Fall is the Time for Pie

Photographer: 
Elaine St. Louis
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I love baking pies, and so did my grandfather. He was continually trying out new concoctions on us, and we always had at least three varieties at the holidays.

Our benchmark for a great pie is the crust. I am in the butter-crust camp (as opposed to lard, Crisco or other types of shortening). I prefer very cold butter, the best you can afford. It really does make a difference, as better butter has less water in it, and will make the crust as flaky as air.

I’ve also found that in the higher altitude here in Denver, a hotter oven for the first 10 minutes helps set the crust and ensures browning, which creates that amazing, buttery-brown flavor which complements fruit of any sort.

Here, I am pleased and proud to offer up my winning pie recipes from the brutal competition at the first-ever Denver County Fair. I hope you will enjoy one or more of these pies at your holiday table this year.

 

 

Blue Ribbon Winner: French Apple Pie

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (3 granny, 1 gala)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon (Vietnamese is best with apples)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients until apples are thoroughly coated, and pour into prepared pie crust (recipe below). Spread crumble evenly over top of pie and bake for 10 minutes in center of oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 40 minutes more, until top is light brown and filling is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

 

Crumble topping
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup golden brown sugar
3/4 cup flour

Put butter and sugar into bowl of food processor and mix until blended. Scrape away mixture from sides of bowl and add flour. Pulse and scrape until crumbles look even. Do not over-mix. 

 

Crust
(makes 2 bottom crusts)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice-cold water

Put flour and salt into bowl of food processor and stir lightly to combine. Cut butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and scatter over the flour. Pulse 5 or 6 times to chop butter. Open top of processor and level out the mixture with a knife, then pour 1/3 cup of the water over top. Close and pulse again. Repeat until water is gone and mixture holds together. Do not over-mix!

Turn out onto a floured (preferably stone) countertop and divide. Form each into flat disk and sprinkle with flour. Roll out evenly to fit pie pan.

 

 

 

 

Blue Ribbon Winner: Larry’s Favorite Fresh Peach Pie

3 pounds medium peaches, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and let filling stand until juices form, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Pour into prepared pie crust (see recipe above). Cover with top crust and crimp. Brush center with one egg white beaten with a little water, and sprinkle with sugar. Cut vents around the top and bake for 10 minutes in center of oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 40 minutes more, until crust is light brown and filling is bubbly. Serve at room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

White Ribbon Winner: Classic Apple Pie

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (2 granny, 2 gala)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (find this at Savory Spice Shop)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Vietnamese is best with apples)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients until apples are thoroughly coated and pour into prepared pie crust (see recipe above). Cover with top crust and crimp, brush center with one egg white beaten with a little water, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut vents around the top and bake for 10 minutes in center of oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 40 minutes more, until crust is light brown and filling is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

 

Pecan Pie

4 eggs
1 cup golden brown sugar
3/4 cup amber agave nectar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shelled pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into prepared pie crust (see recipe above) and bake for 10 minutes in center of oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 30 minutes more, until crust is light brown and filling is set. Serve at room temperature.

 

 

 

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