Pie Therapy

Recipes and ruminations on pie.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Six Pies Plus - Apple, Pear, Berry & Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

I offered my friend a pie tutorial before Thanksgiving. They were hosting and my friend was making the pie. We were not hosting this year, I was only doing pie - so I thought why not have a pie-making party. Another friend came along too. On the eve of, we made pies for all our three of our Thanksgivings.

We made 3 Pumpkin Pies, an Apple Streusel, and a Pear Streusel. The next day I made a mixed berry pie. I also made three little pies: pear, berry pear & pumpkin - so we would have something left at home (of course they didn't even make it to the day after)

The pumpkin pie recipe was the one straight of the back of the Libby's can. We three girls made all three custards together and we created all butter crusts for each. Over wine & beer I gave pointers on scant ice water, cutting in the butter, and not working the dough too much. They all looked great! One mom went home to tend her baby, pumpkin pie in hand!
Next up we went to work on the fruit pies.
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 7 T iced apple cider
  • 1/2 c lard
  • 1/2 t salt
Pear Pie
  • 5 mixed pears (bosc, anjou, etc)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Streusel: 1 t nutmeg, 6 T butter, 3/4 c flour, 1/2 c oats, 1 c brown sugar
Apple Pie
  • 5 mixed cooking apples (stayman, granny smith, etc)
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Streusel: 1 t cinnamon, 6 T butter, 3/4 c flour, 1/2 c oats, 1 c brown sugar

This time we decided to do lard and used apple cider for the liquid in the crust. As my friend noticed, it was a lot easier to mix and roll. Then we mixed our apples and pears with lemon and spices as the crust was refrigerated. We then mixed chose our spices for the streusel and sprinkled over the crust. This pie baked for 45 mins in a 375 oven.

The next morning I made a butter lattice crust berry pie. I used a package plus a half of frozen berries mixed it with 2 T tapioca and 3/4 c sugar. I also added about 2 t of chopped fresh mint from the garden and a half a lime squeezed in.

The pear was the true winner. Everybody was gaga about it. And the freestyled mini one I just used nutmeg with the pears and cardamom in the streusel. YUM. The pumpkins were good - but just that. The berry was very good, but the mint could have been more, as well as the lime. Neither stood out at all. The mini berry was a real standout though; I combined berry and pear and it was a magical combination - will definitely need to try that soon.

A note - in the picture my friends pumpkin and apple are on the left. Interestingly you can really tell a difference in the use of dark or light brown sugar.

Also I received my first gift pie on Thanksgiving - from a neighbor. It was a sweet potato pie with sweet potatoes from their grandparents farm. It was so lovely to receive a pie too!

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Friday, November 09, 2007

3rd Times a Charm - Apple Streusel Pie (lard too)

I thought I could not go wrong with Apple Streusel pie; boy was I wrong. I took what should be a relatively straightforward pie and buckled under pressure. One recent Saturday morning I needed to make 2 pies. One for a memorial and one for a dinner party. Both of the recipients are definitely connoisseurs so I felt a certain need to perform. That Friday I had stayed out too late with girlfriends so I woke up a bit foggy and got to baking. Then I went to the service, came home a baked the pies. Both pies were delivered and I only tried one late that evening.

What a pie disaster. First of all there was burnt remnant of former pies in the oven. For the first 30 minutes of baking the oven smoked. The pie had a acrid aftertaste, yum The oven was smoking but I had to deliver the pie - so I just kept it in. Wrong. Second the apples weren't cooked through. They were still kinda crunchy. I had baked it at 425 for an hour - I thought it was enough and the crust was going too crunchy. So it just had to come out. Honestly it was just bad. I felt pretty awful and have it my mind to make it up to both parties....

So, a week or so later I started out again. And this time I wanted to try lard. So here is the recipe:

Single Crust:
  • 1/2 c lard
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 6 T apple cider (iced)
  • 1/2 t salt

  • 6 mixed cooking apples (stayman, winesap, etc - no granny smith)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • cinnamon sugar
  • 6 T butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 2/3 c flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 t grated nutmeg
Make the crust by cutting the lard into the flour + salt. Then add in the apple cider. Start with 5 T. Mix with a fork. Add more as necessary. Lard mixes in MUCH easier then butter, but still don't overmix. Then ball it together and set in fridge.

Peel and slice apples into slim wedges. Squirt lemon and mix over it. Sprinkle with cinnimon sugar, maybe 2 T. Mix the streusel and pour on top.

Cook at 375 for approximately an hour or until the apples are cooked through.

This pie was seriously the best apple pie my husband or I had ever had. WOW. The lard taste wasn't porky. It was lovely. And the apples were perfect! I had squirted lemon usually (but not in the previous encounter) to keep the apples from going brown. But I learned in my Cooks Illustrated baking book that it helps break down the apples. Well, I'll never leave that out again!