Salty Honey Pie courtesy of Four and Twenty Blackbirds

I’ve wanted to make a pie for the past couple of weeks. I haven’t made one since November and I haven’t bought one since before then. So it became part of my to-do list this past weekend and, honestly, it felt really good to go through the routine of getting ready to make another one. I looked through many sites for something interesting. I came across the women of Four & Twenty Blackbirds while searching for booze pies for St. Patrick’s Day. I checked my list to see what I still had in the pantry (I had most of what I needed) and the fridge (I had none of what I needed). I used their custard recipe but went with my crust recipe. Off to the store and back into the kitchen…

The crust:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 tbsp. (or more) ice water

Blend the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. Add butter using on-off turns until mix resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water and combine. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 20 minutes. Roll out into 13 inch diameter circle and transfer to a 9 inch pie dish. Trim the excess and crimp as desired. Freeze for 10 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 450F. Remove crust from freezer and line the bottom with foil. Add beans or pie weights to shell and bake for 15 minutes, until sides are set. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare your custard filling.

The filling:

1/2 cup butter melted

3/4 cup white sugar

2 Tbsp. white cornmeal

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup honey

3 eggs

1/2 cup cream

2 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla paste

1 or 2 Tbsp. flake sea salt for finishing (Maldon is a good choice)

Combine melted butter, sugar, salt and cornmeal to make a thick paste. Add the honey, vanilla and vinegar and mix. Fold in the eggs, add the cream and continue to blend.

Pour the filling into a pre-baked pie shell and bake at 350 F for 45 to 60 minutes. The filling will puff up like a marshmallow and the center will be just slightly wobbly. Once cooled (at least one hour), finish with a sprinkling of flake sea salt. Slice and serve with freshly whipped cream.

My pie looks a bit like it overcooked. I would recommend staying closer to 45 minutes of bake time and not split the 45-60 minutes into a 50 minute bake time, like I did.

I like the mix of the sweet and the salt. The salt hits the taste buds first and then the sweet kicks in. I suggest going light on the salt. It’s tasty and the texture doesn’t seem like the custard it’s designed to be.

Pie #51 – Home Made Pumpkin Pie

This has been a pretty lazy weekend. The only item of note is that myself and my wife are now volunteers with Austin Pets Alive! We have the t-shirts to prove it:) We’re looking at a couple of different areas to help out, but we’re pretty interested in fostering some cats. She would also like to do

It’s homemade. So much better.

the kitten bottle feeding thing with the kids. They will probably love that. Onward toward something new…

We’re pretty close to Thanksgiving so I decided this would be a good weekend to make pie number 51, homemade pumpkin pie. I made the pumpkin purée from scratch. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and, besides some minor spillage drama, it went well. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend this one…

The crust!:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 tbsp. cold water

In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and blend using on/off turns. Process until coarse meal forms. Add water and blend using on/off turns. Add water by teaspoon if dough seems dry. Gather dough into a ball, flatten and chill for at least one hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 13 inch diameter circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie dish. Trim the edges to 1/2 inch off side. Fold the extra dough under the edge and flute or crimp your edge. Chill at least an hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line the crust with foil and place dried beans or pie weights. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a light brown. Set aside to cool.

While the crust cools its jets, you can make your pie filling.

The filling!:

1 medium size pumpkin that should yield one cup of purée

2 tbsp. corn syrup

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1-1/2  tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour

2 eggs, separated

1 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup milk (1%, 2%, or whole, your choice)

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. Captain Morgan Coconut Rum, pouring liberally (because I’m liberal, if you’re conservative, you can pour conservatively)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

To make the purée, Cut your pumpkin in half.  Clean seeds and string at core. Fill microwave safe dish with 1/2 to 1 cup water and place your halved pumpkins in the dish, with core facing up. Cover in plastic wrap and microwave on “Vegetable” setting. Approximately 7 minutes or until very tender. Remove from microwave and, using a spoon, separate the meat from the rind. Put immediately into a large bowl and using a mixer, blend until smooth.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.

In the mixing bowl with the purée, combine all ingredients except the egg whites.

Blend mixture for one minute.  Fold in the egg whites and pour into the pie shell.  Bake for 10 minutes then  reduce heat to 350 degrees.  Bake an extra 30 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This pie is so good. Fresh pumpkin is so much better than canned. It also got a big thumbs up from the kids. A friend was here to sample the pie as well. He wants to make it for the Thanksgiving dinner we’ll be hosting here at the house. I’m more than happy to have someone else carry that torch:) I still need to make one more. One more!!! And that one will be a simpler version of something that my friend over at Summer of Pie has done. You’ll have to guess which one.

To the finish line…

Pie #50 – Mocha Bavarian Cream Pie

Pie 50 is chocolate, Mmmmm, chocolate.

Welcome to the Holiday Season. Only 2 months until Xmas. Olivia is diligently loading Christmas music to her iPod as I type. She wants to hear it but no one else in the house has that enthusiasm. I also hear at least one friend already has the tree up and most of the holiday shopping done. The shopping thing is pretty smart. As long as you don’t keep shopping. The tree, I hope you enjoy.

Pie 50 is a selection from my wife, who went old-skool and pulled this from a cookbook on our bookshelf. It’s from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. It’s 1996 new. It’s a no-bake, cream pie in the Bavarian tradition. Meaning something with chocolate in it.

The crust!:

2 cups walnut, pecans or almonds (I used all 3)
3 tbsp. sugar
2 slightly beaten egg whites

Pre-heat oven to 375F. In a food processor, blend nuts and sugar until fine. Add egg whites and blend until joined. Pour mixture into 9 inch pie plate and using a spatula, press into bottom and up sides. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust appears dry. Set aside to cool.

The filling!:

1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups milk
2 oz. unsweetened bakers chocolate, chopped
2 tsp. instant coffee crystals
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whipping cream

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar and gelatine, stir in milk. Add chocolate and coffee crystals. Cook over medium heat until gelatin dissolves and chocolate melts.

In a mixing bowl, slightly beat egg yolks. Gradually, stir in half the gelatin mixture into egg yolks. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Chill gelatin mixture for 30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold into your gelatin mixture. Continue to chill until filling mounds when spooned. Transfer filling to pie crust. Garnish with chocolate shavings if desired.

Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or until set. Or until you can’t take waiting anymore. Hopefully, for at least 3 hours.

I had a slice and found that the crust overpowers the filling. For me it’s not chocolatey enough. But I do like the pudding texture of the pie and the taste of the crust. I’d add some sweetened chocolate if I were to do it again.

As an aside, last Friday we welcomed a new, feline member to our family. King Solomon, the 3 legged Lynx Siamese, I say hello again to you. Solomon was found through Austin Siamese Rescue as a courtesy listing from O’Malley Alley Cat Rescue of Nacogdoches, Texas. I did an online foster through Save A Pet on Facebook and after a time just decided he would be well-tended to in our home. My wife and the kids agreed. Solomon, you will be loved but you need some company…

Pie #37 – Peach and Blackberry Pie

I’ve had a few distractions today in getting this posted. First, I started on this post while waiting for pizza delivery from Hill Country Pizzeria. They got lost so I began to work on my sunday posting for pie 37, a simple peach and blackberry pie. They showed up in the middle of my masterpiece of type. So I broke for dinner – pizza and wings. As I started to motivate so I might finish this, I had a certain cat named Ginger stand, or I should say lay on my way:

When cuteness lays in the way of discipline

The base recipe for this comes from the bon appétit Desserts cookbook by Barbara Fairchild.  This recipe calls for double crust but I just made it single crust. I also changed the cook times based on a single crust. The edited cook times are listed below.

This selection comes from my wife, Tammi. It’s two very good choices in a row. Why, thank you!

The crust!:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening or lard, frozen, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 1/2 tbsp. (or more) ice water

Blend the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. Add butter and shortening using on-off turns until mix resembles a coarse meal. Transfer to a large bowl. Add ice water and combine. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 20 minutes.

The filling!:

1 1/2 lbs. ripe peaches (about 6 small ones)

3 cups fresh blackberries

2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar

3 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour

Vanilla ice cream

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Drop the peaches into the water; cook 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and drop into a strainer. Rinse peaches under cold water to cool. Slip skins off peaches. Note: this is known as blanching:) So today, I blanched. Halve, pit and slice peaches

Peach and Blackberry Pie

( your yield should be 3 3/4 – 4 cups)

Position rack in lower third of your oven and pre-heat to 400F. While you await the heat, mix the peaches, blackberries, sugar and flour, tossing to blend. Set aside.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface or baking cloth to 13 inch disk and transfer to pie plate. For this pie, my first crust transfer became a wreck, so I re-chilled the dough and tried again. I didn’t roll it out large enough so I removed the crust edge from the top of the pie plate. Thus, it looks like a pie plate of baked fruit:)

Spoon the filling into the crust. Place cookie sheet under pie and transfer to oven. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Open oven and cover pie with foil so the fruit doesn’t dry out. Reduce heat and bake for another 30 minutes or until the peaches are soft and tender when cut with a knife and the juices bubble thickly.

We had some fruit left over so my wife took the remnants and turned it into a topping for the ice cream.

It’s very sweet and the peach flavor really stands out. I’m not too happy with the crust and don’t think I want to use vegetable shortening in the crusts I’ll make down the road. It tastes great with the vanilla ice cream and the sauce my wife made is a very nice touch. Overall, it’s pretty basic but a perfect pie for this time of year.

Pie #35 – Cherry Teleport Whipped Cream Pie

Last week, I was watching Through The Worm Hole with Morgan Freeman. The episode talked about long distance space travel. One of the segments discussed teleportation. It involves dematerializing something at one point, and transmitting the details of that particular object’s precise atomic configuration to another place in space. Big thinking to be sure. The scientist used a pie and blended it as a metaphor for teleporting. He blended that pie to show how information changes if it were to move from one point in space to another. It would be a scramble. I thought that was brilliant. Not using the pie as a metaphor, but baking a pie, blending it, and reconstituting it . So pie 35 is the cherry teleport whipped cream pie. The pie recipe came from Joy of Baking, but with a few mods.

The Pate Brisee (Fancy term for Short Crust Pastry, makes 2 crusts)!:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. granulated white sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until joined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/4 cup  water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube

The cherry pie before its perilous journey

until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough on your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove one part of the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 12 inch circle. Transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself, crimping as desired. Refrigerate the pastry, covered with plastic wrap.

Remove the second round of pastry and roll it into a 12 inch circle. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator.

I also made a third crust for the end point of my teleportation:

The crust, part 2 (a basic crust)!:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1 quarter cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter (that’s one stick of butter)

1 large egg yolk

1-2 tsp. ice-cold water

Science!

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the butter into small chucks and add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or two knives in a criss-cross motion, blend the butter into the mixture until it has the consistency wet sand (sweet, delicious wet sand)with a few pea-sized pieces remaining.

Using a fork or whisk, beat the egg yolk and the water. Pour the egg mixture over the flour, stirring only until the mixture becomes moist. The dough should stick together and be able to hold the form of a ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Chill in the fridge a minimum of 30 minutes.

To roll it out, I used a cloth dinner mat. Flour the surface, cover the dough with your plastic wrap and roll out into a 9 inch circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate. Trim or fold the excess under the edge of the crust and flute. Place a pie weight or beans in tin foil over the center of the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove the weight from the crust and bake an extra 7-9 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Set aside to cool.

The Filling!:

4 cups pitted, sweet or tart fresh cherries (can also use 4 cups sweet or  tart canned or bottled cherries, drained with 1/3 cup cherry juice reserved)

3/4 cup granulated white sugar, or as needed

2 1/2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

1/8 tsp. salt

It's still a cherry pie, its data is just altered. And delicious.

1 tbsp.  fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping:

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. cherry brandy

Pre-heat the oven to 425F and place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.

Place the cherries in a large bowl. Add the sugar, tapioca, salt, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract and gently toss to combine. (If using canned cherries also add the 1/3 cup reserved cherry juice.) Let sit for about 10-15 minutes and then pour the mixture into the prepared, unbaked pie shell and dot with the 2 tbsp. of butter. Lightly brush the rim of the pastry shell with the heavy whipping cream. Cover top with your second pie crust and cut slits ( or your own design) to vent. Brush the entire surface with the cream.

Place the pie on a larger baking pan, lined with parchment paper, to catch any spills. Bake the pie for about 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350F. Continue to bake the pie for about 25 – 35 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown color and the cherry juices are starting to bubble. If the edges of the pie start to brown too much during baking, cover with a foil ring.

Place the baked pie on a wire rack to cool for several hours.

Cherry Pie Pie

Once pie has cooled, cut it up and throw it into a blender. I used a Vita-Mix. Blend for 1-2 minutes. I was able to get the pie blended but the Vita Mix kicked it. My wife is gonna be maaaaad. Pour the blended pie into your baked pie crust.

In a large bowl combine the heavy cream, sugar and brandy. Whip until stiff. spoon over the filling. Be wary of adding too much booze, my whip cream fell and now looks strangely like tapioca. Fail.

It should last 3 days in fridge.

A couple of things:

In 1993, physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed.  Check. I’m ahead of the curve. I destroyed 2 things.

Since that time, experiments using photons have proven that quantum teleportation is in fact possible. I’m afraid that, in this day and age, with something as large as a pie, there will be a few manual processes to make this work. This, in project management parlance, is what is known as “semi-automation. If I were a cynic, it would also be known as “make work.”

Then there’s that whole it’s-not-the-same-pie thing. It’s like that movie with Jeff Goldblum. The one where he transports but there’s a fly in the transporter. Same thing happens with pie.

On the taste side of things, the cherry flavor doesn’t pop like I thought it would. And the texture of the whipped cream needs some improvement. It’s also really heavy. Like pudding.  It’s still good but doesn’t really excite. Oh, the things I do in the name of science.