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