Category: Pie 101

Tomato-Chickpea Salad

Tomato-Chickpea Salad

If the goal of feeding folks in the summer is to keep the cooking and the heat at a minimum, I’m in. As my friend Jodie says, “I turn into a troll when the temperature gets above 65 degrees F.” Even it it’s not terribly hot outdoors — or is, in fact, lovely — my house seems to turn into a hot box on June 1 every year. Of course that’s just one reason Americans grill (the contemporary version of the separate summer kitchen) and eat outdoors anytime we can. The other is we’re inordinately attached to kicking back for three months every year. Or we say we are anyway.

Continue reading “Tomato-Chickpea Salad”
THANKSGIVING BAKING FAVORITES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE

THANKSGIVING BAKING FAVORITES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE

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 More Time’s Apple-Pear-Cranberry Pie 

More Time’s Thanksgiving Basics and Organization

More Time’s Thanksgiving Starters, Soups, and Sides

More Time’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Buffet

More Time’s Cranberry Thanksgiving or How to Get the Kids Involved

Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up.  On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual.  Listen to your friends and family talk about Thanksgiving and you’ll see.

Continue reading “THANKSGIVING BAKING FAVORITES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE”

Peach-Blueberry Pie

Peach-Blueberry Pie

As the bittersweet arrival of the last of the northwest blueberries coincides with the happy coming of the first glorious Colorado peaches, the two together feel exactly like a match made in heaven in my kitchen on a beautiful cool morning.  With just a smidge over 5 cups of beginning-to-pucker and wilt Oregon blueberries in the fridge, I had not quite enough for a 9-inch pie. A case of peaches sat wafting their keen aroma from the mudroom, so I followed my nose out there and snagged a couple of not-too-ripe beauties to peel and slice for the bottom of the pie, filling that empty extra inch of space. The buttery sweetness from the berry mixture on top would provide plenty of juicy goodness for the still somewhat tangy peaches.  Making something with peaches that aren’t quite ripe or up-to-snuff?  Add a pinch of ground mace to increase their flavor.

Continue reading “Peach-Blueberry Pie”

Pie 101–Fresh Strawberry Pie for Memorial Day

Pie 101–Fresh Strawberry Pie for Memorial Day

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2 places left in the SUMMER SOUPS-NO COOKING! Cooking Class at Mountain High (formerly Shouse)  on Thursday, June 18, 2015:  5-8pm.  Come learn how to be cool in the kitchen!  Click above on CURRENT CLASSES for sign-up info. Can’t wait to cook with you.

Without going into nasty details, I’ve been sick on and off for over a month.  I’d just get over one misery only to encounter another. One I’m sure I brought on all by myself, another arrived via Dave and work (everyone’s had this), and the last was maybe bit of a rerun of it all because why in the world would I want a week in which I was well?  Continue reading “Pie 101–Fresh Strawberry Pie for Memorial Day”

Sour Cream-Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel-What to Do on a Snowy Day

Sour Cream-Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel-What to Do on a Snowy Day

%0A EASY FRENCH 3-COURSE MEAL FOR VALENTINE’S DAY AT HOME:  2-HOUR COOKING CLASS @  SHOUSE APPLIANCE  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5:  5-7PM.  INTRODUCTORY OFFER 2 FOR 1.  $50.00 for two students–includes food, recipes and ideas for wine pairing. Email me or leave me a message. Can’t wait to cook with you!  Ok, now on to the pie…

I make this apple pie for special people. Special times. I make it when I have a little extra time to think and bake.  It’s not simple. I can never remember exactly how to make it. I have two recipes and I never use either one.  I use a combination of the two with my own little caveats including a crust I’ve come up with over the years. I think I might have actually documented it now.  Make it and let me know. Continue reading “Sour Cream-Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel-What to Do on a Snowy Day”

Pie 101 – Pumpkin

Pie 101 – Pumpkin

         
Pumpkin Pie should quiver, shiver, and shimmer. 


If your pie is solid and unmoving–like old jello-it’s overdone or old.  If  the filling is pulling away from the crust, it was made too many days ago.  Is it cracked?   Well, that just happens once in a while (probably overbaked)–but next time bake it for less time and see if you can avoid that. Continue reading “Pie 101 – Pumpkin”

Pie 101-Cherry (Helen’s Cherry Pie- Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed)

Pie 101-Cherry (Helen’s Cherry Pie- Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed)

 

“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?  Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?”

She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother….  is poor Billy’s lament.  She can, however, bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can blink an eye!  (Click on above link to hear the song; guitar chords included.)

I was just minding my own business.  I had stuck the hot cherry pie on a rack on an empty shelf in a kitchen cupboard.  A good place to cool pie if you have two golden retrievers. (I made four different pies for Thanksgiving; everyone deserves their favorite once a year.  I’m convinced.  Cherry is my sister Helen’s favorite.   Hence “Helen’s Cherry Pie.”  Also my loved “niece,” Kathy’s.)

Continue reading “Pie 101-Cherry (Helen’s Cherry Pie- Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed)”

38 Power Foods, Week 18 — Citrus — Step-by-Step Pear or Apple Crostata (Pie 101)

38 Power Foods, Week 18 — Citrus — Step-by-Step Pear or Apple Crostata (Pie 101)

Scroll down for recipe.

Come fall, I make crostatas regularly.  They’re beautiful, terribly good to eat, and generally make folks quite happy.  A free-form fruit pie (often made with homemade jam in Italy), they’re easier to make than traditional American pie and are show-stoppers when you have friends to dinner.  I’ve blogged the crostatas before, and have taught them several times for the Italian classes I’ve done at home.  But I didn’t think of them in terms of citrus until our Power Foods list came up this week.  While citrus (lemon particularly) is a huge part of my cooking, I think about it less in terms of baking.   

  For instance:  I rarely make a green salad without squeezing a lemon over it.  Either I have lemon and oil, lemon alone, or lemon before a vinaigrette.  Whatever choice I make, lemon, as an acid, is always followed by salt and pepper on my salads because salt dissolves best in acid.  For that reason, if I’m making a vinaigrette, I always put the salt in the acid — whether citrus or vinegar– before adding the oil. 


  Secondly, there’s little to perk up a piece of chicken, a steak, or a lamb chop like a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Of course you like lemon on fish, right?  Why not red meat or poultry?

Another thing: I love lemon juice in chili.  I stuff my roasting chicken with big pieces of orange and a cut-up onion or sometimes roast a lemon in the bottom of the pan for the sauce.  I use one citrus or another to keep my cut fruit from browning.  There are so many ways I use citrus, I can’t count or write them.  I buy lemons by the bagful, but rarely go to the store without also buying limes.  Because I don’t eat oranges or grapefruit for breakfast, I buy those only when I’m cooking or baking with them.

These fresh fruit fall crostatas, too, would be very much less without the citrus.  I make several kinds of crostatas, but these two, apple and pear, have orange and lemon zest respectively.  You could switch them out and use orange with the pear and lemon with the apple; I’m sure it would be lovely.

Citrus is, of course, loaded with vitamin C,  provides fiber, folate, lycopene, potassium and other vitamins and minerals.   (More below.)  Yes, it’s great food…  But for me…it’s all about the flavor when I use it for cooking.

A picture story…followed by the recipe.  Bake peace!
                        (Interested in traditional pie?  Read my PIE 101 post here.)

First, the apple version:

Option a (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to the baking sheet

Apple close-up–ready to eat!

 
Option b (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to baking sheet

And, then the pear photos:


Baked pear crostata close-up; I liked the pear best.
The pastry recipe for this comes from Ina Garten, who, I am pretty sure got it from  Joanne Killeen and George Germon in CUCINA SIMPATICA; ROBUST TRATTORIA COOKING and maybe a few other places!  Just a little detective work of mine.  Despite the provenance, it’s a tasty tidbit for fall when the fall fruit is divine   As neither one of them made pear, I feel I’ve contributed to the development of the recipe and hopefully to the happiness of your tummies.  This is tres easy, and if you’re afraid of pastry, this is a great start.  There’s no form-fitting into pie pans or making a crust look “P” for perfect.  This is a free-form, rustic pie baked on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  If it spills over or runs through, it’s just crusty-gooey and even better.  Don’t hesitate.  Pretty for Thanksgiving, too.  Oh, in France, this is a galette.
 
 Here’s how I did it:
Here is the apple at left and the pear at right.



LEMON SCENTED PEAR-ALMOND CROSTATA
4 large or 6 regular servings for each crostata
Parchment paper needed for baking
pastry:  (makes 2-freeze one for later or make 2)
  • 2 c white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2# (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 c ice water

In the food processor, fitted with the knife blade, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture is the size of peas.  Slowly add iced water through the feed tube until dough begins to come together. 

Remove carefully from processor and divide in half.  Press each into a disc.  Wrap one in foil and freeze it.  Refrigerate the other for an hour is best, but you can roll it right away if you must.  Dust the counter very well indeed with flour and roll the disc, using a rolling pin, into an 11″ circle. 

Place on parchment lined baking sheet until you have the fruit ready.  (Check out the pics above where I give you two options for getting the pastry from the counter to the pans.)  You can  a. fold it up gently and  quick like a bunny pick it up, and centering it over the baking sheet, place it carefully down and unfold it or, b. loosely roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and move the rolling pin over above the baking sheet, lowering it and loosening the pastry down flat onto the pan.   

This is not easy to describe; I apologize for lack of prowess as a technical writer!

Filling
1-11/4# pears (Seckel or Bosc or a mixture), peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
1-2t grated lemon rind
1/4 c sliced almonds
1/4 c ea flour and sugar
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t cinnamon
4T unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450 and place rack at center.

In a large bowl, mix cut-up pears with lemon rind and most of the almonds, reserving 1T or so for the top of the crostata.
 In the food processor, make a crumb topping for the crostata by pulsing together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until crumbly.  Remove the blade from the processor bowl, and, using fingers, pinch together the crumbs until they hold together.  
Place pear-lemon mixture onto the pastry, leaving 1 1/2 inches around the edges.  Crumble topping on the pears evenly and sprinkle with the last of the almonds.  Fold the edges of the pastry up and over the fruit, gently pleating the dough at the corners.  You’ll be leaving most of the fruit covered by only the crumbly topping; the pastry just comes up around the edges of this pie.
Place baking sheet in oven and bake 25-30 minutes (use the longer time above 5,000 feet) until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before sliding pie off the paper onto wire rack to cool completely.
Will hold at room temperature a day or so and in the refrigerator for several days, though it is best fresh.
Note:  If you’d like to make an apple crostata with the other crust, it’s made almost like the above pie, but you’ll need 1 1/2 # (3-4 large Granny Smith) apples, 1 t orange peel and no nuts unless you choose to add some one your own.  If you do, toasted walnuts might be best.  This is Ina’s method!
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More info on citrus nutrition HERE.
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I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty citrus this week at these sites: 

 
Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
.
Want to join us?  We’d like to have you as part of the group.  Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

Sing a new song,
Alyce
Pie 101 – Derby Pie

Pie 101 – Derby Pie

“Derby” Pie or  Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon Pie.  Can you say decadent?

When someone needs something baked, I do it if I can.  If I have the time.  Not everyone bakes.  I love to bake and need an excuse now that there are only two of us in the house.  If I bake for an event, I somehow always manage to make enough so that we can share a sample or even have a tiny sweetness for ourselves.  (If it’s pie, it’s usually for Dave; I eat a bite, that’s it.  He loves pie too much for me to eat much.)

(Aside:  After I saw how many people read my basic Pie 101 post, I thought I’d begin a series (quite intermittent) on pies.  I hope  you like them.  Anywho, read on.)

Dave’s baby pie in a 4″ ramekin.  He was so relieved.

My friend Roberta likes to give Kentucky Derby parties and her pie baker was a no-show.  I was happy to have an afternoon in the kitchen, though I had never before baked Derby Pie.  I had baked many a pecan pie (the easiest pie to make except for custard and, by the way, pecan pie is a kind of custard pie as it contains eggs and melted butter) and this didn’t look much different–once I figured out what it was.  And while it wasn’t terribly different, it sure tasted differently.   Think of pecans.  Then think of what they taste like sweetened up a little.  Add chocolate.  Bourbon.  You have the picture.  And oh, how lovely this would be for Thanksgiving.

I don’t know from bourbon, but this is what I bought.

But to begin with,  I  couldn’t locate a recipe in any one of my many cookbooks.   A bit embarrassing.  But not much.

This is my cookbook corner.  That’s not all of them, of course.   And no Derby Pie. Hmph.

I thought it was odd that there was no “Derby Pie” even in any of my baking books; I have a few baking books!  Back to the computer to discover that “Derby Pie” –or the term itself– is patented and can only be baked by the Kern family in Louisville, Kentucky.  In other words, they have a monopoly on it.  Once I knew exactly what Derby Pie was, I began to look on other sites for a recipe.  I found dozens –some too simple and some too complicated– and settled on one (below) from examiner.com, a site I wrote for for a few years.  It looked like a recipe I could easily triple or quadruple, which was my day’s goal.

Warming the eggs in warm water since I forgot to take them out the night before.  Room temperature eggs are needed for baking.  I left them about 10 minutes.  Warm eggs crack easier and are less likely to leave bits of shell in your bowl.
Collecting the pie plates.  I keep a couple in my kitchen and the rest downstairs. I use pie plates for a lot of cooking.  They’re perfect for anything in the microwave (vegetables, leftovers) and I bake biscuits in them because you can take the Pyrex plate to the table and the biscuits stay warm.  I almost always use glass pie plates for even baking and for seeing the crust when checking to see if the pie is done.  Do not ever use disposable aluminum pie plates; they’re just too shallow and lightweight.
Toasting all the pecans at once on a half sheet pan.  I like to buy pecans in the fall from Georgia growers.  Often churches sell pecans for fundraisers.  Buy enough for the year then and freeze them.  I make a lot of spicy pecans for Christmas and also at other times of the year for nibbles with wine. (below)

Here I’ve mixed them with other nuts for gift giving or cookie trays.  Recipe here.

For photos of the making dough portion, turn back to my Pie 101 (Step-by-Step) or use your own favorite.  My own dough recipe–scroll down.  Do not use a sweetened dough here.

Dough in all four pie plates, including the baby pie for Dave.
Mixing each pie’s ingredients separately to make sure each pie has enough of everything.
Carefully filling the shells so that I don’t spill the filling onto the pie dough.  Some people do this on the oven rack.
This one is baked in a deep dish stoneware plate from Pampered Chef.  Emile Henry also makes a good deep dish plate.

Glass Pyrex plate

Side view of deep dish pie.

The baby.  You can bake pie in about anything that’s oven proof.  Apilco (French porcelain–excellent dishes for everyday and any day) makes large coffee cups that are oven-proof–as does Corning Ware.

The whole gang all done.    Enough for a Kentucky Derby Party.    How about Thanksgiving?

derby pie

  • Recipe for 10-inch Single Crust Pie Crust  (see below for my crust recipe or use your own)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (and cooled or it’ll cook your eggs)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs  (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla  (I like Nielson-Massey vanilla; some prefer Penzey’s.)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (You see -above- I used Jim Beam.  You may know more and choose better.)
  • 3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips (I use Guiradelli or Guittard; Callebaut is lovely, but pricey and hard to locate.*)
  • 1 1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, shelled and chopped in half if desired

 How To Make Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Roll crust according to my directions in the Best Ever Pie Crust Recipe, or use Alyce’s crust below,  or use a store bought pre-baked pie crust, line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan with the dough, and flute the edges as desired.
  • In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy.
  • Remove bowl from mixer, and fold in chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts. Blend well.
  • Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set.
  • Serve warm, or cool completely before serving with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Yields 8-10 slices.   Derby  Pie Recipe courtesy Donna Diegel, Examiner.com

*You can also choose an excellent semi or bittersweet baking chocolate like Valrhona or Callebaut and chop your own chocolate if you like.  BTW, I sometimes order Valrhona chocolate from amazon.com though it is sometimes available at Whole Foods or better grocery stores.)

Alyce’s Pie Dough Recipe:

Pâte Brisée-— Made in a Cuisinart — This is the dough I use most often.
                                                        for each 10″ pie shell 
1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 1/4#  unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 8 pieces (1 stick) 
1/4 cup ice water (measure 1/4 cup water into a 1 cup measuring cup half full of ice)

Place flour and salt in the work bowl of the food processor fitted with steel blade.  Pulse a couple of times to distribute salt.  Add cold butter and pulse briefly several times until butter is worked into flour in several different sizes (1/4″ – 1/2″).  With machine running, slowly pour water through feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Stop machine and carefully remove dough from work bowl.  Working quickly to avoid melting the butter within the dough, form into a ball and then flatten into a disc.  Roll out and fill immediately (see above) or chill, well-wrapped,  1 hour or up to two days ahead. 

Sing a new song; bake a new pie,
Alyce

Pie 101 – Alyce’s Step by Step Instructions for Making and Baking Pie (Rhubarb is the Sample Lesson Pie)

Pie 101 – Alyce’s Step by Step Instructions for Making and Baking Pie (Rhubarb is the Sample Lesson Pie)

R for Rhubarb

This post now featured on Rachel Rappaport’s PIE FAIR LADY blog!  
Thanks, Rachel.  Bake pie! 

I don’t know why you want to make pie and searched for Pie 101.  Me-oh-my.  You love pie? (I adore the movie “Michael”)  Someone you love loves pie, maybe?  You want to make beautiful things and don’t paint–right.  You want to bring pie to Thanksgiving dinner:  “Oh, I’ll bring the pie,” would be fun to say. You’d like to celebrate Pi Day in a more meaningful way.    Making pie, or wanting to make or eat pie, is sort of a passion.  It’s not anything like, “I think I’ll scramble eggs and make toast because I’m hungry.”  Or even “Let’s make a pot of vegetable soup; it’s cold outside and sounds good.”   I mean, no one really needs pie.  People, do, however, desire (is not too strong a word) pie and are sort of sometimes heart-starved and/or breathless for it.  Think of the look on your uncle’s (aunt, cousin, boyfriend, co-worker, super) when words like, “coconut cream” or “strawberry-rhubarb” cross their lips.  Or the rush through a potluck meal if a pie sits alone, waiting, down at the end of the counter in the kitchen.    Is it fond memories of  your aunt’s pumpkin from Thanksgiving of 1967 or your best friend’s apple (from her own tree) in 2009?  Is it the crappy diner crust on a short, slim piece of pecan late one night after a restaurant shift when you had to have something sweet and that’s all there was?

If, by chance you’re looking for gluten-free pie dough, please just go to Gluten-Free Girl…a great blog; here’s one post on pie dough there.

I’m just guessing that usually there’s a lot of love goes into pie.  Making it is not an endeavor one embarks on lightly.  Like weeding the flower bed out back or picking up a gallon of milk at the store.  It’s kind of a devoted, warm-fuzzy, all around commitment.  Bake with a band on sort of thing.  (Being both a cook and musician gives me license for such sentences.)

Whatever reason brings  you to pie, I hope this little (not really so little) tutorial will be of help.  It contains the story of my own pie-making, a photo-essay on making the rhubarb pie (including crust), and the recipes/basic info you’ll need to make it all happen.  FYI:  This long pie post is truly a work in progress.

No fear.  Pie is near.

How I Came to Pie:

Kathy’s Apple Pie

When I was newly married in the mid-seventies, pie-making was already an art not necessarily pursued by the typical home cook.   Oh, of course there was pie.  But it might have been made with a frozen crust from the grocery store or a tube of pie dough you bought prepared but not yet rolled out.  It could have come from any one of a bunch of great bakeries; there are fewer of those now.  Many pies appeared with graham cracker crusts and then you could even buy those pre-made.  To put a point on it, I didn’t know another 20 year old who was baking pies.

In those days, it was the cool thing to take the easy way out with food.  Women were leaving the kitchen and going to work.  They didn’t want to be  tied down to cooking or baking all day and reveled in ready-made products or short-cut techniques.   Think cake and pudding mixes and frozen vegetables, Stouffers’ frozen meals.  Maybe we were the Jetsons’ or the Space Program Generation and somehow perhaps thought cooking food was about to be passe; it would soon appear magically behind Door #3.

Crostatas

But I knew people who baked pie.  My mom, for instance (though she might pull out a frozen crust once in a while herself late in life) and Dave’s Aunt Kathryn–the Morgan pie-baker.   In college, the wife of our department head (the late, beautiful Cindy Izzo), made pie when we ended up there one snowed-out Thanksgiving when we couldn’t get home.   I think each family sort of depended on one person to be in charge of pie.  Often it was someone who was simply willing.  I also had a couple of friends (older than me) who baked beautiful pies.  I really wanted to be one of  those people and so I began.  “Oh!  You make pie?”  Learning to bake  pies goes slowly as most cooks don’t make them often.  We wait for holidays and then wonder why our pies are lopsided.  If you want to bake pie, bake one more often than at holiday time.

 

Coffee Cup Pie for One
Pumpkin Pie

My own early attempts didn’t look too bad or sad (or maybe they did), but were under baked. (Lesson One:  Bake pies in a clear glass pie plate so you can see that the bottom crust is done.)   To say that my husband loves pie is an understatement and I kept trying.  I learned to throw a piece of aluminum foil on top if it browned too much or to put a collar of aluminum foil around the pie from the beginning.  Finally, I began pies at a high temperature and lowered them to a moderate one after 15 minutes so that the pie got done but didn’t burn.  I learned to underbake pumpkin pie just a teense so that it barely shivered when moved and only a few moist crumbs stuck to the knife when I tested it.  Custard should be creamy, not jelloey or like rubber.  I discovered fruit pies maybe needed a few more minutes so that the filling really was making a run for it through the slits in the top crust and the crust had some nice brown to it here and there.  No soft pallid pies for me.

Over the nearly forty years of pie baking, I’ve made everything from banana cream to sweet potato to apple crostatas to pear tarts to quiches.  I’ve made big pies and little pies and even coffee cup pies.  Most of the pies pictured are on the blog; you can search them if you’re interested; most have links.

 
Sour Cream Crumble Apple Pie

“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?  Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?”
Or What to do with a pie that falls off a shelf, crashes and burns…  Make Cherry Pie Parfait, of course!
Very fast Kiwi Tart .  Crust is made by pouring hot pastry cream on an ultra thin gingersnap cookie !
Turkey Pot Pie from Thanksgiving Leftovers
Strawberry-Hazelnut Shortbread Tart
Derby Pie
Helen’s Cherry Pie (intact)
Pie Crust Cookies (Trimmed-extra- pie dough twisted, fried, and rolled in cinnamon sugar)

 

Betty White’s Mexican Quiche

 These days I am often working on dishes, meals, or recipes for foods that are in season or are being featured at farmer’s market.  The past couple of weeks, rhubarb’s been popping up, and last year I wrote up the recipe for farmer’s market rhubarb pie  for Dinner Place and for Examiner.com.   Not only that, but I had then finally photographed (and my photos are not all that great) the process for making pie dough.    This year, a fellow blogger wrote to me, “I wish I could make crust like that!”  When I went to this blog, there was no long how-to post on pie-making to send her!  And since this blog is much more the all-purpose cooking and baking blog, I began working on this lengthy post, which I will continue to revise and add to.  But, whatever– I just want you to begin baking pies.  I’ve taught any number of people to make a pie crust (and how to put the whole thing together) right in all of my tiny kitchens where I sometimes nearly had to roll pie dough up the wall.  The filling is easier for most people.  Try my methods a few times; don’t give up after once or twice and become one of those who whine, “I just can’t make pie crust.”

If someone asks, I promise I’ll swear I never said this…but if you just can’t make pie dough (and I don’t think there’s anyone who can’t), please buy a refrigerated pie crust –not frozen–at the supermarket or ask a friend to make you a few for a birthday gift each year.  Making pie, however you do it, is really a worthwhile experience.  Even for people like me, who prefer piece of incredible chocolate cake.  There, I said it.

We have a lot of chances to make pie.  Take one!

Whatever you bake, have a light heart about it and your pastry will take it’s cue from you.  Be gentle with it (and yourself)  and get it to do what you want as quickly as possible–the goal is to get it into the oven as cold as possible.  Your warm hands, while perfect for many things, are not its friend.  Keep some fun music on (remember “cook with a band on?”)  and keep everyone else out of the kitchen so you can concentrate.  If you  have a veteran pie-baker friend or partner in the house, tell them exactly what kind of help you need if you haven’t asked them to be your wing man.

But not to worry how things look or turn out…  Nothing is perfect, particularly not pie.  (It’ll get eaten no matter.  Ice cream, or better yet whipped cream, hides a plethora of sins.)  Think of the Amish quilters who intentionally sew one imperfect patch into every quilt because only God is perfect.  Keep baking and your pie-making will improve much like your piano playing, typing, hammering a nail, or baby-handling did as you went along.  I include pictures of all sorts of imperfect pies and crusts; it’s just how it rolls.   Happy Pie!

Time to get your pie on…

rhubarb pie…step by step photos  (scroll down for recipes)

  This dough is made in a Cuisinart food processor.
  See recipes below for information on making by hand.

   Hint #1   Start in the morning or very early afternoon when you have a lot of time; it takes time to make/ bake pie and it takes even more time to cool. Hot pie is a mess.  Also, in the summer, when great fruit is plentiful, it’s hot.  Dame, get up and bake your pies early in the morning.  Like 5a.m. mid-summer.) 

We begin here:  Flour, salt, sugar-if using-, and butter mixed in the food processor work bowl –fitted with steel blade– and pulsed until pea-sized and smaller and larger pieces exist in the mixture.  This is called “cutting in the butter.”  It keeps the crust crispy to have pieces of fat in the dough.

 

Iced water added. Processed until just coming together or just starting to come together.  Don’t overwork the dough.  When you pinch a bit between your thumb and index finger, it should stay together.

 

Meantime, or ahead,  chop the rhubarb into about 1/2″ pieces, place in a bowl and stir together with sugar, flour, and salt.  Set aside.

Hint #2  Make mostly in season, but also a little out of season pie.  Rhubarb in the spring, blueberries in early summer, apple in the fall…Buy extra fruit when it’s beautiful and cheap; freeze enough for a couple of  pies you’ll enjoy at the holidays or mid-winter.  Picture a February evening and a hot blueberry pie cooling on the counter.

Take dough out of bowl, divide in half.  Put half in frig and press other half between 2 sheets of waxed paper.  Some people use plastic wrap.  You can also chill it all for an hour (or up to two days) and pull it out later.  Many people like chilled dough.  Freezing is another option.  (See below for rolling dough using flour on the board/counter.)

 

Roll out from center, going around the dough like the hands on a clock, lifting dough and paper occasionally, until more than big enough for pie plate. Put plate upside down on crust to measure.  Extra pie dough is no problem; make pie dough cookies or a baby pie.

 

Flip dough over and roll quickly-once!-with rolling pin to release dough from waxed paper.

 

Gently peel that side’s paper off.

 

Turn dough over onto pie plate and carefully pull the other sheet of paper off.

 

Gently press dough down into pie plate as evenly as possible so no air pockets exis  Edges should hang over.

 

Alternate method:  Dust counter, dough and pin well with flour and roll your dough out from the center.  Lift and move the circle of dough up from the floured board several times while rolling in order to prevent the dough sticking to the board.  You may have to sprinkle a bit more flour on the board, dough or pin each time you move the dough.

 

Into the pan, trim with a small sharp knife or kitchen scissors so that you have 1″ of dough beyond the edge of the pie plate.   Crimp (pinch) edges quickly; you don’t want to heat the dough with your fingers any more than you must.

 

Fill with rhubarb mixture and dot with butter.  The butter and the flour in the rhubarb will create the thickener.  Now for the top crust…

Hint #3:  Don’t skimp on the amount of fruit or filling for your pie.   Fruit particularly will cook down and, once baked/cooled, the finished pie won’t be nearly as tall as when you first put it together.  If you’re going to go to all the trouble of baking pie, fill that baby up.  (Custard pies will rise  while baking and then settle back down a bit when cooled. For custard pies only: place your unfilled pie crust in the pie plate on a baking sheet that is already in the oven with the oven rack just barely pulled out; fill it there to avoid spilling and then gently push the rack into the oven and close the oven door.)

Take that top or second piece of rolled-out dough and loosely roll it around your rolling pin.   
Alternate method:
Fold dough carefully and gently first in half and then into quarters.

 

Lift it on to  the pie, being careful of placement so you don’t have to do it twice. If you’ve folded the crust, place it on the lower left quarter of the pie with the corner right at the center of the filling so that you can gently unfold it to cover all of the filling.  It needn’t be perfectly round!

 

There, it’s on and covered and just needs trimming.

 

Trim evenly with sharp knife or scissors. (I like to make pie crust cookies out of extra dough.)

 

Seal or crimp edges quickly; don’t over work dough.
You can use your index finger or thumb to press down into the edge every 1/3″ or so or use the tines of a fork pressed down all around the edge of the crust.  If you don’t seal the pie, filling may run out toward the end of baking.
Below:  Don’t forget to make slits in the top of the pie so the heat can escape.  I’m a bit artistic-ha!- and put quite a few.

 

Place on a rimmed baking sheet (not your favorite cookie sheet) in case of boil overs.

 

It’s done when it’s browned and bubbling through slits. Glass pie plates help you see if it’s done.

 

So close and yet so far away.  This must cool nearly completely or you’ll cut it and have a sea of filling all over.

 

I love pie.  A little ice cream wouldn’t hurt.  See how the filling stays put in the pie because it cooled completely before I cut it?

Hint #4  The amount of sugar you need for your pie is not static.*  If your fruit is very ripe and sweet, you’ll need less.  I like a sweet-tart rhubarb pie; some recipes call for 2 cups of sugar.  Mine has 3/4 cup and even less if you choose a sweetened pie dough like Dorie Greenspan’s “Good for Anything” dough.


Here’s the rhubarb at the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.  Trim and dispose of leaves carefully; they’re full of oxalic acid and are poisonous.

rhubarb pie

Coming home in my basket

alyce’s recipe

  • 2- 9″ pie crusts, purchased or homemade *
  • 5 cups rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (leaves are toxic)
  • 3/4 c white sugar  If you sweeten your crust, use 1/2 cup sugar.
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Dash salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into small dice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together rhubarb, sugar, flour, and salt.
  3. Place one pie crust in a 9″ pie pan (preferably glass).
  4. Gently spoon rhubarb mixture into crust.
  5. Dot rhubarb with butter evenly.
  6. Place second crust on top.  Trim edges evenly around the pie pan. Crimp, pinch, or press down with fork tines the edges of the crust to seal the pie.  (If you have a lot of leftover crust, twist each small piece, fry it up in hot canola oil and roll in cinnamon sugar.  Eat pie crust cookies while warm.)
  7. With a sharp, thin knife, cut vents into the top crust to allow steam to escape from filling.  You can make a favorite design (smiley face, your daughter’s first initial, etc.) or just make 4-6 arrows or wide “v”s spaced evenly.  If you’d like, you can gild the lily by sprinkling the top crust with a dusting of white sugar or by brushing on a whisked together mixture of an egg yolk and a tablespoon of heavy cream or milk.
  8. Bake pie on a rimmed baking sheet  at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and cook another 45 minutes or so until crust is golden and rhubarb is bubbling through the slits.  If crust is browning too quickly, cover lightly with a sheet of aluminum foil or cut 4″ wide pieces of foil and wrap them around the edges of the pie.  You’ll need 2-3 pieces.
  9. Cool completely on rack before cutting.  (or the filling will run all over)
  10. A fruit pie can remain stored and covered well at room temperature for a day or two.  If not using within two days, refrigerate.  If you must freeze, I recommend freezing your rhubarb, not the pie.  See below.  (In a hot, humid climate? Cool completely, wrap, and refrigerate from the get-go.)

{printable recipe for rhubarb pie}

Pie Dough…about it:

Pie Dough Recipes:

I often use an old recipe (below) from the small manual that came with my first Cuisinart in the early ’80s maybe.  It’s a pâte brisée (paht bree-say) dough, which is typically for a French tart (add a little sugar) or quiche.  I particularly like it for custard pies (including pumpkin pie), pies made with a blind crust (i.e. a cream pie that’s filled after the crust is baked), or quiches.  This is a “short” crust (more crumbly than flaky–as in “shortbread”) and quite dense, which helps to keep the crust crisp versus soggy within a day or so.  It is also an all-butter crust in a baking age where vegetable shortening is sometimes frowned upon as a processed and somewhat unhealthy ingredient.  

Shortening?  Lard??  How about no crust at all?

I will say this about shortening:  I do not  pretend to know the ins and outs of the health side of shortening (my can now says “no trans fats”), though it has come to replace lard in baking for many people. (Though not all.)  I do know two things about shortening:  it makes a flaky crust and it makes a crust that holds up well to a fruit pie.  We also do not eat many pies.  It’s not as if you’ll consume shortening, or even lard, daily.    You can make all shortening (Crisco, for example) crust or you can make a part butter, part shortening crust as does Dorie Greenspan (“Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough”), who has written several baking books, as well as a first class blog.  If you do use shortening (it’s cheaper and some people really like it better or simply must avoid dairy), make sure you chill it thoroughly or even stick it in the freezer for a while. Cold fat is the key, though baking pies in the middle of life (nursing babies, re-writing a proposal, doing the wash) can leave you baking a pie with room-temperature dough. (It bakes.  It eats. And there’s usually not time enough to begin again.  Just go on.)

I have never baked a pie with lard (rendered pork fat), so I don’t have much to say about it.  I can say that there are amongst us veteran pie-bakers (one of my dearest friends) who would  not use anything else for their flaky crust. In the course of cooking history, I just guess bakers have used fats from many sources–usually the most easily (closest and/or cheapest source) available.  Witness my mom who kept bacon grease in a tightly closed tin and used it to cook all kinds of things, particularly eggs.  (Never for pie that I remember–though it might not be bad in a pot pie.)  Oddly enough, I remember that tin sitting on the counter and not in the refrigerator.  Butter has always been a choice and expensive ingredient, especially when you had to milk the cow, allow the cream to separate, and make the butter yourself.  Pies use a lot of fat, which adds considerably to the cost of the finished product.  Hence a history of using less-expensive fat.

If you cannot eat all the fat involved in a pie crust, many pies can be made with just one crust, which will also cut a lot of calories,  or no crust at all.  Quiche, too, can often be made with no crust.  Grease pans well for crustless pies. 

Here’s a little pie (pumpkin) I bake in individual ramekins with no crust at all.  It can be made in the oven or microwave (1 minute)  It’s actually just custard, right?  You can really do a whole pumpkin pie in a 9″ pie pan without crust.  This one has a dollop of creme fraiche on top, as well as an extra sprinkle of Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon.

Pie storage:  Invite friends and eat it up! Pie is best the day it’s made. 

Any pie made with a filling including eggs and  milk must be stored in the refrigerator if not consumed on the day it’s eaten.  Do not pay attention to pumpkin pies that sit for a week on the shelf at Sam’s.  If your pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving is made on Wednesday night, store it in the garage where it’s cold-if you live “up north”  or refrigerate it. Take it out a couple of hours before to dinner so that you eat it at room temperature, which is how you want to consume custard pies.   If you make it early Thanksgiving morning (as do I–custard pies are best the day they’re made), it’s fine on the table until Thursday night.  When you eat it for breakfast Friday morning, it had better be cold.

A fruit pie (made with a butter or a shortening crust) can sit out covered on the counter for a day or two with no harm and is, in fact, tastier than if you chill it.  It’s not something you want to refrigerate; think of refrigerated bread.   However,  use your own good sense…if it’s in the nineties and you want to keep that fruit pie three or four days, refrigerate it, too, or you’ll have moldy pie. 

About sizes of pies and pie plates:

Just about any pie can be made in any size pie plate or pie pan, as some bakers say.  Typically pies are 8″, 9″, or 10″ in diameter; tarts are about 9″.  There are are also 4″ individual pies and 3″ -or smaller- – individual tart pans.   But the standard size these days is 9″.  In fact, it’s hard to find recipes that detail pie recipes for different size pies, but that information is still available in old cookbooks and might be out there on the net.  It’s just as difficult to find something like an 8″ pie plate, but you can still find them in pie shops, antique shops, and places like Goodwill or the Arc.  It’s well worth the time to hunt out several sizes of pie plates because you might not always have enough ingredients for two 10″ pies, for example, but you might have enough for one 10″ and one 8″ or one baby pie. You can also pull out a ramekin or an oven-safe small bowl (or other oven-safe container) and make your pie.

Pâte Brisée— Made in a Cuisinart — This is the dough I use most often.
                                                        for each 10″ pie shell 

1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 1/4#  unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 8 pieces (1 stick) 
1/4 cup ice water (measure 1/4 cup water into a 1 cup measuring cup half full of ice)

Place flour and salt in the work bowl of the food processor fitted with steel blade.  Pulse a couple of times to distribute salt.  Add cold butter and pulse briefly several times until butter is worked into flour in several different sizes (1/4″ – 1/2″).  With machine running, slowly pour water through feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Stop machine and carefully remove dough from work bowl.  Working quickly to avoid melting the butter within the dough, form into a ball and then flatten into a disc.  Roll out and fill immediately (see above) or chill, well-wrapped,  1 hour or up to two days ahead.

You can also make this dough up to two months ahead and store it in the freezer.  If you store it rolled out in the pie plate (Pyrex or metal pans are freezer safe.), you can just make your pie and bake it with a frozen crust. 

If you do not have a Cuisinart, make this pie with a pastry cutter (here’s another video) or two knives.   Recipe courtesy CUISINART.

Several other pie dough recipes can be found here.

Smitten Kitchen’s take on Cook’s Illustrated fool-proof crust with vodka here. 

Baking Books for Pie:

I  typically recommend general baking books for pie like out-of-print (but still available) The Fanny Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham or Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan,  though there are certainly entire tomes donated to pies and pastries.  Unless you’ve mastered basic techniques and are ready to move on, these books should provide plenty of recipes.   I, for years, made pie from my Betty Crocker Cookbook  (early ’70s) and found it really useful, particularly when I wanted to bake pies of different sizes.

If you’d like a book devoted to pies and tarts, try The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum , Pie and Tart from Williams-Sonoma, or Martha Stewart’s  Pies and Tarts, the 2011 version.  An oldie, but goodie, is Bernard Clayton, Jr.’s The Complete Book of Pastry Sweet and Savory, which is out of print, but still available.  My copy, purchased in l985, has this inscription:

l985! Bought myself!  Mostly to learn Danish technique.

This book contains everything from pie to quiche/tarts to puff pastry to pizza to Danish.

One specialized book I’m quite fond of is Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan.  There are super desserts from Parisian patisseries and the Whole Lemon Tart is tops and fairly simple.  It’s also a, “Paris, Take Me Away” book if you’re unable to make the trip and taste the pastries yourself.  Ah, Paris!   (Sigh.)  New in the lineup for pie books is Pie it Forward by Gesine Bullock-Prado (just published in April of 2012), and while I haven’t read it, it looks like a book that includes lots of excellent pie information – including a recipe for pizza pie.

Pie Blogs

There are a lot of baking blogs, but I haven’t seen one that’s just about making pies until now.  Try Rachel Rappaport’s Pie Fair Lady; she features pie from all kinds of people…including me!   When I first wrote this post, there weren’t any blogs devoted solely to pie-baking. There were blogs ABOUT PIE–as in finding it, buying it, where are you getting any…..:  The baking blogs at the top of the heap of flour can be found here. 

I also like Rose Levy Beranbaum’s blog, though it deals with lots of baking info, not just pie; read it here.

*My Nastiest True Pie Story
 
My much-loved father-in-law loves lemon pie (especially lemon meringue) and my much-loved mother-in-law always tried to make it for him–just like his mother did.  She’d try and try and it’d never come out.  You know this kind of story, right?  One time, she asked Grandma Morgan, “What’s your lemon filling recipe?”  The answer was lemon pudding mix.  Ok, so that’d bake; that was fine.  She did that.  All’s well, huh?  But, no; it wasn’t.  The pie was always too sweet, as was any lemon meringue pie my my mother-in-law came up against. “Too sweet.”  “Too sweet.”  “Too sweet.”  And so on.  For years and years.  Ye gods and little fishes.

One year, I think it was 1999, I just heard enough of “Too sweet.”  My in-laws came to visit and I baked the most beautiful lemon meringue pie that ever was baked.  I’m not kidding; it was stunning.  It could have won awards.  (I’m not a contest person, though–too much fear of failure, I think!)  But there was one thing about this pie:  there was barely any sugar at all in it.  I mean, like almost none.  This is something you maybe could get away with if you had terribly sweet fruit or something, but not with LEMON.  My sweet sister-in-law took the first great big bite and froze with it in her mouth.  Her eyes came up to mine and I put my finger in front of my mouth, “Shh.”  She ate no more.  But my mother-in-law started in on hers and ate it all without a word.  Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I said, “How was that pie?  Not too sweet?”  The answer was (and I’m honest here), “No, it was great!”  Needless to say, no one but her ate that pie.  She had it all to herself.

I can’t believe I did that, but I did.  You can ask Dave.

So tell me your pie stories?


Sing a new song as you bake with a-band-on,
Alyce

All photographs copyright Alyce Morgan.  Please ask for permission before using.

Parts of this post were originally posted on my blog Dinner Place (Cooking for One) 6-2-11.
This post last updated 11-6-12.