When the moon hits your eye...
April 27, 2012 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Going to a wedding party tomorrow that includes a pie-baking contest, with prizes! Categories are: prettiest, tastiest and most creative. I am willing to spend hours of my life to go all the way with this contest. 'm looking for recipes, suggestions, decorating techniques, pictures of beautiful pies. Anything. Lay it on me.
posted by corn_bread to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Use lard instead of butter in the crust. *drool*
posted by Melismata at 12:25 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

First, a link to the obligatory 'cephalopod surprise' pie story.

Assuming it doesn't have to be vegetarian, definitely put lard in the crust. If you're going vegetarian, a mix of shortening and butter has the best results in my experience.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:29 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie Bible is even better than her Cake Bible. Lard crusts are flakier, but butter tastes better. She's got great recipes, even if they seem too long and too detailed--they always work. I vote for the Peach Galette on the page linked.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:32 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I make a double-crust* pie, I brush the top crust with egg white wash and sprinkle it with coarse turbinado sugar, then with a bit of plain white sugar, before baking. It gives the finishing pie a glistening, twinkly, fairy-pixie shimmer. SO PRETTY.

*I use shortening and butter, so the crust is both both richly flavored and incredibly flaky. I use the recipe(s) from the Cooks Illustrated New Best Recipes, which produces the best crust I've had. NOTE: this book has two pastry crust recipes, one for a two-crust pie and one for a one-crust pie. Don't confuse them: the two-crust recipe is too rich to hold up in blind-baking and will slump down into a messy-but-delicious crumple.
posted by Elsa at 12:34 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

For prettiest and most creative, check out foodgawker's pies.
posted by desertface at 12:35 PM on April 27, 2012

Cooks Illustrated also mentions using vodka as a moisture agent in the crust. Yes, it works and no, you can't taste it.
posted by jquinby at 12:41 PM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is a beautiful-looking pie. With a pie this pretty, I don't care what it tastes like. But the recipe looks like it tastes good too.

This is my recipe for a pie that has no recipe, but which is always very good.
posted by peagood at 12:41 PM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh...and this pie had me at "spiked".
posted by peagood at 12:44 PM on April 27, 2012

follow-up: lots of people lovvvvvve the CI vodka pastry technique, especially because it makes the crust manageable, but the recipes I mentioned do not include vodka and I find them unbeatable in flavor, texture, and manageability.

The only trick I have to add is pure common sense: keep the crusts nice and cool, but not rigidly cold. I roll mine on a flexible cutting mat (one reserved for pastry, so it doesn't have any residual hint of onion or other off flavors). As soon as the crust starts to get too soft and warm, I pop it into the fridge to cool off.
posted by Elsa at 12:45 PM on April 27, 2012

My mum did a thing last Christmas, where, instead of a normal lattice crust, she got a set of different-sized star-shaped cookie cutters, and used a bunch of dough stars spread across the pie in a seemingly random pattern as her top. Once the pie was baked, she also sprinkled bits of edible gold foil over the top.

My mum is also a strong advocate of lard pie crusts; and a firm believer that when you make your dough, your bowl, rolling surface, and even your rolling pin should be cold.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

As for the pie itself: this is not the best time of year for a lot of fruits (given that you are in the US), but there are a couple that I can recommend. Alton Brown's Super Apple Pie is complex but worth the trouble. Feel free to substitute a different crust recipe, but if you use one that calls for vodka I recommend taking a page from Brown and using applejack instead.

Another possibility is rhubarb-ginger. It's a traditional British Isles pie, and rhubarb is in season in the northern hemisphere. I recommend adapting the rhubarb-ginger crumble recipe from The Country Cooking of Ireland (scroll down a bit for the recipe). It's simple and delicious. For a smoother consistency I recommend peeling off the outermost layer of the rhubarb stalks; in my experience that provides insurance against stringiness.
posted by jedicus at 1:16 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you'd like to try something in the "creative" category, one of my favorite pies is Vidalia Onion Pie. And yes, this can be a desert pie as it's pretty darn sweet (if you use real Vidalias). Paula Deen's recipe is closest to what I do but skip the bacon on top. Also, there are variants calling for cheese. Don't do it. The onions, egg and sour cream are really all you need. This is one of the most delicious and frequently requested pies I make. The only challenge is getting people to taste it, though once they do, they're hooked.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2012

Candied roses would be an amazing decoration of top of whipped cream. (Maybe a lemon pie with some attar of roses in the whipped cream?)
posted by Specklet at 2:14 PM on April 27, 2012

How creative can you be with the whole "pie" thing? Would Moon Pies count? Because Irish Car Bomb Moon Pies sound...deliciously alcoholic.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 2:47 PM on April 27, 2012

Ohhh and also this Liquid Apple Pie Cocktail.

Apparently I need a drink.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 3:32 PM on April 27, 2012

You can also try a milk wash on the top of the crust instead of an egg wash. Personally, I like that look better. In either case, you will definitely want to sprinkle some sugar on top.

Nthing the recommendation for lard crusts. Just make sure you get some good quality lard. But the absolutely most important thing about crusts is to bake them long enough. You want the crust to be a rich brown. If it is a light tan, it is underbaked and will not taste nearly as good. I've seen so many underbaked pies that have disappointed for that reason.

In terms of creative pies, I did a couple of interesting ones for an apple pie contest (no other fruit allowed). The first was a pork & apple pie - from bottom to top - sliced apples, layer of applewood smoked bacon and then shredded pork shoulder that had been braised in apple cider.

The other was a sweet, smoky and spicy apple pie. Sauteed apples in brown, deglazed with maple syrup (the primary sweetener) and then added smoked walnuts, aleppo pepper, smoked paprika and cinnamon. It ended up being quite tasty although I had to go through 5 or 6 variations before getting it right.

Some other interesting pies that I have done were a mango and kiwi pie (tasty but the filling didn't look so attractive) and what I called a banana split pie - layer of bananas, layer of pastry cream and then layer of whipped cream. Then I made the strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, nuts etc that people could put on their individual slices.

Good luck!
posted by nolnacs at 6:49 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Filling -- pears with cranberries rehyradrated in orange juice/liquer or dark rum and filling with tiny pieces of candied ginger.

crust -- brushed with the crunch of turbinado
posted by jadepearl at 7:31 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of posts about serious, emotional things I'd love to see updates on - but I'd really really really like to know how the pie contest went, even more than those.
posted by peagood at 7:57 AM on April 29, 2012

« Older What are some good budget fashion sites?   |   Options for labelling an axis when graphing with... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.