When it comes to fall desserts, the pie certainly takes center stage. Whether it be apple, cherry, pecan, or pumpkin, fall is definitely pie season. Pies come in many varieties, shapes and sizes. They can have one crust or two, be topped with crumb or lattice dough, and filled with a variety of different fillings. Pie came to America with the first English settlers and quickly became one of the most traditional desserts in America. In fact, pie has become so much a part of American culture over the years, that we now commonly hear the term “as American as apple pie”. The American Pie council has found that apple pie is the most popular flavor in America, followed by pumpkin, chocolate, lemon meringue and cherry.
So apple pie ranks number one among U.S. pie eaters, but with thousands of varieties of apples out there, how do you know which are the best apples for baking? As a rule, you should use apples that are tart and hold their shape when cooked. Some good choices for baking are Braeburn, Cameo, Cortland, Crispin, Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, McIntosh, Pippin, and Rome. I like to combine several types of apple in my pies resulting in a particularly delicious creation. No matter what type of fruit pie you are making, always use the freshest local produce you can find to make your pies taste fresh and delicious.
Pies can be made either “one-crust,” where the filling is placed in pastry dough and baked without a top crust or “two-crust,” with the filling completely enclosed on top and bottom within the pastry shell. Blind baking is used to partially cook a pies crust before the filling is added. This helps keep the crust from becoming soggy. If the crust of the pie requires much more cooking than the filling, it may also be blind-baked before the filling is added and then cooked for a shorter period of time.
Here are some tips to help make your pie making a little easier and your final product look and taste terrific.
- Always preheat your oven before baking pie and bake the crust alone for about 10 minutes before filling.
- When blind-baking a pie crust, always prick the pastry thoroughly with a fork before baking. The steam created in baking can escape through the holes so the crust won’t puff up.
- Prepared pie fillings will bake for a shorter period of time than fresh fruit fillings. For fresh fruit allow 35-45 minutes for baking.
- If the crust is browning too much and the pie is not completely cooked, cover the top of the pie loosely with aluminum foil to shield the crust from the heat.
- Always allow your pie to sit and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. This will help the pie slices to retain their shape when served.
The aroma and warmth of freshly baked pie adds something special to a crisp fall day. For a dessert lover like me, the best part of pie making is pie eating. Pie is “hot” right now! Look for new trends featuring pie at weddings, we’ve even heard of some couples doing a pie “happy hour”. Whether big or small, fruity or creamy, hot or cold, this season, the pies have it.
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