Friday, December 05, 2008

I'm thankful for pie

it's nice sometimes feeling as american as apple pie

This is a gratutious posting about pie. Nothing fancy, just traditional pie. I went to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by my church and, of course, I brought pie. Here's my apple pie with my new favorite pie dough. The key to super yumminess is to macerate the apples in the recipe's sugar for 30+mins, drain off the liquid, boil it down to a syrup, then add back to the pie filling (thanks Ms. Beranbaum!).

And here's my pumpkin pie. Despite its extra luscious, nowhere-near-curdled, perfectly smooth texture, it still cracked (usually a sign of overbaking). No fear - I just baked up some dough scraps into little leaves and hid the unsightliness. The secret to this pie's yumminess is simmering the canned pumpkin with the spices before making the custard. It awakens the pumpkin flavor and gets rid of any canniness. I could use fresh, but both Cook's and Ms. Beranbaum embrace this shortcut, so I feel justified.

I was so pleased that the knife designs survived baking.

Finally pecan pie, um, I mean tart. I only have two pie pans so my tart pan had to pinch hit. But I was so pleased with the result that I do believe all future pecan pies will call this pan home. This is my husband's and my friend Julie's favorite pie so I have lots of excuses to make this pie over and over. Yay!

Per request, I'm posting the pecan pie recipe, for which I take no credit. I'm just good at following directions. You may be tempted to use whole pecan pieces, which are prettier. But don't do it - it makes it too hard to cut the pie and results in sloppy pieces. And don't skip the pecan toasting! It awakens the real nut flavor. Just throw them on a baking sheet in a 350F oven for 8-10mins. Check them frequently to make sure they don't burn. And don't use any nuts if they burn, even slightly - seriously, throw them out and start over - you know who you are : )

Perfect Pecan Pie
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated. For more detailed instructions and illustrations, including a pie crust recipe, see the Cook's website (account password required).

1 batch of your favorite pie dough, rolled out, placed in pie pan, and prebaked (usually 20 mins at 375F) - don't forget your pie weights!

6 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole pecans (8 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 275F. Place pie shell in oven if not still warm.

Melt butter in double boiler (heatproof bowl set over pan with water maintained at just below simmer). Remove butter bowl from heat; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then corn syrup and vanilla. Return bowl to double boiler and stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.

Pour mixture into warm shell; bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes. If your pie crust is overbrowning, cut a ring out of aluminum foil and place over the crust edges to protect them. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours. Serve pie at room temperature or warm, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8.

***If you don't have access to corn syrup or brown sugar (that means you, Zürichers!), there's another version of this pie that uses maple syrup (pricey but at least available in Zürich) and no brown sugar. I can't vouch for it but it's worth a try.


Zurich Mama Geek said...

Lovely pies! I'm still frustrated that my pie crusts shrink more than I expect when I bake them even when I refrigerate and freeze them as recommended by CI (the fluted part won't stay up on the side of the pie dish). I think my oven heats unevenly and is probably not at temperature.

Astrid said...


Tanya said...

I have that shrinking problems too! Sorry I don't have any tips...yet :)

Susan C said...

I have yet to make a successful pie crust. I have a wonderful recipe from my grandmother (it uses Lard and is yummy) but I never get it thin enough and it shrinks down the sides so much I always end up just putting sugar and cinnamon on it. Yours are perfect!

Duchess said...

What a lovely blog. So glad I found it!

Melissa Jane Mix Hart said...

Those truffles look divine! I love finding blogs written by Mom's from around the globe.

Steve/zurcherart said...

Lol. I just requested your pecan pie recipe on an older entry. You're really good when you answer requests before they're made.

I used to "import" brown sugar, but now I buy Molasses from the Reformhaus and reduce the sugar by the amount of molasses I add to the recipe-it's the same result and you get to control how "dark" your brown sugar is. (I like it real dark--"normal" people would use a few teaspoons of molasses to form one cup of brown sugar ... I sometimes use a few tablespoons.

My ersatz recipe for pecan pie is the same as your actual recipe, but without corn syrup I used more eggs and sugar (6 eggs, 2 cups "brown" sugar-a real calorie bomb). It comes out a little more "eggy/custardy" than what I remember pecan pies to be, but it is delicious.

I love your blog. Glad I found it today (searching for info on flour in Switzerland ... did you ever finish your research :-)

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