Want to make delicious pies and not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorite tips to baking pie that I have learned from other pie bakers or from making my own #piefail and letting you benefit from it!
TIP #1- Just chill.
When making crust, you want almost all of your ingredients & tools to be cold. Ideally, you want little solid pieces of the fat you are using (butter, shortening, etc.) in your dough, so chilled everything will reduce melting of the fat before baking. That will give you the desirable flaky crust. I chill my butter, shortening, water, knives and pastry blender prior to making dough and don’t take them out until the last possible second before I need them. Make the dough as per the recipe and then put the dough back in the fridge to chill for at least an hour. Once chilled, roll out the bottom crust and you might want to think about…
TIP #2- Baking it blind.
Pies that are really wet & juicy can make your crust soggy. No one likes a soggy bottom. A great way to combat some of this sogginess is to partially prebake your crust, which is called a “blind bake”. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, prick the bottom of your pie crust with a fork several times to prevent bubbling and stick in the oven for 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let cool while you make your filling. Once you have poured your filling in and started baking, it would be a good idea to…
TIP #3- Spin it right ‘round.
You want to make sure your pie bakes evenly (unless you’re playing a cruel, cruel joke and saving the cooked side for yourself). About halfway through the baking process, turn the pie around so that the side of your pie facing the back of the oven is now facing the front. At this time you should also…
TIP #4- Cover your crust.
Cover the edge of your pie crust using a crust shield like this one or you can finagle one out of aluminum foil like this to prevent it from burning.
TIP #5- Buy it.
A lot of people say that the reason they won’t make pie is because of the crust. I say if you don’t want to make the crust, but still want the pie? Buy the crust! My pie adventures started years ago with buying all my crusts and just making the fillings. Tips 2, 3 and 4 still apply and don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone your secret. *wink*
Anyone who knows me, knows I am fond of England. Ok, that is an understatement…I have a deep-seated, passionate, undying love for all things British. I blame many hours of watching PBS as a child with programs like The Chronicles of Narnia, Red Dwarf and Are You Being Served?, among countless others.
I’ve been pining for a trip to England and to see my friends over there. This pining turned into inspiration for my breakfast pie for National Pie Day. My very first breakfast in England was a traditional “full English”, also called a “fry up” as it consists of fried eggs, fried sausage, fried bacon (which is more like Canadian bacon), fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms and even fried bread! It very often is served with baked beans which Brits seem to eat for every meal with every food known to man.
I decided to put all of these elements into a pie (sans the fried bread) and despite some funny looks when I revealed the ingredients, it was a hit.
If you hadn’t already heard, yesterday was National Pie Day and people all over America were enjoying pies they baked or enjoying eating pies that other people baked. In gearing up for National Pie Day, I was planning out my day’s menu and a friend had mentioned that apple was their favorite kind of pie.
Immediately my mouth was watering with the flavors of fall, trips to go apple picking, the smell of cinnamon, and the crispness of the air (much more enjoyable than our current brrrrrazillian below zero weather here in Syracuse). I am such a sensory nut. That decided it, I needed to put an apple pie on my menu.
For this pie I used a variety of apples for a mixture of flavors. I put in one Empire, 1 Granny Smith and 2 Gala apples. I also decided to try my lattice again, this time with my fancy new pastry cutter AND pair it with a fluted edge crust…WHOOOAAAA…too fancy! too fancy! You can learn how to flute a pretty crust here. Not to pat myself on the back, BUT I think is the prettiest pie I have made to date. Almost too pretty to eat!
Out of all the pies I made this weekend to share with my family, my grandma liked this one the best; the pie Queen has spoken!
I recently was so honored and very lucky to be asked to do an interview about my love of pies and pie baking for National Pie Day which is tomorrow. The very lovely Michelle Ledesma from Dishin’ In the Kitchen and I chatted this week about my favorite kind of pies, why I started this pie blog AND I give away some family secrets (don’t tell my grandma!).
Pies are comin out of the oven all day today. I think a cold drink and movie later is definitely called for! :)
Have you ever taken a bite of food and get a little weak in the knees from how good it tastes? Have you ever exclaimed that there was a party in your mouth? For me, this steak and ale pie is one of those foods.
I made this pie for a dinner party on a cold January night. A small gathering with good food and good company. As a rule when cooking with alcohol, use something that you find tasty on it’s own…if you wouldn’t drink it outside the cooking, don’t use it. I am a huge fan of microbrewed beers, especially those with a little hop to them; so, when looking for the ale for this pie I chose the Coney Island Lager by the Shmaltz Brewing Company.
The simmering beef and ale and onions smells heavenly. I love all the smells of this pie from beginning to end. Beware of those smells though…they make hungry folk start to chomp at the bit for the pie to be done! As we waited we talked about the fate of the American education system, world peace, our favorite musicals and had a few glasses of Kung Fu Girl wine (which is quite tasty).
When the pie was finished, it didn’t take long to disappear from the table (even with a draw for who would be the lucky one to get the last piece). I will be making this delicious pie again for National Pie Day!
Steak and Ale Pie
1 basic flaky pastry for double-crust pie (I used a cheddar cheese pastry: see below for recipe)
1 ¼ pounds cubed beef stew meat
1 onion, diced
1 ½ cup pale ale or lager beer (rule of thumb, if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups peeled & cubed potatoes (I used 2 large potatoes)
1 ½ cups quartered fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Prebake the bottom pie crust for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.
Place the beef stew meat, onion, and ale in a large saucepan. Simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes.
Season the beef with garlic, thyme, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix in the potatoes and mushrooms. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are just tender enough to pierce with a fork.
Spoon a small amount of sauce into a seperate bowl. Whisk with the flour until completely combined and stir into the beef. Simmer until slightly thickened.
Spoon the beef mixture into the crust and top with the remaining pie crust. Cut vents in the top crust for steam and crimp the edges to seal them together.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and gravy is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Halfway through, rotate pie so that the side that faced the back of the oven now faces the front. Put a crust guard or tinfoil on the outer edges to prevent burning the crust.
Spiced Cheddar Crust
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut into ¼" pieces
½ cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
½ cup cold, cold water
1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Toss by hand to mix. Scatter butter over the dry ingredients and toss to mix. Use a pastry blender/2 chilled knives to cut butter into the flour until it has small split pea size crumbles (if you’ve ever made a crumble topping before, this is what it makes me think of). Add shortening and do the same process so that all fat is cut into small crumbles in the flour mix. Add cheddar cheese and toss with a fork to mix well.
Sprinkle half the water over the mixture. Continue to toss with fork to dampen the mix. Add remaining water 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons at a time. Continue to toss and mix, making sure you pull from the bottom on the upstroke and gently press down on the downstroke. The dough should be ready to pack. If it seems to need more water, sprinkle 1 teaspoon at a time until it can be packed.
Pack dough into two balls (one slightly larger for the bottom crust) as you would pack a snowball. Knead each ball once or twice on a floured surface and flatten balls to ¾" discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight before using to bake.
Pies have been around since Ancient Egyptian times…cupcakes have only been around since the early 19th century. The article linked above talks about how we cannot compare pie to the cupcake. Clearly the people who wrote this article are kindred spirits of this pie girl. Pie has never gone away, but merely making a return to it’s #1 spot in our hearts. Car-Pie Diem!
After having leftover buttermilk* from a cornmeal crust I was making (for pie coming later) I didn’t want it to go to waste. Luckily my trusty Pie book had a recipe for a buttermilk pie which I had never tried before.
*Buttermilk Fact: Today’s buttermilk has no butter in it and is mostly non-fat or 1% milk…so eat up!
Ok, I have to admit…one of the most annoying things about baking is waiting for butter to soften…well, when you bake things on a whim that is (and very often that is me). So if you’re thinking you might want to try baking this pie…quick! get your butter out now!
On first taste, I thought this pie was good, but not my fave. Creamy, nutmeggy goodness with a little bit of tart. Then suddenly I knew…this pie would be the perfect pair with some fresh fruit or a sweet drizzle. I grabbed some peach schnapps and some fresh blueberries leftover from my Blue Beauty recipe and whipped up a berry syrup. Drizzle it over the pie and oh man, that makes me excited all over. If you want to be excited all over, read on for the recipe!
2 large eggs, seperated (yolk in one bowl, whites in another)
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees C. Put the bottom crust in the pie pan and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. This will allow gas to escape while prebaking. If any bubbles should form, use the back of a spoon to gently push it back into shape. Put the crust in the oven for 7-10 minutes until it starts to get golden. Take out of oven and cool. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until fully blended. It’s okay if it’s a little clumpy. Mix in egg yolks fully. Now add flour, lemon juice, nutmeg and salt until completely combined. Gradually mix in buttermilk.
In a different bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Pour some of the buttermilk mixture into the egg whites and fold in (fold in= run your mixing tool around the outside of the mixture and in…as if you are making a capital letter ‘G’…well, that’s how I do it :D). Fold in until just combined, don’t overdo it. Pour mixture into the cooled pie shell. I sprinkled a little nutmeg in the center to look pretty and stuff.
Put the pie in the the oven and bake 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sides puff slightly. Halfway through the baking process, rotate the pie so the part that faced the back of the oven now faces the front. The filling may jiggle when you take it out, but it shouldn’t seem soupy.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup peach schnapps
¼ cup water
Whisk together sugar and cornstarch until completely combined. Add in remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until all sugar is dissolved and the liquid starts to thicken. Let cool for 10 minutes and spoon it onto whatever you’d like!
Phew! What a couple of weeks it has been! Thank you to everyone for all your pie support.
Eating all of these pies by myself, while sounding awesome, is so not good for my other goals this year….sooooo…the Pie Fairy had her maiden voyage last week with a maple blueberry pie delivery to loverly friends @kimincuse, @danklamm & @kellylux up at the Career Services offices at Syracuse University (my alma mater). It was a rousing success with a request for more (any cook/baker’s best compliment). Thank you for being my taste testers!
Let me know if you would like a visit from the Pie Fairy by tweeting me at @foryourpiesonly with a request for pie & include your favorite kind of pie! Right now this offer is only available to Syracuse peeps….but I am totally open to inviting offers to visit other exotic locales ;)
As I’ve been talking to folks about pie and my new pie adventures, I always get the “oh right!” when I say my blog will not only feature sweet pies, but savory pies and all sorts of pie incarnations. You really can have pie at every meal…how you want it, when you want it. Pie for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert…be still my heart!
This article is a collection of pies for any time of day:
I just found out today that this month contains National Pie Day…January 23rd, WHICH is also my father’s birthday (he has already put in a request for his favorite…a cherry pie). Now to brainstorm what fun things we can do in honor of pie day!
In thinking about what pie I would do next, I started to brainstorm some classic winter
pies. It’s quite cold here in Syracuse and every morning we wake up to a new layer of snow. Visions of pumpkin, pecan and gingerbread danced through my head, but then I remembered…I have summer blueberries in the freezer! Suddenly I was transported to a hot summer day, eating blueberries by the handful and I desperately wanted a taste of the season I longed for.
The blueberries I used were from my aunt’s farm…they are of the Blue Jay variety and are big, blue and delicious. This pie was also a chance for me to try out my new book PIE by Ken Haedrich from Christmas. Not only did I try out a recipe, but I also learned how to lattice! I have tried a few times before, but I felt confused and not as deft with my fingers as when I used to “crochet” my mom potholders on a plastic loom.
When this pie was done, I couldn’t wait to take a whiff and sure enough, it smelled like summer. I now have a hankering for sunshine, a pedicure, sandals and a swimming pool. Enjoy!*
*For Your Pies Only accepts no responsibility for spur of the moment trips booked to tropical places as a result of baking this pie.
5 cups blueberries-fresh (picked over for stems) or canned (drained) or frozen (partially thawed)
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
milk or light cream
sugar (granulated or coarse decorating sugar..like the kind you might find on muffins)
Roll out bottom pie crust and place into a 9 inch pie pan.
Place berries in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir the mixture into the fruit, then stir in the lemon juice. Pour filling into bottom crust, smoothing the top with a spoon. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C).
Roll out a rectangle of chilled pastry dough about 10 inches square. If the dough is not cold enough, trying to put together the lattice will become quite difficult. Use a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, butter knife and cut the pastry into 8 lengthwise strips about 1 inch wide.
Ok, here we go with the lattice:
Lay 5 strips vertically across the pie, like this:
Fold back strips 2 and 4 and lay one strip in the center of the pie, like this:
Unfold the folded strips and fold back strips 1, 3 and 5 at the top. Place another strip perpendicular across the pie and unfold strips 1, 3 and 5. Do the same by folding UP strips 1, 3, 5 at the bottom:
Trim the strips and pinch the ends into the edge of the pastry. (I added a snake of crust around the edge and pinched it down, but it fell off…so I don’t recommend it hah!) Lightly brush the pastry strips with milk and sprinkle sugar over the top of the pie.
Place pie on the center rack and bake for 25 minutes. Put a piece of aluminum foil (about the size of a baking sheet) underneath the pie or on a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any juice spills.
Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Rotate the pie 180 degrees so the side of the pie that was facing the back of the oven is now facing the front of the oven. Again, this is where I put on my crust shield. Continue to bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and juice should be bubbling thickly.
For many of us, the last month (or more) has been an eating marathon filled with good food and good company. Our fridges are overflowing with leftovers and the glory of turkey and stuffing sandwiches have lost their excitement (yesterday a plain ol’ tuna fish sandwich was looking good to me).
After Thanksgiving I amended a turkey pot pie recipe to finish off some of our leftovers without feeling like I was starting to become a turkey myself! It was so easy and delicious to boot. I shared it with my parents and they’ve been begging me to make it over and over again.
As you can see by the photo, I thought I’d be cute and cut a star in the crust to vent (and I’m still perfecting my fluted edges). You’re welcome to cut whatever shaped vent you’d like…a heart, a leaf, the bat-signal…they all serve the same purpose. This recipe is a sure winner for the savory pie lovers.
A lovely friend of mine sent over an article of predictions for 2011 by Bonny Wolfe, and this is how she started….
“Every year, I predict the death of the cupcake. I’m always wrong.
But this year, they’ll have real competition from the humble pie. Trend-spotters are calling pie the food of the year. Texas and New York restaurants offer pie happy hours. Pies are showing up at weddings, and pie shops are opening in a neighborhood near you. Pies come in sweet and savory, maxi and mini, deep dish and deep-fried.”
This prospect has got me really excited. I have always loved pie over cake (no offense Jen, your cakes are DELICIOUS and everyone should try one) and it looks like pie may finally be getting the recognition it deserves. Pie praise for it’s flexibility, diversity and pure yumminess. I look forward to sharing this year with you. I hope we have many pie adventures. Long live the pie!