The Newbie Cook
- 16,713 forkfuls since 16.Oct.10
Making everything for the first time
Yes, yes, I know that it’s really a Thanksgiving pie. But I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving so I made it for my birthday picnic instead.
This wasn’t made solely by me but was a group project: I did the combining and directing, Kim flattened the hard dough into a circle, Chie strained the filling, and Ina contributed arm power in whipping the cream.
I’ve never made a pie before so this was all new to me. First time and I still chose not to buy a pre-made crust. How cocky of me! Luckily, my friends were around to help out.
I used Smitten Kitchen’s pie crust 102 recipe, the non-alcoholic one without the shortening. I don’t have a pastry blender but I discovered that my potato masher worked just as well in combining the butter with the flour. The mesh shaped masher helped form the butter into little pea-sized beads. After that, it was easy enough to mold it with my hands into a ball and chill it for a few hours.
Rolling the very cold dough out was harder than I thought. I rolled the first pie and Kim did the second. She was laughing the whole time because it was shaped like Europe (or was it Australia?) instead of a circle. But Kim was a trooper and kept at it.
I completely underestimated the size of the pie crust. I had no idea that it would shrink while baking! Next time, I’ll remember to leave a lot of room for shrinkage. I found out that it’s also better to punch little air holes with a toothpick into the crust before sticking it in the oven – this prevents it from creating air pockets and ruining the shape of the bottom.
The filling gave us less trouble. At first. We were planning to skip the whole “pour through a wire mesh strainer” part but the filling did end up having solid, round, floury bits in spite of our best efforts to keep it smooth. So Chie held the strainer and forced the filling through, I scraped the bottom with a spoon and Kim ate the floury bits.
The next day, after the pie was appropriately chilled, we were in a hurry to prepare the whipped cream. I forgot to bring the electric mixer (which was in Apartment #1) to Apartment #2 where the pies were. So, using female arm power, Chie, Ina and I whisked the whipped cream and sugar into a serviceable topping for the pies. Here’s Ina with a pie:
For a first-time effort, it really wasn’t bad. The crust may have been less than stellar and I believe the fault lay in my preparation rather than the recipe. The pie was still delicious according to the guests. Perhaps they were just being loyal, supportive friends… or maybe they really were telling the truth. 🙂 This is a pie that I would love to make for my family’s Christmas Eve dinner.
Pie Crust 102
From Smitten Kitchen
Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces.
Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas, stop.
Start by drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.
Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.
Recommended reading: Pie Crust 103: Rolling and Crimping
From The Kitchn
serves 8 to 10
For the filling
1 standard pie crust, blind-baked and cooled
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup milk
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey
For the whipped cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the filling
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, approximately 10 minutes. Add brown sugar to butter and cook until sugar is completely melted and a paste is formed.
Combine evaporated milk and regular milk and pour into the butter/brown sugar mixture. Bring to a simmer and stir until it is smooth and the sugar is completely dissolved.
In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, and salt. Pour 1/ 2 cup of the milk/butter/sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour the smooth cornstarch mixture back into saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook for approximately one minute, until just thickened (cooking the cornstarch much longer can actually cause it to lose its thickening ability).
Stream 1/2 cup hot milk/butter/sugar mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly (this is called tempering; it prevents the yolks from curdling in the heat). Pour this mix back into the saucepan. Cook for approximately 30 seconds to one minute, and then remove from heat. Stir in whiskey. Allow to cool until warm, about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain filling through a fine mesh sieve and then pour into cooked pie crust.
Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding in order to prevent a skin from forming. Chill overnight, or until firm.
For whipped cream
In a medium-sized bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until foamy and starting to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until soft peaks are just formed.
If serving whole pie, top with whipped cream and slice. If serving just a few pieces, slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.