Official Pie Baker – Secrets Revealed

The women of my family have a long history of making great pies.  My grandma cooked pies when she worked at the county home, when she volunteered at the shelter and for her family.    One of the things that made her so well-known for her pies was her ability to make great crusts every time.    It is one of those things she gave to me, the ability to make good pies and enjoy doing so.

Now I am the pie baker of choice  for the holidays with my Montana adopted family.  Each year for Thanksgiving I am asked to bring the pies.   There is always the required pumpkin pie, with my secret ingredient Penzy’s cinnamon.  What makes this cinnamon so special is that it is a mix of  different cinnamon’s giving it a depth of flavor not found in your run of the mill store cinnamons.   I struggled with fruit pies at this altitude and have discovered they turn out much better if I par-cook my fruit.  This year I repeated my highly sought after apple filling cooked in cider, brown sugar and butter.  The cider gives it a really great apple flavor and yet not too sweet.    The kids  demand a chocolate pie, and each year I turn up with a version of chocolate.   I am always on the look out for a new one for each year.   This year I settled for an old-fashion chocolate cream pie with a crust of crushed “Famous Chocolate Wafers”.   Three is usually my limit, but this year I had a hankering for pecan pie.  Knowing full well this was not a nut crowd, I made my pecan pie  anyway.   Real maple syrup is my secret  ingredient.  It makes a rich filling that isn’t that gooey sweet, I attribute to the corn syrup I used to use.  Real maple syrup is not overwhelming with maple flavor and most folks don’t even realize it is in my pie.   In this case only two of us ate it.   It won’t likely be a repeat performance for this crowd.

At the end of the night, the only pie left was my pecan pie, though the nut eater took home an extra piece.   I took my leftover pie home and will be eating it the next few days, and then I will be satisfied.   I got my slice of pecan pie and then some.

Pies – A Family Tradition.

Women in our family have a tradition with pies. 

My Grandma Virtue was a great pie maker.  She knew the recipe for good crust by heart from many years of experience.   Grandma worked in the kitchen at the Whiteside County old folks home.  There she was known for making pies for the residents.  She also insisted on making pies when she would volunteer at the soup kitchen with her oldest son.  Our family of course enjoyed her pies when we gathered for Thanksgiving.   It was important to her that folks has a piece of good pie, be they the elderly, the poor, or her family.   

I can remember stopping by the family place one time when heading back to Minnesota after a trip to visit my mom.  We tried to plan our return trip such that we could make a quick stop to visit my Great Aunt and Uncle.   On this trip, Aunt Leola had 3 pies, rhubarb, berry and the third escapes me.  The crust in these pies were likely made with lard and they were flakey. 

My mother never mastered the traditional pie crust, but she became the queen of the oil crust.   A pie crust that used liquid vegetable oil and is rolled out in between layers of wax paper.   It was her signature pie crust.

For years I hosted Thanksgiving.  Family and friends would come from near and far to our home.   My house would be full for than just one meal, many of my guest would stay for the whole weekend.  I used this an an opportunity to make pies.  Lots of pies.  One pie for every two people.   Enough that you could expect to eat pie with every meal all weekend, including breakfast.  Pumpkin, apple, rhubarb, pecan, French silk, blueberry, were a few of what you could expect. 

I am carrying on a tradition, grandmother, mother and now me.   Thanks to all the women before me in my family who baked pies,  who gave me the belief that I too could be a master pie maker.

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Cooking Tagged