New Castle News

November 16, 2013

Culinary Conversation: My, oh my, it’s pie!

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Making a pie crust can result in one of two things.

You’ll either be remembered as the king or queen every time the word pastry is mentioned. Or you won’t.

For some, that age-old cliché “easy as pie” is not that simple.

Pies are one of my favorite things to make. But there are still always new things to learn and I recently picked up some tips from various magazines.

A great quote that will stick in my mind from Lesley Porcelli, author of the blog, “Ugly But Good,” is — “Pie teaches you a new lesson every time.”

A new bit of advice I picked up is to sprinkle about one tablespoon each of flour and sugar over the crust before adding the pie filling to avoid a soggy crust bottom.

Another is to beat the dough after it rests with a rolling pin to relax the gluten and soften the dough, making it easier to roll out.

One tip I will use this year is to butter the pan for a golden bottom crust and to prevent the pie from sticking.

Fully pack fruit pies such as apple and pear. Layer the slices closely together so there won’t be any air pockets, and mound the fruit slightly higher than the edge of the crust. Fruit shrinks as it cooks, so tight, full packing leads to a pie that is still piled with fruit.

I am a fan of the fluted method to form the dough’s border. That’s done simply by pinching the dough between your index finger and thumb to create a point. At the same time, you use your other index finger to make an indentation or dimple. It’s the way my grandmother, aunts and mother all did their pies and I followed in their footsteps. But I also think crimping with a fork looks pretty, too.

As for my favorite types of pie, I love them all.

And speaking of all things sweet, it’s time for you to send your recipes for your favorite Christmas cookies. Share with your neighbors and friends through Culinary Conversation — your place for Christmas and every time of year.

Brown-Bottom

Butterscotch Cashew

Cream Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine crushed crackers, cashews and granulated sugar. Cover and pulse with several on/off turns to form fine crumbs. Add the melted butter; cover and pulse with several on/off turns to combine.

Press mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until fragrant and firm. Cool on a wire rack.

In a small saucepan, bring whipping cream just to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add chocolate pieces (do not stir). Let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Pour chocolate mixture evenly over the bottom of the crust.

For filling, in a medium saucepan combine brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in about 1⁄2 cup of evaporated milk. Whisk in egg yolks until combined. Whisk in the remaining evaporated milk and the milk.

Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in the 3 tablespoons butter and vanilla. Cover and keep warm.

Prepare brown sugar meringue. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugars, a little at a time, beating on high speed about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves.

Pour warm filling into prepared pie crust. Spread meringue over warm filling, sealing to edge of crust and swirling meringue into peaks. Bake for 15 minutes or until meringue is firm and golden. Cool on a wire rack for one hour. Chill for 4 to 6 hours before serving; cover for longer storage.

Brownie Walnut Pie

For filling, in a heavy saucepan melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare and roll out pastry for single-crust pie. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry circle and trim. Crimp edge as desired.

For filling, in a medium bowl combine eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla; stir in the chocolate mixture and nuts.

Pour filling into pastry-lined pie plate. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. If desired, serve with hot fudge sauce, fresh fruit or vanilla ice cream.

Maple, Apple

and Cheddar Pie

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare pastry for double-crust pie. On a lightly floured surface, slightly flatten one portion of dough. Roll dough from center to edge into a 12-inch circle. Wrap pastry circle around rolling pin; unroll into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate without stretching it; set aside.

For filling, in a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add apples; toss gently to coat. Add cheese and the 1⁄4 cup maple syrup; toss gently to combine. Transfer filling to pastry-lined pie plate. Drizzle with cream.

Trim pastry even with edge of pie plate. Roll the remaining dough into a 12-inch circle. Cut slits in pastry to allow steam to escape. Place pastry circle on filling; trim pastry to 1⁄2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold top pastry edge under bottom pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Cover edge of pie with foil to prevent overbrowning.

Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake about 20 minutes more or until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack. Brush with the 2 tablespoons maple syrup. If desired, sprinkle with pecans. Cool for one hour. Serve slightly warm.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Prepare baked pastry crust. In a medium saucepan, stir together the 11⁄2 cups sugar, cornstarch and flour; gradually stir in water. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cook and stir over medium heat for two minutes. Remove from heat.

Gradually stir in about 1 cup of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks; pour yolk mixture into remaining hot mixture in saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil; cook for 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter and shredded lemon peel. Slowly stir in 1⁄3 cup lemon juice. Keep filling warm while preparing meringue.

For meringue, in a large mixing bowl beat the whites and 1 teaspoon lemon juice with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until soft peaks form. Gradually add 6 tablespoons sugar, beating on high speed about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves.

Pour warm filling into cooled crust. Immediately spread meringue over filling, carefully sealing to edge of crust to prevent shrinkage. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool on rack for 1 hour. Chill 3 to 6 hours before serving.