Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Countdown: The Other Pies

Once you've devoured just enough turkey for leftovers, it's time for pie. But which pie? Should you start with the Thanksgiving co-star, the hearty pumpkin, or is it best to work your way to the top, much like this countdown?

Day Four
pecanpie4) Pecan Pie
I've never thought much about baking a pecan pie because it was another one of my mother's monster dessert specialties. Like the pumpkin, pecan pies beg for real whipped cream, but in a southern accent. Now that I give the recipe a second look, it appears to be pretty simple. There are variations which call for either dark or light corn syrup, 3 or 4 eggs (4 eggs!), and here's one from a New Orleanian that calls for brandy. That leaves you with butter, sugar, vanilla, pecans, and the crust. I've been down the why-not-just-get-it-from-the freezer-aisle road, but it's second rate. Crusts are tasty, quick, and easy to make. The best ones have few ingredients (flour, butter, water). There is a strong distaste for an undercooked pie crust in my family, so I usually pre-bake. Did you know that baking a pie crust sans filling is called blind baking? This recipe for a pecan pie and crust uses an ubaked crust, and doesn't specify brown or white sugar. I'd use brown. I notice they put sugar in their crust, too. This pecan pie recipe for left brainers, pre-toasts the pecans, and has a table at the bottom which reminds me of every math major I've met.
3) Apple, Sweet Potato, Coconut Cream, French Silk
For some reason, four of my other fav pies, blueberry, strawberry, strawberry rubarb, and peach, don't show up at our regular holiday feasts. Is this a summer pie thing? We'd still welcome the appearance of a Perkin's lemon or key lime pie if they'd only keep making them. Can you get more summer than that? Apple is the all occasion pie. The little black dress of pies. It's a classic, and in season whether or not it's fall. This apple pie recipe talks about how the apples will shrink. I don't do much more than make the crust, peel and cut, add sugar, butter, and cinnamon, then bake until it smells right. I don't use nutmeg, but may squeeze in a bit of lemon. Remember, if you haven't almost overfilled your pastry shell, you may end up with another dessert entirely. Sweet potato pie probably needs to be made by someone who grew up with it. Not many in the fam will eat it unless they think it's pumpkin pie. I keep sneaking it into the mix just to be subversive. What I've tried tastes like a poor cousin to pumpkin, but I'll keep trying it from time to time in search of the real deal. I find coconut cream pie intrusive, yet irresistible. I'll take it fresh or frozen, chilled or room temp. French silk is decandant enough for any major holiday. You can have it with wine. It's one, like key lime, that can go graham or flour crust. Here's a french silk pie recipe that calls for 4 eggs. Serve chilled with defib paddles.
flickr photo from hirosan


  1. math geek1:28 AM

    I used to hang out at The Plaza because the booths ate pocket change. Handy place to go on laundry day.

  2. southern baker11:10 PM

    A good sweet potato pie like any other pie is best when baked from scratch. I would never mess with those nasty store bought crusts unless you find a good one from a bakery or bread store.
    You might want to try a good soul food restaurant or give it a try yourself with a whole southern theme.


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