From Elegant Holiday Desserts to Everyday Favorites
by Kirsten Harrington
Pies are the centerpieces of most holiday gatherings.
From all-American apple to pleasing pumpkin, pies are the centerpieces of many holiday gatherings. Have you always wanted to make your own from scratch but had no idea where to begin? We’ll give you all the tips and tricks you need to wow your guests, so relax, grab a rolling pin, and get started.
“It’s definitely worth the effort,” said Joel Ramjohn, an accomplished home chef from Clermont who has been baking pies for years. “A home is not a home unless the aroma of a freshly baked pie fills the air from time to time.”
“Don’t be afraid — start with a simple apple pie,” Ramjohn said.
Making the crust is easy, just don’t overwork the dough — it could result in a tough crust. Leaving in pea-sized chunks of shortening will actually make the crust flakier. Starting with cold ingredients and chilling the dough if it is too soft yields best results. Whether to use butter or shortening is a matter of preference; use what you have on-hand and then experiment to find what you like.
Rolling the Dough
To avoid having the dough stick to the counter, try rolling it out between two pieces of lightly floured parchment or waxed paper. Use flour sparingly on the work surface and rolling pin, and rotate the dough as you roll. Transfer the dough to the pie pan peeling away the parchment, or partially wrap the crust on a rolling pin and lift it into the pan. Avoid stretching the dough to fit the pan, as it might shrink during cooking. Instead, use a ruler and measure the crust. A 13-inch diameter crust will fit perfectly in a 9-inch pie pan.
If you’re still not ready to tackle a homemade crust, buy a refrigerated prepared crust and start from there. Simpler yet, you can buy a frozen pie crust in a disposable pie pan that is ready to fill. Your house will still smell delicious, and we promise not to tell anyone. Puff pastry and prepared pie filling are also an easy way to make a no-fuss home-baked pie.
Recipes courtesy of Joel Ramjohn
Basic Buttery Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Mix flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Using a fork or pastry cutter, mix butter pieces into flour until mixture is coarse and grainy. Add water a little at a time until dough just sticks together. Shape into a ball, cut in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes before using. Flatten each ball into a disk and roll into circles. Fill and bake according to recipe.
Makes two 9-inch pie crusts.
2 1/2 pounds apples (6-7)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon (ground)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Peel, core and cut apples into slices or chunks. In a large bowl combine apples with the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Strain the liquid from the apples into a bowl and reserve.
Remove one pie crust from the fridge. Roll it out on a floured surface, place in pie dish, and trim edges. Place the dish in the fridge. Reduce the strained juice from the apples in a saucepan over low heat with the butter for 10-15 minutes or until reduced by 30 to 50 percent.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove the second crust and pie dish from the fridge and roll out the top crust on floured surface. Mix the apples with the cornstarch and add the reduced juice onto apples and mix. Pour into crust and add top crust. Crimp the two crusts together and use a sharp knife to make four small slits in top crust near center. Bake for 45-60 minutes.
Makes one 9-inch pie. 💓