Monday, October 27, 2008

Mavis Makes A Squash Pie

Welcome to the inaugural posting here at Umble Pie. I am Mavis, an aspiring pie maven, and crusty broad.

Everyone has their culinary fears, and at the top of my list is pie, more specifically, pie crust. My fear can be traced back to observing my mother making pies. My mother, who grew up on a farm, raised livestock for 4-H, canned vegetables throughout her youth, and readily prepares bread and candy, swears like a sailor when she attempts to roll out pie dough. So this blog is an attempt to cure me of my anxieties.

In an attempt to finish out my garden produce, my first pie will be using up the last of my butternut squash puree. My weapon of choice is my 75th edition of Joy of Cooking. I should admit here that I am not a terribly thorough recipe reader or follower really. I tend to skim recipes and jump right in without reading the full recipe from beginning to end first. So, it should come as no surprise that I am a truly terrible baker. However, I actually did read the entire pie entry before embarking on my first pie journey. My feelings on the failures of my first pie tend to place the blame squarely on myself and not the cookbook, but I will say that there were two promises that were unfulfilled in this recipe. The cookbook claims that refrigerating the pie dough will both tenderize it and prevent shrinkage, if that’s true, I can’t imagine what results my dough, left out of the fridge, would have yielded.

So, let’s get down to the recipe.

The Dough: This recipe for dough is pretty straight forward: shortening, butter, flour, salt, sugar, and ice water. I used a pastry blender to mix the fat into the flour and added exactly the amount of ice water specified in the recipe, but in my case, it was not enough. My dough was much too dry, but I was too timid to follow my instincts, mostly because all pie dough recipes are constantly shouting about not adding too much liquid. I refrigerated the dough overnight for ease, and did not let it warm up enough before rolling it out. The dough kept cracking and falling apart; I managed to get it into the pie plate, but was not able to get any sort of presentable pie crust edge. The upside of this crust: it was incredibly flaky, and held together perfectly when dishing out slices of pie. The downside: it was hard to work with, shrank when baked, and not as tender as I would have liked.

The Filling: This recipe was also pretty basic, but did not disappoint. My homegrown squash was beautifully colorful and tasty, the spices were well balanced, and the Joy of Cooking recommended serving the pie with a bourbon-infused whipped cream. It did take at least 20 minutes longer to cook than the recipe recommended, but this may be due to oven differences, or the water content in my squash versus canned pumpkin.

The Overall Verdict: My husband called me a “pie wizard,” but I should warn you that he never complains, and has been lulled into complacency by store-bought pies. I have to say that I am much happier with this pie than I would have thought, and also, I would like to bathe in bourbon flavored whipped cream.

Happy Pie Making from Mavis!

Mavis Makes A Squash Pie

Basic Pie or Pastry Dough (from the 75th edition of Joy of Cooking)
(Measurements are for a 9 inch double crust)

Sift together:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t. salt

3/4 cup chilled lard or vegetable shortening
3 T. cold unsalted butter

Cut half of the shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender or fingers until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Cut the remaining half into dough until it is pea-sized. Sprinkle the dough with:

6 T. ice water

Blend the water gently into the dough until it just holds together, if necessary, add additional water. Divide the dough in half, shape each into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.

Pumpkin or Squash Pie (from the 75th edition of Joy of Cooking)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9 inch pie plate with half recipe of Basic Pie or Pastry Dough. Glaze the crust with 1 large egg yolk. Dock the crust, line with foil, and weight down with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove weights and foil, finish baking for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Decrease oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk thoroughly in a large bowl:

2 eggs

Whisk in:

2 cups cooked pumpkin or squash puree
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice or cloves
1/2 t. salt

Warm the piecrust in the oven until it is hot to the touch, leaving the filling at room temperature. Pour the filling into the crust and bake 35 to 45 minutes until firm. Cool completely on a rack.

No comments: