Adventures in Pie

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a pie baker. I’ve had people ask, “Do you think you could make me a pie?” more times than I can count. My standard reply is always a laugh, followed by, “You wouldn’t want ME to make you pie.”

But, the last few times I’ve been asked, “I could try” has just slipped out of my mouth. Hmm …. maybe that means I’m ready to venture into the world of pie.

Last week a couple I had planned to bake a wedding cake for in September got in touch to say that they really want PIE for their wedding. Could I let them know what the cost would be? Do I even do pie? I told them that if they gave me the weekend I would practice and let them know. Of course my family would be thrilled. After all, they only get pie when my mom makes any variety of berry or apple pie (lucky for them she actually makes pie a lot) and on Thanksgiving when Scott’s dad makes pumpkin pie. We have made a cheesecake 3 or 4 times and I think we’ve made a pie once or twice in our almost 19 year marriage!

Crust

Really the problem for me always comes down to patience. I start to work the fat into the flour and I’m usually done with patience practically before I start. However, I’m getting much more patient with all the custom cake and cookie work, so I found this was actually FUN. I chose a crust recipe that is a blend between a short flake and a medium flake. The recipe used a blend of shortening and butter, and called for buttermilk powder and apple cider vinegar. I quadrupled the recipe to make 2 pies with double crusts, and found I had the pastry made and chilling in a short time. Read all about how to make great tender, flaky crust from an expert.

Filling

The pie of choice for the wedding is apple, so this is what I chose for my great pie experiment. Apple pies call for A LOT of fruit (well I guess ALL pies do). I bought 6 pounds of apples and my kind husband peeled and cut all 6 pounds for me. Luckily we have an apple corer and slicer!! I mixed the apples, sugar, spices, corn starch, and cider all together and piled them high into each of my pies. Once the pie was literally FILLED to the brim (and then some) with filling, I covered it with the top crust, brushed with milk and sprinkled with sanding sugar, added vent holes and put it in the oven to bake.

Verdict

3 hours after the pie finished baking, my family sat down to enjoy a slice of pie. To our delight, the curst was flaky and tender and the filling was fabulous! The 4 of us have been watching the Great British Baking show lately, and I confess that this show is another reason I my pie skills felt strong. A visual learner, I think I’ve picked up some great tips watching the contestants make all things pastry!

Thoughts from the testers

My husband, 16 year old daughter Elizabeth and 13 year old son Xander agreed that the pie was delicious. The crust was flaky and the amount of filling was perfect! The big place for improvement lies in its beauty. I need another practice pie for this! I love this idea of cutting out the top crust from shapes, especially for a wedding!

The thickness was just perfect. Once the pie had cooled the filling didn’t run at all. The bottom of the crust was perfect – not soggy at all!


For the recipe. There are so many pie recipes out there now that I’m sure you already have your favorite. But, if you don’t, this recipe from King Arthur Flour is very similar to the one I used from their book. I used the recipe for the filling (with just a few changes) and a different crust recipe. If you don’t have a great pastry book, I highly recommend this one. It has great recipes for pies, cakes, cookies and all kinds of pastries.

Share your tips!

Do you have great pie tips? I’d love to hear your experiences with pie, whether you are brand new to pie making like I am or a seasoned pie veteran! And the next plan? I’d like to give the hand pie a try. I have fond memories of eating Hostess fruit pies when I was growing up (thankfully not often, but from time to time). Maybe I can make a great one filled with real fruit and a fantastic flaky crust. Stay tuned!!