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Posts Tagged ‘pie in a jar’

Pie Therapy

I find making pie very soothing.  There’s something really comforting about rolling out a crust and filling it with something delicious.  I’m going through a sort of rough patch emotionally this week, so on Monday I had a little pie therapy.  I made a dozen pumpkin pies-in-jars, the start of Christmas and hostess gifts for the holiday season.  And then I made a pecan pie, and an eggnog pie.  No, there is no eggnog pie recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook, but as I was pulling eggs out of the fridge for the pumpkin pie, I realized that we have a big jug of eggnog hanging around in there.  So I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if you could make a pie with that?”

Five seconds of search the net, and there it was, an eggnog pie recipe. OMG delicious, seriously!  J loved it too, and he doesn’t even like eggnog.  In fact, I invited my friend Anne over for some pie the next day, and she also said it good.

Eggnog Pie

But here’s my beef with this recipe: it made too much filling for the 9-inch pie pan I used.  And it was extraordinarily runny, and took an extra 25 minutes to cook up longer than the recipe said it would.  But the basic concept and flavor were good.  Next time, I’d use only a cup and a half of eggnog instead of two cups, and I’d add in some cinnamon and nutmeg.  I might also add in some spiced rum, because we love the Captain in our house.

Now that all the pies are done, I feel pretty good.  Almost good enough to face the giant pile of dishes in the sink.  Almost.

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I’ve officially had my first pie crust flop, and of course, it happened on Thanksgiving. I made my Thanksgiving pies over at my mother’s house, where we were having dinner. She had all the crust ingredients I needed: flour, butter-flavored Crisco, salt, water. I mixed them together like I always do, and then attempted to roll out my crusts, but they completely fell apart. It was a total disaster. After two failed attempts at rolling it out, I ended up just mushing the crust for the pumpkin pie into the pan, like I do for a pie in a jar. Only, because it had been rolled out twice already, when it cooked up, it was beyond tough and into the hard-as-a-rock category.

With the apple pie’s crust, I knew from trying to roll out the one for the pumpkin pie that something was horribly wrong, so I added a bunch more shortening and a little more water, hoping that would make it hold together. It still didn’t, so I basically had chunks of crust scattered across the top of the apple pie, instead of a top crust. No, I did not take pictures. What? You got a problem with that? Then make your own ugly pies and start your own pie blog.

Of course, the only people at Thanksgiving were my family (my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, and my parents, and of course J and our son), and they all said how delicious the pies were. My family members are really nice people. Fortunately, I’d brought all my own fillings, so the fillings turned out great.

The next morning, I got back up on the horse again, because I needed to make that blackberry and cream pie for J’s extended family. His cousin Rachel lives nearby, and her parents and sister and niece were in town for the holiday. Rachel’s parents live on a farm, so pie is something they make and eat all the time. I knew I needed to at least not embarrass myself, and hopefully make a pie that they really enjoyed. So I mixed my flour and my salt and my butter-flavored Crisco, and added the water from my sink, and held my breath as I rolled it out…and it was fine. Perfectly normal crust, just like I always make. This was the point where breathed a sigh of relief.

In hindsight, here’s what I think went wrong. I think the flour at my mother’s house wasn’t fresh enough, and I think my dad shouldn’t have kept the Crisco in the fridge. Instead, I should have brought my own flour and Crisco.  I mean, I always say pie crust is easy, and it is, if you have the right ingredients.  If you don’t, though, it’s obviously a complete mess.

Anyway, finishing the story: the blackberry and cream pie turned out awesome, and everyone raved about how good it was. Rachel’s mom said she’d never seen a pie like it, and I said, “Betty Crocker 1950’s cookbook, page 314!” She’s going to look it up.  I also brought them some pies in jars–an assortment of the different flavors I’ve attempted so far, including one blackberry and cream one. J’s sister Mandy had told them about pie in a jar and they were fascinated by the concept and curious to try them out.

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Last weekend, I decided to make pumpkin pie-in-a-jar.  I used the standard 2-crust pie crust recipe on Page 299, and the pumpkin pie recipe from Page 312.  I used a can of organic pumpkin, and I cut the amount of milk down to just a cup because I was using 2% instead of whole milk, and the last time I made that recipe, even with whole milk, it was pretty runny.

Pumpkin Pie in a Jar before cooking

Holy cow, it was delicious!  And remember, I don’t even like pie.  J loved it too and said there was just the right amount of spice in the pie, and the crust was perfectly flaky.  The crust tasted really buttery–could it be the fresh container of butter-flavored Crisco?  Or was it the butter-flavored Pam I used to spray the jar before lining it with dough?  Either way, YUM. So I ended up making 7 of them.

Right after coming out of the oven

Out of the jar

 

Cut in half

It was so much better than the two-crust pies I’d made that I decided to thaw out the apple ones I made last week and take off their crusts, and turn them into French Apple, a la the recipe at the bottom of Page 302.  I always thought that style of pie was Dutch Apple, but Betty calls it French Apple, so there you have it.

French Apple Pie In A Jar

The test one came out just a wee bit dark brown on the top, and alas, despite adding more apple filling, it still sank in and ended up looking like there was hardly any filling in there at all.  I think the problem could be that I cut the apples too small–perhaps larger chunks of apple would stay intact?  Because basically inside the pie was like apple sauce.  Tasty, though.  To avoid the browning problem, next time I will cook it for 45 minutes instead of an hour.  I cooked both of them at 400 degrees.  The pumpkin one was perfect when cooked for an hour.

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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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