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easypeasy

YOUR Most Amazing Pie Recipes and Tips

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I love to make pies. But, they are always.... not perfect. I have many books, many website recipes, etc.

I want to know what YOUR favorite recipes are. How do YOU adjust those recipes to ensure perfection? How do you finish/decorate the pies?

Egg wash/egg whites/egg yolks/nothing? 🤯

What are your tips (that you're willing to share)? As detailed as possible if you have details available (my brain can't process general instructions... which is probably part of my problem. lol!)

I'm tired of online random reading. I want to know what Real People are doing to make perfect-to-them pies.

I want to make a couple for Christmas gifts for a few people who love pie, but hate making it. But I don't want to make sub-par pies. Figured if I start practicing something that has for-sure worked for someone here NOW, I'll have it mastered before Christmas. 🎇

Edited by easypeasy
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Meringue crusts are always a hit, and they are so much easier than rolled out ones.

My specialty pies are French Silk Pie (meringue crust, minced walnuts, chocolate filling, whipped cream sweetened with Khalsa on top) and Angel Pies (paler meringue crust, lemon or orange cooked filling, whipped cream on top.).  If I did not bring these as my Christmas contribution there would be a riot.  The only thing that can make them not work is baking the crusts at altitude.  Have never been able to figure that out.

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1 minute ago, Carol in Cal. said:

Meringue crusts are always a hit, and they are so much easier than rolled out ones.

My specialty pies are French Silk Pie (meringue crust, minced walnuts, chocolate filling, whipped cream sweetened with Khalsa on top) and Angel Pies (paler meringue crust, lemon or orange cooked filling, whipped cream on top.).  If I did not bring these as my Christmas contribution there would be a riot.  The only thing that can make them not work is baking the crusts at altitude.  Have never been able to figure that out.

I don't think I have ever had a meringue crust. We've been watching the British Baking Show, though, and we're all pretty fascinated by the meringue episodes, so sounds like it's a good time to try it out!

Is your recipe similar to this?

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/12258/meringue-crust/

 

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The crust recipe from America's test kitchen, the one with a little vodka, is the easiest and most consistent I've tried.

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2 minutes ago, easypeasy said:

I don't think I have ever had a meringue crust. We've been watching the British Baking Show, though, and we're all pretty fascinated by the meringue episodes, so sounds like it's a good time to try it out!

Is your recipe similar to this?

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/12258/meringue-crust/

 

Very like, but about double of everything.  Mine billows.

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8 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

Very like, but about double of everything.  Mine billows.

 

Billows. Lovely word. Thank you!!

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14 minutes ago, elroisees said:

The crust recipe from America's test kitchen, the one with a little vodka, is the easiest and most consistent I've tried.

 

I don't have a membership to America's Test Kitchen, but I think this one is essentially the same? Does this look like what you remember?

https://food52.com/recipes/24966-cook-s-illustrated-foolproof-pie-crust

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces

2 tablespoons vodka, cold

2 tablespoons cold water

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Close, but mine didn't use shortening, or maybe I skipped it and used 8 T butter?  I don't have a membership either, but I have their enormous cookbook, The Science of Good Cooking, and it spends time explaining why the vodka doesn't develop the gluten....  

The other thing they recommend was using a food processor to combine the fat with half of the flour mixture until the dough comes together in a ball, then adding the rest and not over-mixing.

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1 minute ago, elroisees said:

Close, but mine didn't use shortening, or maybe I skipped it and used 8 T butter?  I don't have a membership either, but I have their enormous cookbook, The Science of Good Cooking, and it spends time explaining why the vodka doesn't develop the gluten....  

The other thing they recommend was using a food processor to combine the fat with half of the flour mixture until the dough comes together in a ball, then adding the rest and not over-mixing.

 

I'm pretty sure my library has that book. I'll check it out. Thank you!!

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I’m not fond of fruit pie but love chocolate pie — this is my favorite!  (I can’t remember where I found it...maybe all recipes?  or food network?)
 

Chocolate Pudding Pie

To make decorative chocolate curls, wrap a medium-size chunk of semisweet chocolate in plastic wrap. Rub the wrapped chocolate between your hands for 1 or 2 minutes to warm it; the chocolate should not melt. For larger chunks, microwave on low for about 5 seconds. Unwrap the chocolate and, using a vegetable peeler, slowly and evenly scrape the edge of the chunk until curls form. If the chocolate is cold, the peeler will make ragged shavings rather than curls, so repeat warming the chocolate as necessary. 

Ingredients:

For the filling: 

2 1/2 cups milk
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped into slivers
4 egg yolks
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
 
1 cookie crumb crust, made with chocolate cookies 
 
For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
 
Chocolate curls for decorating 

Directions:

To make the filling, in a heavy nonaluminum saucepan over low heat, warm together the milk and chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is melted; the mixture will be speckled. 

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add the cornstarch and salt, then the vanilla, and whisk until well blended. Slowly pour the warm chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until well blended. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens and begins to bubble slowly, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth, about 1 minute. 

Pour the filling into the crumb crust and smooth with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface, and refrigerate until completely cold and firm, 2 to 3 hours. 

To make the topping, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed or a whisk, beat together the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream on top of the pie. Decorate with chocolate curls. Refrigerate until ready to serve, but let the pie stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving to take the chill off.
 
Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8.
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Pastry crust pies need a heavy ceramic or glass pan to keep from getting soggy bottoms.

 

i use milk and sprinkle sugar on my top crust. That makes a lovely glittery crunch on top.

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What comes out not-perfect about your pies?  I applaud you for persevering, whatever the problem; I love pie!

I've used a variety of pie crust recipes over the years, and they all pretty much work.  My best tips are:  Grate the very cold butter with a box grater, and then gently work it into the flour.  I say "gently" because you want the flour to coat each shred of butter, not for the butter to clump back up.  Use enough cold water (if the recipe says 1/4-1/3 c., for instance, I don't use the full 1/3 c., but I no longer try to make it work with 1/4 c., as if there will be a prize for a waterless crust.  A crust without enough water is impossible to roll out neatly).  Roll firmly--again, there is no prize for persuading the crust to flatten itself.  Use plenty of flour on the rolling surface, because a stuck crust will not roll out.  When you put the crust in the pie plate, stick it back in the freezer for about 10  minutes before you fill or bake it.  If you have an offset spatula, use it as you roll to loosen the crust from the counter so you can pick it up and reposition.  My final tip:  if you are worried about the appearance of the crust, i.e., why it is not shiny and uniformly golden brown, stop.  Pie is meant to be a homely dessert; and perhaps that is my best tip:  lower your expectations and enjoy the inner beauty of a homemade pie!

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I make a pumpkin pie with the libby recipe, but use eggnog in place of the condensed milk, and I use a gingersnap pie crust - just follow directions for any graham cracker crust but use crushed gingersnaps instead. 

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ooh- never heard of a meringue crust! With a celiac in the house that sounds awesome!

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50 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

I make a pumpkin pie with the libby recipe, but use eggnog in place of the condensed milk, and I use a gingersnap pie crust - just follow directions for any graham cracker crust but use crushed gingersnaps instead. 


Ooooh, I’m going to try this. So you bake the crumb crust for like 10 min, fill, and then bake according to Libby’s directions?

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If you are going to give them away, resist the urge to get disposable pans. Go to the dollar store or something like an Ollie’s (liquidation store), or Goodwill and buy glass. That’s probably one of the best things you can do for the quality of your crusts. 

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Oh, yes, pie pans.  

I generally use my Pampered Chef stoneware ones, although glass ones also work well.  The key is to have ones that heat evenly and don’t warp.

Also, for flour based pie crusts, THE KEY is not to overwork the dough.  You don’t want a bready crust, and what makes it get bready is if the gluten is ‘awakened’ by the dough being kneaded or even mixed too much.

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Fridge -  If I get distracted (phone call, kids' requests, other things cooking) as I'm rolling out crust, getting it into the pie dish, fluting it........I place the whole thing (pie dish, crust - whether in balls or partially-rolled-out) BACK into the fridge until I am able to finish.  Also, sometimes it's hot / warm weather here when I'm making pies; you have to work quickly or the dough gets too warm / soft.  Placing everything into the fridge - even for 10 minutes - saves a lot of frustration caused by warm dough.  

Cookie Cutters - For ~20 years, we have used mini seasonal Fall cookie cutters to fix "mistakes" in all sorts of pie crusts.  Interestingly, the pies end up looking even more beautiful than those with "perfect" crusts.  The cookie cutter shapes are: oak leaf, maple leaf, some other leaf, apple, pumpkin, and maybe an acorn.  They're about 1/2"  to 3/4" long / wide (not very big - I guess they're originally for mini cut-out cookies?).  I make extra dough (or a recipe large enough for a bottom and a top crust when only actually needing one), and then cut dozens of these shapes out.  I line the pie dish edge with them and overlap the fluting.  So, if there were breaks in the fluted edge, it's all covered up by beautiful leaves.  Hope that makes sense.  This looks great on a pecan pie!  

If I bake an apple or fruit pie with a top crust, I place these cut-outs in a pattern on the top crust and "glue" them into place with a little egg wash.  The eye is drawn to these shapes vs. finding the imperfections in the crust.  These little cookie cutters have saved the eye appeal of many a pie!  And the pressure is off: I don't worry about making perfect crusts because they cover up any imperfection.

ETA: Those little cutters have been a great way to get the kids helping to make pies.  They love those things and getting the chance to decorate the pie crusts -- just the right size for smaller hands and people who like to decorate! 

Kind of like these: Amazon International Cutters

Rolling Pin - Learned this somewhere along the way: When you're ready to transfer the crust from the rolling surface to the pie dish, roll it up loosely on your rolling pin (dust with flour if sticking) like you're rolling up a map, "hover" the rolling pin over the pie dish, and gently "unwind" / un-roll the dough onto the dish.  This is way easier and results in less tearing / cracking than my old method of folding it in half or moving it as a big sheet to the dish.  

DH is the one who's always on the hunt for a better dough recipe.  You've gotten some good ones here; I believe he's currently using a Cook's Country recipe that calls for shortening an butter.  Also, we definitely use a food processor for speed.

Make Ahead: we're often busy and/or make several pies over the holidays.  We'll tag-team it and make ~6-8 pie dough crusts, roll them into balls, put them in plastic wrap, put all of the "balls" into large Zip-Lock bags, and freeze them ahead of time (up to a few weeks).  There's no point in washing the food processor between batches; we just make an assembly-line system and crank them out, sticking them into the freezer.  Later, we put the dough into the fridge a day ahead of time to thaw a bit.  We're one step ahead and have less clean-up.  It doesn't seem as mentally-overwhelming when we break it up this way into different days.

Edited by vonbon
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I think making delicious pies is easy.  Making pretty pies is hard for me.  Delicious is good enough.  I actually love pie so much that some friends and I formed a Pie Club.  We get together occasionally, come hungry, and end up with ten pies for 4-5 families.  We're ridiculous.  Here's what I've learned:

The pillsbury roll-out crust is just fine if you have crust anxiety.  Nobody will complain.

The easiest way to make a "pretty" pie is to use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the top crust, then place the cut out shapes on top of the crust. 

Tapioca is great to thicken recipes that you feel are too runny.

Don't forget to cover the crust so it doesn't burn.  I have silicone crust cover things, but foil is fine.  You do have to remove the shields at the beginning or end so the crust will brown a bit.

Meringue or whipped cream on top looks great and is easier than making pretty crusts

 

THIS recipe is EASY and you can use frozen peaches instead of fresh:

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/easy-peach-cream-pie/

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THANK YOU all for the tried-and-true tips and recipes! 🏆 We're planning to try a few of these over the weekend!!

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I almost forgot.  This is in the other pie thread, but it's worth sharing.  This is my favorite pumpkin pie recipe of all pumpkin pie recipes.  It's also super quick and easy. I taught my 11-year-old niece to make it and it turned out perfectly.  

https://clickamericana.com/recipes/dessert-recipes/carnations-famous-pumpkin-pie-1959

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Late to the thread, but since my family adores pie and asks for Birthday Pies instead of cake, I've learned a few tricks along the way.

1.  Make your pie dough ahead of time.  Gather dough into a ball, press into a thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate--at least 2 hours.  Good for a couple of days.  This gives the gluten time to relax.  Note:  If making a double crust pie, separate into two discs, with one "half" slightly larger than the other. The slightly larger one is for the bottom crust which needs to be rolled out slightly larger!  (Credit for this goes to the King Arthur Flour site)

2.  Remove dough from frig and let sit out 20-30 minutes.  It needs to be cold, but roll-able.  

3.  I find a pastry mat and rolling pin cover indispensable for rolling out dough.  I have this: pastry mat and rolling pin cover.  I'm able to roll out my dough with far less flour and the handy guidelines printed on the mat help me roll out a round circle of precise circumference.  This gadget has made my pie-making attempts far more enjoyable....

4.  Refrigerate pie-lined pan while finishing up filling. 

5.  Refrigerate ready-to-bake pie while oven is heating.

6.  I brush my top crust with a bit of milk (or cream or yogurt--whatever I have on hand that is easy to use) and sprinkle sugar over. Then I cut any slits needed.

7.  I almost always need to cover the edges of my crust with a foil cutout--Some cooks suggest at the beginning, some at the end -- I like covering at the beginning because I'm dealing with a cool pie plate, not a hot one.  I do remove it for the last 30 minutes of baking.

Happy Baking!

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LARD! Lard from PASTURED cows, not that horrible stuff in the grocery. For a super flaky crust I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 lard.  Very cold or even frozen. Comes out light and tasty every time!

 

I am definitely trying the gingersnap crust for something! 

I am also a fan of the small cookie cutters. 

I do like a little splash of bourbon in chocolate pecan pie in lieu of the vanilla. 

I usually add an extra egg and use 1 C. Of heavy cream (instead of the evaporated milk) in the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe. We have done a taste test before too with the Libby's spices vs. pumpkin pie spice and other spice combinations, and that was fun!

 

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1 hour ago, ScoutTN said:

LARD! Lard from PASTURED cows, not that horrible stuff in the grocery. For a super flaky crust I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 lard.  Very cold or even frozen. Comes out light and tasty every time!

 

I am definitely trying the gingersnap crust for something! 

I am also a fan of the small cookie cutters. 

I do like a little splash of bourbon in chocolate pecan pie in lieu of the vanilla. 

I usually add an extra egg and use 1 C. Of heavy cream (instead of the evaporated milk) in the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe. We have done a taste test before too with the Libby's spices vs. pumpkin pie spice and other spice combinations, and that was fun!

 


Would something like this work: https://fatworksfoods.com/

If so, would I measure and then freeze?

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On 11/12/2019 at 12:11 AM, elroisees said:

The crust recipe from America's test kitchen, the one with a little vodka, is the easiest and most consistent I've tried.

Yes, this!  Definitely my most favorite and easiest crust recipe!

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Yes - lard - DH won't make pie crusts without it.  I think I wrote "shortening" above--  Not sure if it's the same thing?  Lard kind of grosses me out, but I do think it results in dough that's way easier to work with than when we did straight butter.  He toys with recipes and is always on the lookout for a better one...the latest includes lard.  🤔

2 hours ago, ScoutTN said:

LARD! Lard from PASTURED cows, not that horrible stuff in the grocery. For a super flaky crust I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 lard.  Very cold or even frozen. Comes out light and tasty every time!

 

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I'll have to tell DH about the vodka recipe...He loves Cook's / America's Test Kitchen recipes.  Lard and vodka...quite a combination!  😏😜

For those of you looking for recipes, he says Julia Child's (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) is the easiest dough he's found to work with.  

 

Edited by vonbon

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23 minutes ago, vonbon said:

Yes - lard - DH won't make pie crusts without it.  I think I wrote "shortening" above--  Not sure if it's the same thing?  Lard kind of grosses me out, but I do think it results in dough that's way easier to work with than when we did straight butter.  He toys with recipes and is always on the lookout for a better one...the latest includes lard.  🤔

 

Lard from pastured cows, when used in moderation, is a healthy fat. Your local farmers' market is usually a good place to look.  I get a pint for $4. 

I will not use Crisco or lard from CAFO animals. Both will still produce a flaky crust, but.... just no. 

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(Hopefully this isn't too large a hijack.)

Which pies can be made in advance, and do they need to be refrigerated?  Does a pumpkin pie need to go in the fridge?  Gluten free if it matters.

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7 hours ago, Caraway said:

(Hopefully this isn't too large a hijack.)

Which pies can be made in advance, and do they need to be refrigerated?  Does a pumpkin pie need to go in the fridge?  Gluten free if it matters.

Yes, refrigerate pumpkin.

My DH says this about pie temperature (and it's nearly always a GF pumpkin pie): First day, warm pie (because even refrigeration doesn't cool it all that fast). Second day, cold pie. Third day--there's no more pie.

Whipped cream (or similar) covers any imperfections.

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I love this easy ice cream pie recipe. 

Take a store bought deep dish graham cracker or Oreo crust. Lightly drizzle caramel sauce and chocolate sauce on the bottom.

take slightly softened vanilla ice cream and stir in finely chopped snickers bars. (You could use peanut butter cups or anything else, but I like snickers). Spread into the pie crust. Put back in freezer until ready to serve.

about an hour before serving, remove from freezer and put a layer of freshly whipped cream on the whole top, another drizzle of caramel and chocolate sauce, and a few more sprinkles of snickers on top.  Use a knife warmed under hot water to slice.

this is the way I make it, but it would be super easy to adjust the flavors of ice cream and chocolate. 

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On 11/11/2019 at 10:11 PM, elroisees said:

The crust recipe from America's test kitchen, the one with a little vodka, is the easiest and most consistent I've tried.

My sister is a baker and this is her go-to for holidays. She skips the vodka - and just uses a little more water.

Mmmm! Pie!

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