Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday Pies

( Apple pie makes the holidays for me! )

Every year I make apple and squash pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. About ten years ago I took an online course on pie-making. The course used a Cook’s Illustrated pie-making text and ran for 8 weeks, with a different type of pie for each. I know, tough homework! But I learned how to make a pie dough by hand that can’t be beat!

My absolute favorite is apple pie, but I will gladly eat most others; especially squash/pumpkin and pecan during the holidays. I like my apple pies spicy and I never hear any complaints from my guests with the ones I put out every year!

Double Pie Crust Recipe

2 ½ cups of all purpose flour, sifted
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
11 Tbsp unsalted butter, cool
7 Tbsp vegetable shortening, cool
Ice water

I use a 100% manual process with a pastry blender, wooden spoon and a spatula. Cut the butter into the premixed flour, sugar and salt with the pastry blender.

Don’t blend down too much. Cut in the shortening working to a consistency of coarse crumbs.

Adding 1 to 2 Tbsp at a time use a wooden spoon mix in the water and bring the dough together into a ball.

Remove the dough ball from the bowl to a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Prepare a surface to roll the dough on with all-purpose flour.

Cut the dough ball in half and form one half into a disk. Roll from the center outward flipping several times to reach a size that will fit a pie plate.

My apple filling is really simple and can be made in double sized batches if you have the bowl for it. Take six apples of two different kinds and wash them. The ratio of apples you use is up to you. I used 2:1 Cortland and Zestar this year. Peel, core and slice the apples. Add ¾ cup of white sugar, 1 tsp lemon zest and 1 tsp orange zest. Add two Tbsp of lemon/orange juice, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp allspice, ½ tsp ginger and ¼ tsp nutmeg. Mix well. Pour into a prepared pie crust. Add 2 Tbsp butter before placing the top on the pie.

Fill and cover with a second crust rolled out the same as the first.

Crimp the edges, cut 4 slits in the top. . Place the pie in a 350 oven and cook for one hour or until crust begins to brown.

Pumpkin pies are made all over New England this time of year. We grow the vegetables so well around here and we eat them in many ways. I prefer to use a combination of butternut squash and pumpkin which can produce a more gold colored pie with a creamier texture.

Mix two cups of baked pumpkin and butternut squash in a bowl. Mash well. Add ¾ cup of dark brown sugar, 1 ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp cloves, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp of salt and one can of evaporated milk. Mix well. Beat two eggs and add to the squash mixture. Mix well. Pour into a refrigerated pie shell. Bake at 350 for 65-75 minutes, or until filling is set.

After my pies cool and I wrap them in plastic wrap and foil and immediately freeze them so that I can serve them as fresh as possible in a few week’s time. From here the possibilities go off in many directions. I also made two blueberry pies today using berries that were picked fresh back in August and frozen. These will make a nice addition to the Thanksgiving table this year.

Check out our first post in a four-part series on holiday food, beverage and entertaining.

Holiday Wine Advice - Post 1 of 4




Unknown said...

Nothing like homemade apple pie! The crust looks really nice. That course sounds like a lot of fun. Knowing how to make a good pie is always useful, especially during the holiday season.

Kate said...

Happy Thanksgiving to both of you!!! Kate

Magic of Spice said...

The apple pie looks delicious and I love the use of butternut squash and pumpkin alternative to pumpkin pies, very nice :)