Tag Archives: pie

Perfect Pumpkin [Pecan] Pie

25 Aug
Okay, not the most appetizing photo ever, but it was devoured quickly out of the oven, so I don't have any good ones. Also, the crust went all slumpy on me.

Okay, not the most appetizing photo ever, but it was devoured quickly out of the oven, so I don’t have any good ones. Also, the crust went all slumpy on me. The pie recipe may be perfected, but the crust still needs work.

I did it! I finally found my perfect recipe. It’s easy, fast, requires very few dishes, and turns out beautifully! After years of experimentation and one disastrous evening of baking, I’ve finally worked it out.

First of all, I use fresh pumpkin. But I don’t always use traditional pumpkin. I’m particularly fond of Seminole Squash/Pumpkin, which has a lovely sweet flavor, so I usually skimp a little on the sugar to compensate. I’ve also used Crookneck squash (also sometimes labeled “Neck Pumpkin”), which tastes like canned pumpkin only way better. And there’s always ol’ reliable Pie Pumpkins, which are fine, but the other two are better. In an absolute pinch, or if your squash is slightly too small, you can always bake a sweet potato or two and use it as filler. Or, well, use a can. I guess that’s an option too.

DAIRY SUBSTITUTIONS:

The recipe calls for 2/3 c. heavy cream and 2/3 c. milk, which means you can also use 1 1/3 c. half and half. I used Mimicreme and Almond milk. If you can’t find mimicreme, you can also use 1 1/3 c. unflavored unsweetened soy creamer to replace the half and half.

Obviously, butter is replaced with margarine. We used Earth Balance for pies.

THE RECIPE:

THE CRUST:

Pre-bake your favorite 10″ pie crust, or 9″ pie crust and several ramekins for excess filling.

THE PUMPKIN:

Pick your squash.  Slice your squash in half (or more if needed) and put face down in a roasting pan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour — the time really depends on the size of your pumpkin. If you poke the outside with a wooden spoon and it feels soft, it’s done. Take it out and let it cool until you can handle it.

Once cooled, scoop the pumpkin from the skin with a spoon or scraper. Run it through a food processor until smooth. You can refrigerate it for a week or freeze until… well, I’ve used some that was in my freezer from the previous fall, so it keeps a while when frozen.

Praline Layer (Optional):

  • 1/2 c. pecans (chopped or whole)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 stick butter/margarine

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until a coarse mixture. Spread over the bottom of pre-baked pie crust. Bake another 5 minutes.

Everything goes in the blender. And then you mix it. And then you bake it. And then you eat it.

Everything goes in the blender. And then you mix it. And then you bake it. And then you eat it. Also note that in this version, I completely forgot the praline layer.

Pie Layer:

  • 2 c. (16 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • Spices:
    • 2 tsp ground ginger
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine pumpkin, sugar, and spices in food processor or blender. Add:

  • 2/3 c. Mimicreme
  • 2/3 c. Almond milk

OR

  • 1 1/3 c. Unflavored Soy Creamer (or half & half)

Pulse a few times until mixed, then add:

  • 4 large eggs

Pulse until smooth. Pour into the pre-baked (praline lined) pie shell. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges begin to set but the center wiggles like jell-o. Cool at least one hour, then top with whipped cream (possibly flavored with brandy) and chopped pecans.

Bake at around 350&deg, which means set our crappy oven to about 225.

Bake at around 350°, which means set our crappy oven to about 225°. Also, wash your oven knobs BEFORE taking photos of them.

Butterscotch Pie

2 Jan

I would love to give you photos of this pie, except it was a total impulse bake and I forgot. And then, it vanished within 48 hours, along with my opportunity to photograph it. So I guess I’ll just have to make it again for two reasons: to actually get a photo or two, and to make sure it actually works as anticipated. See, not only was it an unplanned pie, but I did it without a recipe. That is to say, I made my very own recipe. I am so proud of me.

DAIRY SUBSTITUTIONS:

I made this recipe. Therefore, there are no substitutions. If you would like to make this full of dairy, use butter, milk, and heavy cream. And then weep for your cholesterol.

THE RECIPE:

Prebake a pie crust using your favorite recipe.

  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) of butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently until it bubbles beautifully and smells so good you can’t stand it anymore. Add:

  • 1 c. heavy cream (Mimicreme)
  • 1/2 c. milk (I used almond milk)

Stir until butterscotch dissolves, and bring back up to barely simmering. Whisk together:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c. corn starch
  • 1/2 c. milk (almond milk)

Temper the egg mixture in. That is, add a little bit of the hot liquid to the egg yolks, stirring constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Add more, a ladleful at a time until the egg mixture is warm. Then pour the warmed egg mixture back into the pot, again stirring constantly until it gets nice and thick. Pour into prebaked crust and bake at 350°F for 30-45 minutes, or until the pie firms up except for a slightly jiggly center.

Peach Blackberry Pie, Version 1.0

9 Aug

Peaches and blackberries have pretty much the same season around here. Which sounds to me like they ought to experience some of the same desserts together. We already did a crisp, so when I asked Ben what to do with the other half of the peaches: work on perfecting the crisp or do a pie, he was pretty quick to answer pie.

I cut up four small peaches last week as part of the ends of our basket of seconds, but then put them in the fridge to keep until I made pie. Which is a week later. Which means they have started to ferment. I think that’s a good thing, actually.

What happens when the fetus inside starts kicking at the flour-covered counter. Also, pie.

Also, since it took a week to get to this pie, there were a lot fewer blackberries to add to it. I can proudly say we lost very few to mold. Most of them were lost to ice cream. So instead of little dots of cooked blackberry, I pureed them with the tablespoon of sugar, strained out the seedy bits, and used it as more of a sauce. I had figured since the first half of the peaches had fermented, I would skip the bourbon, but the blackberries were stubbornly not blending without more liquid, so a hint did show up in the sauce. Not even a full splash — let’s call it a “splish”. I think I’ve made my position on cooked peaches pretty clear: they require bourbon, as does banana bread, Southern grandmothers, and largely pregnant women who have just discovered the third-trimester back ache. (Sadly, thanks to the hormones, my tolerance is down to that of five year old, and since I think an intoxicated fetus is a poor choice, I’ve limited myself to quantities that won’t even get me buzzed, which means I have to get my bourbon fix through baking, and satisfy myself with the very occasional miniature glass of wine or half a beer. You cannot pick crabs without beer. It’s just Not Right.)

When I’m looking for a baking recipe, this is the crazy that I go through: Open my binder of print-outs to see if I’ve already got a recipe I like. Check ALL THREE OF THESE BOOKS to compare recipes. Search online for additional options. Eventually settle on an amalgam of about fifteen recipes. Throw in a hefty dash of “winging it.”

I’ve struggled with finding a good pie crust recipe. I kept trying these “no fail” recipes, like one from Alton Brown, or Cooks Illustrated, or even Bakewise, but their easy “no fail” techniques to adapt the traditional crust always left me with sticky, messy dough. Oh sure, it baked up tasty, but in our humid kitchen, I couldn’t get a sticky pie dough to transform into a pretty pie crust. It’s summer time in Maryland. The humidity is about 138%, unless it’s raining or you turn your air conditioning down to 50.

I did learn a lot from all those recipes, however. Shirley Corriher’s technique of adding a little vinegar gave the crust a flavor I liked a lot (she says it helps with “tenderness”). So when I went back to the super-traditional crust recipe, I threw a splash of vinegar into the ice water. Alton’s advice about chilling the dough is helpful, although mine never stays as cold as he recommends, and CI’s admonishments about over-handling the dough… well, okay, I completely ignore those. But when it comes to my baking, I’m a handsy kind of girl.

We made a double recipe of the crust, which turned into a Peach Blackberry Pie and Welsh Pasties.

A pocket full of delicious dinner. Crust by Megan, pork filling by Ben.

DAIRY SUBSTITUTIONS:

If you use shortening in your pie crust, then the answer is NONE. If you use butter, then you want a good butter-alternative. I like Earth Balance for baking.

THE RECIPE:

Filling:

  • 4-6 medium sized peaches, fresh and in season

Peel using your favorite method. I like to wash them, cut them into wedges, and pull the skin off with a paring knife. If they’re ripe enough, I can almost use my fingers to get just the skin, leaving all the fruit intact. Then, cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces.

  • a handful of blackberries
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Small splash of bourbon

Combine in small food processor, with a stick blender (if yours hasn’t mysteriously DIED FOR NO REASON), or mash up by hand. Strain into a bowl (or directly over the cut peaches) to remove all the stems and seeds. Add:

  • 1 Tbsp flour

Stir the whole mess together to get a pinkish peach gooey loveliness. If your pie crust isn’t ready yet, toss the bowl in the fridge while you finish it.

Roll out the crust into your pie plate, add the filling, then roll out the top crust. Don’t forget to cut vents so the top doesn’t explode. Bake according to the crust recipe instructions, which in our case was 45 minutes at 450°F.

I would include a picture of the inside, but we may have eaten it all.