Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Quartet of Birthday Pies: Part 2 of 2

There were two minor setbacks to this version of the Coconut Cream Pie (same preparation as in the last Coconut Cream post, but made more of the pastry cream filling). The first was that one of my crusts got droopy in the oven again. Since it got covered up with a mountain of whipped cream, it didn't end up affecting the aesthetics at all. The second downer was that I overindulged in libations before making the whipped cream and toasting the coconut. I honestly don't even remember if I added any sugar or flavoring to the cream before whipping it up. And I had a teeny bit of help toasting the coconut and manning the mixer while I ran upstairs to use the bathroom.

So I was incapacitated, I'm making an exception and taking credit. Sometimes we all need a little help from our friends. Considering the quantity of pies made and the overall excellence of the finished products, I'm letting the help on the finishing touches slide. Churning out all those pies didn't even earn me a nice hiatus for awhile. We went strawberry picking the following day and they finally had rhubarb at the co-op, so I put together a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for the freezer bank. It's chilling, and so am I. More on that one when it sees the heat of the oven. It's not in the tally yet.

Current Pie Tally: 84

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Quartet of Birthday Pies: Part 1 of 2

I'm still having a hell of a time finding a reliable source of local rhubarb, so I went ahead and made two Mixed Berry Pies instead of Strawberry Rhubarb for the birthday festivities. They were spectacular in every way. Here is the recipe:

Mixed Berry Pie
pastry dough sufficient for two pie crusts
1 bag cherries (sorry I don't remember the weight - maybe 1.5 lbs.)
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1 pint small strawberries, hulled but left whole
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all the filling in a large bowl. Roll out bottom crust and place in pie dish. Pour filling in. Roll out upper crust, place on top, cut vent, and crimp to seal edges. Bake at 425F for 25 min, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for another 40-50 min, until crust is golden and fruit goo starts splashing out of the crust vent.

Current Pie Tally: 82

Coconut Cream Pie

This pie was made as part of the menu selection process for my husband's birthday party. It was easily the most popular item on the dessert table at my husband's work party the weekend prior to his birthday party. I was pleased with how easy it was to make. I'm really becoming fond of these "throw the cooked filling in the pre-baked crust and you're done" kind of pies.

However, there were a couple spots in the recipe where my pie vision diverged from the written instructions. For one thing, the recipe has a lot of fussy instructions for cooling and pouring and then re-chilling the pastry cream filling. Here's my advice: once the filling is prepared, stick some plastic wrap to the surface in the bowl you mixed it in and then put it in the fridge until you're ready to finish the pie. I don't know why anyone would tell you to chill it in the bowl for so many hours and then transfer it to the crust and chill it again. Maybe it's to create a firmer textured filling, but I don't think that's worth having the crust get all damp in the fridge. Pour it into the crust and top with the whipped cream and coconut JUST BEFORE SERVING.

My second qualm is that the pastry cream to whipped cream ratio was not up to my standards. When I make these for my husband's birthday, I'm upping the ante on the filling. I plan to make three times the amount of filling and put it into two pies on the next go-round. I also used my own crust recipe and used powdered confectioner's sugar in the whipped cream instead of granulated.

Current Pie Tally: 80

Friday, May 4, 2012

My New Favorite Pie

I liked this Chocolate Pudding Pie so much that I immediately had to make another one. Adhered to the same substitutions as the first version (link above). This is my new favorite pie. Whew, and with that, I'm caught up just in time for the next flurry of pie mania. Current Pie Tally: 79

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eastover Vinegar Chess Pie

Almost forgot about this one. I made this for an Easter weekend neighborhood party. I remembered the cream (actually used half and half instead) this time and it came out great as usual. No earth-shattering news on this one, but I will say that it is a great pie for slicing into lots of small slices to go around. Everything holds together well. Recipe can be found here. Current Pie Tally: 78