Mastering the art of pie will qualify you as an authentic Kitchen Princess. It takes a lot less skill than cakes, what with all that fancy frosting and decoration etc., and it’s practically guaranteed to bring smiles to your family’s faces as they marvel at your culinary chops. You will feel a sense of satisfaction in crafting something wholesome and homemade – the original comfort food! It will connect you to generations of women who have been making pie the same way for ages. And everyone who comes into your house and smells that warm, sweet aroma will wish you had invited them for dinner!
I’m a pie person. I love cakes and such but I don’t seem to have the best luck with making them come out pretty and there’s too much room for error. Except for my carrot cake. Frosting isn’t a challenge for me but cakes are. Give me pie. Simple, American, (as American as apple…) forgiving, homey. Unless it’s somebody’s birthday, if asked to bring dessert, 9 times out of 10 I’ll bring a pie. I won’t say I’ve mastered the art of pie making but I can bake a mean apple pie and a luscious and lemony Lemon Meringue. Meringue is EASY! Basically just beaten egg whites and sugar and man is it impressive when it’s done!
I’m going to a barbecue tomorrow and bringing 2 pies. Lemon Meringue of course, because it’s Mike’s favorite, and a sweet, height-of-the-season blackberry pie. I can hardly wait! I will wolf down my burger to get to that slice of pie. (With homemade whipped cream of course. Keep that nasty frozen whipped topping away from my pie! Okay, I know, whipped cream has a lot more calories. But it’s dessert so you’re allowed to splurge! )
Here are recipes for a few of my favorites. Apple of course because you can make it anytime of the year and really, who doesn’t like Apple Pie? Lemon Meringue because it’s beautiful and impressive and blackberry because blackberries are so luscious and indulgent and nothing quite says summer like a homemade blackberry pie! Or try raspberry. YUM!! Happy PIE!!!
Kitchen Princess Apple Pie – Ingredients
- 2 1/2 pounds apples – about 5 to 7 apples. I like to use 3 different types of apples like say, a couple of Granny Smiths, a couple of Fujis and a couple of Cortlands. Any combo is fine!
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into bits
- Pastry for a double crust pie (recipe to follow)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Kitchen Princess Apple Pie – Method
- Preheat oven to 425. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of your pastry to a 12 inch round. Fold in half or in quarters and transfer to your pie plate. Unfold and ease it into your pie plate without stretching it. There should be a nice overhang all around. Refrigerate until the oven is heated and your apples are prepared.
- Peel (or don’t peel if you don’t want to) your apples, quarter them, core them and cut into wedges about 1/2 inch thick. You should have about 7-8 cups of apples. In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the apples and toss well. Add the lemon juice and if it seems dry, add a tablespoon of water or apple cider.
- Place the filling into the pastry lined pie pan and mound it up in the center. Dot the apples with the cut up butter.
- Now, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the other piece of pastry to 12 inches round. Place on top of the apples. Lightly moisten the edge of the bottom crust all around as you press the 2 crusts together. Tightly roll the overhanging pastry under all around to make a raised edge. Flute the edges or crimp with a fork. Cut 3 or 4 gashes in the top to let the steam escape. Or, if you are artsy, cut pretty designs or leaves into the top crust.
- Stir together your egg yolk and water and brush the top crust but not the crimped edges and then sprinkle with the sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350 and bake for 20 or 30 minutes longer until your pie is golden brown and your apples are tender when pierced with a knife. Cool on a rack before serving.
Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or the way my dad liked apple pie, with a wedge of sharp cheddar cheese!!
- If your crust is getting too brown, cover the fluted edge with aluminum foil after the first 20 minutes or so to prevent the crust from burning.
- My sister Polly, a fabulous baker in Washington DC gave me this tip and it works great: Try using 3 different types of apples. Use Granny Smiths for their tartness but try a couple of other types to add a nice variety and depth to your pie. I often use 2 Granny’s, 2 Golden Delicious and 2 Romes or Cortlands. In the fall when my friends go to Maine I bribe them with pie and homemade apple butter if they will bring me McCouns!
- Check out this recipe for upside down apple pie. It will rock your world!
Kitchen Princess Lemon Meringue Pie – Ingredients
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the meringue)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
- 1 single-crust pie shell, baked and cooled
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
Kitchen Princess Lemon Meringue Pie – Method
- In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and lemon juice. Add 2 cups cold water and whisk until well blended.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest and butter, stirring until the butter melts.
- Pour the filling into the baked pie shell, place a round of waxed paper over the surface and cool on a rack to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Make the meringue. Combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and keep beating until stiff and glossy peaks are formed. Be careful that you don’t over beat or the meringue will be dry.
- Remove the waxed paper from the pie filling. Start piling on the meringue over the filling making sure to spread it to overlap the fluted edge of the crust. If you don’t overlap the crust, the meringue willo shrink over the filling.
- Make decorative swirls with the back of a spoon (I get Mike to help me do this!) and bake until the top is a pale, golden brown, about 12 – 15 minutes. Place the pie on a rack and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate it for about 2 hours until just chilled and set. Slice with a sharp knife dipped into hot water.
Kitchen Princess Luscious Blackberry Pie – Ingredients
- 5 cups fresh blackberries
- 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional but it really does add a special something)
- 2 tablespoons butter cut into bits
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
Kitchen Princess Luscious Blackberry Pie – Method
- Preheat the oven to 425. Look over the blackberries and rinse any dirty ones. Drain them on paper towels.
- Roll out your pastry into a 12 inch round and drape it into your pie pan. Don’t stretch the pastry but gently fit it to the pan. There should be a nice overhang all around. Refrigerate until needed. Now, if you want to do a lattice crust, roll out your other piece of pastry to a 12 inch round and with a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut strips about 3/4 inch wide. Refrigerate until needed.
- In a large bowl combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the berries and the almond extract and stir gently to combine. Add the butter bits and combine once more. Put the blackberries in your pastry lined pie pan.
- To make a lattice top, evenly space 5 strips of pastry across the filling. Weave 5 more strips crosswise to make a lattice top. Moisten the undersides of the strips and press them to the overhanging pastry all around the pie. Now roll up the pastry all around to make a nice raised edge and then flute or crimp it.
- Glaze the pie by mixing the egg yolk with the water and applying it with a pastry brush to the lattice pieces but not to the fluted edge.
- Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or so until the crust is a light golden brown. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer until golden brown and bubbly. Cool on a rack. Serve with whipped cream or as they say in Austria “mit schlag” Enjoy summer in every heavenly bite!
Kitchen Princess Pie Pastry- for a double crust, 9 inch pie
Making pie crust used to intimidate me but no more. If you do it a few times you will be so proud of yourself, I promise! It’s perfectly fine to use the pre-made crusts available in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. I’ve used the Pillsbury brand for years and it makes a fine crust. But really, learn to make pie pastry. It takes about 5 minutes so the time excuse really won’t fly here. Become intimate with the flour and the shortening. It will give you such a sense of satisfaction knowing you made the whole thing! Just remember, keep your ingredients cold! Even your bowl and beaters, everything! That will give you a nice flaky pastry!
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cups vegetable shortening – Crisco – or 6 tablespoons each chilled shortening and chilled butter
- 5 to 7 tablespoons ice water
Put the flour and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the shortening and butter and blend with the paddle attachment till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Now, add the 4 tablespoons of the ice water and blend again. Add more water, a tablespoon or so at a time until the pastry is almost coming together. Use your hands to form it into 2 discs, one slightly larger than the other and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes before rolling out. This will help settle the pastry.
- You can make the pastry ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two.
- A general rule, chill the pastry any time it has had a chance of becoming warm. After rolling it out, chill again before lining the pie pan. And keep the pastry lined pan in the fridge until you are ready to fill and bake the pie. Pop the chilled pie in a very hot oven.