Classic Thanksgiving Pies ( or any time for that matter )

PiesThree pies.  A serious undertaking.  The key was my three sous-chefs, Josh, Emily and Jessica. 

Let’s start with the crust.  We made that the night before so it could sit in the refrigerator over night.  I broke all the cardinal rules and doubled the crust recipe in the Cuisinart.  But, it worked.  We did it twice. 

In a Cuisinart (using the dough blade) we put in 5 cups all –purpose flour, 2 t. salt and 2 T. sugar.  Pulsed a few times so that was incorporated.  Now we put in 4 sticks of unsalted butter cut into ¼ inch pieces.  Make sure this butter is very cold.  Then we pulsed again until the dough resembled tiny peas.  Don’t worry about over mixing here, it is when you add the water that you don’t want to over mix.  Now take ½ cup of very cold water, while you are pulsing and pour in.  If you need more water, go ahead but just a little at a time. The dough should start to stick together.  Pulse a few times.  If it isn’t completed gelled, that is okay.  Take off the top of the Cuisinart and you will see that when you push the dough together with your fingers, it should stick together.  Now divide into four even balls and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerator for at least a few hours, or like we did, over night.

The next morning we had to precook a few pie shells.   This is always tricky.  The key is lots of tin foil. 

Take a ball of dough that had been refrigerated and put in the middle of two pieces of plastic wrap laid on a counter.  Now lay two more pieces of plastic wrap over the ball.  This is the no mess way of rolling out the dough.  Roll out the dough in between the pieces of plastic wrap until the dough is large enough to fit in a 9 inch pie plate with some for an overhang.  Push the dough down and roll the overhang up and using the index finger and thumb to create a fluted edge.  Lots of practice on this one but the practice comes from making these crusts over and over again.  You don’t want to over handle your dough.  Take a fork and create holes all over the bottom of the pie crust.  Use tin foil to lay over the pie and up the sides of the pie crust.  The tin foil should be tight but not too tight against the pie dough. I use old beans or rice to fill up the pie and then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until browned.  Be careful when you take out the tin foil out.  Sometimes it sticks to the dough because although the trim is baked, the inside isn’t quite finished. Then let the crust bake for another few minutes until the pie crust is browned inside too.  Set this aside to cool because this is the crust to use for pumpkin and pecan pie.

Pecan Pie is probably one of the easiest pies to make.  We went for the Maple Pecan Pie.  We doubled it and then split it in half for each pie.  This recipe is for one.

2 cups of pecan pecans ( ½ cup for decoration)
½ cup granulated sugar
4 T. unsalted butter
1 cup maple syrup

Chop 1 ½ cups of pecans into tiny bits.  Pour this into the pre-cooked pie crust.  Melt the butter in a small sauce pan, stir in the sugar until melted.  Now beat in the eggs then add in the maple syrup.  Warm this up on the stove until it is hot to the touch.  Pour this over the pecans in the crust.  I used the large pecans and put them around the pie to create a design. 

Bake at 275 for about an hour in the oven or until the middle is soft when gently pressed, don’t let it get hard.

Pumpkin Pie (recipe for one)

16 ounces canned pumpkin puree
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. kosher salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk ( I used 2%)
4 large eggs

In a food process mix together the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt for about a minute.  Transfer this mixture to a medium sized saucepan.  Bring this to a simmer – the pumpkin mixture will pop a little so beware.  Cook and stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until thick and shiny.

Whisk together the cream and milk in a bowl.  Add this to the pumpkin mixture and bring to a simmer. 

In the food processor  process the eggs until combined about 3 pulses.  When this is done add in half of the pumpkin mixture and process.  I couldn’t fit the entire mixture in my processor because I doubled the recipe.  So I took out this first batch and put in a bowl, then processed the rest and then mixed it all together in a bowl.  It worked out fine.

Pour the batter into the pre-baked crust and bake at 275 for about 25 minutes or until the center wiggles like Jello.  Serve with whipped cream.

Apple Pie

An American favorite.  I have made many apples pies and this is my own recipe. 

12 apples (this year I used 8 Red Delicious and 4 Wine Saps but in the past have used Granny Smiths and Macintosh) The apples need to be peeled and sliced.  I use an apple slicer, then peel each slice and then slice them in half again.
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ stick unsalted butter

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  Take all the apples which should be slice in a large bowl and pour all the remaining ingredients over them and thoroughly mix with a wooden spoon.  Now add that mixture to the melted butter.  Cook at a medium heat for about 5-8 minutes or until the apples start to get soft – don’t let them get too soft.  The apples should be sweet.  Let this cool.

Roll out the crust for the bottom of the pie and put in the pie plate.  Put in the refrigerator while you roll out the top crust.  When you have rolled out the top crust, put that in the refrigerator and take out the pie plate.  Being cold helps a lot because although the apples have cooled, they aren’t cold and the crust gets soft and hard to work with.

Using a slotted spoon, put all the apples in the pie.  The slotted spoon is key because you don’t need all the juice in the pie.  The pie will get mushy.  Layer the top crust over and create your pie.  Remember to cut air vents for the pie to breath before you put it in the oven.  I wrap tin foil around the pie before I put it in the oven like a hat.  It helps the edge not melt over the side and creates a prettier pie. 

Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes or until the top if golden brown.  I wasn’t sure if the apples were really bubbling when the crust got golden so I put tinf oil over the top of the crust so it wouldn’t burn and let the pie cook another 5 minutes or so.  The tin foil will stop the crust from browning anymore.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Jim B

    Awesome – thanks for some really detailed tips. The cookbook pie crusts always turn out too rich & buttery. I will give this a shot.