Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Tale of Four Pies

On Thanksgiving, the fireman had to work. So, while we planned our own Thanksgiving with all the kiddos on Friday, the girl and I also planned on going to the fire station on Thursday for Thanksgiving with our fireman and his crew. He happens to work at a 6 man house. Normally, there is just the captain, the engineer and the backend guy. But since his fire station has both an engine (water) and a truck (ladder and axes), his house is larger.

More guys = more trouble. Whenever you get a bunch of guys in one place with time on their hands, you have trouble. Now, they have reports and chores and are fairly busy with calls (depending on the district of the station), but in a 24 hour shift, they still have time for mayhem.

So, Thanksgiving at the fire station can be lots of fun. Besides, being cooked for, served and cleaned up by a bunch of guys. Total win.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. These guys like pie and they especially like my Sweet Potato Pie. So, when they requested that I bring pie for Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to bake 4. Come on, you can't tell a baker that you love pie and not expect to get rewarded, do you? Remember our neighbor with his Blueberry Pie?

The Crust:
2 2/3 cups flour
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt

This is for a double crust, you mix lightly, split in half and roll out between two pieces of wax paper, flip onto pie pan and crimp edges. Top with top crust if you are using a top crust, or just make a second pie. I have halved this recipe to much success.

This isn't your traditional crust with lard or shortening. It is not quite as flaky, it isn't quite as hard to make and isn't quite as bad for you either. But honestly? I think it's fabulous.

The crust is a variation of the Canola Oil crust, but without sugar. I think crusts should be slightly salty and buttery and the fillings should be sweet. Just me.

It doesn't have to be overly blended. There will be marbled lines from the milk and flour. This helps the flakiness.
One crust.

Rolled out.

I had some really good pictures of the crust in the pan and working the crust around the edges. But I happened to delete them all instead of copy them all. Sorry...

But here's the deal with it. I've known people to freak out about their crusts, but really, it doesn't matter. If it looks crazy in the pan, doesn't matter. The filling goes inside it and you see just the edge. So, go around the pie and pinch off or add to make it mostly even. Then pinch it to a small ridge. Then once that's done and relatively even, you can give it a tiny pinch, like I did, or press it down with a fork, or leave it be! No biggy.

 On to pie #1. This is my variation on the Southern Sweet Potato Pie. I have played with a few recipes and this is what I came up with. It's now a family favorite and often picked as a birthday pie. I use evaporated milk and plenty of eggs. I use canned, mashed sweet potatoes, as they are less fibery. 

The Recipe:
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (canned)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk (plus 1 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend these ingredients, then add
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Blend again.
Bake 350 for 50 minutes.

 I don't worry about melting the butter all the way and you can see the flecks of it here, but when it bakes, you get these flaky divits of butteriness.

Oh, yeah, baby.

Next up, pumpkin pie. I used the Libby's pumpkin and used their recipe. It's my favorite, why mess up a good thing? Except, I use 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and omit the clove and ginger. I don't change the cinnamon measurement. I like a small amount of nutmeg and LOTS of cinnamon.

Besides, Libby's headquarters are located in the midwest. Gotta help out the local farmers when you can.

The recipe:
2 eggs
1 can Libby's pumpkin
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 can evaporated milk

Beat the eggs and pumpkin, add sugar and spices and mix until blended. Then slowly add milk until well blended. Bake in preheated 425 oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for 40 - 50 minutes. I test with a knife for doneness.

Mixing, mixing, mixing.

The only drawback is that this recipe makes for a VERY FULL pie. So, I pour in what I need, then
Pour the remainder into a small, greased casserole dish and bake as well. I baked this one for about 20 minutes at the 350 temperature. That way you get to sample some of what you baked right away! I'm really thinking here.

Okay, pie #3 I used the Pioneer Woman's Pie That'll Make You Cry, otherwise known as Pecan Pie. Click on the link for the recipe.

I have never been a pecan pie lover. I actually made this pie for the fireman last year for Christmas.

I didn't know what I was in for.

It is one of the easiest, tastiest pies I've ever had. It's a little different than most pecan pie's. It's butterier, like toffee almost. And not firm and gelatinous, but creamy and ooey gooey.

Oooey gooey are some of my favorite words.

You blend your eggs together, then mix in melted butter, brown sugar and white, salt, corn syrup and vanilla. You can use just a whisk.

Chop up your cup of pecans. The pecans go right in the crust, the topping pours right over it.

The pecans slowly emerge, after being covered in the sugary substance.

They pop on to the top and while baking become sugared and candy coated with a crunchy sweet topping.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. The middle will be slightly jiggly, but not overly so.

Pie #4 is Jessica's Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie from How Sweet It Is.

What can I say about this pie? What can't I say about this pie? I have dreams about this pie.

I made it for fun one night when my parents came for supper. I think I dove head first into the remainder of the pie after they left. I think I woke up the next morning with pie crust on my forehead.

The pie is gooey and rich and creamy. The crust is salty and flaky against it. Holding it, cradling it like a loved one. And by all that's holy, please please warm it slightly and place a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top of it.

You won't be sorry.
 Please click on the How Sweet It Is link for the recipe and her pictures. As they are much, much better examples of how wonderful this pie is.
All mixed up and ready for the oven. It's a beautiful thing.

Beat eggs till foamy, mix in white and brown sugars, flour. Blend in a whole stinkin cup of melted and cooled butter, then fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Bake at 325 for 60 minutes.
I had to add the pies at different times based on their baking heat. But aren't they pretty?

Sigh, I was happy this day.

It's a beautiful thing.

Can you imagine how my kitchen smelled?

P.S. Don't forget to check out my Christmas Baking Giveaway this week. Leave a comment, be entered to win!


Annie @ Naturally Sweet Recipes said...

Thanks so much for your comments on our blog JenMarie! These pies sound absolutely amazing. I love the way my kitchen smells after baking a pie too, delicious! Can only imagine after 4! I really want pie now. :)

Jana said...

Pie!!! YUM!!

I made the pecan pie from her recipe last year...I don't know what I did wrong, but mine didn't come out as well. It was WAY too sweet and a little hard. Maybe I'll try it again sometime to see if I can improve. :-/

JenMarie said...

It is a really sweet recipe, Jana. I can only eat a small sliver of a slice, but it's one of those things I keep going back to with a fork. I eat a couple of bites in passing, well, too many times a day. ;)

You should try it again and try to mess with the recipe, take out some of the sugar. Or try coconut sugar. naturallysweetrecipes.blogspot.com has alternative sugar options and coconut sugar isn't as sweet, but bakes one to one ratio. I'm sure you can make it better. :)

betty said...

they all look great! they seem delicious and I just love pies, specially the pecan pie

JenMarie said...

Thanks! If you try one, let me know how it turns out!