Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sundays with Sparky - Pies - they're not just for clowns to throw - Fin

So, now the beautiful piecrust is all rolled out, chilled and ready.

We start with the most important pie first - the one that goes to work with Dad - a cranberry-apple two-crust pie.  The filling: a heaping portion of sliced apples (we use about 2-3 cups of peeled sliced Mutsus and Fujis, on the underripe side) cranberries (about 2 cups fresh,) 1 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp pie spices (I use a random combination of cinnamon and allspice) and about a tablespoon of chopped-up butter, which had been mixed previously and allowed to sit for at least 1/2 hour, until the apples exude some juice (this step is critical if you don't want your pie to be "hollow" on top.  Make sure the apples are slightly broken down before you continue*)

The bottom crust was folded in quarters and draped into the pie shell...any small bits of piecrust or flour was dusted into the inside to help thicken the filling.

The top shell was laid out on the table, and we cut vents in it to represent an apple and cranberries, and then carefully folded it into quarters:

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Then we laid it gently on top of the filling with the point at the center, and carefully opened it to cover the pie:

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The two inside lips or edges of the piecrust were dampened with water, and the whole thing got a simple crimp all the way around with a fork, after which the overhanging edges got cut off with a knife:


We brushed the top is with butter (or milk, or cream,) sprinkled it lightly with raw sugar for some sparkle, and put the pie into a 425 degree oven over a cookie sheet for about 50 minutes, or until the bubbles of juice boil and thicken.

Pie #2: Pecan.

Pecan Pie is, of course, a custard pie - meaning it is thickened with eggs rather than with a starch like most fruit pies (flour, tapioca, cornstarch are typical fruit-pie thickeners - I prefer flour)

3068835800_11a4652c84.jpg3068807008_51c60fdb58_m.jpg3/4 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup molasses
1/2 + 1/8 cup light corn syrup
1 Tbs bourbon
2 cups pecan halves, divided

So, I set Sparky to creaming the butter and flour, and added the eggs one at a time as directed.  Then he discovered the "power boost" button on the mixer, and was having such a fabulous time revving the engine that I just kept adding the rest of the ingredients except the pecans and let him have at it.  We garnished the edges of the pie with half-circles of cutout piecrust, scattered half our pecans on the bottom and covered them with filling.  I did remember to reserve a cup of pecans for the top, which kept Sparky busy for at least a quarter of an hour (I never understood why people bother to carefully arrange pecans on a pie, now I know - it's to keep your children busy as you fly around cooking the rest of Thanksgiving dinner!)

Unfortunately, the vigorous addition of air to the custard caused it to rise and balloon over the beautifully placed pecans and make our last year's ugly-duckling pecan pie look like the beauty of the family:


Fortunately, in pie, as in life, beauty is only skin deep:


We enjoyed the pies for Thanksgiving dinner, and they were both very, very good: the pecan pie is incredibly rich and dense, and the apple was sweet and velvety.

I asked Sparky what he would be making for Christmas dinner, and he said, "Apple pie, Apple-cranberry pie, Pecan pie - and Ginger pie: I just invented that!"

* you can also freeze your filling at this point for a later pie: pour it into a zip-top bag, place the bag in your pie pan, arrange the fruit so it's in the correct shape, and freeze both of them together. The next day, remove your pie pan and you'll have a "pie puck" that you can put in fresh piecrust whenever you want. To cook from frozen, after the pie is assembled, bake at 350 until the filling is bubbling - about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

1 comment:

Michele Hays said...

OOPS! Didn't put in baking time! Pecan pies bake for 30-45 minutes at 375 degrees, until the filling poofs up and falls again

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