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Friday, May 31, 2013

Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie

I have come a realization about my love affair with pie . . . no one is going to make it for me.  If I want pie, I have to make it myself.

Now that I have come to terms with this fact, I am not making pie mistakes in local restaurants and (shudder) grocery store bakeries--they just can't duplicate the taste I am after.  Since I have accepted the responsibility fully, I actually enjoy making it more.  2013 has been, for me at least, The Year of the Pie.  And the year isn't even halfway over!  To what pie-in-the-sky heights will I soar before the year's end?  (And to which buckle-hole will my belt be expanded?)

I have had a rhubarb plant for three years now, a transplant gift from my next-door neighbors, and have never done anything with it except enjoy it's exotic, rain forest-esque foliage every spring.  This year, I determined I would not let it go to waste, and so I scoured the Internet for a good rhubarb pie recipe.

Allrecipes has never given me a bum steer.  If a recipe has been reviewed by hundreds of people and it still has a 4.5-star rating, then it's a pretty safe bet.

Completely delicious.  I am adding this recipe to my favorites.
You can also substitute RASPBERRIES for the strawberries and
prepare the pie the same way.  I made this in November, my
favorite month to eat pie.  Oh, yummy.
The most important thing with any berry-based pie is to keep it from being runny.  The first thing you can do is allow the berry to macerate--that is, break down the fibers of the fruit you're using.  This brings out the sweet juices before you bake them, instead of during the baking time.  In addition to releasing flavor, it will help the fruit sort of "gel" as it bakes.  Macerating is simply stirring your fruit with sugar and allowing it to rest.

The second important step is to allow lots of steam to leave the pie.  Lattice crusts are pretty, but they're also almost essential to any berry pie, because the large holes all over the top crust help moisture to steam out during bake time.  I used my flakiest pie crust recipe for this one.

The third step is the hardest: you've got to let the pie cool.  You don't have wait till it's cold . . . you just can't dig right in when it comes out of the oven.  Pie Impatience often leads to burning the roof of your mouth, anyway.  I speak from experience.

Oops!  I forgot to scatter the butter over the top before I did the
lattice.  Better late than never, where butter is concerned.
I got this pie crust shield on Amazon, and I love it!  It's so much easier than using foil, and they're really reasonably priced.  Now I just need a 10-inch one . . . or you can buy these kind {Adjustable Silicone Pie Shield} that expand to fit any size pie pan.

Take the shield off for the last ten minutes of baking.  I think
that heaven must smell like a rhubarb-strawberry pie. 
My dad happened to call and say he was working in the area on the day I made this pie.  I couldn't hope for someone more deserving to share it with!  Dad has always told me  that rhubarb-raisin is one of his favorite pies.  That combination is nowhere near the top of my "must try" pies . . . but I know he was overjoyed when I told him what was in the oven.

I had also invited some friends over for late-night dessert (coincidentally, these friends were wondering that very day when I would be baking and sharing a pie next . . . faith precedes the miracle!), so I let the pie "cool" in the freezer for fifteen minutes to shorten the wait-time before everyone arrived.   I think that impatience might actually be the mother of all invention, rather than necessity.

Ahhhh . . . at last . . .

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pecan Pie

I made this pecan pie for my favorite police officer, after he helped
me with an EPIC April Fool's Day joke {STORY BELOW}.
His talented wife, Amanda, in addition to being a good friend
 of mine, is a professional photographer and took this beautiful
picture for me!!!
This is my husband's second favorite pie at Thanksgiving (after chocolate cream pie), and I got the recipe from his mom, who is both an excellent cook and a wonderful friend!  I've never been a huge fan of pecan pie myself, but I like doing nice things for my sweet hubby (especially when the nice things are this easy!).

Making your pie crust will take longer than making this simple, delicious filling.  The recipe calls for a single crust, and I often have one already wrapped up and frozen in the freezer, since my flakiest pie crust recipe makes a double crust.

These metallic or silicone pie shields are meant to keep your crust from getting too dark, but they also hold it up on the edge where it's supposed to stay, which I recommend for every single-crust (and some double-crust) pies, too.

Bake for 45 minutes, check the color (it should be a nice, caramelly brown), then bake for 5-15 more minutes, as needed.     

Serve on a caramel-covered plate like Amanda if you're feeling fancy.