The Loving Pie

I don’t know about you, but my Mom never placed a pie on the window sill to cool.  That probably wouldn’t have been a good thing to do in Brooklyn.  However, she was – and is – an avid pie baker.  And even if the intoxicating aromas of her pies didn’t waft through the neighborhood, they certainly did permeate the house, as well as our hearts, especially this time of year.  They still do.

Very little says “comfort food” the way a home-baked pie does.  For me it evokes memories of holiday celebrations, special occasions or even cozy nights of copious cups of old fashioned, perked coffee and conversations around the kitchen table.  And as the saying goes, “easy as pie” is fairly accurate.  A pie, to some, feels somewhat intimidating to make.  It’s not really.  Like all good crafting, it takes some practice.  Trial and error with the crust, mostly.  But once you have a feel for it, you’ll be making all your favorites with almost no effort at all.

Favorites.  Yes, everyone has their pie heaven.  For me, it’s most assuredly the pumpkin pie.  Something about the sugar and spice and everything custard and nice.  I simply insist on this standard for Thanksgiving, at the very least.  Whether it’s traditional or a spin off featuring praline pecans.  Serve it to me solo, with a dollop of whipped heavy cream or a la mode.  I’m always game for at least two slices.

Another one of my joys is the all American apple pie.  I recounted a few blogs back my annual apple-picking trek to Upstate New York.  Well, the majority of my harvest is always delivered to my Mom’s house.  Then she works her magic, creating her famous pies, some two crusted, some topped with cinnamon laced crumbs.  Everyone waits in mouthwatering anticipation for them, as they are gifted to family and friends with a loving note.  And love is the operative word here, because when it comes to baking a pie, affection is always the key ingredient.

Victor Ribaudo

So, are you a seasoned pie baking professional or a beginner?  For the aficionados, please keep it up.  You’re bringing such bliss and delight to all your guests – and even to the world – with your home-baked creations.  There’s something so homestead about it all.  And our society needs a little more of that spread around.  To the pie baking rookie, I recommend starting with the basics.  Apple, blueberry, pumpkin.  Guess you can use a pre-made crust dough.  They’re easy enough to find.  But take it from me; they don’t taste the same as a kitchen original.  And they usually use lard. Instead, get your hands on a good recipe (I recommend Phyllis Kirigan for guidance) and take a leap of faith.  Whether you’re using shortening or butter, be sure that you keep things as cool as possible.  Ice water for incorporating the crust is a must.  And remember, a little moisture at a time.  You can always add more water if a bit too crumbly and dry.  Adding more flour to a sticky dough and then over kneading it can produce a tough crust.  That doesn’t work for anybody.

OK, so get your pie recipe handy.  And start to bake.  Begin

Peerless Pumpkin Pie As Thanksgiving approaches, the heady fragrances of the pies, turkey and sage dressing swirl in one’s memory of Thanksgivings past. A day of hard core cooking including the baking of pies will be rewarded by the words, “This is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever tasted.” You must have done something special. For starters, don’t use dark brown sugar as the resultant pie will look darker than you want, but the addition of a tablespoon of molasses will give it the most appetizing hue. Also, a small amount of a delectable Italian flavoring, fiori di sicilia, adds a citrusy counterpoint. If you have a convection oven, use it. And to prevent a soggy crust, prebake the pic shell. Pie crust 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1 t salt 1 T sugar 8 T unsweetened butter cut into small cubes 3 T vegetable shortening 4 T ice water Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor to mix. Add butter and shortening. Mix briefly. You should still see small bits of butter in mixture. Sprinkle 3 T ice water around metal disk. Pulse briefly. Check to see if mixture holds together between fingers. Add a little more water if needed. Pulse but don’t let ball form. Empty mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap. Press out with heel of hand (frissage) and form into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour. Roll out to a 1- inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp edges. Place a piece of aluminum foil in pan and weigh down with pie weights. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Take off foil and put back in oven for about 5 minutes until bottom of crust is dry but edges are not browned. Cool. Filling ¾ cup white granulated sugar 1 t ground cinnamon 1/2 t ground ginger ¼ t freshly ground nutmeg ¼ t ground cloves 1/8 t ground mace 1/2 t salt 3 large eggs 15 oz. pureed pumpkin 1 T molasses ½ t vanilla 1/8 t fiori di sicilia* 8 oz heavy cream** Mix sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, mace and salt in a small bowl. Beat eggs with a fork in another bowl. Place pumpkin in the mixing bowl of stand mixer. Add spice mixture. Mix briefly. Add eggs, pumpkin, molasses, vanilla and fiori di sicilia. Mix on low speed and gradually add cream. Pour into prebaked crust and bake in lower third of oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then at 350 for about 45 minutes or until center of pie just barely jiggles. To prevent edge from becoming too dark, cover with a strip of aluminum foil or a silicone edge ring. Cool on a rack. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream and bask in the compliments you will get. · (optional) Fiori di sicilia is an Italian flavoring that adds a lovely citrusy taste and aroma. It can be ordered online from King Arthur Flour and other cake specialty shops. ** heavy cream (I use pasteurized cream (not ultrapasteurized) from Mrs.Green’s or Trader Joe’s.

Photographer Bill Brady <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>
Written by Victor Ribaudo <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a> theribaudogroup.comRecipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin, aka sweetpaprika <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a> http://sweetpaprika.wordpress.comFood Stylist  <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Brian Preston Campbell</a>Blog syndicated at the <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>