Tag Archives: pie

In Praise of Pie

20 Nov

Though I have previously stated that the best part of a Thanksgiving meal is the plethora of side dishes, I have to confess that, upon further consideration, it has become very clear to me that that statement is simply not true. Because I forgot (I know, what?) about the pie. Of course! The best part of Thanksgiving dinner (or any dinner, should you be so lucky) is the pie. Whether you decide to lean in the direction of traditional (apple pie) or not-so-traditional (lime coconut tart), here are some pie and tart recipes from the Savory Salty Sweet archives that will stoke your dessert fire and get the pie train rolling.

Pear Nougatine Tart:

Dutch Apple Pie:

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Tart:

Lime Coconut Tart:

Sour Cherry Pieyou’ll have to hunt down some frozen sour cherries (which are not terribly easy to find), but the effort will be totally worth it:

Sky-High Apple Pie:

Easiest Skillet Fruit Pie–this is a great pie for beginning pie-makers, or for people who are looking for a more casual dessert entry.


Blueberry Cream Pie in a Gingersnap Crust

2 Jul

Some good friends of mine had a baby recently.  Actually, a few good friends of mine have had babies recently, which is rather exciting. In addition to being able to visit and squeeze all the new babies (cheeks!  Thighs!  Chubby arm folds!), I am also able to test out some new recipes on my ravenous and more-than-a-little exhausted friends and their families.

Wait.  That came out wrong, like I am testing out recipes on unsuspecting new parents.  I don’t mean it that way.  I’ve been known to bring newly developed recipes to potlucks, brunches, and the occasional Thanksgiving dinner, so introducing new dishes to many people at a time is old hat to me.  I swear that I only do this sort of thing when I am positive that the recipe is a good one, and that I would never, ever spring a suspicious new dish on people.  Nobody wants to be served something revolting, and I certainly don’t want to serve anyone anything that might be categorized as such.

Which is why, when I wanted to come up with a new way to make a blueberry dessert, I decided that the best way to present the blueberries would be in a medium with which I am decidedly familiar: a pie.  Specifically, a pie lined with what has become my favorite crumb crust, made with spicy gingersnap cookies in lieu of graham crackers.  Topping the pie is a middle layer of cool vanilla custard, and on top of that is a full 3 cups of fresh, plump blueberries.  That doesn’t sound like an experiment that could ever go wrong, does it?  Of course not.  And it didn’t, as I heard from the pie’s recipients just a day after I dropped it off.  The last slice of pie had just been happily consumed, the new mother getting the honors of the last bite.  As it should be, I think.

Blueberry Cream Pie in a Gingersnap Crust Recipe

Gingersnap Crust

9 ounces gingersnap cookies

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Arrange an oven rack to the middle position.

In the bowl of a food processor, process cookies until they are pulverized into small crumbs.  Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor, you can crush the cookies in a plastic bag, using a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer.  When cookies are crushed, slowly drizzle in melted butter, pulsing the food processor as you drizzle.  If not using a food processor, transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and drizzle in the butter while stirring with a spatula.  Add pinch of salt and process or stir until crumbs start to cling together.

Pour the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan.  Using a spoon or a small metal measuring cup, press the crumbs into the pan, covering the bottom, then pressing the crumbs evenly up the sides of the pan.  Bake the crust for 8 to 9 minutes, until the edges of the crust are just beginning to color.  Remove crust from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Blueberry Cream Pie

¼ cup cornstarch

1/3 cup sugar

pinch of salt

2 cups milk

3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups fresh blueberries

In a medium saucepan set over medium low heat, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, and pinch of salt.  Slowly pour in milk while steadily whisking, making sure the cornstarch mixture does not clump up. Whisk in the egg yolks.  Reduce heat to medium low and slowly whisk the mixture for 7 to 8 minutes, until it becomes quite thick.  Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in vanilla.

Pour the custard into the baked gingersnap crust.  Pile blueberries on top of custard.  Place pie in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, until custard has set and pie is thoroughly chilled.

Serves 6 to 8 people.

Sour Cherry Pie

28 Jul

Is it your birthday?  Would you like me to bake you a pie?  What kind of pie?  Is it autumn?  Well, let’s make it an apple pie.  Winter?  Then how about something festive–coconut cream or chocolate, perhaps  Spring?  Well, clearly I should make you a strawberry pie.  But if it’s summertime, I am afraid you will have no choice in the matter.  If it’s summertime, I am going to make you a sour cherry pie.  Not just any cherry, mind you.  Sour cherry.  The best pie cherry in the entire world.

This is not the first time I have written about my dedication to sour cherries.  It is, however, the first time I have admitted publicly that when I make my best friend a sour cherry pie for her birthday every July, the joy I get from working with the cherries is as great as the joy my best friend gets from eating the cherries.

Sound implausible?  Think about it for a minute.  You know how birdwatchers get all giddy and flushed when they witness a rarely-seen bird?  Or how antique aficionados can be rendered breathless when faced with a mint condition Arts and Crafts Roycroft chair?  That’s how I feel about sour cherries.  Sour cherries, so fleeting in their availability, are, to me, akin to rare birds.  Their brief and glorious appearance occurs but once a year and is so short-lived that as soon as you hesitate to appreciate them, they are long gone.

Though I am aware of how over the top this comparison may seem, I am also aware of the fact that, as someone who spends an inordinately large amount of time in the kitchen, my senses and perceptions of time, seasons, and memory tend to lean towards the food-based.  And that means that when July rolls around, I can look forward to hot weather, evenings in the garden, my best friend’s birthday, and sour cherry pie.

Sour Cherry Pie

Filling ingredients and baking method adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

As noted in the photos above, I like to pit sour cherries using an unfurled paper clip. My sister-in-law taught me that trick, and I’ve found no better way to remove pits from sour cherries (which are a very soft and juicy type of cherry).  The paper clip removal is very simple: you hold a cherry in one hand, and with the other hand you just insert one u-shaped end of an open paper clip into the stem hole of a cherry, flip the paper clip up, and the pit pops right out (it only looks like I accomplish the action one-handed in the picture above because I needed my other, non-paper-clip-holding hand to hold the camera).  The cherry is never smashed, and the flesh remains intact.  If you have a cherry pitter, by all means, feel free to use it.  If you don’t, however, I really recommend the paper clip method.

Pie crust for 1 double crust pie.

This is my favorite pie crust recipe.  Since the recipe makes only enough dough for a single crust pie, all the ingredients will need to be doubled.  When the dough has been mixed together, divide it in half, form each half into disks, wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.)

6 cups pitted sour cherries (fresh, not canned)

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon almond extract

pinch salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of pie dough into a 12-inch circle.  Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, allowing the edges of the dough to hang over the sides of the pie plate.  Place in refrigerator while you prepare the other half of the dough.

One a lightly floured surface, roll the other disk of dough into a rectangle roughly 12 by 10 inches long.  Cut the rectangle lengthwise into 8 strips that are 12 inches long.  Place strips of dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the pie filling.

In a large bowl, combine cherries and sugar.  Gently toss together, then set aside for 20 minutes to allow the cherries to release some of their juices.

Adjust an oven rack to its lowest level, then preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil, then place the foil-lined baking sheet on the adjusted rack while the oven preheats.

Reserve ¼ cup of juice from the bowl of cherries, then drain cherries thoroughly through a colander.  Return the cherries to the same bowl, then add the reserved juice, tapioca, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt.  Toss together until combined.

Pour the cherries into the dough-lined pie plate and weave the long strips of dough over the top in a lattice pattern.  (There is a good tutorial on how to do this here, but keep in mind that you will, obviously, be using fewer strips of dough.)  Trim the edges of the lattice even with the overhang of the lower crust, then fold up the edges and crimp into place using your fingers.  Brush the top crust of the pie with the beaten egg white.

Place the pie on the heated, foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the top crust has started to turn golden, about 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees, rotate the baking sheet, and continue cooking the pie until the juices are bubbling and the crust has turned uniformly dark golden brown, about 25 to 35 minutes longer.

Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, until the filling has set.

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