The 2020 Holidays Recipe Collection
How you doin’? Over the years, so much has been written about pie. Even Shakespeare had something to say on the subject--Death by pie has been cemented in literary legend. Shakespeare killed off two characters in Titus Andronicus by baking them into a pie. And then there was Sweeney Todd, the fictional Victorian character who ran a London barber shop and disposed of his victims by baking them into pies. And don’t forget pies popping-up in many a nursery rhymes—Four and twenty blackbirds were baked in a pie in ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’, Simple Simon met a pie man in his eponymous rhyme and even Little Jack Horner stuck his thumb into a pie.
A starring role… A pie in the face punctuated comedies throughout the early days of film. One of the earliest examples comes from Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson’s Mr. Flip in 1909. Mr. Flip follows the exploits of Flip (Ben Turpin), an abusive general store manager, who receives a pie to the face, after sexually harassing every woman he encounters.
The cream pie offers the perfect physical representation of punishment. Not only were pies readily available, cooling on the windowsill of every home in the neighborhood, but also, they were visually dynamic, popping on screen in grainy black and white.
But without a doubt, no film could match the gravitas of The Great Race’s finale. Reportedly, the pie scene used 4,000 pies at a cost of $18,000; the full scene ran 4 minutes and 20 seconds and cost about $200,000 to shoot in 1965. It’s hilarious!
At some point between 1909 and 1974, the pie fight had become cliche, and like every other movie cliche, Mel Brooks lampooned it in his masterpiece, Blazing Saddles. Brooks even features a chef announcing the “great pie” fight.
Now you level up your pie game—for either eating or *throwing—with ChefSecrets and techniques every professional pie maker knows. Read on to get the inside scoop on everything from making beautiful crusts to working with the fillings.
1. Keep Ingredients Cold
Butter should be kept refrigerated until using; solid vegetable shortening can be stored in the freezer without freezing hard as a rock. Add ice cubes to a measuring cup and fill it with more water than you'll need; add ice-cold water to the pastry mixture a tablespoon at a time. Great pie starts with a great crust.
2. Refrigerate The Dough After Every Step
Wrap and chill dough immediately after mixing so that the flour can absorb all the liquid. Chill it after rolling it out and lining the pie pan, to relax the dough and prevent it from shrinking in the oven.
For double-crust pies, roll out the top crust and refrigerate it on a flat plate or parchment-lined sheet pan while you prepare the pie filling.
3. Handle The Dough As Little As Possible
Try to patch cracks in your dough rather than re-rolling the crust. Over-handling makes the pastry tough.
4. Use As Little Flour As Possible When Rolling Out The Dough
The pastry can absorb extra flour, which will also make it tough. After rolling out the dough, brush off loose flour with a pastry brush or gently brush it with the edge of a clean kitchen towel.
5. Bake Plain Crusts Or Filled Pies In A Hot Oven To Set The Crust's Structure
Most recipes call for a high initial temperature and then a reduced oven temperature for the rest of the baking time. For quiches, custard pies, and cream pies, it's a good idea to pre-bake the crust, a.k.a. "blind baking" the crust.
6. Vent Double-Crust Pies
Cut slits in the top crust or use decorative cutters. This allows steam to escape, which is especially important for fruits with high moisture content. You can also create a lattice top for the pie.
7. Use Aluminum Foil Or "Pie Shields" To Protect The Crust
Loosely fold two-inch-wide strips of foil around the edges of the crust to keep it from getting too dark during the long bake time.
8. Bake Pies On The Lowest Oven Rack On A Preheated Sheet Pan
This helps prevent soggy bottom crusts. A rimmed pan also prevents juicy fruit pies from bubbling over onto your oven floor.
9. Bake Your Pies Long Enough
Fruit pies, in order to thicken properly, need to be hot enough for the filling to boil. Custard pies require delicate handling: if you over-bake them, they can crack, pull away from the crust, and "weep," or lose moisture. Custard pies are done when a knife tip inserted an inch from the center comes out clean (the center will firm up as the pie cools).
10. Let Pies Cool Before Serving
The filling needs time to set or else the pie will be runny. Bake your pies well in advance so that the filling has time to set. A warm pie does not make for easy slicing.
If your family prefers warm pie, cover the pie loosely with foil and warm in a preheated 300⁰F for 15-20 minutes before serving. Fruit pies should cool at least four hours before slicing; custard pies should cool for two hours before serving or being refrigerated.
Practice makes perfect! These ChefSecrets for making the perfect pies will get you to the next level.
Serving Great Pies
Make your pie extra decadent by serving it with a dollop of whipped cream. For a boost of flavor, add two tablespoons of sugar (or more to taste) and teaspoon of vanilla extract to every two cups of heavy whipping cream—or make it even merrier with a splash of liqueur! For a delicious sweet-tart topping, use half sour cream (not low-fat) and heavy cream. A scoop of ice cream is another way to serve a great fruit pie.
ChefSecrets: Please don’t tell anybody, but in high school I started a business--Hit Man—We Deliver! For $25 we would throw a pie at anyone you wanted. We scored on several hundred people, before the police intervened and shut us down. The mayor had no sense of humor.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Finland just closed its borders again. You know what that means. No one will be crossing the finish line.”
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Here is wishing you the very best for the upcoming holidays. To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind welcoming in the holiday season. If you have a little extra in your pockets to share with others at this difficult time, please consider donating to Feeding America. Thank you for reading.
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