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Wendy DeBord

Lets talk about Pie fillings

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So, in an attempt to keep things organized, will you all post your thoughts, recipes and information about pie fillings in this thread. Your welcome to also talk in general about pies, pie crusts etc... on this thread (saving your actually demonstration post for our formal Demo: Pie Pastry Crusts thread or Demo: Press-In Crusts thread).

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Fabulous demo.  Pie crusts really scare me.  I read about leaf lard in an old issue of CI and I must order some. 

Im determined to make and enter a pie in our town fair.  I just read an article about a deep dish apple pie( once again, i think it was CI) and they cooked the filling first.  Anyone ever try that?

My demo for cherry pie (in the Demo: Press-In Crusts) thread uses pre-cooked (stove-top) pie filling. I think it's better for really juicy fillings like cherry. Not so important for apple. On the other hand, if I make an open-top pie (or tart or tart-tatin), I often pre-cook the fruit. Receipe for the cherry filling is on Recipe Gullet HERE.

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Here's my "all purpose" cream pie filling. It's written for lemon cream, but you can see the variations below. I try to bake low-fat whenever possible (not necessarily "low calorie." Consequently, I often use a nut-crumb crust instead of pastry.

Low-fat lemon cream pie filling:

Soften 1 tsp unflavored gelatin in juice of ½ lemon (about 3 Tbs) for 5 minutes. Don’t use the stuff in a green bottle—use water or your favorite liqueur if you don’t have fresh lemons. Warm for 20 sec in microwave until liquid and clear.

Beat together until smooth:

• 1 8 oz pkg neufchatel cheese (or non- or low-fat cream cheese) at room temperature

• ½ C non-fat sour cream

• 1 14 oz can non-fat sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated skim milk)

• ½ tsp almond extract

Beat in lemon juice/gelatin

Pour into a pre-baked pie or tart shell and top with sliced berries or other fruit*. Chill at least 2 hours.

*It is best to brush the completed tart (berries and all) with a glaze made from about 3 Tbs good-quality apricot preserves melted with about 1 Tbs cognac or kirshwasser, then pressed through a strainer. The glaze makes everything shiny and prevents the berries from drying out.

Variations

• Omit the lemon juice and put in ½ C key lime juice instead—key lime pie.

• Omit the lemon juice, add 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, use 1/3 C water + 1 Tbs instant coffee or espresso to dissolve the gelatin, and add 4 oz melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and top with walnut halves — chocolate mocha pie.

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Pies and pie fillings have been a sore spot for me over the years but since trying some of the recipes in Baking Illustrated I've been having great success. One of the biggest things I discovered even prior to reading this book is that the crust turns out way better if cooked on the bottom rack of the oven. This way I never have gooey, half-baked crusts. This may be common knowledge but it was new to me. The best tip I found in Baking Illustrated was using potato starch instead of cornstarch or flour. It is quite a strong thickener but you don't notice it like you do sometimes when you have to use a lot of another thickener. Gotta love fruit pies with the glommy flour thickened juices. :wink:

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One of the biggest things I discovered even prior to reading this book is that the crust turns out way better if cooked on the bottom rack of the oven. This way I never have gooey, half-baked crusts. This may be common knowledge but it was new to me.

Another trick is to put a cookie sheet on the rack while preheating, and put the pie on the hot cookie sheet. Or, depending on the crust and whether you have a top crust, you can blind-bake the bottom crust and coat it with melted sugar (caramel), cooked cooled fruit gel, or chocolate.

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Im determined to make and enter a pie in our town fair. I just read an article about a deep dish apple pie( once again, i think it was CI) and they cooked the filling first. Anyone ever try that?

Calipoutine, I just made that pie this week! Except that I used all one kind of apple (it's what I had). But it turned out fine, if a bit to the tart side because of the apples.

I did find that the very center of the bottom crust didn't seem to bake thoroughly, in spite of having a heated cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven, etc. per the directions. I was using a pottery pie plate, though, rather than Pyrex. Perhaps that had an effect. The crust in the same issue is a good one, and very easy to work.

In fact, here's a photo!

gallery_17645_1269_24162.jpg


Edited by jgarner53 (log)

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rickster   

Yet another trick for a non gooey bottom crust is to put the pie or tart directly on a pizza stone

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...I did find that the very center of the bottom crust didn't seem to bake thoroughly, in spite of having a heated cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven, etc. per the directions. I was using a pottery pie plate, though, rather than Pyrex. Perhaps that had an effect.

I think using a pottery pie pan did have a difference---the thickness as well as the slower transfer of heat through the bottom. I use metal or pyrex pans for bottom-crust pies just for that reason. Rickster's suggestion of a pizza stone instead of a cookie sheet is a good one because a well-heated stone will provide more heat to the bottom. Be sure to pre-heat the oven and stone thoroughly (not just waiting until the oven temp clicks over).


Edited by JayBassin (log)

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rickster   

Exactly right about preheating the stone.I usually pre heat the oven for at least half an hour.

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piazzola   
Yet another trick for a non gooey bottom crust is to put the pie or tart directly on a pizza stone

yes but I agree though I use a excellent quality aluminum British made baking tray ans sit my pies on parchment paper on the lower racks in the oven so to cook evenly without browing the top too much then again I do not have forced fan oven

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Im determined to make and enter a pie in our town fair. I just read an article about a deep dish apple pie( once again, i think it was CI) and they cooked the filling first. Anyone ever try that?

Calipoutine, I just made that pie this week! Except that I used all one kind of apple (it's what I had). But it turned out fine, if a bit to the tart side because of the apples.

I tried that a couple of weeks ago also. I used store-bought pie crust though, rather than the all-butter pastry, which I'm sure is great. It was good, but I like a bit of caramelly gooey stuff in an apple pie. This pie filling was all apple, with no caramelly goo.

gallery_23736_355_8692.jpg

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If I recall correctly, doesn't the CI recipe tell you to drain off the liquids and discard them? Personally I didn't "get" the objective they were aiming for in that recipe.......just apple and crust.........

I'm firmly in the camp that pre-cooks their apples, thickening the juice seperately...then adding it back to the apples. It's the only way I know of to get consistant results.

Apples moisture content is too fickle to follow a one size for all, recipe design. I recall having years where I couldn't find a apple that contained any juice, they were all dry.

The stories I could tell you.......yek, I can't bring myself to admit to some of the embarassing apple pies I've created over the years. Just surfice to say I've experienced everything from having cups of liquid slashing around between two crusts (that wouldn't bake) to dried up rubber apples.

Where as I've made tons of blueberry pies and the fruit has been consistant, contantly. I could/can rely on consistant moisture/juice from the berries. I can say that for several other fruits. I can say that about using frozen fruits too.........I've experienced consistant results from quality frozen fruits.

But apples are a difficult fruit to get consistant results from.

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It was good, but I like a bit of caramelly gooey stuff in an apple pie. This pie filling was all apple, with no caramelly goo.

I agree with you completely Patrick. I like the goo (like you see in Wendy's pictures in the pie crust thread).

But even still, it was apple pie for dessert. That's not all bad. :smile: You can always top it with caramel sauce.

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Apicio   

I have so much objection against pie fillings that come in a bucket that it over-flows to pre-cooking the filling. But pre-cooking, specially of apple filling, is so effective in controlling moisture and doming of the top crust as suggested by Cooking Illustrated and Rose Levy Beranbaum that I am willing to compromise. I pre-cook only half of the filling. It still reduces moisture and doming but it is also an effective way to conserve your favorite pie apples for a few weeks in the fridge.

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Pam R   

Any thoughts on apple selection? Our old baker used to use red delicious - but I prefer a tart apple. Granny smith were my #1 choice - good tartness and they retain their shape. I haven't made an apple pie in a couple of years - but I'm thinking some of the new-to-me varieties may be good. Opinions?

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MelissaH   
Any thoughts on apple selection?  Our old baker used to use red delicious - but I prefer a tart apple.  Granny smith were my #1 choice - good tartness and they retain their shape.  I haven't made an apple pie in a couple of years - but I'm thinking some of the new-to-me varieties may be good.  Opinions?

Can you get Northern Spy apples? When I can get them, they're my favorites to use in a pie, either alone or in combination with something else.

MelissaH

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Any thoughts on apple selection?  Our old baker used to use red delicious - but I prefer a tart apple.  Granny smith were my #1 choice - good tartness and they retain their shape.  I haven't made an apple pie in a couple of years - but I'm thinking some of the new-to-me varieties may be good.  Opinions?

I always like a mixture 2 or 3 of the the following apples: golden delicious, granny smith, empire, staymen-winesap. Haven't tried the heirloom apples that occassionally appear in the market. Fuji and gala are taking over most of the space in the market, and I think they're too sweet and too mushy for a good pie. Sometimes I add a pear or two to the apples---gives the pie a "mysterious" quality that people comment on. Finally, I rarely use cinnamon in the filling because it's so assertive--I mix the cinnamon with coarse sugar and sprinkle it on top of the crust. I prefer to use vanilla in the filling.


Edited by JayBassin (log)

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For gardeners who have a lot of green tomatoes on the vine with a cold snap coming on, which seems like an odd idea right now. (temps have been in the high 90s or over 100 here for weeks)

This is a pie filling which can be used immediately or canned as you would any other high acid fruit and used later.

It has a distinct lemony taste and an interesting texture.

Aunt Hattie Anne's Green Tomato Pie

4 cups green tomatoes peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Pastry for both top & bottom pie crusts

1-1/2 tablespoons butter diced

Cut aluminum foil in wide lengths or use pie crust edge shields.

In a large saucepan combine the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon peel, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring often to keep from burning.

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together and gradually add to tomato mix, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until liquid is clear. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.

Cool for 15 minutes

Preheat oven to 425F.

Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie shell.

Note: This works best in a glass pie dish.

Cover with top crust and seal the edges so juices will not leak out. Cut several slits in top to allow steam to escape. Fold aluminum foil strips in half lengthwise and crimp all around the edges of the pie to keep crust edges from burning.

Place pie tin on a cookie sheet on oven center rack.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or topped with whipped cream cheese.

YIELD: 8 servings

SUBMITTED BY: Andie Paysinger

SOURCE: Andie Paysinger's great aunt Hattie Anne, an original recipe.

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Ling   
Any thoughts on apple selection?  Our old baker used to use red delicious - but I prefer a tart apple.  Granny smith were my #1 choice - good tartness and they retain their shape.  I haven't made an apple pie in a couple of years - but I'm thinking some of the new-to-me varieties may be good.  Opinions?

I've tried pretty much every combination of apples readily available in Vancouver, and my preferred mix is 2 Granny Smiths and 4 Fuji apples for 1 apple pie. The Golden Delicious and Gala apples I used were rather flat tasting. I never even tried Red Delicious apples because I find them mealy and flavourless on their own, and can't imagine them tasting any better in a pie. Using all Granny Smith was too tart for me.

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Any comments on making cream pies? I am looking for a speedier way to make the cream then standing over the stove and stirring for 1/2 an hour. Does it work to make it in the microwave? Also, any way to prevent the meringue from watering out or what ever is producing the running syrup in my pie?

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Any comments on making cream pies? I am looking for a speedier way to make the cream then standing over the stove and stirring for 1/2 an hour. Does it work to make it in the microwave? Also, any way to prevent the meringue from watering out or what ever is producing the running syrup in my pie?

Scroll up to my August 30 post on cream pie filling in this same thread.

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Any comments on making cream pies? I am looking for a speedier way to make the cream then standing over the stove and stirring for 1/2 an hour. Does it work to make it in the microwave? Also, any way to prevent the meringue from watering out or what ever is producing the running syrup in my pie?

I don't know of any speedier way..........and I'd sort of question any, are they any good? A cream pie is prettty much making pastry cream. Theres cream pies that use sweetened condensed milk verses whole milk or heavy cream to form the pastry cream, choices between using cornstarch or flour as your thickener........but you still have to cook them.

But meringue toppings on pies...........well that's a whole topic onto itself. Theres been a fair amount of work written on this topic in books and magazines. We've talked about meringue toppings here too. You might find this thread interesting.

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Meringues. Besides their problems with runny-ness, meringue tastes of uncooked egg to me--no surprise there, because it IS uncooked, only browned on the top. I've replaced almost all my meringues with whipped cream, all but lemon meringue pie, which just wouldn't be the same. I don't know how many different "tips" I've tried and none of them have ever worked.

Not too long ago, I was thinking about the soft and marshmallowy consistency of the Pavlova meringue, and wondered how i could achieve this texture. So next time I feel that lemon pie yearning, I'm going to make the Pavlova recipe and bake two meringues on parchment paper. I'll just pop the cooked meringues on top of the filled pies.

If I had a camera, I'd demo this for you. Perhaps I can prey (or pray) upon my daughter to take pictures.

###

I found out about Golden Delicious apples when I lived in North Carolina. They are really nice and tart--but not as tart as Granny Smith's--in the fall when they first come in. Don't buy them when they've turned golden, it's too late. Jonathan apples are good for pies when you can get them. The only possible use for Red Delicious apples is a holiday centerpiece: they're bred for pretty.

###

You can make cream fillings more quickly on top of the stove if you have a heavy pan and stir like crazy. Yes, you can also make them in the microwave. Another method I use for a cornstarch custard is to make it in a double boiler, where you only have to stir every 5-10 minutes. Starting with hot milk and stirring just until it begins to thicken, a large batch will cook in about 25-30 minutes, covered, adding the eggs/egg yolks the last 5 minutes.

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DiH   
Any comments on making cream pies? I am looking for a speedier way to make the cream then standing over the stove and stirring for 1/2 an hour.

Clicky Here. :biggrin:

Di

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Pam R   
The only possible use for Red Delicious apples is a holiday centerpiece:  they're bred for pretty.

:biggrin:

I couldn't agree more. I may post this on a big sign in the kitchen... but then, I do the baking now - so it's not an issue.

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