I like pie. Who doesn’t, really? Although I have briefly talked about it before, I think it’s time for a more in depth look at my favourite pastry creation. There is of course the traditional 3-2-1 pie dough, but we’re going to make it just a little better. Rather than the odd 66% butter we’ll increase it to 70%. Water we’ll do at 30% and salt, as always, 2%. Let’s go with the following measurements for our Pie Dough.
300g Cold Butter
150g Ice Cold Water
Start with the flour and salt in a bowl. If you have a stand mixer use the paddle and mix in the butter until the chunks that are about the size of walnuts. If you don’t have a mixer use your fingers to rub the butter in. I’ve seen pastry cutters that supposedly do this, but in my experience they are pretty useless. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Chill in the fridge for half an hour before using. Next we’ll roll the dough into pie pans, chill for another half an hour and blind bake.
Blind baking is a process in which the pie shell is partially or wholly baked before the filling is added. I will almost always bake the shell at least a little, even if the pie will be baked because it helps to keep the crust from being soggy. For small tarts it takes about 20 minutes at 400° to completely blind bake the shell and for full pies it will take about 40. The most common method of blind baking is to put beans in the empty shell when baking but I find there is a better way. Dock the pie shell by poking holes in the bottom of the shell, put another empty pie plate inside and blind bake with the shell upside down.
Now that the shell is dealt with let’s make some pie. We’ll do three pies today, two sweet and a savory. A trifecta of pies.
Since Halloween just wrapped up it’s a perfect time for pumpkin pie. They say you can’t make pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin, but they’d be wrong. True, the pumpkin used in canned pumpkin puree is a slightly different breed of squash, but I feel that fresh pumpkin is infinitely better. A lot of recipes call for Sugar Pumpkin, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen those actually for sale. Regular old carving pumpkin is perfect for this recipe. Last year I was actually able to get a couple for free at this time because there was a place selling pumpkins for twelve dollars when the supermarket had them for three. Needless to say they had more than a few leftover which they just left on the side of the road. Score for me. Anyway, on to the pie.
Ingredients (for 2 pies)
1kg Pumpkin, peeled and chopped fine
100g Brown Sugar
1 tsp Fresh Grated Ginger
1/4 tsp Cloves
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Prepare a pie shell and blind bake for 15 minutes to start the shell cooking. Cook the pumpkin in the cream, milk and honey until the pumpkin is soft. Put the pumpkin mixture and all the other ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into pie shell and bake at 350° until set.
Next up on the docket was a recent experiment of mine. I love key lime pie and wanted to put my own twist on it. Key Lime Brulee Tart. Creme Brulee is a fun little dessert, but I think it’s a little played out so it seemed time to do something new.
Prepare four tart shells and fully blind bake, which should be about 20 minutes. Combine the ingredients for the filling and pour into the shells. Bake 10 minutes at 400°. Once cool, sprinkle a very thin layer of sugar on top and torch. I find the secret to a perfect golden brown brulee is hardly any sugar and high torch heat.
Finally we have Quiche. Quiche is dead easy. Equal parts egg and milk by weight and whatever filling you want. My personal favourite is bacon and mushrooms. For one quiche use four eggs and 200g milk. Mix these together and add sauteed mushrooms and bacon. Blind bake the shell for 10 minutes and fill. Bake at 350° for about 40 minutes.