This pie was inspired by local ingredients (think steamed corn buns with red bean filling in 7/11) and created for the 4th of July. It’s not completely vegan (some eggs are featured) but it is milk and butter free. More importantly, it was so good I ate half the pie. The pairing of a crispy cornmeal crust and hot gooey sweet date filling will make even the most die-hard apple pie fan reconsider their loyalties.
Credit for this amazing recipe goes to my friend Ali Retson, who I hope will soon also have a food blog to showcase her amazing culinary creations! For now, another cooking show must suffice:
- 1 cup yellow corn flour
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 jin large hongzao (dates)
- 2 cups water (enough to just fully cover dates in the pan)
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch or potato starch
First make the crust. Mix all crust ingredients together. When the dough forms a ball, does not stick to the sides of the bowl, and does not stick to your fingers when touched, it’s ready. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time. If the dough is too wet, add more corn flour, 1 tbsp at a time. Using your fingers, gently spread and press the crust along the bottom and up the sides of a round baking pan. Place the crust in the fridge for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from fridge, poke holes in the bottom with a fork (this is to let steam escape so your crust doesn’t bubble and crack), and bake at 190 deg. C for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.
Remove seeds from dates. Place pitted dates in a pan on the stove and add 1 to 2 cups water until the dates are just fully covered. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. While the dates are coming to a boil, mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl (egg yolks, brown sugar and corn/potato starch). When the date mixture boils, remove from heat. With one hand, begin mixing small circles in the egg yolk mixture and with the other hand slowly stream in the water from the dates. Take care, move slowly, and never stop mixing. You do not want to cook the egg yolks. When all the water is added, mash the dates with a fork and add those to the egg yolk/water mixture. Pour filling into prepared crust and bake at 190 deg. C for 30 minutes. Test to see if it is fully cooked by inserting a fork or toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If it is not done after 30 minutes, continue baking, checking every 5 minutes.
This tart tastes best warm. Heat leftovers in the microwave before eating.