Just stop it already. Stop it!
Stop fearing the pie crust.
Do not buy ready-made. I beg of you!! You can make your own pie crust.
You only need a few ingredients and a large bowl or food processor. I almost always have frozen pie crust in the freezer. We are coming into serious pie season with the Holidays approaching and it is so nice to have pie dough at the ready.
You ready??? Here we go…..
Homemade Pie Crust
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup sugar
1 /2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed; kept cold
1/4-1/3 Cup ice water
Note: for savory pies; omit the sugar and bump up the salt to 1 tsp.
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Blend in the cold butter with a pastry blender aka “pastry cutter” until the mixture resembles pea-sized meal.
3. Stir in the ice water- not all at once- start with 1/4 cup of it and add the water until the dough adheres to itself but is not sticky. Grab a large piece of plastic wrap and dump out the dough onto the plastic wrap and while grabbing the sides of the plastic wrap (don’t use your hands because your hands are warm) bring together the dough by pushing and pressing together the loose bits of dough until the mass is together. Cut the dough into two equal portions. Flatten each portion into a disk and wrap them in fresh plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before attempting to roll. You can freeze the dough also and keep it frozen for up to 2 months. If I make savory pie dough I like to simply label it “savory pie”.
Suzie tip: write the recipe on an index card and tape it to the inside of your cabinet so it is handy.
Food Processor Method (my fave)
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt; pulse to combine.
2. Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs wtih some larger pieces still remaining; about 10 seconds.
3. Ice water in hand; with the machine running, add ice water through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream, just until the dough comes together but not wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test the dough by squeezing a small amount in your hand and if it is still too crumbly add a tablespoon of water at a time until it is the correct texture.
4. Dump the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and bring the sides of the plastic wrap to help you bring together the dough until it is combined. Cut the dough into 2 equal portions and flatten out into round shape and wrap in fresh plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use. At this point you can also label them and freeze. Freeze for up to 2 months.
Bring on the Holidays!
Line a 9 inch deep dish pie plate with your favorite crust. Blind bake the pie crust. If you like; see my all-butter pie crust recipe: Fearless pie crust.
If you prefer, you can also used a purchased graham cracker crust or make a quick graham cracker crust instead of using a traditional pie crust.
8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
6 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
2 1/2 Tbsp. sour cream, room temp
3/4 tsp. plain unflavored gelatin powder
1 Tbsp. cold water
6 Tbsp. cold heavy cream
In a large bowl or stand mixer; beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form but don’t overbeat or you’ll get butter. Place back in the fridge until ready to use. In the same bowl; no need to clean- beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Add the sugar, vanilla bean paste, and sour cream and mix until just combined. In a small microwave safe bowl place 1 Tbsp. of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over; let bloom for 5 minutes, then microwave on high for about 20 seconds until the gelatin is dissolved, whisk, then let mixture stand for about 2 minutes. Add the cooled mixture to the cream cheese mixture and blend gently. Fold in the whipped cream by hand until combined. Spread evenly over the cooled pie crust and chill while you make the strawberry layer topping.
Fresh strawberries ~ one pound (washed, hulled and dried)
1 Cup water
2 Tbsp. cornstartch
scant 3/4 Cup sugar
3.0-3.5 oz box Jello: strawberry gelatin
Top your cream cheese filled crust with using half of the berries sliced thin, then the rest of the bigger berries on top left whole. In a small saucepan place the water, sugar, and cornstarch and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring continuously until it appears thick. Boil two more minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the strawberry gelatin until it is dissolved. Pour over the top of the pie; note you will have some leftover; don’t be like me and pour over too much or it will run off the sides. But if you do- don’t fret it’s still delicious and amazing. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight until set. Serve cold.
I have to admit- plums are not exactly one of my favorite fruit. When I do eat a plum though, I like it super ripe and juicy-to the point where you have to lean over the sink to enjoy it. I tend to like the kind with the red flesh (and I can never remember which type it is by looking at the skin). I’m more of a prune lover (don’t judge my Granny ways), but when I saw this recipe from last years Fall issue of Sift it caught my attention. Plums are bursting in the stores right now, so now is the time to strike! I adore a good streusel pie. My child groans when I make a pie without a top crust, but I love texture-so a pie with streusel? I’m in. I’m all about that crunch, bout that crunch, bout that crunch, so I amped up the crunch factor by adding walnuts to my streusel. There’s something about biting into a bite of pie with that soft warm oozy filling and topping of yummy crunchy crust. I skipped ice cream and went with an ice cold glass of milk and it was divine.
Note: I let my plums become very ripe (on purpose) when I made this pie and as a result I used 3 Tbsp. of tapioca because of the extra juice generated, and it set up nicely. The original recipe calls for only 2 Tbsp., so you decide. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.
The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the filling is a gorgeous ruby red color
Gingered Plum Streusel Pie
recipe adapted from: Sift 2015 Fall issue
1/2 recipe fearless pie crust (or your favorite crust)
Roll out crust and line a 9 inch pie plate and crimp edge as desired. Brush the inside of the crust with beaten egg white (it prevents the crust from getting soggy). Chill crust for at least 30 minutes before filling.
Fifteen minutes before assembling pie make filling and preheat oven to 375° F
Spoon filling into crust and top with streusel. Place onto a sheet pan to catch any drippings. Bake at 375° F for about 50 minutes or until filling is bubbling and streusel is golden brown. Cover crust halfway through with tinfoil if crust getting too brown.
2 1/4 lbs (4 Cups/about 10-11) coarsely chopped ripe (I used very ripe) black/purple skin plums; skins left on
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp. instant (quick cooking) tapioca (I used 3, see above note)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 (heaping) Tbsp. finely chopped crystalized ginger
1 tsp. lemon zest
Combine plums, brown sugar, crystalized ginger, tapioca, spices and lemon zest. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup flour
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, chopped
3/4 Cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Combine first 4 ingredients, then cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in walnuts, and set aside.
There is something about eating a juicy ripe peach hunched over the sink. I am talkin’ about a really ripe peach, the kind that you NEED to eat over the sink because the juice is dripping down your hand and arm. When you get a good one, you feel like it’s finally Summer. If you can score some peaches picked at the peak of their flavor burst then treat yourself and your family and make a beautiful pie.
1 Recipe Fearless Pie Crust or your favorite pie crust recipe
9-10 medium size fresh ripe peaches (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 Cup flour
3/4 Cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling top of pie
1/4 Cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
For assembling pie:
egg white, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1. Make the pie dough and allow to chill for at least 30 minute before attempting to roll out. Roll out dough and line a 9 inch pie plate. Brush the bottom and sides with beaten egg white and return to chill in fridge for another 30 minutes (the chill ensures that the crust does not shrink, and the egg white ensures that the bottom does not become soggy). While the dough is chilling make the filling.
2. Make filling: In a large mixing bowl combine the peach slices with the lemon juice and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, sugars, spices and salt with a fork. Pour the flour mixture over the peach slices and toss gently to coat.
3. Pour the filling into the chilled and prepared crust. Note: If you choose to make muffin size individual pies it is best to cut the peaches into a coarse chop instead of slices. Dot the filling with little pieces of the butter, then cover with either “groovy” flower cut outs as I have done here, or top with crust and crimp and decorate as desired. If using a top crust, make sure to pierce the top with some slits to allow steam. Brush top of cut outs (and/or top crust) with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a preheated 425° F oven for 10 minutes, then decrease to 375° F and continue to bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown and center is not loose. Cover edge of pie with either a pie shield or tin foil as necessary to prevent crust from burning.
4. Note: if you want to make muffin size mini pies; bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. To prepare muffin size pies: spray muffin tin with baking spray and line and fill as above.
You know my obsession for mini desserts, right? The shaker lemon pie is no exception. I love these little dainty lemon pies. Perfect for a shower or garden party or a brunch.
Since Summer is coming, and the last thing you want is a hot kitchen, they are perfect when you don’t want the oven on for too long, as they only take about 20 minutes of baking time. The recipe makes 24 mini pies. If you don’t have a silicon mini muffin pan I highly encourage you to buy one as it will make removing these SO much easier; there is no breaking or tearing of the crusts when you need to remove them, you simply just push them up out of the pan. I purchased mine quite a while ago and I LOVE love love it. If you plan to make a lot of mini muffin sized desserts it is a good investment. I have several silicon pans of different sizes and they are my favorite.
Mini Shaker Lemon Pies
4 organic (preferably unwaxed) lemons
1 1/3 Cups sugar (divided), plus more for sprinkling
1/4 Cup water
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pans (if not using silicone pans)
3 large eggs
one recipe fearless pie crust dough (or your favorite pie crust)
flour (for rolling out pie crust)
egg white for topping prep
1. Take 2 of the lemons and slice very thinly; removing seeds as you go along. Place in a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/4 cup water and stir to combine. Heat over low heat until sugar dissolves and lemon slices turn translucent. Remove from the heat and scoop out the candied lemon slices, and place onto a parchment or wax paper lined tray. (Keep the lemon syrup). Once the candied lemon slices have cooled, cut them into quarters and save for assembling the pies; you may wrap them in parchment or wax paper and store in the fridge.
2. Grate the rind from 1 1/2 lemons as well as squeeze all the juice; add to the lemon syrup. With the remaining half of lemon- slice paper thin slices to equal roughly 1/4 cup (I used a mandolin for this) and also add to the syrup. Add the butter and remaining sugar to the syrup and then heat over low heat until butter is melted. Once butter is melted, remove from heat.
3. In a small bowl beat the eggs, then using a strainer- add the eggs to the syrup mixture-a little at a time while whisking after each addition to ensure the eggs do not scramble. Once all the eggs are added, return the pan to the heat and cook gently while stirring frequently until the mixture becomes thickened and the consistency of jam. Increase the heat a little bit if needed, but be careful to ensure it does not get too hot, or the eggs will curdle. Remove from the heat and transfer the filling to a bowl and allow to cool. You may make the filling the day before and store in the fridge if you like.
4. Prepare mini muffin tins by lightly greasing; or as I prefer- use a silicone mini muffin pan. No need to grease if using a silicon pan. Roll out half of the pie dough thinly on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out 24 circles using a 2 1/2 inch cutter. Press each dough circle into prepared pan(s), rerolling trimmings as needed. When pressing the dough into the wells make sure to allow an edge of the dough so there is a bit of ridge around each well; this will help when placing the tops on to adhere to form a seal.
5. Using the other half of the dough cut out 24 circles with a 2 or 2/14 inch cutter with scalloped edge. Cut 3-4 slits in the tops of each of the dough tops. Fill each well of the prepared bottom crusts 3/4 full and top with 2 pieces of the candied lemon slices you made in step one. Brush the top edge of each of the filled pies with beaten egg white (I prefer to use a clean finger as opposed to a pastry brush for this as it is easier), then top each filled portion with the dough tops and press well to seal. Brush the tops of the completed assembled pies with beaten egg white, (rescore your vent slits at this time if need be) then sprinkle each pie with sugar and bake in a preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool over a rack for about 10 minutes before removing carefully. Serve slightly warm or cool.