Peach Pie, Getting It Just Right

Peach Pie

Peach pie is one of those things that, done right, is quite likely the best pie you can make. Done badly, it can be pretty awful. How do you make it the right way? Surprisingly, it’s actually pretty easy, but does require a little care in getting everything ready.

So to start out, you need a couple of pie crusts. I use the special Perfect Pie Crust I’ve used for many years. If you have another recipe or even want to use a prepared crust, go for it. You can also make a lattice crust if you like. The secret is how to deal with peaches, which can be way too juicy or, on occasion, too  dry. To handle that, after the peaches are peeled, put them in a pan with brown and white sugars and let them sit for at least an hour. If you then lift out the peaches and take that wonderful peachy juice that’s left behind, add it to some starch (I use tapioca, you can use cornstarch or what ever else works), cinnamon, nutmeg and some salt. Heat it until everything is dissolved and it starts getting nice and thick, and add it back to the peaches. Add a little butter and you’re done.

You can then bake the pie and that’s all there is too it. And with a bit of luck, you’ve got a pie that’s moist and flavorful.

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A Simple Chocolate Pie

chocolate pie

Chocolate pie is what I would call one of the best things you can easily make, and win a few hearts along the way. Valentine’s Day is coming!! With a little bit of help from one of my grandma’s favorite recipes (and some upgraded chocolate), you can have the pie in a hurry, too. The recipe is very easy to make and the only thing that’s a downside is having to wait around for the pie to cool enough to eat it.

The pie you see in the picture is not the simplest nor the most extravagant pie you can do with this recipe. If you care, you can use a chocolate pie crust made up of Oreos or Graham crackers, or a simple pie crust from the refrigerated aisle at the grocery store. I use my own crust, but didn’t bother to make it look as pretty as you might have seen elsewhere at Discovery Cooking. I just wanted something quick and easy. I used some whipped cream and some chocolate chips to decorate mine, you can use fruit or have it just plain. Your call.

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Pi Day! Blood Orange Custard Pie

blood orange custard pie

On Saturday, 3.14.15 at 9:56:23 a.m. we’ll be celebrating a once in a century moment, when the digits for the day and time line up with the value of pi to the level of 10 digits. It’s a math geek’s once in a lifetime holiday, so what better way to celebrate than with a pie. And with blood oranges still available, I thought it might be fun to use my pi plate and make a blood orange custard pie that left the digits on the rim exposed. 

To take advantage of the decoration around the rim of the plate, I used a graham-cracker crust, which turned out to be a good choice. The flavor goes well with the filling.

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Holiday Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie

I’m a history buff as well as a self-designated foodie, so recipes with a long tradition fascinate me. Mincemeat pie is a perfect example. So far as I can tell, mincemeat pie as we know it, was a 13th century English creation, using recipes and ingredients brought there by returning crusaders, who learned about the combination of meat and fruit and spices in various dishes in the Holy Land. For some reason, it became associated with Christmas and the winter holiday season, faded in popularity and then was revived in a more modern form during the Victorian era.

In the 13th century, this must have been a very exotic dish, full of aromatic spices, fruit and meat, and I’m guessing that the expansion of the British Empire, which brought access to those spices to ordinary citizens at a reasonable price, explains its revival in Victorian times. The recipes reflect what would likely have been available to cooks in early winter when the recipe was created — dried fruit, apples, meat and fat in the form of beef suet.

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Caramel Pumpkin Tart

caramel pumpkin tart

It’s not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, but since we’re doing a French-themed dinner, a traditional pumpkin pie was out of the question. A pumpkin tart, on the other hand, would fit in nicely, so I set to work.

The crust for the tart is the Perfect Pie Crust I use time and time again. It stands up well to soft, liquid fillings without getting soggy. I used a two-inch deep fluted pan with a removable bottom, and pre-baked the crust for 20 minutes while I made the filling.

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Classic Apple Pie

apple pie

While it might be argued that pumpkin spice has become the essence of fall in the past several years, to me nothing is more emblematic of the season than the classic apple pie.

I’ve been baking apple pies for many years. It probably was the first dessert I made from scratch, in fact. Over all that time, I’ve gone from ready-to-use pie crusts to mastering the art of pastry crust, and I’ve tested just about every combination of apples you can imagine. I’ve invested many hours in figuring out how to get moist tender fillings that don’t turn into mush, aren’t runny and have the right balance of tartness and sweetness.

And while I still experiment, I’ve hit on what is, for me anyway, a perfect combination of ingredients and technique. It produces apple pies that are tender and flaky, with fillings that have great flavor and just the right blend of tender and firm, tart and sweet, spiced with the classic fall scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

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Wild Blueberry Pie

blueberry-pie

This post started in something called a #Foodiechat on Twitter, a big hashtag party that happens every Monday night. This particular edition was sponsored by @WildBerries, which represents the wild blueberry industry in Maine. So needless to say, all the chatting about blueberries got me craving a blueberry pie. I also promised my recipe to one of my #Foodiechat friends, so this seemed like the best time to indulge my craving.

blueberry-pie

Wild Blueberry Pie

I don’t believe in overdoing pie fillings. I want to showcase the berries (in this case) rather than have them just be a part of the show. So the idea is to add enough sugar to sweeten them and help create the matrix around them, with just a little flour and tapioca (my grandmother’s secret weapon for making pies that aren’t runny), a bit of lemon and very small amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg (about a quarter teaspoon each).

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