Archive for the ‘pie’ Category


This tart had everything going against it. For one thing, I wasn’t in the mood to make a three-part dessert. For another, Dorie says that it’s supposed to be eaten the day it’s assembled, and I had my doubts that Dave and I would be eating the whole thing in one day. But that worked out – I made a third of the recipe, which I divided between two mini-tart pans. I prepared the ingredients, but didn’t layer them or bake each tart until the day I planned to eat it.


I was too tired to take photos of the finished tart the first night we ate it. But the second night was even worse – Dave had very attentively refilled my wineglass throughout the evening, and I was hard-pressed to find the motivation to take photos of food. Plus the second tart (the drunk one) wasn’t as pretty as the first tart (the tired one). Imagine that.


But all’s well that ends well, because the tart was delicious. The crust was crisp but not tough, and the almond cream complimented the pears nicely. The dessert was pretty sweet and I could have used some more salt somewhere, but I say that every week. I had never eaten anything like this, so I’m really glad I tried it.


Dorie actually chose the recipe for us this week, and the recipe is posted on her blog.  Dorie has been fantastically supportive of Tuesdays with Dorie from the beginning of the group. She regularly answers questions, she’s posted about the group multiple times on her own blog, and this week she took the time to answer a number of interview-type questions that TWD members have wondered about for the past few months. I love baking along with a group and I enjoy the recipes from the book, and having Dorie interact with TWD so closely is the icing on the cake.

One year ago: Oatmeal.  We just had this last weekend – I love it during the winter.


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Laurie, the administrator for TWD, gave us the option of blogging about the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie, a combination of pecan and pumpkin pie, on Thursday instead of Tuesday, under the assumption that some of us would be making it for Thanksgiving. I tried to imagine my family’s reaction if I offered something so untraditional after the turkey. My mom would raise her eyebrows, loudly, if such a thing is possible, and eat maybe half a piece. My dad would eat his portion and proclaim it good but not as good as Libby’s pumpkin pie. My brothers and sister are more easygoing, and they might actually enjoy it for what it is – something different, god forbid.


I admit to being a little apprehensive about the pie myself, not being a big fan of pecan pie, or even pecans, for that matter. But I’m generally game for something new, so I followed the recipe almost exactly. I did toast the pecans before adding them to the pie, and I ran out of corn syrup and substituted maple syrup for almost half of the corn syrup.  I also used a different pie crust recipe.


The recipe came together smoothly for me, although I will admit to a twinge of regret when I added the pecans to the wonderfully pure pumpkin pie filling. The only problem I had was that my crust became incredibly difficult to cut through after baking. I am not exaggerating when I say that I ate my pie with a steak knife. I don’t know what happened – my only guess is that the sugary pecan pie filling made its way down to the crust and crystallized. I haven’t seen anyone else mention this problem, but there was nothing unusual about the pie crust I made. Maybe the maple syrup caused the problem?


I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed this pie. I’m so glad that I added some maple syrup, because that flavor was really noticeable, and it was fantastic. I did think the pie was sort of, um, ugly, once sliced. I wish the layers had stayed separate. That’s okay though, it was still tasty.


Vibi, who’s actually from France and therefore has no interest in Thanksgiving, was kind enough to choose this dessert for all of us American TWD members. The recipe is posted on her blog (in both English and French – just scroll down for the English version).


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It’s safe to say that this Summer Fruit Galette, chosen for TWD by Michelle, wasn’t my best effort. My baking has gotten really out of control lately – my freezer is full of cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and breads. There’s cookie dough and half a cake in my refrigerator. (But I finally found someone to offload some of this excess onto, so I’m excited about that!) My capacity to bake has far outstripped our capacity to eat. I thought the galette would fit into this pattern perfectly because I could pare down the recipe, which would be tricky with a regular pie.

Last time I made Dorie’s pie crust, I was pretty happy with it, but was put off by the shortening. Mari suggested substituting lard for the shortening, and since the galette uses the same dough as the blueberry pie did, I had that opportunity. I didn’t notice any big differences between the crusts made with shortening and with lard – they seemed equally easy to work with and flavorful. But a few weeks ago, I had noticed two or three TWD members who had problems with the pie crust sort of melting in the oven, and I had a little of that problem this time. In short, I’m going to stick with my old favorite pie crust. They’re both good, but I’ve been using that one for years and I’ve always been happy with it. (I’ll put it on my blog at some point or another – probably the next pie recipe TWD makes.)

The rest of my problems with the galette were my fault. I only made a quarter of the recipe, and I’m afraid that that’s an impractically small fraction. The ratio between the area necessary to hold fillings and the area necessary to pleat the edges gets thrown off, and you end up with far more crust per filling than the recipe intended. And one of the parts of this recipe that I was very interested in was the custard topping that gets poured over the fruit, but again, with so little filling exposed, I was only able to dribble in the slightest amount of custard mix before it overflowed and made a mess.

Despite all of my foibles making this dessert, I still really enjoyed it. I can tell the potential for a really amazing dessert is there. This is another example of how Dorie takes just a few ingredients and shows them off to their best advantage.

The recipe can be found on Melissa’s website.

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Blueberry season snuck up on me. When I first saw that Amy’s TWD pick this week was blueberry pie, I hadn’t yet seen seasonal blueberries at the store. But when I went just a few days later, blueberries had replaced strawberries in the produce place of honor. Phew. (Then we went camping in the supposed “blueberry capital of the world”, so…yeah, finding blueberries didn’t end up being a problem.)

Like most somewhat experienced bakers, I already have a favorite pie crust recipe. It’s tasty, flaky, easy to work with, and doesn’t require shortening. However, if I stubbornly cling to my old favorites and refuse to try new recipes, I’ll stagnate as a baker and a cook. I was certainly willing to give Dorie’s pie crust recipe a try.

I also have a favorite blueberry pie recipe, but again, with the trying new things…

Dorie’s pie crust knocked my socks off. It was delicious, flaky, tender, and even easier to work with than my other recipe. However, the shortening is actually a deal breaker with me. I’d rather be careful that my pie crust is chilled enough when I’m rolling it out than eat hydrogenated fats. Also, I think Dorie’s recipe needs to be scaled back a bit. It makes about 20% more crust than other recipes I’ve used, and as a result, the pie had a higher crust to fruit ratio than I like, even though I think I like pie crust more than most people. (Depending on the quality of the crust, of course.)

The filling, well, it reminded me that I love blueberry pie. I ate four (small, I swear!) pieces in one day. I reduced the sugar from 1 cup to ¾ cup, and I’m glad I did, I think I used just the right amount of sugar. I also didn’t have the lemon zest that I was supposed to use, so I fudged that with a bit of lemon extract. I still like my other recipe better – it uses cinnamon as a supporting flavor instead of Dorie’s lemon, and the cinnamon is surprisingly perfect with the blueberries.

The recipe calls for bread crumbs to be scattered on the bottom crust before the filling ingredients are added. I’m not putting breadcrumbs in blueberry pie; it’s just not happening. I considered using graham cracker crumbs, but ultimately got lazy and skipped this step entirely. I bake pies on a preheated baking sheet, which I think helps brown the bottom crust and keep it crispy. I had no problems with my crust getting soggy.

The recipe can be found on Amy’s blog.

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I joined TWD right at the beginning of strawberry season – when the first flavorless strawberries started showing up in stores, and I bought them just because I was excited about warmer weather and everything that goes along with it. I was eager to make one strawberry dessert after another during their short season, but the TWD recipe-choosers haven’t been on that same wavelength. (Of course, not all of TWD’s members are in the Northern Hemisphere anyway.) I still bought strawberries each week, and every week they’re more flavorful than the last. The strawberry tart that Marie chose for this week’s recipe was a perfect way to showcase delicious seasonal strawberries.

I make only a portion of most TWD recipes, since I’m only cooking for myself and Dave, and my capacity to bake outstrips our capacity to eat. But I didn’t want to take pictures of yet another mini-tart. I actually don’t have a fluted 9-inch tart pan, but I’ve successfully used my 9-inch springform pan for tarts in the past.

Dorie calls this dessert “rustic in the extreme”, so I decided to play that up. A rustic tart has no need for fluted, or even neat, edges, so I just quickly pressed the dough into the pan. A number of people had problems with the crust being too hard, so I was careful to only lightly press the dough. It did, however, end up ever so slightly more rustic than I had intended…

Although the recipe sounds extraordinarily simple – crust, jam, strawberries, whipped cream – it really does add up to more than its parts. I was surprised by how much the jam added to the flavor of the tart. My crust seemed more tender than most people described theirs, so maybe lightly pressing it into the pan worked? (Scratch that – I just cut the crust into slices, and it was a crumbly crackly mess.) I haven’t tried sprinkling the strawberries with Dorie’s suggested black pepper, but after reading a few positive reviews on that method, I’m going to try it with tonight’s serving. Although strawberry shortcake isn’t going anywhere as my favorite strawberry-showcasing dessert, I’m looking forward to finishing up this tart throughout the week.

Dorie has discussed this dessert and provided the recipe on Serious Eats. I made the recipe without any changes, but in the future, I’d like another 1/8 teaspoon salt in the crust.

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I’m guessing there are recipes in Dorie’s book that aren’t obscenely rich. In fact, there’s a whole section on muffins! But the TWD recipe choosers have thus far gravitated toward the decadent side of the book, at least since I joined. This week is no exception, as Dianne’s choice of Florida Pie has well over a cup of cream in addition to the can of sweetened condensed milk, the butter in the crust, and a fair amount of coconut.

Fortunately, it’s all worth it because I love citrus desserts, especially Key lime pie. I only recently realized that I liked coconut, so this was a fun way to incorporate it into a favorite dessert.

I didn’t follow the recipe quite as closely as I normally do. I did make the coconut cream the recommended way, by simply boiling heavy cream and sweetened shredded coconut together until they reduce and thicken. For the lime filling, however, I was surprised that Dorie didn’t call for zest, and since I like my citrus desserts on the puckery side, I added about 2 limes worth. Where I strayed from the recipe the most was in the freezing steps, of which Dorie has two – one after the filling is added, and one after the meringue is toasted. I’m not sure what the purpose of either of these freezing stages is – perhaps to keep the filling cold while the pie is broiled? I used a blow torch to brown the meringue, and I didn’t want my pie frozen, so I skipped both visits to the freezer.

Overall, the pie (or in my case, tartelettes) were good. I do love lime. I have to admit that I consider the coconut more of a distraction than an improvement, but I enjoyed the dessert regardless.

Florida Pie (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)

1 9-inch graham cracker crust, fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1⅓ cups heavy cream
1½ cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
¼ cup of sugar

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the remaining juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.

Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue: Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining ½ cup coconut into the meringue.

Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you’ve got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

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chocolate cream pie


After weeks of pound cakes, I’d had enough of vanilla-flavored desserts. I was in the mood for chocolate! And I wanted to make a chocolate pie, which I had never done before. I wanted something rich and intensely chocolately. I had 6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, and cocoa. (Fun fact: so far, about 10% of the words in this blog post are “chocolate.”) My dairy options were also limited.

Chocolate Mousse Pie is exactly what I was in the mood for, but it didn’t fit my ingredient limitations. (I’m stubborn about extra trips to the grocery store.) I had to settle for Chocolate Cream Pie.

Chocolate cream pie is just pudding in a pie crust. I was starting to get disappointed that I wasn’t going to end up with a dessert as rich as I had originally intended.


I needn’t have worried. This chocolate pie was plenty rich and chocolatey and delicious. See how I’ve nicely spread the filling into the pie shell here? Okay, now look at the edges, and you can see where I took a spoon around the edge of the pie to scoop up some filling. Just to taste, you know? I had to make sure it was edible. I needed several spoonfuls to really make sure.

Oh, it was edible all right. Topped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa, this definitely fulfilled my chocolate craving.

Chocolate Cream Pie (adapted from epicurious.com and Cooks Illustrated)

8 to 10 servings

Epicurious note: Pie (without topping) can be chilled up to 1 day.

Bridget note: I made the pie on Friday and we finished it on Tuesday, and I didn’t notice any loss of quality over time. I topped each piece with whipped cream as it was served rather than spreading it on the pie. Also, I used 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, plus 2 teaspoons extra sugar.

Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust
16 Oreo cookies (with filling), broken into rough pieces, about 2½ cups
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Chocolate Cream Filling
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped Cream Topping
1 cups heavy cream (cold)
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process cookies with 15 one-second pulses, then let machine run until crumbs are uniformly fine, about 15 seconds. (Alternatively, place cookies in large zipper-lock plastic bag and crush with rolling pin.) Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle with butter, and use fingers to combine until butter is evenly distributed.

2. Pour crumbs into 9-inch Pyrex pie plate. Following illustration below, press crumbs evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Refrigerate lined pie plate 20 minutes to firm crumbs, then bake until crumbs are fragrant and set, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack while preparing filling.

3. For the filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick).

4. Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a plastic wrap and cool completely, about 2 hours.

5. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

6. For the topping: Just before serving, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla in bowl of standing mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume and forms soft peaks, about 20 seconds. Spread or pipe whipped cream over chilled pie filling. Cut pie into wedges and serve.


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apple galette


It turns out that being unemployed is sort of boring. To procrastinate on being responsible and looking for a job, I cook a lot. (Then I eat a lot and then I work out a little. I’m gaining weight.) I’ve gotten in the habit of undertaking big cooking-fests on Fridays. For a few weeks in a row, I’ve planned and shopped for a big Friday meal, but didn’t plan anything for dessert. And I do not skip dessert. Unacceptable. I don’t keep a well-stocked pantry (not including the 7 different kinds of vinegar), so it can be difficult to find a recipe that works with what I have on hand. But I managed okay so far.

That’s how I ended up making this galette. I know, what kind of bored housewife “just throws together” a galette while also making homemade ravioli? And what kind of bad time-manager thinks that everything will still be done and the kitchen clean before her husband gets home?

But whatever, the galette was worth spending a couple hours in the kitchen after Dave was home and relaxing and probably hungry. Not that the galette was too time-consuming, so don’t worry about that. I managed to put it together in between kneading pasta dough, making ravioli filling, and roasting garlic for the leftover olive oil bread. And it was definitely worth the extra effort to make a dessert – the galette had the flakiest and most tender crust I’ve ever made, even though I didn’t use the instant flour that the recipe prefers. Plus, it’s beautiful, and can be made in advance – we ate it hours after I made it on Friday. When we finished it off the next day, I didn’t notice any loss of flavor or flakiness in the crust. It would be wonderful with vanilla ice cream, but I didn’t have any – and I couldn’t just throw that together without some advance planning!


Apple Galette (from Cooks Illustrated September 2007)

CI note: The galette can be made without instant flour, using 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. However, you might have to increase the amount of ice water. Although any apple will work in this recipe, we prefer Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Empire. If you don’t have an apple corer, halve the peeled apples and then use a melon baller or paring knife to remove the core from each half. Make sure to cut the apples as thinly as possible. If they are cut thicker than 1/8 inch, they will be hard to shingle. If the dough has chilled longer than 1 hour, let it stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes to soften. If the dough becomes soft and sticky while being rolled, transfer it to a baking sheet and refrigerate it for 10 to 15 minutes. Check the bottom of the galette halfway through baking-it should be a light golden brown. If it is darker, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Serve with vanilla ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or creme fraiche.

Bridget note: I halved the recipe, and that’s what the pictures show.

Serves 8 to 10

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7½ ounces)
½ cup Wondra flour or Pillsbury Shake and Blend instant flour (2½ ounces)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter , cut into 5/8-inch cubes (1½ sticks)
7-9 tablespoons ice water

Apple Filling
1½ pounds apples (3-4 medium or 4-5 small), see note above
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon water
1. CUT IN BUTTER: Combine flours, salt, and sugar in food processor with three 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over flour, pulse to cut butter into flour until butter pieces are size of large pebbles, about ½ inch, about six 1-second pulses.

2. ADD WATER: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over mixture and pulse once quickly to combine; repeat, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulsing, until dough begins to form small curds that hold together when pinched with fingers (dough should look crumbly and should not form cohesive ball).

3. FORM MOUND: Empty dough onto work surface and gather into rough rectangular mound about 12 inches long and 5 inches wide.

4. FRAISAGE AND CHILL: Starting at farthest end, use heel of hand to smear small amount of dough against counter, pushing firmly down and away from you, to create separate pile of dough (flattened pieces of dough should look shaggy). Continue process until all dough has been worked. Gather dough into rough 12 by 5-inch mound and repeat smearing process. Dough will not have to be smeared as much as first time and should form cohesive ball once entire portion is worked. Form dough into 4-inch square, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but still malleable, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

5. CUT APPLES: About 15 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, core, and halve apples. Cut apple halves lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

6. ROLL AND TRIM DOUGH: Place dough on floured 16 by 12-inch piece of parchment paper and dust with more flour. Roll dough until it just overhangs all four sides of parchment and is about 1/8 inch thick, dusting top and bottom of dough and rolling pin with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Trim dough so edges are even with parchment paper.

7. FORM BORDER: Roll up 1 inch of each edge and pinch firmly to create ½-inch-thick border. Transfer dough and parchment to rimmed baking sheet.

8. LAYER APPLES AND BAKE: Starting in one corner, shingle sliced apples to form even row across bottom of dough, overlapping each slice by about one-half. Continue to layer apples in rows, overlapping each row by half. Dot apples with butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake until bottom of tart is deep golden brown and apples have caramelized, 45 to 60 minutes.

9. GLAZE: While galette is cooking, combine apricot preserves and water in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power until mixture begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Pass through fine-mesh strainer to remove any large apricot pieces. Brush baked galette with glaze and cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into individual portions; serve.


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I saw so excited to see that this month’s Daring Baker challenge was lemon meringue pie! Not only do I love lemon, but the one lemon meringue pie I’ve made was several years ago and was only partially successful. It seemed to me like this had to potential to be a fairly difficult challenge – pie crust, lemon curd, meringue. But when Jen of The Canadian Baker revealed this recipe to us, she expressed some concern that it might not be challenging enough for everyone.

She needn’t have worried. As one person after another wrote in to the DB private blog that they had followed the recipe exactly and had lemon meringue soup to show for their efforts, I started to get worried. And it seemed that for every disaster, there was another DBer chiming in that they had followed the recipe exactly and had perfect results. It goes without saying that I was hoping to be in the latter group.

I was not. I, however, cannot claim that I followed the recipe exactly. Because I screwed up.


It was all going swimmingly until I baked the pie at the end. The crust was a bit thicker than I’m used to, and the filling overflowed the crust a bit after I added the meringue, but these are minor qualms. (Ah – I see now that the recipe is developed for a 10-inch pan, and I only have 9-inch pans. That explains it.) The problem arose when I opened the oven to bake the pie and realized that I needed to adjust the racks and add a sheet pan below to catch drips. As I fumbled around with these corrections, I cranked the oven thermometer up to make sure the heater stayed on.

About five minutes after I put the pie in, a smell reminiscent of marshmallows roasting on a campfire reminded me that I hadn’t turned the oven back down. At this point the meringue was a beautiful mix of almost black, tan, and white. Afraid of it turning entirely black, I took the pie out far earlier than the recipe instructed.

And like many DBers, my filling did not set. Is it because I baked the pie at 450 degrees for 5 minutes instead of 375 degrees for 20 minutes? I don’t know. The next day, however, the filling was nice and solid, although the meringue was insufficiently cooked.


I do know that this unsatisfactory pie did not satisfy the desire for lemon meringue pie that I had by now developed. I also knew that I wasn’t taking any chances with the same recipe. Instead, I tried a Cooks Illustrated recipe. Unsurprisingly, it went off without a hitch. Gotta love Cooks Illustrated.

Check to see how the rest of the Daring Bakers pie experiences went!


Lemon Meringue Pie (from Wanda Beaver’s Wanda’s Pie in the Sky)

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

The Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie (from Cooks Illustrated)

Makes one 9-inch pie

Graham Cracker-Coated Pie Shell
1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
3-4 tablespoons cold water
½ cup graham cracker crumbs

Lemon Filling
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1½ cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue Topping
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. For the pie shell: Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1 second pulses. Add shortening; continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than a small pea, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cold water over mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold water into mixture; press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together. If dough will not come together, add up to 1 tablespoon more cold water. Shape dough into ball, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

3. Generously sprinkle work area with 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs. Place dough on work area. Scatter a few more crumbs over dough. Roll dough from center to edges, turning it into a 9-inch disk, rotating a quarter turn after each stroke and sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top as necessary to coat heavily. Flip dough over and continue to roll, but not rotate, to form a 13-inch disk slightly less than 1/8-inch thick.

4. Fold dough into quaarters; place dough point in center of 9-inch Pyrex pie pan. Unfold to cover pan completely, letting excess dough drape over pan lip. To fit dough to pan, lift edge of dough with one hand and press dougn in pan bottom with other hand; repeat process around circumferences of pan to ensure dough fits properly and is not stretched. Trim all around, ½-inch past lip of pan. Tuck ½ inch of overhanging dough under so folded edge is flush with lip of pan; press to seal. Press thumb and index finger about ½-inch apart against outside edge of dough, then use index finger or knuckle of other hand to poke a dent on inside edge of dough through opening created by the other fingers. Repeat to flute around perimeter of pie shell.

5. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Use fork to prick shell at ½-inch intervals; press a doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil into pie shell; prick again and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

6. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, checking occasionally for ballooning, until crust is firmly set, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, remove foil, and continue to bake until crust is crisp and rich brown in color, about 10 minutes longer.

7. For the filling: Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning of the process and more frequently as mixture begins to thicken. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice, and finally butter. Bring mixture to a brisk simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep hot and prevent skin from forming.

8. For the meringue: Mix cornstarch with 1/3 cup water in small saucepan; bring to simmer, whisking occasionally at beginning and more frequently as mixture thickens. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, remove from heat. Let cool while beating egg whites.

9. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks. Remove plastic from filling and return to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue (to ensure filling is hot).

10. Pour filling into pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute meringue evenly around edge then center of pie to keep it from sinking into filling. Make sure meringue attaches to pie crust to prevent shrinking. Use spoon to create peaks all over meringue. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.


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Dave’s birthday is today! He’s a few years older than me, which can be nice sometimes. It’s not that I think I’m old, or that I get all “I can’t believe I’m [blank] already.” But I can’t deny that when I hit those landmark numbers, those ages when it’s hard not to think “I’m [blank], and this is where I am in life?”, that the impact is lessened a bit by the fact that my husband’s been there for a few years.

Every year on his birthday, Dave requests banana cream pie. I’ve tried a number of recipes, and so far, according to Dave, none of them have lived up to Baker’s Square Restaurant. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t had Baker’s Square pie in quite a few years, and if he were to try it now (after living with me), he’d have a different opinion. But until then, I’ll just make my own favorite recipe.

This recipe starts with a graham cracker crust, which I’m a big fan of, especially for custard pies. The crust has a bit of banana right in it, which is a really great touch.


The custard is undeniably rich. I have no problems with that! After both the crust and custard have cooled to room temperature, two layers of banana and three layers of custard are filled into the crust. Then the pie is covered and chilled for at least eight hours to set the custard and soften the crust. Yeah right. I wasn’t that organized. We ate it after four hours of chilling.


It’s so good! It may not live up to Baker’s Square fame, but Dave had a number of complimentary comments to give, including “Scrumdelilicious.”

The original recipe is from epicurious.com, but I’m going to give my own adaptations below. The original is made in a 10-inch pie pan, which seems silly, because most people, including myself, don’t have such a beast. The recipe I’ve given below is adjusted for a standard 9-inch pie pan. I also made a few tweaks to the crust.

Banana Cream Pie (adapted from epicurious.com)

Serves 8

9 graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
½ banana
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

6½ tablespoons (2.8 ounces) sugar
¼ cup (1.1 ounces) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups whipping cream
1¼ cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

4½ ripe bananas, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and banana until evenly mixed and there are no visible chunks of banana. Add unsalted butter and process to moisten evenly. Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch glass pie dish. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake crust until set and pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling:
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Pour through mesh strainer into medium bowl. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove vanilla bean.

Stir custard to loosen, if necessary. Spread ¾ cup custard over bottom of prepared crust. Top with half of sliced bananas, then ¾ cup custard, covering bananas completely. Repeat layering with remaining bananas and remaining custard. Chill banana cream pie until filling is set and crust softens slightly, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Cut pie into wedges and serve with sweetened whipped cream, if desired.


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