Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Four-Pie Party

First off, my apologies for the crappy photo. There were 60 people in my house and I downed a couple mugs of hot mulled wine just before taking it. So, yeah, I made four pies for a huge Austrian Christmas Market Party at my house. There was one Pecan Pie, two Vinegar Chess Pies, and one Chocolate Pudding Pie (omit the coffee ingredients). The second Vinegar Chess Pie was barely cut into, so I probably could have gotten away with just three pies in all, but I am not complaining about the leftovers. I wish I could have made an Cranberry Apple Pie instead of one of the Vinegar Chess ones, but I just didn't have the time or gumption. I'm still relatively impressed that I made 24 lbs. of gulasch and the four pies. The Chocolate Pudding Pie was the most popular I'd say, but the Vinegar Chess provided more conversation points. The questions on my mind now are, "Will I make another pie for my husband's lab party (also at our house!) this coming weekend?" and "What pie should I make for Christmas?" I've also got visions of a new concoction with a chocolate graham cracker crust, white chocolate pudding filling, and a whipped cream topping sprinkled with smashed up candy cane bits and mini dark chocolate chips. I don't know if I could successfully wing how much sugar to put into the white chocolate pudding though. Hmmm...maybe I could look that up.

Current Pie Tally: 131

Thanksgiving Apple Crumb Pie

Since I just made a bunch of pumpkin pie, I was craving a fruit pie. It's also come to my attention that most of the fruit pies are a lot more work, what with all the peeling and slicing and whatnot. So they are fast becoming more of a holiday or special occasion pie. Reading between the lines, that means my husband is around to watch the kids while I spend half the day baking. This pie is also a testament to how I am becoming less of a pie purist in my old age. I served vanilla ice cream alongside it and savored every bite! Happy Belated Thanksgiving! Gobble gobble! Recipe, with my substitutions, can be found here. I think I used a mixture of fresh-squeezed lemon and orange juices in this one.

Current Pie Tally: 127

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another Two-Fer

I promised to make a pie for the monthly neighborhood book club gathering last night and had everything I needed on hand to make Pumpkin Pie. So I made two! I left the extra one at home for my husband to enjoy. I'll let you in on a little secret with these pies. They're actually Butternut Squash Pies. I may have used butternut squash in my pumpkin pie before, but I can't remember. At any rate, the German word for "butternut squash" is "Kuerbis". "Kuerbis" is in fact the same word used for any old pumpkin, so I figured butternut squash would work in the pie. I couldn't tell the difference, and I like to think I have a discerning palate. I shall definitely do this again, especially if butternut squash is more readily available and/or cheaper. Recipe can be found here.

Current Pie Tally: 126

Ravenous Mommy Pecan Pie

The crappy week that I mentioned in my last post was the result of my new baby boy waking up every three hours to nurse, even at night, FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK. That made for some serious sleep deprivation for me. Couple that with my husband working late almost every night and it was tough going indeed. The baby's increased hunger led to my own increased hunger, so I whipped up this pie with said baby strapped to my chest one night while my husband was bathing my toddler. It baked to perfection and was a much-deserved sweet reward for trying times. Recipe can be found here.

Current Pie Tally: 124

Crapple Pie

This Cranberry Apple Pie marked the start of a very crappy week for me, hence Crapple Pie. Perhaps it's cursed, which is a shame, because the cranberry tartness really makes this one sing. I also dappled in a different kind of crust for this one. I recalled the one other time that I have made it, Thanksgiving quite a few years ago, and remembered that the crust was nice and flaky and chewy. The secret? More butter of course! The crust recipe can be found here. You'll need to double it to make a top AND bottom crust. And now for my slam-dunk recipe:

Cranberry Apple Pie (makes one deep dish 10" pie)

enough butter crust for top and bottom of pie
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. cranberry pomegranate juice
2 c. or 8 oz. cranberries
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 lbs. Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and cut into thick slices)
2 lbs. Stayman or Winesap apples (peeled, cored and cut into thick slices)
2 T. flour
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. butter

Simmer white sugar, cranberries, and cranberry pomegranate juice for about 25 min. or until all liquid evaporates. Cool and set aside. Toss remaining ingredients, except for 2 T. butter. Roll out bottom crust and place in pie dish. Spread cranberry mixture on bottom of pie. Next dump in the apple mixture. Cut up 2 T. butter into a bunch of little pieces and sprinkle over top of apple mixture. Roll out top crust and place over top - crimp and seal. Cut a steam vent in the top crust. Freeze 10 min while the oven preheats to 400F. Bake at 400F for about 23 min, then at 375F for another 60-70 min. Cool slightly and enjoy!

Current Pie Tally: 123

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pumpkin Yum

Pie pumpkins recently started making their seasonal appearance at the farmer's market, I had some cream to use up, and my kids took a nap, so I made this pie. It is creamy and caloric, perfect for a nursing mommy. I used my fancy red pie dish for this, which I think I will continue to do. I want to say it's 10.5", and the pumpkin filling all fits in it. Usually when I make this pie in another 10" dish, I have some filling leftover. The larger pie does take a few extra minutes to bake though. I had this one in for 50 min at 350F. For the recipe, refer to this post.

Current Pie Tally: 122

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Heirloom Flop

When I rushed over to the Silver Spring Farmer's Market to pick up Ginger Gold apples (only 1 vendor had them!) for the pie contest, I noticed the vendor also had some sweet-tart Grimes Golden heirloom apples for sale. I had never used them before, but the sign advertised that they were great for baking. Since I am fond of sweet-tart apples, I decided to get some. I then did a side-by-side taste test comparison between them and the Ginger Gold. The Grimes were tarter (to the point where they give you the mild sensation of moisture being sucked out of your mouth), firmer, and harder to peel. Since I didn't like the flavor as well as the Ginger Gold, I did not use them in the pie contest. Thank goodness! To capitalize on the amount of work and dirty dishes, I decided to make an Apple Crumb Pie in addition to the cinnamon roll topped one and used the Grimes apples in that. I figured I would keep the Apple Crumb as my consolation prize if I didn't win anything in the pie contest. Well, the resulting pie was OK, but not my best work. The Grimes apples were lacking in flavor and turned to moisture-sucking mush when baked in the pie. Oh well, live and learn. I blame the false advertising at the market. Ginger Gold all the way! With the exception that the Apple Crumb was a 10" deep dish pie, the recipe for the filling and bottom crust for this pie are the same as my pie contest entry (Apple Pie with Cinnamon Roll Top Crust, my last blog post). Here is the crumb topping:

crumb topping ingredients:
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar (packed)
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 t. salt
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a large bowl, rub all topping ingredients together with your fingers until it forms crumbly clumps. Place topping on top of filled pre-baked pie crust. Bake at 350F for about 40 min. Cool and enjoy.

Current Pie Tally: 121

Monday, September 16, 2013

I Stand Victorious

I cemented my position at the top of the town's pie-making hierarchy this past weekend at the Takoma Park Farmer's Market Apple Pie Making Contest. My Apple Pie with Cinnamon Roll Top Crust won "Best Pie Ever"! The winnings came complete with $15 worth of farmer's market tokens and a first place blue ribbon. Truth be told, I was having a bit of a bad pie day. My cinnamon rolls for the top crust didn't rise. I had frozen the extras from the Labor Day Block Party trial run to use on the pie contest pie and they never came back to life once thawed. Apparently, that didn't matter. As one of my neighbors (who came and supported me in the contest - thanks Cliff!) astutely pointed out, having a denser cinnamon roll for the crust is not necessarily a bad thing. Crusts are supposed to be dense. The judges agreed. I broke up the assembly of this pie over two days, by the way. I already had the cinnamon rolls, as I mentioned, and I made the bottom crust and sliced the apples the day before the contest. On contest day, I put everything together and did all the cooking and icing. If you make the pie in one day, it pretty much takes all day. Consider yourself warned. And pay attention - the bottom crust instructions posted here are one of the only times I'm going to give away how I make my go-to crust for pretty much every pie.

Apple Pie with Cinnamon Roll Top Crust

cinnamon roll crust ingredients:
1/4 c. melted unsalted butter
1 c. hot water
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 t. salt
1 t. bread machine yeast
3.5 c. all-purpose flour

cinnamon roll crust filling ingredients:
1/4 c. softened unsalted butter (room temperature)
enough brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped pecans to cover dough

Place non-filling ingredients in a bread machine and run on the "dough" setting. Roll out dough into a long 1/2"-thick strip. Cover with filling ingredients. Roll up and slice (I got 4-5 large slices out of mine). Place slices on a sheet of plastic wrap (to make transfer easier) on a baking sheet and let rise 1 hour (or don't!).

bottom crust ingredients:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt
5.5 T. unsalted butter
1-3 T. ice water

Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until resembles coarse meal. Add enough ice water to get the dough to just pull together. Roll out the dough and place in a 9" pie dish. Crimp edges and pierce dough with a fork all over. Freeze 10 minutes. Fill with pie weights and bake at 375F for 12 minutes. Remove pie weights and bake for 12 minutes more. Cool.

apple pie filling ingredients:
7-8 large Ginger Gold apples (peeled, cored, & thickly sliced)
1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange/lemon juice
2.5 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 c. brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. arrowroot starch
1/4 c. applesauce

Toss apple slices with orange/lemon juice and all ingredients except 2.5 T. butter in a large bowl. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple mixture and sautee until apples are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour apple mixture into prebaked pie shell. Place giant cinnamon rolls (about 2) on top. Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes. Cool. Mix 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar with 2-3 T. cream, until a nice icing consistency is achieved. Drizzle icing over top of pie. Enjoy!

Current Pie Tally: 120

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Baby Shower Chocolate Pecan Pie

This Chocolate Pecan Pie came out rich and silky, despite it being haphazardly thrown together at the last minute. It was a great sweet end to the menu for a baby shower I attended this past weekend. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Pecan Pie

9" bottom crust (unbaked, pricked all over with a fork, and frozen 10 minutes)
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
2/3 c. syrup mixture (1/2 c. brown rice syrup, the remainder an equal mix of maple syrup & honey)
1/4 t. salt
3 large eggs
2 c. pecan halves
1 c. chocolate chips

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in salt and syrup mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Put aside. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl. Whisk syrup mixture into eggs. Pour pecans into pie shell. Top with liquid syrup-egg mix. Bake at 350F for 43 minutes.

Current Pie Tally: 119

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Labor Day Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

This is me bringing my "A" game to the Takoma Park Farmer's Market Pie Contest. I made this Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie for our neighborhood's Labor Day block party as a trial run for the main event on September 15. All were pleased with the results. Many complained that they weren't able to grab a slice before it was all scoffed up. I do believe I've found a contender for this year's contest title. You'll have to wait to get the recipe. No ingredients will be revealed until after the contest, just in case some evil pie villain is reading this in the hope of sabotaging my chances. In other news, this blog's gonna see some more action soon. I've got pies scheduled for the next two weekends.

Current Pie Tally: 118

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pop's Birthday Cherry-Berry Pie

My father in law loves pie. He loves my pie the best. Even though blueberries were on sale, I forked over a few extra bucks to make this crowd-pleaser for his birthday. This pie was special because it is very low-tech. I made it while on vacation in a beach rental down the street from Lake Michigan. Thankfully, there was a decent pie dish in the house. Lacking a food processor, I bought a cheap pastry blender at the grocery store where I bought the fruit. I used my half-full metal water bottle as a rolling pin and rolled the crust out on a floured counter top. When I have made crust like this in the past, it sticks to the counter and/or falls apart into a bajillion pieces so I mentally prepared myself for that. By some divine intervention, the bottom crust only suffered some minor tearing that I was able to patch up. I avoided disaster with the top crust by doing a lattice top. When you cut the crust into strips, it has far less opportunity to tear when you transfer it to the top of the pie. For the recipe, click here. I baked mine at 400F for 30 min and then at 350F for 40 min.

Current Pie Tally: 117

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Housewarming Party Chocolate Pudding Pie

Some friends of mine recently bought their own home in northern Virginia and had a housewarming party to herald the event. Not wanting to show up empty handed, I made a Chocolate Pudding Pie to bring. Unfortunately, the other desserts were also made of chocolate, but that didn't keep people from eating my pie. In retrospect though, I should have sucked it up and made a fruit pie even though they are more work. For the recipe, click here and omit all of the coffee ingredients.

Current Pie Tally: 116

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

4th of July Pie

Just as the Chocolate Pudding Pie is fast becoming my birthday pie (omit the coffee nonsense), this Cherry Blackberry Pie is quickly becoming my go-to Fourth of July pie. Sometimes I do the lattice-top crust, sometimes not. (I'll let you in on a little pie-makers secret I may have mentioned before: If the top crust starts cracking and falling apart, that's a great time to turn it into strips and do a lattice top.) As usual, it came out great. For the recipe, click here. I baked mine at 400F for 30 min and then at 350F for 40 min.

Current Pie Tally: 115

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet Tooth Blueberry Pie

This was the first straight blueberry pie I have ever made. I didn't care for it. It was too sweet. It needed tarter blueberries or a bunch of lemon juice or something. It did, however, set up very nicely.

Blueberry Pie

9" bottom crust and top crust, unbaked
3 pints blueberries
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. tapioca
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 T. maple syrup

Mix all the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into bottom crust. Place top crust over the top, crimp and vent. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425F for about 18 min. Reduce temperature to 350F and bake for 30 min more. Let cool.

Current Pie Tally: 114

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pies of Summer

I have a lot of catching up to do. I made three pies while at the beach in CT for most of July. The first was a Rhubarb Custard number that came out perfectly.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

9" bottom crust and top crust, unbaked
1 lb. rhubarb, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1.5 c. sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cinnamon
3 eggs

Mix all the filling ingredients, minus the rhubarb, in a large bowl. Fold in the rhubarb. Pour into bottom crust. Place top crust over the top in a lattice design. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400F for about 20 min. Reduce temperature to 350F and bake for 25-30 min more. Let cool.

Current Pie Tally: 113

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New Baby Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberries were finally in at the farmer's market this past weekend, so I bought a bunch to make a pie. Fortunately, the local co-op has also been well stocked in rhubarb. Join the two and you get this sweet hot red mess. This is the first pie since my second son was born about a week ago. Not bad output. I credit my mother with making it all possible. If she wasn't here with us a for a few weeks, I surely would not have time to get a pie into the oven. Thanks ma! The first slice is for you!

Results are in: heaped with whipped cream, this one really hit the spot. I feel the need to mention that it "set up nice." The 5T. of arrowroot starch achieved the perfect consistency for the filling. Too little thickener (which I am often guilty of) and the filling is too soupy, which makes the bottom crust all soggy. This batch of filling helped maintain the integrity of the crust. Well, with that, I'll leave you with the recipe while I go pat myself on the back and have another "nursing mother" oversize slice.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

pastry dough sufficient for two pie crusts
1 lb. rhubarb (6 stalks), cut into 1/2" slices
2 quarts of strawberries, hulled and halved (if large)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 t. Penzey's Vietnamese extra fancy cinnamon
5 T. arrowroot starch

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 400F 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: 113

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Peach Rhubarb Crumble Pie

This was my husband's birthday pie this year. I let him decide whether it would be a two-crust pie or a crumb-topped pie. Luckily, he went with crumb-topped, because I didn't have enough flour to make the two crusts. I should have upped the arrowroot starch to 5 T. The filling was a little soupy, but delicious just the same. Here's the recipe:

Peach Rhubarb Crumble Pie

pre-baked bottom crust
1 lb. rhubarb, sliced into 1/2" pieces
8 small yellow peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 c. sugar
4 T. arrowroot starch

crumb topping:
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 t. salt Mix all the filling in a large bowl. Pour into pre-baked crust. Mix crumb topping in a large bowl by rubbing it between your fingers until it is moist and crumbly. Heap topping onto pie. Bake at 350F for about 51 min. Pie filling should be gooey and rhubarb should be soft. Let cool somewhat and enjoy a warm slice.

Current Pie Tally: 112

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Two-Pie Party

I made a couple of pies for my husband's annual lab party at our house over the weekend. The local food co-op had their first supply of rhubarb in last week, so I stocked up and used half to make a Rhubarb Custard Pie. For the recipe, click here. I baked this one in a 10-inch pie dish at 400 for 43 min. I was disappointed that the edges came out borderline burned, but it was a tasty pie overall. The second pie was definitely the more popular, a Chocolate Pudding Pie. I think everyone had a piece - there was only a sliver left after the party (which I ate the following day). For the Chocolate Pudding Pie recipe, click here. As usual, I used regular graham crackers instead of chocolate, arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, and didn't add any of the espresso to the whipped cream. So, it looks like I'm still keeping up with the one-pie-a-month output, BUT I do have plans to make a Rhubarb Peach Pie at the end of this week for my husband's birthday. Shhhh...it's a surprise. I'm still deciding whether it will be a two-crust pie or have a crumb topping.

Current Pie Tally: 111

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day 2013!

I just eeked this Vinegar Chess Pie out in time to celebrate Pi Day. Luckily, my husband was working from home and my son was happily engaged with some Tom & Jerry cartoons, affording me the time and level of focus required to whip up a pie. Also in my favor, I had just enough apple cider vinegar left to use in the pie. The piece I just ate was superb, still warm and custardy with a delicate sugar crust on top. This is the closest thing to Sugar Pie that I make. Check out the ingredients and you'll agree. How sad. I wanted to post a link to the recipe, but since the magazine has gone under, it's not online anymore. I've been redirected to Better Homes and Gardens. Sheesh. I guess I'll type it out for y'all.

Vinegar Chess Pie (from ReadyMade issue 50 Dec/Jan 2011)
one prebaked pie crust
1/2c. melted butter, slightly cooled
1.5c. sugar
3 large eggs
2T cider vinegar
1t vanilla
1/4c. heavy cream (I used half n' half this time around)
2T cornmeal
1/4t salt
1/8t nutmeg

directions: Whisk sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl. Add one egg at a time. Stir in vinegar, vanilla, cream, cornmeal, and nutmeg. Whisk gently. Pour into prebaked crust. Bake at 350F for 40-50min (I took it out after 40 min this time). The top should be set, but it should still be a little bit wiggly jiggly underneath. Cool and devour.

Current Pie Tally: 109

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hurry Up Spring Apple Pie

Winesap apples from controlled storage started appearing at the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago, so I picked up enough to make this pie. The stars aligned when my son took an unexpected nap over the weekend and afforded me enough time to make said pie. It took a long time to cook, possibly since I used a new deep pie dish. I cooked it at 425F for 15 min, then at 350 for another hour and 20 min. As a break to my sad pie output of late (one per month, really?), it certainly hit the spot. Here's hoping March brings more pie. I'm eagerly awaiting Spring's arrival of rhubarb. Maybe the plant I bought last year will even produce enough for a pie this year. For the apple pie recipe, click here.

Current Pie Tally: 108

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Houseguest Pumpkin Pie

This is the last of the frozen pumpkin I had stashed in the freezer. It comes from a fresh pie pumpkin we got from an apple orchard back in October. I made this pie in honor of my husband's work colleague coming to town and staying with us for the duration of a local conference. Pumpkin pie is one of those pies that really demands a commitment. It's much easier to consume before it goes bad if there are more than two people eating it. Our houseguest said it was excellent, and he claims to be a pie expert.

I had two noncompliance issues with this particular pie. The first is that the crust edges fell down in multiple places while prebaking. No amount of finessing with a pair of tongs could save them. Rather than skimp on the filling, I half-heartedly erected some aluminum foil walls to contain the goo. Nevertheless, it went spilling over the slumped edges anyway. I hate when that happens. Some of the filling inevitably oozes down to the bottom of the pie dish, makes the crust all soggy, and burns slightly. The second pet peeve with this pie is that I overmixed the filling with the electric mixer, probably because I was simultaneously chasing my toddler around the house with a plastic sword. The result was that the top of the pie was not a blemishless glasslike surface, but rather more like a teenager's face, complete with peaks and craters - foamy. With that, here is the recipe, same as my other pumpkin pies.

Current Pie Tally: 107

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Club Chocolate Pecan Pie

I made this Chocolate Pecan Pie for the monthly gathering of the neighborhood book club ladies last night. I think almost everyone had a piece, so I consider it a success. I made it the same way as last time - I just threw a cup of chocolate chips into the hot butter sugar mixture. The base Pecan Pie recipe can be found here.

Current Pie Tally: 106

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Pecan Pie 2012

My father-in-law came to town for Christmas and Pecan Pie is his favorite, so I whipped one up for the occasion. The recipe is the same as my standard Pecan Pie, except that I left the orange zest out this time. It's nice without the zest sometimes.

Current Pie Tally: 105