TT | The Pie Challenge
Having suffered from a serious dessert deficiency in recent months, last week I decided to undertake the task of baking a pie a day to make up for it. I chose seven Thanksgiving appropriate pies, to try out the recipes and taste test pie options appropriate for post-turkey dessert. Fantastic idea, right? Well, I have never made a pie before, ever. So I spiked some apple cider and began my bake fest…
Day One: Classic Pecan Pie
I did it! I made a pie! Does it look tasty? Yes. Does it taste tasty? Well… be glad you only have to read about it. Pecan Pie is relatively simple to make, but easy to make does not always mean hard to screw up. I used this recipe but I modified it, leaving out the corn syrup and replacing it with added brown sugar, per the suggestion of a different recipe.
The result: The filling turned out to be even easier than I expected, and I used a refrigerated pie crust instead of making my own, so my total prep time was about fifteen minutes. A large air bubble formed in the bottom of my pie (I was using a glass pie pan so I could see all my mistakes) which probably happened because I didn’t form the crust into the pan well enough before baking. And my recipe substitution? The pie was edible, but not as delicious as I wanted. I definitely think I’d prefer a chocolate pecan pie or any sort of pie with rum in it.
Day Two: Classic Pumpkin Pie
Alright, after all that cheating with the Pecan Pie, I decided to go for Thanksgiving gold. Pumpkin pie. I used this recipe from Martha but I ended up referencing this page from pickyourown.org quite a bit, and next time would probably just use that recipe. I wanted to make my own pumpkin puree, instead of the canned glop, so I had baked my pie pumpkin the day before, after my pecan pie was done. Homemade pumpkin puree seemed simple enough, but let me tell you, cramming pumpkin chunks into a fifteen year old blender and expecting a smooth result was an obvious lapse in judgment. I made it work (was Tim Gunn cheering me on in the kitchen?) and had fresh homemade puree to work with for my sure to be delicious pumpkin pie.
The result: Success! I cheated again and used a refrigerated pie crust… but I made my pie glop from scratch, so that balances out according to my Moral Code of the Kitchen. My pie came out a little too brown, and I had only filled the pie crust two-thirds of the way, according to the recipe, so when the pie settled it became very shallow. But it tasted great! Maybe there is hope for me after all.
Day Three: Apple Crostata with Cheddar Crust
Okay. So this isn’t technically a pie. But this recipe intrigued me the most , ad I thought it was time to tackle this issue of making a pie crust. It turned out to be super easy! (Which made me think I must have done it wrong) Thankfully, in my grandmother’s collection of outdated appliances I was able to find a functioning food processor, and the dough took about ten minutes to make.
The result: DELICIOUS! Perfect for a late morning autumn brunch. The recipe was almost too easy and I will definitely be making this again. I sliced the apples thinner than the recipe suggests, and arranged them in concentric circles, a tasty and visually appealing choice. This is great with a white wine and a side of cheddar cheese. See? I practically feel like a pro now.
Day Four: Apple-Raspberry Pie
My grandparents have a lot of summer raspberries leftover in their freezer. I picked this recipe because it still has a fall feel, even with the out of season fruit. I also chose this recipe to try out a decorative pie crust. Andy suggested lattice, and so lattice it was!
The result: Pie crust from scratch and a simple fruit filling, and seriously, this is getting too easy. I could make a pie every day for a year. Making a pie lattice was simpler than expected, I used these instructions. I cut the strips a little too thick, so I only had four to go across, but it turned out all fancy anyways. And actually, the lattice saved my bum, because I forgot to put the cubes of butter on top of the filling. I ended up sticking them in though the little square holes after I had affixed the top of the pie. Phew. IT smelled DELICIOUS while in the oven, but taste results are unavailable, because I gifted the pie (how much pie can one girl eat?) and forgot to steal a slice. So… results to come.
Day Five: Miniature Cranberry Meringues
Alright, I was up for a challenge. Cranberry is a Thanksgiving staple, but I didn’t want to be too simplistic, so I tried this recipe. Time to try out the miniature pie, made in a muffin pan, and to take a stab at meringue.
The result: I am definitely not any sort of pie savant. I saved myself a lot of time by using a refrigerated pie crust, but this recipe was a LOT of work. The pie crusts needed to be formed and baked, the filling cooked on the stove top, and then the meringue needed to be broiled. I transformed the kitchen into a gigantic sticky mess, yet, somehow, the little munchkin pies turned out cute, edible, and actually tasty. I would NOT make this recipe again, though. My mini pies had holes in the crusts and so the filling kept leaking out and making the bottoms soggy. And meringue? Delicious, but a HUGE pain.
Day Six: Hangover Day
I’m pretty sure I was conscious for all of…. 7 hours today. I decided to skip out on my challenge and just eat pie leftovers. The pecan pie got better with time spent in the fridge. The last slice of pumpkin pie was pretty much inedible at this point. And the cranberry mini pies that did not get meringue were delicious with whipped cream.
Day Seven: It’s a Monday. I bought a pie.
Hey! Lots of people buy pie and pretend that they baked it. At least I’m being honest with you. It was a store-bought chocolate pie, and it was delicious. I recommend that you go out and buy a chocolate pie right now. Then you’ll understand.
I think I’m going to invest in a pie recipe book, because navigating recipes online has turned out to be quite a pain. After getting all kinds of things on my phone screen, I opted to print out the recipes, but the loose papers weren’t much better at promoting kitchen organization. But I definitely have a new love, and appreciation, for the art of pie.
To see more pictures of my pie adventure, check out EDR on Fcebook!
Oh! And my final verdict for Thanksgiving? I’m actually going to try a different pie: Pumpkin Chiffon. But I am definitely making it a day ahead. The kitchen is going to be busy enough on Thursday.
Until next Tuesday, have a sweet week!
Eva is a Polish, a ginger, and also our Team Dessert Hooker and author of the “Tuesday Tarlet” right here at Eat.Drink.Repeat.