback dessert

photo: Johnny Autry


When Mims Bledsoe was working on her graduate degree in philosophy at the University of Georgia, she drove several times a week from her home in Atlanta to Athens, eighty miles away. On the way there, she pondered Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. On the way back, she fantasized about opening a pie shop. The pie shop prevailed in 2011 in a Buckhead shopping strip. For her first menu, Bledsoe developed a watermelon chiffon pie, which she viewed as a kind of reclamation project. As she’d learned from her cookbook collection, chiffon pies enjoyed a surge of popularity in the 1950s and ’60s. “But the more popular they became, the worse the recipes got,” she says, “eventually culminating into assemblages of sugar-free fluff.” Her version rescues the old favorite with pure whipped cream, unflavored gelatin, and fresh summer fruit at its peak.

 


Ingredients

  • Crust

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt

    • 2 tbsp. sugar

    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cubed

    • 1 egg, lightly beaten

    • 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. cold water

    • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar

  • Filling

    • 2 3/4 cups watermelon puree (from about 6 cups fresh melon)

    • 3/4 cup sugar

    • 2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin

    • 2 egg whites

    • 1 cup heavy cream


Preparation

  1. For the crust:
    Combine flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg and pulse again. Combine water and vinegar and add to mix, pulsing until dough is just combined. Keep cold, work quickly, and do not overmix. Divide dough into two equal portions. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place one in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight before rolling; freeze the other for another use.

  2. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch round. Drape the dough over a rolling pin to transfer to a 10-inch pie pan, pressing it against the bottom and sides. Trim the dough, prick the bottom and sides with a fork, and crimp the edge. Place a square sheet of parchment paper over the dough and fill with dried beans or pie weights, pressing lightly. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake piecrust for 15 minutes. Remove parchment and beans and continue baking until crust is golden, about 10 minutes more. Let crust cool completely.

  4. For the filling:
    Puree watermelon cubes in a blender, working in batches if necessary.

  5. Combine watermelon puree and sugar in a medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly over the top. Let mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow gelatin to bloom. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking until gelatin is completely dissolved (about 3 to 5 minutes). Remove pan from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain watermelon mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any pulp and return to pan, stirring occasionally to prevent mixture from setting.

  6. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until soft peaks form (about 5 minutes). Set aside. Place cream in a separate mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (about 5 to 7 minutes).

  7. Slowly pour watermelon mixture into the whipped cream, a bit at a time, gently stirring to combine. Fold in egg whites, taking care not to overmix.

  8. Spoon or pipe filling into the cooled shell. Refrigerate pie for 2 hours or until firm. Serve with whipped cream.

Recipe from pastry chef Mims Bledsoe of Pie Shop in Atlanta, Georgia.


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