Holiday Pie in the Sky Hopes
While some home cooks find pies intimidating, the truth is they’re a very easy and forgiving dish to prepare. The key to a good pie is a good crust recipe, and as long as you have that the rest is easy. The following recipe is a good starting point for a lovely, flaky crust which can be adjusted to taste:
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 stick cold butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup ice cold water
This recipe produces a single crust, and can be doubled if you wish to have the top of your pie covered. When it comes to making the dough, it’s important to keep your water and butter very cold. Traditionally, the butter is cut into slices and then worked into the flour-salt mixture with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. A method that involves less effort is to freeze your butter and then use a cheese grater to grate it into the flour before working this mixture with a fork.
Once you’ve reached the coarse crumb stage, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix until your dough comes together. When your dough can be pressed together like wet sand and doesn’t crumble, don’t add any more water—it’s perfect. If you use ¼ cup of ice water and the mixture still doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until it does. Press your mixture together, kneading just until you can shape it into a ball. Don’t over knead the dough, or it can become tough.
Now that you have your crust, you’re ready to fill it. Filling can be anything you choose, either sweet or savory. But below we have some suggestions that are sure to get your family talking around the dinner table.
Add a little more flair to your feast by decorating the tops of your pies. Roll out some spare dough and cut out shapes like leaves, hearts, and more with cookie cutters or by hand!
SWEET POTATO PIE
- 3 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, roughly diced
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 cinnamon sticks 1 whole nutmeg
- 3 1/4 cups milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs ground cinnamon 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbs vanilla extract 3 large eggs
Heat oven to 350F. Roll out pie dough to 1/8 inch thickness and carefully place inside an ungreased pie pan, fitting the dough to the edges of the pan.
In a three-quart stockpot place sweet potatoes, vanilla pod, cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, milk, cream, and sugar. Place pot on high heat until it reaches a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender and milk has thickened, about 55 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat and remove vanilla pod, cinnamon sticks, and whole nutmeg from stockpot and puree sweet potatoes and dairy with an immersion blender until smooth. Add ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk together until combined. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until they disappear into filling. Using a spatula, pass filling through a fine mesh strainer, and then pour strained filling into pie crust.
Bake pie until middle is just set, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Garnish with whipped cream.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 stick melted butter
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
Heat oven to 450F. Roll out pie dough and place in an ungreased pie pan.
In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour in melted butter and mix until mixture holds together when pressed. Set topping mixture aside for later.
Boil water in a saucepan on medium heat. Once water hits a boil, turn off heat and stir in molasses and baking soda. Pour molasses mixture into waiting pie shell and distribute topping carefully over the top.
Bake pie for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to 350F. Cook an additional 20 minutes, until pie filling is set and top is golden.
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs freshly grated lemon zest
- 5 fresh apricots, pitted and cut into slices
Heat oven to 375F. Roll out pie dough and place in an ungreased pie pan.
In a bowl, combine mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, sugar and lemon zest, whisking until combined. Beat in egg until it disappears into the mixture.
Spread apricot preserves into the pie crust. Carefully spoon mascarpone mixture in over it, careful not to mix the two layers. Arrange apricot slices on the surface of the pie. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until pie is set and golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 Tbs granulated sugar
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 ounces flaked coconut
Heat oven to 325F and roll out pie dough, placing into ungreased pie pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour. Pour in melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla and 2 1/2 cups of flaked coconut. Stir to combine, and then whisk in eggs one at a time, until eggs are entirely incorporated into mixture.
Pour into pie crust and sprinkle with remaining cup of coconut. Bake for 50- 60 minutes, or until pie is set and golden.
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 can of evaporated milk, 12 ounces
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup spiced rum
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 350F. Roll out pie dough and place in an ungreased pie pan. Place pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
In a bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Mix in evaporated milk, water, rum, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt, combining well. Pour filling into crust and dust with a sprinkle of
nutmeg and cinnamon.
Place pie into oven and pour warm water onto the rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 55 minutes until set, or until a toothpick inserted in pie’s center comes out clean.