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  1. Thursday, December 10

    Time for Pumpkin Pie

    Today is the last pie recipe of the week. And it’s a classic: pumpkin pie.

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    Every time I make pumpkin pie, I can never remember how I made it the last time. Was it the recipe on the a pumpkin puree can? From a cookbook? From a website? I do know that I once used a pumpkin pie recipe I saw on the America’s Test Kitchen TV show and it came out beautifully – the pie didn’t even crack! But that recipe is a little involved (it’s very similar to the one in the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook), so I rarely feel like tackling it. When I try other recipes, well, I never keep track of which one I’ve tried. So, this year, I paid attention. I made notes. And I’m putting what I did in this blog post…I’ll never have to dig around again!

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    This pumpkin pie recipe is very straightforward. Nothing crazy, just subtly-spiced, wonderful, creamy pumpkin pie. This recipe is originally from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. This ATK recipe is a bit simpler than the one I tried a few years ago, but has nearly identical technique. This year’s pie did crack, but we decided that we don’t care if our pumpkin pie cracks. The cracks give it character!

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    There are a few aspects to the technique of this recipe that make the pie come out nicely (thanks, America’s Test Kitchen!). First, the pumpkin gets mixed in the food processor, to eliminate any fibers and make the filling smoother. Second, you cook the pumpkin, spices and sugar on the stovetop. The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook says this improves flavor, but the Cook’s Illustrated recipe also says that it helps you get the right amount of moisture in the pie filling. Lastly, the filling is warm when it is added to the warm crust, which helps with the overall texture of the pie custard and the crust.

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    So, here you go! The pumpkin pie recipe I will use from here on out!

    Pumpkin Pie
     
    Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook - I cut way back on the amount of spices in this recipe, but the rest of the recipe is pretty much the same. I use a different crust recipe than they do and I rewrote some of the instructions to reflect exactly what I did.
    Ingredients
    • 1 single pie crust (see recipe below)
    • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ginger
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup heavy cream
    • ⅔ cup whole milk
    • 4 large eggs
    Instructions
    1. Once your pie crust is rolled out and in a 9.75-inch pie dish, freeze for 30 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 375º F. Remove pie crust from freezer and line the pie crust with a double layer of non-stick aluminum foil (non-stick side down), covering the edges.
    3. Fill the pie crust with beans (about 1½ pounds), pennies, or pie weights. Bake for 25 minutes.
    4. While the pie crust is doing the blind bake, make the pumpkin filling. You want to fill the crust with the pumpkin filling while the crust is hot from the blind bake, so it's important to make the pumpkin filling while the crust is baking. Process the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt in a food processor for about 1 minute.
    5. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. (Leave the processor as is...you're going to use it again in a few minutes, no need to clean!) Stir constantly to avoid the pumpkin bubbling and exploding all over your stove. Cook for about 5 minutes, until thick and shiny. Whisk in the milk and cream, bring mixture back to a simmer, then remove from heat.
    6. Place the eggs in the food processor and process until uniform, about 5 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add about half of the hot pumpkin mixture through the feed tube. Stop the machine, add the rest of the pumpkin and process again for about 30 more seconds until everything is uniform.
    7. The timing should work so that the pumpkin filling is done and warm when the pie crust is done blind baking. When you remove the partially-baked crust from the oven, turn the temperature up to 400º F and remove the pie weights you used and the foil. Immediately pour the warm pumpkin filling into the hot partially baked crust. If you have extra filling, ladel it into the crust 5 minutes into the baking time.
    8. Bake the pie until the filling is puffed and lightly cracked around the edges and the center wiggles slightly when jiggled, about 25 minutes. Cool pie on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator, wrapped, up to 2 days.

    homemade pie crust recipe by kate lebo
    All-Butter Crust
     
    From "Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter" by Kate Lebo. Reprinted with permission.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 ½ cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter
    Instructions
    1. Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1½ cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use ½ cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1½ cups in the dough.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut ½- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
    3. Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea-size with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal.
    4. Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about ⅓ to ½ cup water.)
    5. With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough in 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to 3 days before rolling.
    6. Click here to read my (as in Jane's) instructions and photos for rolling out the pie crust.

    Click here to see my instructions and photos for rolling out pie crust.


  2. Wednesday, December 9

    Chocolate Chip Pie, a.k.a. Butter Pie with Some Chocolate Thrown in for Good Measure

    When I was growing up, my mom would often make Nestle Toll House chocolate chip pie for the holidays. I loved that pie. It was gooey and buttery and right up my chocolate-lined alley. Since I’ve been an adult, however, I think I’ve only made this pie once, and it was many many years ago.

    chocolate chip pie from @janemaynard

    This Thanksgiving I decided to resurrect the chocolate chip pie. I made one for Thanksgiving. It was delicious, although the proportions weren’t right for a standard-sized pie dish. In the name of good pie, I made another one to get the recipe just right. You’re welcome.

    chocolate chip pie from @janemaynardchocolate chip pie from @janemaynard

    A few quick notes before we get to the recipe:

    • This pie is buttery. As in it has a ton of butter. You can see and taste that butter in the finished pie and it is a good, good thing. But, I thought I should warn you that my nickname for this is “Butter Pie.”
    • Chocolate chip pie is much better served warm. When you are eating leftovers, heat up your slice for 12-15 seconds in the microwave and it should be perfect.
    • Even though this pie has eggs, I store it covered at room temperature. The crust stays much flakier that way and I figure the pie is like a giant cookie and cookies are fine at room temperature. So far I’ve never had a problem. (The original Toll House recipe has no instructions about storage.)
    • You can click here for the original Toll House recipe, which is for a 9-inch 4-cup volume pie crust, which is smaller than a homemade crust made in a 9.75-inch pie dish. The original version cooks faster than my version below. You can use the original recipe in the larger homemade crust, but the filling will only fill up the crust about halfway, although it cooks much faster.

    chocolate chip pie from @janemaynardchocolate chip pie from @janemaynard

    Chocolate Chip Pie
     
    Adapted from a Nestle Toll House recipe. My proportions below are for a larger 9.75-inch homemade crust, the Toll House recipe is for a smaller 9-inch pie crust.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 unbaked 9.75-inch pie crust (standard pie dish size; see pie crust recipe below)
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1½ cup (3 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
    • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional - I never add nuts)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
    2. Freeze pie crust for 30 minutes before filling and baking.
    3. In a large mixer bowl, beat eggs on high until foamy and very light in color. Beat in flour and both sugars. Beat in butter and mix on medium-high until fully combined.
    4. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using).
    5. Spread batter in pie crust. (Please note: this recipe is for a 9.75-inch standard pie dish. If you are using a store-bought crust say from the freezer section, the crust may be smaller. If this is the case, fill the crust near the top, but if you have extra batter, just leave it out.)
    6. Bake for 60-90 minutes (if you use a smaller 9-inch crust and leave out the extra batter, it will be about 60 minutes, if you use a deep-dish, larger pie crust, it will take more like 90 minutes). When you nudge the pie dish in the oven, the middle should still jiggle just a little bit. If the top and crust are getting too brown, lightly cover with foil while the pie finishes baking.
    7. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before eating. Store at room temperature, covered, and warm leftover slices in the microwave for 12-15 seconds.
    Notes
    Whipped cream or ice cream go great with this pie!

    homemade pie crust recipe by kate lebo
    All-Butter Crust
     
    From "Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter" by Kate Lebo. Reprinted with permission.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter
    Instructions
    1. Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1½ cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use ½ cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1½ cups in the dough.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut ½- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
    3. Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea-size with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal.
    4. Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about ⅓ to ½ cup water.)
    5. With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough in 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to 3 days before rolling.
    6. Click here to read my (as in Jane's) instructions and photos for rolling out the pie crust.

    Click here to see my instructions and photos for rolling out pie crust.


  3. Tuesday, December 8

    Crumble Apple Pie with Homemade All-Butter Crust and Two Streusel Topping Options

    I’m suddenly obsessed with making pies. I’ve made SIX in two weeks. My podcast chat with pie expert Kate Lebo really had an influence on my behavior apparently! Since I’ve got pie on the brain, this week I’m going to share the recipes for the three pies I made for Thanksgiving. They were all mighty good, so it’s only right I do some blog posts. Also, I don’t want to forget what I did so I can make them again myself. So, in the end, I guess I’m just being selfish. But at least you benefit, right? Today I’m kicking things off with Crumble Apple Pie.

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #2

    Traditional apple pie with a double crust is good and all, but I really love crumble apple pies, you know the kind, with a crumbly streusel topping. Flaky crust on the bottom, buttery crunchy yumminess on top. The combo can’t be beat.

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynard

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #1

    I have made two crumble apple pies in the last two weeks, with two different streusel toppings. Honestly, our family can’t decide which we like better, so I’m going to give you both streusel recipes!

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynard

    A note about the apples: I discovered the best way ever to slice apples for pie. Peel the apple, then cut off the opposite sides of the apple, getting as close to the core as possible, then cut off the last two opposite sides, so you’ll end up with 2 large half-apple pieces, and 2 smaller wedges. Turn those pieces on their flat side, then cut the apples into perfect, even-width apple slices. Slicing the apples went so quickly this way and it was a cinch getting the apple slices the same size as each other.

    How thick should the apples be? The thicker the slides the more bites of cooked apple pieces there will be in the pie. If you make the slices thinner, then there will be less apple chunks and the apples all kind of cook together into a delicious mess. I like thinner, personally, but I know other people love big chunks of apple. Do whatever makes your apple-pie-loving heart happy.

    Without further ado, Crumble Apple Pie with two streusel topping options. Oh, if you haven’t made homemade pie crust, do it! It’s the best and really not hard…promise.

    Crumble Apple Pie
     
    Adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup white sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 pinches salt
    • 8 granny smith apples, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 pie crust (see recipe below)
    • Streusel Topping (see recipes below)
    Instructions
    1. Place 1 pie crust in a 9.75-inch pie plate. Trim and crimp the edges. Freeze pie crust for 30 minutes. (Please note: Kate's crust recipe is for a 9-inch pie plate, but it works for my 9.75-inch pie plates as well - the crust is thin, but not too thin and tastes great.)
    2. Preheat oven to 450º F.
    3. While crust is in the freezer and the oven is preheating, toss together brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch.
    4. Peel the apples. To slice, for each apple cut off the opposite sides of the apple, getting as close to the core as possible, then cut off the last two opposite sides, so you'll end up with 2 large half-apple pieces, and 2 smaller wedges. Turn those pieces on their flat side, then cut the apples into even slices. The thicker the slices, the more apple chunks there will be in the pie. (I like to go thin, it's a personal preference.)
    5. Toss the apples in the sugar mixture. Pile the apples into the pie plate, making the pile taller in the middle.
    6. Evenly spread the streusel topping over the top of the pie, packing it down and around the apples.
    7. Place the pie on a cookie sheet. Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF and bake for about an additional hour, starting to check the pie around 40 minutes for doneness. Keep an eye on the streusel topping – if it starts to get too brown while baking, cover with foil, though this will probably not be a problem. Pie is done when a knife very easily pierces the pie. Do not undercook.
    8. Cool on a rack before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    9. Can be stored, covered, at room temperature for 1-2 days. If you need to store it longer, refrigerate.
    10. You can also freeze the pie. Freeze fully cooked, uncut pies for up to 3 months. Let pie cool completely, wrap well, then freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator then reheat in a 350º oven for about 25 minutes until just warmed.

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #1

    Streusel Topping #1 for Crumb Apple Pie
     
    From Epicurious. This streusel topping is lighter and has more of a sandy texture. Describing it as "sandy" makes it sound not good, but that could not be more untrue. It's delicious!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • ½ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes (Jane note: next time I'm going to try 8 tablespoons of butter just because I'm curious!)
    Instructions
    1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Add butter and blend together by hand with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles wet sand. Alternatively, add all ingredients to a food processor except butter. Blend together. Add butter a few tablespoons at a time, pulsing the food processor, until mixture resembles wet sand.
    2. Top on an apple pie before baking (see recipe above).

    crumble apple pie with homemade pie crust and two streusel topping options by @janemaynardPictured here: Streusel Topping #2

    Streusel Topping #2 for Crumb Apple Pie
     
    Adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything." This streusel topping is a little heavier in texture than Streusel Topping #1 - it sort of "melts" more together, although melt is not really the right word. It's a bit butterier and not as crumbly. Equally delicious, just different!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 8 tablespoons cold salted butter, cubed
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 pinches salt
    • ½ cup flour
    Instructions
    1. Mix all ingredients together with a pastry blender until evenly incorporated. Place on top of an apple pie (see recipe above).

    homemade pie crust recipe by kate lebo
    All-Butter Crust
     
    From "Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter" by Kate Lebo. Reprinted with permission.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter
    Instructions
    1. Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1½ cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use ½ cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1½ cups in the dough.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut ½- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
    3. Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea-size with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal.
    4. Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about ⅓ to ½ cup water.)
    5. With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough in 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to 3 days before rolling.
    6. Click here to read my (as in Jane's) instructions and photos for rolling out the pie crust.

    Click here to see my instructions and photos for rolling out pie crust.