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I make so many pies that my wife Bev and I invented what we call our “sliver rule” – we cut a couple of small pieces for ourselves; give as much away as we can; and then freeze any that’s leftover. And we’ve been pretty religious about it, too.

Then this pie happened.

We didn’t mean to fall off the wagon – and by WE I mean me – but when I weighed myself at the gym the other day I tipped the scale at 184 pounds, and I’m almost 6’5″. (When I turn sideways and stick out my tongue, someone told me recently, I look like a zipper.)

Anyway, that’s down 50 pounds from where I was 3 years ago, so I felt…deserving.

Peaches are, after all, my favorite summer fruit…the season is achingly short…I’ll eat extra kale this week to make up for it and blah, blah – I kept telling myself all these good stories and then I must have blacked out because when I came to I was breaking our sacred sliver rule.

I felt terrible. Briefly.

The best part about all of this is that not only do you get the recipe for this amazing Glazed Peach & Almond Pie this week; you also get a behind-the-scenes look at how it came together in my newest video, below. I think you’ll enjoy the story, so please have a look.

As always, use any favorite double-crust dough recipe, if you indeed have a favorite. Or use the CORNMEAL PIE DOUGH recipe you’ll find here.

Of course, if you click on the Recipes and Videos tab at the top of the page, you’ll find a number of other doughs to choose from.

Enjoy the video. By the way, you will see several mentions of links in the video and you’ll find those links below the video itself.

How to Make Glazed Peach & Almond Pie - YouTube

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Glazed Peach & Almond Pie

Slice up a few pounds of fresh juicy peaches…sugar them well…flavor with almond extract and lemon…and tuck between a golden cornmeal crust. Heavenly. But there’s more! Drizzle the top with an almond confectioners’ sugar glaze and sliced almonds. It all adds up to the best fresh peach pie you’re going to eat all summer. What are you waiting for?

Ingredients
  • Cornmeal Pie Dough (Double Crust) or another favorite double crust dough recipe
  • FILLING
  • 6 or 7 good-size ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure (not imitation) almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • A little milk or cream, plus a bit of sugar, to top the pie
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
  • Almond Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze (see Notes)
Instructions
  1. If you haven’t already, prepare the dough and divide it in half, making one half – for the pie shell – slightly larger than the other. Place on separate sheets of plastic wrap and flatten into 3/4-inch thick disks. Wrap in the plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour. 
  2. While the dough chills, make the filling. Peel and slice enough peaches to make 6 to 6 1/2 cups sliced peaches. (I prefer to blanch the peaches because there is less waste. Lower the peaches, several at a time, into a pot of boiling water. Use a slotted spoon so they don’t splash.) Let them heat for 20 or 30 seconds, then remove. When the peaches are cool enough to handle simply slip off the skins.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange one oven rack in the lower position and the other in the middle. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg into the peaches. Stir in the almond extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set aside.
  4. Roll the larger half of the pie dough into a 13-inch circle and line a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it, letting the sides of the dough drape over the edge of the pan. Transfer the filling to the shell and smooth it with a spoon. Roll the other half of dough into an 11-inch circle. Moisten the rim of the shell with a damp finger and drape the top dough over the filling, making sure it is centered. Press along the edges to seal.
  5. Trim the edge of the dough flush with the side of the pan, then crimp it with a fork to seal. Or trim it with scissors, leaving about 1/2-inch overhang all around, and sculpt the overhang into a fluted edge. Lightly brush the top of the pie with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar. Using a fork or paring knife, poke several holes in the top pastry so you can check the juices there later. I like to wiggle the utensil a little, to enlarge the holes so the juice has a little more room to flow. 
  6. Place the pie on a baking sheet, preferably one lined with parchment paper, and bake for 30 minutes. Move the pie up to the center rack, rotating it 180 degrees. Reduce the heat to 375°F and continue to bake until you see THICK juices bubbling up through the holes, about 30 to 40 minutes more. The pie isn’t done until you see the thick juice. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
  7. When the pie has cooled, drizzle the glaze liberally over the top of the pie; you may not need all of it. Immediatly sprinkle the top of the pie with the sliced almonds. Allow the glaze to harden a bit, then slice and serve. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Notes

To make the Almond Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze, combine 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar with 3 tablespoons milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract. Whisk well. The glaze will be stiff at first, but will smooth out. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin as needed. You want a medium-thick, drizzable consistency. Makes about 2/3 cup. 

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I love this dough for all sorts of pies, from double crust summer fruit pies to pumpkin and sweet potatoes pies in fall, pecan pies, chess pies – you name it.

The cornmeal does wonderful things to the dough: it makes the dough a real pleasure to roll, and adds a little crunch, too. It gives the dough an eye-catching gold hue, and the little bit of Crisco in the dough makes for a tender dough with a superior texture.

I prefer making this in the food processor, but it can be mixed by hand as well.

Cornmeal Pie Dough

Cornmeal adds a bit of crunch…a bit of color…and a measure of wholesome natural grain to this pie crust. Use it for double crust fruit pies or virtually any other pie. (SEE “NOTES” FOR DOUBLE CRUST RECIPE AND MIXING THE DOUGH BY HAND.)

Ingredients
  • SINGLE CRUST RECIPE (DOUBLE CRUST RECIPE FOLLOWS)
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons cold Crisco or lard, in several small pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold water, plus an additional teaspoon or two if needed
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
Instructions
  1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl; refrigerate. Scatter all of the fat on a plate; refrigerate. Combine the 1/4 cup water and vinegar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Refrigerate everything for 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the dry ingredients to a food processor; pulse several times, to mix. Remove the lid and scatter all of the fat over the dry mixture. Pulse the machine 6 or 8 times, cutting the fat into small pea-size pieces.
  3. Position your measuring cup over the feed tube. Add the liquid through the tube in a 7- to 10-second stream, pulsing the machine as you add it. Once all the water has been added you will only need to process for another few seconds. The dough should come together in large clumps but not ball up around the blade. It may seem moister than other doughs, but if it’s dry add another 1 to 3 teaspoons water. 
  4. Empty the dough onto your work counter. Gather the dough together and shape it into a ball. Knead it gently a couple of times to smooth it out. Put the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten the dough into a 3/4-inch thick disk. Seal in the wrap and refrigerate for about an hour before rolling. Makes enough dough for one 9- to 9 1/2-inch standard or deep-dish pie shell. (SEE “NOTES” FOR DOUBLE CRUST)
Notes

Cornmeal Pie Dough (Double Crust)

Double all of the ingredients and refrigerate them for 15 minutes prior to mixing the dough. Add the liquid in a 7- to 10-second stream, pulsing, until the dough just starts to form clumps. Proceed as for the single crust recipe. If you are making a double crust pie, divide the dough in half, making one half, for the bottom crust, slightly larger than the other. If you are making two pie shells, divide the dough equally. Form the dough into disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate.

To make the dough by hand: 

Refrigerate your bowl of dry ingredients. Mix by hand or with a whisk to combine. Add all of the fat; toss to coat with the dry mixture. Rub in the fat by hand, to break up the pieces. Using your pastry blender, cut the mixture together until you have small pea-sizes pieces of fat. Everything should look like it has been “touched” by the fat. Mound your dry ingredients toward the center of the bowl. Add half of the liquid, pouring it down and around the sides of the bowl. Mix well with your fork to distribute the water, then continue to mix until your dough pulls together. Pack into a ball and then gently knead, 2 or 3 times, on a lightly floured surface. Divide in half if making a double crust pie or two shells. Flatten into a 3/4-inch thick disk. Seal in plastic and refrigerate. 

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When was the last time you baked an all strawberry, double-crust pie? 

I’ll stick my neck out and wager it’s been a while, because even if nobody ever comes right out and says it, a lot of bakers just don’t consider an all strawberry double-crust pie a thing. 

Strawberry rhubarb pie is a thing. So is strawberry chiffon. Everybody swoons over those thickly glazed fresh strawberry pies with mountains of whipped cream; that’s a thing. 

But a double crust strawberry pie, not so much. Strawberries, by quiet consensus, are way too soft to tolerate a thorough baking. They turn to mush when you cook them, and who wants to eat a big forkful of strawberry mush? 

Well…I do, and the soft filling doesn’t bother me one whit. Of course strawberries go soft when you bake them. So do raspberries and blackberries, and nobody ever picks on them. It’s just what berries do. Time to get over it.  

So what we really have here is a public relations problem – fake news, if you will, that can best be dispelled by making a double-crust strawberry pie of your own. 

In coastal North Carolina we’re well into the fresh strawberry season. The pie you see here was made with fresh picked strawberries from a nearby farm. Close proximity to the source of your ingredients is a good first step in any recipe, so start there if you can. 

When you begin with good fruit, it’s always best to stick to the basics. Strawberry pies like plenty of sugar. Whenever I try to cut back on the sugar I wind up with a dull, muted strawberry flavor. The lemon juice and zest are not to be trifled with either. Even really good strawberries need some lemon to pucker them up.

I’ve thickened all-strawberry pies with each of the big three thickeners – flour, cornstarch, and tapioca – and I prefer the latter, and you need a lot of it to do the trick. Strawberry pies can be very juicy and I think the tapioca adds extra body and jelling oomph. If you have the slightest doubt that the pie is done, give it extra time so the thickener can “take.” Strawberry mush has its charms; runny strawberry mush does not. And be sure to bake the pie on a rimmed baking sheet, preferably one lined with parchment, because you want something to catch the filling if the pie springs a leak around the edge. 

If you insist on getting fancy, keep it natural with a whisper of mint. I’ll sometimes chop a handful of fresh mint leaves and add them to the filing. The minty flavor is perfect with the strawberries, but just know that it bakes up looking like small black threads in the filling. If that’s going to raise some eyebrows at your table, add a few drops of mint oil or a tablespoon of white creme de menthe to the filling instead of fresh mint.

Just before serving, dust the top of the pie with light coating of sifted confectioners’ sugar, or garnish the pie with vanilla or strawberry ice cream. No matter how you serve it, I think you’ll agree with me that this all strawberry double-crust pie is quite a thing after all.  

PASTRY NOTES: If you don’t already have a favorite double-crust dough recipe try the Slab Pie Dough (divided in half) or the Double Crust Shortening Pie Dough (scroll way down to the bottom of the linked page for the recipe.)

THE NO-MORE-TEARS PIE PASTRY COURSE

All Strawberry Double-Crust Pie

Yield 8 to 10 servings

It’s fine to use some frozen strawberries here if you have a partial bag in the freezer. Just try to use at least 2 to 3 cups fresh berries, and a total of 4 cups.

Ingredients
  • Enough pastry for a 9- to 9 1/2-inch double-crust pie
  • FILLING
  • 4 cups hulled and thickly sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint or other mint flavor (see article)
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • Milk or half-and-half, plus a little sugar, for glaze
Instructions
  1. If you haven’t already, prepare and refrigerate the pie pastry. Roll the larger portion of dough into a 12-inch circle and line a 9- to 9 1/2-inch standard – not deep-dish – pie pan with it, letting the excess dough drape over the edge. Refrigerate.
  2. Put 1 cup of the berries and 1/4 cup of the sugar into a shallow bowl and mash them well with a fork. Stir in the tapioca. Set aside for 10 minutes. (This will soften the tapioca and help prevent it from forming pearls in the filling.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. Adjust one of your oven racks so it is in the lower position and another so it’s in the middle. 
  4. Combine the remaining 3 cups berries and 3/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in the tapioca mixture, lemon juice, lemon zest, and mint (if using). 
  5. Roll the other half of dough into an 11-inch circle. Turn the filing into the pie shell and smooth the fruit with a spoon to level it off. Dot the filling with the butter. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell with a little water or some of the milk. Drape the top pastry over the filling, pressing along the edge to seal.
  6. Using a knife, trim the pastry flush with the edge of the pie pan. Press the handle of a wooden spoon into the edge of the pastry, all around the perimeter, to make a decorative edge. Or simply crimp it with a fork. Poke several steam vents in the pie with a large fork or paring knife. Put a couple near the edge, so you can check the juices there later. Lightly brush the pie with milk and sprinkle it with several big pinches of sugar. 
  7. Put the pie on a baking sheet, preferably one lined with parchment, and bake on the lower oven rack for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° and move the pie up to the middle rack, rotating it 180 degrees. Continue to bake until the juices bubble thickly at the steam vents and the top of the pie is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes more. Transfer to a rack and cool at least 3 hours before serving, preferably longer to insure that the filling has cooled and firmed.

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My latest book project took a giant leap forward this week when I sent the contents of the binders you see here off to my publisher for the first round of editing.

Well, not the actual contents; I sent digital files, of course. Back when I started writing cookbooks in the late 80’s and early 90’s, writer and publisher would indeed volley reams of paper manuscript back and back and forth, the bulk growing progressively heavier with multi-colored sticky notes on each trip. You knew the manscript had come back when you heard the UPS truck pull up, followed by the sound of something like a meteor landing on your front porch.

So that’s what the smile here is all about, equal parts satisfaction and relief.

In case you missed the news in one of my earlier emails, the project in question is the renovation and marriage of my two books about sweet pies: Apple Pie and Pie, which I know many of you already own.

This was no garden variety update, no mere fresh coat of paint. We’re talking a nearly 2-year process of reevaluating recipes, updating content, adding new material, fresh sidebars, and figuring out the best way to streamline the pie making process and make it less intimidating for home bakers – 180,942 words worth of that. The really fun part will come this summer when the recipes and some of the step-by-step material will be photographed.

If you own my latest book – The Harvest Baker – then you know that my new publisher, Storey Publishing, does a gorgeous job with design and photography, so I’m very excited for this next step of the production process. (And if you don’t own The Harvest Baker, what the heck are you waiting for? Harvest season is about to start again!)

The book will be ready sometime next spring or summer, but until then I plan to tease you from time to time with some of the new content – this Banoffee Peanut Butter Pie, for starters.

If you’ve never had banoffee pie (ba-NOFF-ee)  it’s something like caramel banana cream pie, but easier since there’s no pastry cream to make. Credit for the original recipe goes to the owner of an English pub, the The Hungry Monk Restaurant in East Sussex.

Our version is easier still because instead of making caramel or a soft toffee filling the way so many recipes do, we simply use a can of dulce de leche, available in most supermarkets (near the sweetened condensed milk.)

But what really makes this recipe stand out is the addition of the one ingredient that the filling has always longed for: peanut butter. And while it’s true that I believe there’s almost nothing that can’t be improved by adding peanut butter, I think you’ll wholeheartedly accept my conclusion once you try this pie.

I hope you enjoy it; I know you will. And I promise to keep you updated with news about the new book as things progress.

For the crust: Peanut Graham Cracker Crust Recipe 

You might also like:

Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Semifreddo Pie

Creamy Peanut Butter Cup Pie 

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Banoffee Peanut Butter Pie

Yield 8 – 10 servings

Banoffee pie – layers of sliced banana and caramel or toffee in a crust – has become quite the thing in the last few years. Our version includes the usual suspects plus peanut butter, a match that was waiting to happen. I think you’ll agree. As I say in the recipe, assemble this as close to serving time as possible because when you slice bananas too far ahead they can turn a little weepy. 

Ingredients
  • Shortbread Cooke Crust (see notes) or Peanut Graham Cracker Crust (see link in story)
  • FILLING
  • 1 13-ounce can dulce de leche
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, sweetened or not
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 3 to 4 medim-size, just-ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon, for garnish
Instructions
  1. If you haven’t already, prepare the Shortbread Cookie Crust (Notes) or the Peanut Graham Cracker Crust at the link provided. Set aside to cool.
  2. Put the dulce de leche and the peanut butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Add about half of the water. Using a hand held electric mixer, beat the mixture on low speed until the water is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the remaining water and continue to beat on medium-low speed just until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Assemble the pie, if possible, within an hour or two of serving it. Spread the dulce de leche mixture evenly over the bottom of the pie shell. Slice the bananas crosswise, then pile them over the dulce de leche filling. Don’t worry if they’re a bit random; the whipped cream is going to cover up the construction. Refrigerate.
  4. To make the whipped cream, chill a clean bowl and your electric mixer beaters in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks, then add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until the whipped cream is firm but not grainy. Refrigerate if not using immediately. 
  5. Mound the whipped cream over the bananas. Refrigerate if you’re not serving the pie right away. Right before serving, dust the top of the pie with cinnamon. 
Notes

To make Shortbread Cookie Crust, coarsely crumble shortbread cookies by hand – I use Keebler – measuring out 3 cups coarse crumbs. Transfer to a food processor and grind them into fine crumbs. Put the crumbs in a mixing bowl and add 3 tablespoons sugar and a scant 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix by hand, then add 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter. Mix well, then press the mixture into a 9- to 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 8 minutes on the middle rack. Cool before filling. 

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The Pie Academy Blog by Ken Haedrich - 5M ago

Let’s talk about lemon curd. Do you know what it is? Have you ever made it? Thought about it but never got around to it?

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to strike up a friendship, if you’re not a member of The Lemon Curd Fan Club.

Lemon curd is a nifty item to have in your pie maker’s tool kit, but it’s got a lot more tricks up its sleeve than pie filling. It tastes wonderful smoothed between cake layers. Fold it into whipped cream and top fresh berries with it. And smear it on everything from scones and crumpets – like the Brits do – to English muffins, waffles, pancakes, crackers and more. It’s an all-purpose spread you’ll find dozens of uses for in your kitchen. 

Forget about store-bought lemon curd. It’s not bad; it’s just not the stuff great love affairs are made of, at least not the way homemade lemon curd is. 

Lemon curd is made with fresh eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and butter. There is no cream or milk to soften the flavor, so it packs more of a lemony punch than lemon custard or cream pie filling. It has a consistency something like soft, thick jelly.

Because there is no cornstarch to facilitate the curd’s thickening, I used to cook my lemon curd in a double boiler as a hedge against the eggs scrambling while the curd cooked. I’ve since abandoned that method and now cook it right in a heavy bottomed saucepan. It saves a little time, and so long as you don’t turn up the heat too high and try to rush the process, the eggs won’t curdle. 

Using the method here, I find that there’s really no reason to strain the curd either to remove any little clods of cooked egg. It comes out smooth every time. 

For my money, the best way for pie makers to use lemon curd is in mini pies. I form graham cracker shells, add the curd, and top with mascarpone whipped cream the way you see here.  

Alternatively, you can fold together one part whipped cream or mascarpone whipped cream and one part lemon curd and spoon that into little pie shells, then top with fresh berries.

I also like putting down a layer of lemon curd directly on my pie shell when I make lemon cream pie, then spooning my lemon pastry cream over that. Or you can reverse the layering if you like, putting the lemon pastry cream down first. (If you’re into cream pies, do check out my video course about themGreat American Cream Pies.)

(Any of these ideas can be adapted to full size pies, by the way.) 

But no matter how you layer or spread it, I hope you give lemon curd a try. 

Homemade Lemon Curd

Yield 1 3/4 cups

Make this once, and you’ll never be without a jar on hand because you’ll want to make it again and again. This has all sorts of uses as a pie filling, and it can be spread on scones, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, toast and more.

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (scant) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 or 2 lemons
Instructions
  1. Put the soft butter in a medium bowl. Using a hand held electric mixer, gradually add the sugar, beating for 1 minute on medium speed. Beat in the eggs and yolks, one at a time. Continue to beat, adding the lemon juice in a stream. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan; add the lemon zest. Heat the mixture on medium-low heat, stirring, until it starts to smooth out and no longer looks curdled. Increase the heat to medium and continue to heat, stirring nonstop, until the mixture thickens enough to heavily coat the back of a spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes. It will reach 170° on a candy thermometer. Do not boil. 
  3. Remove from the heat and immediately scrape the curd into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly over the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Cool for about an hour at room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours. Spoon the curd into 1 or 2 small jars and seal tightly. Refrigerate for up to 1 month or freeze for up to a year. If you’re going to freeze the curd, leave 1 inch of headroom in the jars when you pack them. 
Notes

Variations: Experiment with other citrus juices, alone or in combination – including grapefruit, navel oranges, blood oranges, and/or limes – to make a variety of other fruit curds. 

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I’ve been giving Valentine’s Day quite a bit of thought this week, on account of the fact that my previous lapses never worked out that well, so I’m going all in with the flowers, the dinner out, and one of those really expensive Hallmark cards to show my wife that when it comes to her happiness, money is no object. Oh, and these little cherry pies to top things off, too.

I agree – none of that is very original. But in the absence of originality, predictability – on Valentine’s Day – is a very safe bet. That’s something I learned during one of the aforementioned lapses.

Actually, the cherry pies are sort of original. I’ve been testing some new mini pie recipes for my next pie book and latched onto the idea of filling little graham cracker pie shells with stovetop cherry filling, and topping them with mascarpone whipped cream, which is really sensational if you’ve never made it.

There are a number of appealing things about the recipe: you can make it with frozen cherries, which work great in pies. You can make the shells and filling a day before serving, so there’s no last-minute stressing. As for the mascarpone whipped cream, it’s good and stable so you can pipe it on and it holds its shape beautifully, as you can see in the photos. It’s just plain delicious, too.

Let’s talk about the graham cracker shells. The first two shells you see here were made in mini foil pie pans that measure about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. I just prebaked the shells for 8 minutes at 350°, let them cool, and then popped them out of the pans. That’s one option.

The shell you see in the third photo here was made in a jumbo muffin cup. I formed the walls to come to the top of the cup, but you really don’t need to make them so tall. Two-thirds of the way up the cup would be plenty big enough. A couple of tips: make all the walls of your graham cracker shells fairly thick; they’ll be less likely to break when you remove them from the pan. In order to make pack-able shells, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of milk to the crumb mixture, so it’s a tad more moist. You will also want to lay a narrow, 8-inch long strip of wax paper in the buttered muffin cup before you form the shell. Press it against the bottom and sides. That will give you something to help loosen the shells and lift them out after the cups cool.

Of course, you can always serve the pies directly in a mini pie pan, which is no doubt the easiest and most sensible option. And you don’t have to be too concerned about how packable the crumbs are since you’re not removing the shells from the pan.

I hope you’ll give these a try, for Valentine’s Day or any day. During cherry season I make these with fresh fruit, but it’s handy to have the frozen cherry option this time of year.

Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day is full of love and fond memories.

Little Cherry Pies with Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Yield 4-5 mini pies

Whether you’re making these for your Valentine… looking for a delicious pie to make with frozen cherries…or you have a quart of fresh cherries just begging for your attention, these little pies are just the thing. And you’ll adore the creamy mascarpone whipped cream topping.

Ingredients
  • Graham Cracker Crust (see NOTES)
  • CHERRY FILLING
  • 3 cups pitted frozen sweet cherries 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water or apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM
  • 4 ounces cold mascarpone cheese
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Prepare the Graham Cracker Crust mentioned above. Be sure to make the crumbs good and fine. (The crumbs are hard to pack if they’re too coarse.) Once the mixture is prepared, press some together between your fingers. It should pack easily. If not, add a teaspoon or two of milk and rub it in thoroughly to moisten the mixture so it holds together.
  2. Divide the mixture evenly between 4 or 5 mini pie pans or jumbo muffin cups – read accompanying post – pressing it firmly against the bottom and sides of the cups. Make the shell walls about 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. When the oven has preheated, place the shells on the middle oven rack and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly.
  4. Make the filling: Put the cherries in a medium saucepan, cover, and slowly heat them until they come to a simmer. Add the sugar, orange juice, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer 2 or 3 minutes, until quite juicy.
  5. As the fruit simmers, blend the water (or juice) and cornstarch in a small bowl, then stir into the fruit. Bring the fruit to a low boil, then cook at a low boil, stirring nonstop, for 1 1/2 minutes, until thick and glossy. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the fruit into a pie plate or dish and cool thoroughly. 
  6. Make the mascarpone topping: get out the bowl you’re going to make the whipped cream in and chill it for 10 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese to the bowl. Using a hand held electric mixer, beat the cheese for a minute on medium-low speed to loosen it up. It will probably stay clumpy as you beat. Gradually add the heavy cream while you beat; the mixture will thin out. Once all the heavy cream is added, increase the speed and continue to beat until the mixture forms soft peaks. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat just until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Do not overbeat or it will begin to curdle. Refrigerate until needed. 
  7. To assemble the pies, spoon some of the cherry filling into each pie shell. Mound the whipped cream on top of the filling, or pipe it on with a pastry bag, then serve. 
Notes

To make a graham cracker crust, add 3 cups coarsely-crumbled graham crackers to a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Process to fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter. Mix it in with a fork, then rub it until the mixture is even and packable. If it doesn’t pack when you press it between your fingers, add 1 to 2 teaspoons milk and rub that in until the mixture packs. NOTE – If you’re starting with packaged crumbs, simply add 2 cups of the crumbs to a bowl and proceed as above. 

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As I mentioned last week, I’ve been testing custard pie recipes for my book-in-progress, and now that I’m nearing the end of this chapter it’s time to move on.

It won’t be easy. Not that the pie territory ahead is any less promising. It’s simply that I’ve re-fallen in love with custard pies in a big way, been captured by their spell, and charmed by their quirks all over again. That’s all I’m saying.

You’ll find all of my favorites once the new book is out later in 2020. I know it’s a long time to wait, but to tide you over, here’s the Creamy Coconut Custard Pie recipe  from the forthcoming book. Unlike last week’s Toasted Almond Coconut Custard Pie, this one is for coconut custard pie purists, an ultra-rich version thanks to the heavy cream and extra yolks.

As a little bonus for you, I’ve taken some of the lessons I’ve gleaned from my custard pie testing and put them into the video you’ll find below. Enjoy the video, enjoy the recipe, and let me know if you have any custard pie wisdom you’d like to share. If so I’d love to hear from you.

And don’t forget, if you know of anyone who is a custard pie lover who might enjoy this recipe and video, I hope you’ll pass along the link to this page. I would really appreciate that.

5 Tips for Perfect Custard Pies - YouTube

PASTRY NOTE – Virtually any single crust pie dough recipe will work for this pie. If you don’t already have a favorite, let me suggest the Simple Pie Dough by Hand.

Creamy Coconut Custard Pie

Yield 8 – 10 servings

A coconut pie for purists, this custard pie is smooth as velvet. I highly recommend using the coconut extract, which you should find in your market with the other extracts.

Ingredients
  • Pastry for a single crust 9- to 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie
  • FILLING
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional by highly recommended)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. If you haven’t already, prepare and refrigerate your pie dough for at least 45 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 1/2- to 13-inch circle and line a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it. Form the overhanging dough into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the ridge and refrigerate the shell for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 16-inches long. Carefully – so you don’t disturb the dough – line the pie shell with the foil, pressing it into the creases so it fits like a glove. Add a thick layer of dried beans, banking them up the sides.
  3. Bake the pie shell on the center oven rack for 25 minutes. Slide it out and carefully remove the foil and beans. Re-poke the holes if they’ve filled in. Slide the shell back in and bake another 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pie shell to a cooling rack. Once cooled, smear a little cream cheese or sour cream into the fork holes to plug them. Cool the beans thoroughly, store in a jar, and save them for next time.
  4. Set the oven to 350°. Combine the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer – hand-held is fine – gradually adding the sugar. Add the heavy cream, milk, vanilla, coconut extract (if using) and salt; beat briefly, just until evenly combined. Stir in the coconut.
  5. Put the pie on a baking sheet, near the oven, then slowly pour or ladle the filling into the shell. Put the baking sheet and pie on the middle oven rack and bake just until the custard is set, about 50 minutes, turning the pie 180 degrees midway through the baking. When the pie is done the filling will be wobbly, and there will be no sign of soupiness at the center of the filling. Give the pie a little nudge to check. 
  6. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool on the sheet. Cool thoroughly, then refrigerate for at least 2 or 3 hours before serving. Cover with tented aluminum for longer storage in the fridge. 

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So when was the last time you made a custard pie? Last month? Couple of years ago? Never? 

I get it. Custard pie is not a headline grabber or Instagram starlet, the way some pies are. It’s not a showcase for shimmering, jewel-like fruit. And nobody tops a custard pie with an eye-catching, pie crust rendering of the Sistine Chapel. 

Which is precisely the point of custard pie’s girl-next-door appeal: it’s a low maintenance, high return choice of a pie when winter sets in and your pie options narrow.  In short, there’s no better time than now to make a custard pie.

I’ve got just the one: Toasted Almond Coconut Custard Pie. I’ve been on a tear of custard pie testing for my upcoming book, so trust me when I tell you that this is no run-of-the-mill custard pie. The filling is thick and rich, in the manner of the best custard pies, and it has the most delicious coconut almond topping you’ve ever tasted.

It reminds me of the coating on those toasted almond ice cream bars we used to get for a dime from the Good Humor truck centuries ago, only better. The chopped toasted almonds and coconut just float to the top of the filling and form a crunchy crust as the pie bakes. It’s a neat bit of magic. 

Warm custard is not my thing, so I always cool and then thoroughly chill my custard pies before serving. Your choice. 

If they aren’t fussy, there is one immutable requirement for making a proper custard pie, echoed in the quote you see here from my mentor, Marion Cunningham: always bake them low and slow. Little harm can come to a custard pie that bakes too slowly, and plenty if you try to speed up the process. Be sure the oven temperature never goes above 350° and I prefer to favor nearer to 325°. 

“Overbaking is custard’s greatest enemy, causing it to become too firm and granular. A custard pie is done when the edges of the filling are set…The center of the pie should be soft and shaky, and should quiver when touched gently with your finger.” – Marion Cunningham in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book

I’ll leave you this week with a short video I made to show off both this pie and our single slice pie boxes that we sell in our online store and haven’t gotten much air time lately. I hope you’ll check it out; it’s only about a minute long. Thanks. 

View our single slice pie boxes here. 

Single Slice Pie Boxes - YouTube

PASTRY NOTE: Use any favorite pie dough recipe here. If you don’t already have one, let me suggest the Good Basic Pie Dough or Three-Grain Butter Crust.

Toasted Almond Coconut Custard Pie

Yield 8 – 10 servings

If you love almonds, you’ll adore this thick-rich custard pie with toasted almonds and coconut. Don’t be fooled by custard pie’s plain Jane reputation because this pie is in a class of its own.

Ingredients
  • Pastry for a single crust pie
  • FILLING
  • 1 cup whole almonds, toasted and cooled (see Notes for toasting instructions)
  • 1 cup flaked, sweetened coconut, toasted (see Notes for toasting instructions)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. If you haven’t already, prepare and refrigerate your pie dough for at least 45 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 1/2- to 13-inch circle and line a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it. Form the overhanging dough into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the ridge and refrigerate the shell for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 16-inches long. Carefully – so you don’t disturb the dough – line the pie shell with the foil, pressing it into the creases so it fits like a glove. Add a thick layer of dried beans, banking them up the sides.
  3. Bake the pie shell on the center oven rack for 25 minutes. Slide it out and carefully remove the foil and beans. Re-poke the holes if they’ve filled in. Slide the shell back in and bake another 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pie shell to a cooling rack. Once cooled, smear a little cream cheese or sour cream into the fork holes to plug them. Cool the beans thoroughly, store in a jar, and save them for next time.
  4. Set the oven to 350°. Put the toasted almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground, but don’t overdo it: you don’t want to make almond flour. Set aside along with the toasted coconut.
  5. Combine the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl and beat on medium-low speed with an electric mixer – hand-held is fine – gradually adding the remaining 1 cup sugar. Add the heavy cream, half-and-half or milk, vanilla, almond extract, and salt and beat briefly on medium speed. Stir in the chopped almonds and toasted coconut.
  6. Put your pie shell on a baking sheet near the oven and carefully pour or ladle the filling into the shell. Put the baking sheet and pie on the center oven rack and bake until the custard is set and the top of the pie is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes, turning the pie 180 degrees about midway through the baking. When the pie is done, the filling will be wobbly, but you should not see the filling move in waves under the crusty top. Give the pie a little nudge to check. 
  7. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool right on the sheet. Serve lukewarm, if you prefer, but I like to chill mine for at least several hours before serving. After the pie has cooled thoroughly, cover it loosely with tented aluminum foil and refrigerate. 
Notes

Toasting almonds – Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast on the middle oven rack for 8 to 10 minutes, until they turn a shade darker and you can just begin to smell their toasty aroma. Immediately tip them off the sheet and onto a plate to cool; if you leave them on the sheet they’ll continue to toast. Cool thoroughly before storing (or in this case, chopping them. I actually prefer to refrigerate them for this recipe, before chopping, because I think cold almonds cut more cleanly.)

Toasting coconut – Preheat the oven to 325°. Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast on the middle oven rack for about 7 minutes. Open the oven and give it a stir with a spatula or large fork. Continue to toast and stir in 5 minute increments, keeping a close eye on it because once coconut starts to brown, it happens quickly. When the coconut is golden brown, remove it from the oven and immediately turn it out onto a large plate or it will continue to darken on the sheet. Cool thoroughly before storing in a sealed jar, for longer storage. 

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That’s right – our original dates for The New England Pie Getaway are sold out, so we’ve added a second Getaway the following weekend.

Watch the video below for an update. And visit NewEnglandPieGetaway.com for all the details and to download a registration form.

New England Pie Getaway Update - YouTube

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The Pie Academy Blog by Ken Haedrich - 7M ago

You hear an awful lot about transparency these days – in business and government, in education and on the internet. But there’s a type of transparency that’s dreadfully overlooked and needs many more champions, so I’m counting on you. It’s called transparent pie. 

Transparent pie is to Kentucky what chess pie is to the Carolinas and a handful of Southern states – a simple pie made from everyday ingredients you’d have on hand if the pantry were almost bare. Unlike most chess pie recipes, however, vinegar or lemon juice is seldom called for, and transparent pies often contain cream, like this one. Thus, you don’t cut Texas-size pieces lest you risk a weeklong sugar high. This 9-inch pie will yield 10 to 12 slices, and is best garnished with unsweetened whipped cream.

I’m guessing the name transparent comes from the shimmering filling which, sliced thin enough, you can practically see through. Note the tip of the slice just above. As for the tipsy part of the title, that’s my own doing – a slug of whiskey for the holidays. It’s entirely optional, but would be perfectly fitting this holiday week if it’s a good match for your crowd.

Texturally, transparent pie has a firmish, jelly-like filling which transforms as it bakes and then cools. The top becomes crusty in the oven, softens as it cools, and then crusts over again when the pie is refrigerated. You can serve it pretty much anywhere in this evolution, from lukewarm to chilled, chilled being my preferred temperature.

Now, will you stand with me on transparency in pie? You won’t regret it.

PASTRY NOTE: Use your favorite single crust pie dough recipe here. If you don’t have one, let me suggest the Good Basic Pie Dough or the Simple Pie Dough By Hand. 

Tipsy Transparent Pie

Yield 10-12 servings

Ingredients
  • Pastry for a single crust pie
  • FILLING
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whiskey (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, for garnish
Instructions
  1. If you haven’t already, prepare and refrigerate your pie dough for at least 45 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 1/2- to 13-inch circle and line a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it. Form the overhanging dough into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the ridge and refrigerate the shell for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 16-inches long. Carefully – so you don’t disturb the dough – line the pie shell with the foil, pressing it into the creases so it fits like a glove. Add a thick layer of dried beans, banking them up the sides.
  3. Bake the pie shell on the center oven rack for 25 minutes. Slide it out and carefully remove the foil and beans. Re-poke the holes if they’ve filled in. Slide the shell back in and bake another 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pie shell to a cooling rack. Once cooled, smear a little cream cheese or sour cream into the fork holes to plug them. Cool the beans thoroughly, store in a jar, and save them for next time.
  4. Set the oven temperature to 350°. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer – hand held is fine – beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each one. Add the cream, vanilla, and whiskey and beat again. Shake the flour over the liquid and beat gently, scraping down the sides, until evenly blended.
  5. Put the pie shell on a large baking sheet, near the oven, and slowly add the filling. Place the sheet and pie on the center oven rack and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling has puffed up and the top is a rich golden brown. Note that the top will crust over and the pie may look prematurely done, but if you nudge the pie you will see that the filling moves in waves beneath the surface. When the pie is actually done, you should be able to wiggle the pan and see the entire filling wobble together.
  6. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool. Serve lukewarm, at room temperature, or chilled. When you refrigerate the pie, cover it with tented foil so it doesn’t touch the top of the pie. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream. 

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