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Archive for October, 2009

A Pretty Apple Pie

J decided to make apple butter, which resulted in a large number of leftover Granny Smith apples just begging to be turned into a pie. So, I pulled out my trusty recipe on Page 302, again adding the juice of one lime to help keep the apples from browning. I’ve decided that the lime adds a little something-something to the apple pie that people seem to enjoy, so it may become a routine inclusion in my apple pies. At least, until my supply of limes runs out.

I also finally read the instructions about how Betty recommends you assemble the pie, including the crust instructions on page 300. I followed them exactly, including cutting the excess crust with scissors and tucking the top crust under the bottom one. I also attempted a fluted edge.  AND, the piece de resistance, I used the apple-themed crust cutter my mom got me for my birthday.

When it cooked up, though, the fluting had disappeared.  Still turned out fairly pretty, though.

I gave the pie to our neighbor and daycare-provider, Char.  She declared it delicious. Mission accomplished.

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This weekend, I made my very first pie-in-a-jar. If you haven’t yet heard about pie-in-a-jar, well, you really aren’t up with the latest in pie fads, now are you? That’s OK, I wasn’t either until a friend of mine told me about them. Of course, once I heard about pie-in-a-jar, I immediately had to surf the net to find pictures and directions. Props to LlyodandLauren.com and NotMartha.org for the directions.

So, I started with 8-ounce wide-mouth mason jars.  I made a standard one-crust pie dough recipe from Page 310.  Turns out the 9-inch recipe makes about 3 pies-in-jars.  I used the Lloyd and Lauren technique of just smushing the dough around the inside of the jar (after spraying it liberally with butter-flavored Pam.  Because everything is butter-flavored in my world). I tried to make the crust as thin as possible, so I held each jar up to the window as I was adding the dough and made the crust thin enough that I could see light through it.

I then took some frozen raspberries from our freezer, nuked them a little bit to take the edge off them, and made the Fresh Berry Pie filling for an 8-inch pie from page 304.  This made more filling than I had crust for.  I used about a half-cup of filling in each jar, then topped them with a crust circle, cut with the jar lid.  Then I just basically tried to roll down the edges of the dough, and then textured them with a fork.  I am seriously not great with the pie-beauty techniques yet.  Then I baked a couple of them, one at 375 degrees for an hour, and one at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.  Both turned out perfectly cooked.

Now, you’re probably wondering, “Hey Pieist, where’s the photos?”  Unfortunately, J and I ate them before a photo could be taken, so you’re going to have to learn to live with disappointment.  Once again, J found them to be heavy on the crust and light on the filling, the same opinion he had about the mini apple pies I made the other day.  They are definitely heavy on the crust compared to a regular pie.  The other thing I discovered is that the raspberry filling volcanoed when it cooked, spewing out the slit I’d made in the top, then oozing back in and setting up as it cooled.  Fascinating.

Having decided that these things are completely adorable before you cook them and will make excellent gifts, even if they’re a bit heavy on the crust, I moved onto making apple ones, figuring that apple was slightly less likely to explode compared with the raspberry.  I made a double-recipe of the two-crust pie recipe from Page 299, which made about 10 pies-in-jars.  I made a half-recipe of the traditional apple pie filling for an 8-inch pie from Page 302, using a granny smith apple, with one addition: I tossed the apples with the juice of half a lime, so they wouldn’t brown up as I was going through the process of making all these little pies-in-jars.

It was tasty, but again with the too much crust.  I think because these pies are so crust-heavy, a one-crust pie would be a better option, like maybe a pumpkin one.  Stay tuned.

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Pecan Pie

I made my first pecan pie a couple of days ago, using the recipe on Page 313.  I made a crust for a one-crust pie from the recipe on 310, but when I bought the corn syrup, they didn’t have any dark corn syrup available, so I used light instead.

I invited my friend Anne over to try it out and give me feedback.  She declared the recipe “a keeper.”  J said he thought it was delicious and that the taste was right on, but wondered if there was a way to make the filling a little more dense.  I have no idea how one would do that, because I am still very new at this pie thing…maybe a little flour?  I also thought this one turned out pretty tasty.  I didn’t do anything special to the crust, so it’s pretty boring-looking, but the flavor and texture were good.

UPDATE: My father-in-law and his wife stopped by today to drop off some books, and I gave him a slice of the pecan pie we had hanging around still.  He said it was just the right amount of sweet.  I am loving all the compliments I get from people about my pies–I hope they’re not just being nice, because as long as they keep saying they like the pies, I’m going to keep making them.

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You may remember from my pecan pie post that I invited my friend Anne over to taste it.  Her husband Mike came with her, and since Mike doesn’t do sugar, I decided to make him a mini apple pie with Splenda instead of sugar.  I started with the recipe on page 310 for a 9-inch one-crust pie crust, and rolled it out to the size of a 9-inch pie, but then cut rounds to fit my mini tart pans.  The recipe made enough crust for 3 mini pies.  This worked out pretty well, although I clearly need to work on my technique for making the crusts pretty, because with a mini pie, it really shows when you’re a little sloppy.  Still, I think they’re pretty adorable, even if they are a wee bit ugly.

For the filling, I halved the 8-inch-size recipe for apple pie on page 302, and substituted Splenda for the sugar.  I used a large granny smith apple–one apple was plenty to fill the 3 pies.

Mike declared it delicious, and said that he thought it was just the right amount of apple, that sometimes pie can have too much filling in it.  J felt the opposite–he thought it had too much crust and would have preferred more filling.  I personally am not a huge fan of Splenda’s flavor, but for a sugar-free option, I thought this one was pretty good and not too artificial-sugar-tasting.

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Why Pie?

I don’t particularly like pie. I mean, it’s OK and all, but it’s not my favorite dessert to eat. But MAKING pie has become my new obsession. Something about rolling out a crust and mixing up a filing makes me feel highly satisfied, as though I’ve accomplished something with my day. Professionally, I rarely produce anything tangible that I can point to at the end of the day and say, “I made that.” But a pie is a real thing, and it seems to make people happy.

So, I have decided to make my way through the 1950’s Betty Crocker Cookbook pie section, and blog about it, a la Julie/Julia. I’ll also be writing about other pie experiments, including my never-ending quest for the perfect chocolate raspberry pie, and pie-in-a-jar and other pie fads.

I hope this blog will be interesting to someone other than me, and might inspire you to try making a pie. It’s really a lot easier than it sounds!

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