Sunday, December 8, 2013

acorn starch v. corn starch

Next weekend I have to impress someone with a silverberry (aka sweet autumn olive) meringue pie.  So as any conscientious baker would do, I tested my recipe this weekend.  And I thought, why not substitute acorn starch for corn starch?  It could be the perfect thickener for this foraged dessert.

I searched high and low for information on equivalency between the two starches, and looked for warnings on possible baking idiosyncrasies.  You know, like how corn starch won't work with acidic fruit unless you add them in the right order and how arrowroot can make dairy based sauces slimy.


So I decided to boldly bake where no baker has baked before, then share what I learned.  (Kind of my duty since Google totally let me down in the research stage of this project.)  My lemon meringue pie recipe calls for 1/2 cup of lemon juice, zest, and 6 Tbs. of corn starch.  Instead, I used 1/2 cup silverberry pulp, and 6 Tbs. acorn starch.

I was initially disappointed by the color of the filling.  Made with corn starch the color is a brilliant, no-that-can't-possibly-exist-in-nature, orangey-pink.  Dry acorn starch is a pale tan color, but when combined with wet ingredients, it becomes dark brown, turning the pie filling a subdued mauve.

On the plus side, the acorn starch added an unexpected depth of flavor to the pie.  The filling has an almost chocolate-y richness, in addition to the bright tartness of the silverberry.

What to do?  Last night's taste testers loved the pie, but I missed the beauty of the corn starch filling.  I realize that in the contest between beauty and deliciousness, deliciousness must ultimately win the day.  But who's kidding whom?  You know I'm going to try another pie with corn starch for a side by side comparison.  It's my duty, after all.


At December 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

A cook's gotta do what a cook's gotta do...How about an acorn starch/cornstarch 50-50 combo?

At December 10, 2013 at 1:47 PM , Anonymous Mark said...

Full disclosure: I was a taster. it was superb. And I liked the color - subdued but not dull, a winter claret. I love the color of the other - since it was my creation originally - but the added flavor of this one makes it the clear winner in my book.
Just sayin'.

At January 15, 2019 at 3:30 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Seems like there would be no downside in a molasses rich or otherwise brown colored concoction. Based on your experience here, I will use acorn in my next pecan pie! Thank you for exploring this obscure ingredient.

At January 15, 2019 at 4:47 PM , Blogger Ellen Zachos said...

I think that's exactly right, Unknown.

At January 11, 2022 at 1:05 PM , Blogger Elspeth said...

Will you share the recipe? This sounds delicious!


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