How to make pie good enough for cave man.

Fruit pies

This is for a full pie crust, for just the bottom shell, use 1/2 of these amounts:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter
1/2 cup lard
6 – 8 Tablespoons ice water

Into a large clean bowl completely free of cat hair sift the flour, salt, and sugar.  Cut the butter and lard into the flour mixture with a pastry blender.  Add 6 Tablespoons of ice water, add up to 2 more until the dough comes together.  Use the pasty blender as much as possible, chop the dough… don’t knead it (this is not a pizza, you want it soft and flaky).  When mixed, cut into two lumps and chill.  Then you can make the filling:

Cherry

4 cups (1 quart) fresh pitted cherries
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 Tablespoons quick tapioca
1/3 cup chilled unsalted butter

Blueberry

4 cups (1 quart) fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (half a lemon)
2 1/2 Tablespoons quick tapioca
1/3 cup chilled unsalted butter

Strawberry

4 cups (1 quart) fresh cleaned strawberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 Tablespoons quick tapioca
1/3 cup chilled unsalted butter

Dingleberry
Yes, I’m kidding.

Combine the fruit, sugar, spices and extracts, and tapioca in a bowl, chill and let stand for 20 minutes.

You’re halfway done.  Go pee.  Have a cigarette.  Wash your hands again, with soap this time.  Take a break before flouring up the counter and a rolling pin.

Roll out the crust and line a 9 – 10 inch deep pan, fill with the uh… filling… stuff.  Dot the top with the butter, you don’t have to use up all of it.  Add top crust, crimp the edges very high, cut steam vent holes (carve “HARE” on top  Get it?  Hare Pie.  Nyuk nyuk nyuk).

For top crust pies, bake on top of a cookie sheet covered with metal foil in a hot oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.  Allow to cool completely before serving.  Fruit pies will keep pretty well out of the refrigerator for a week or more if covered with foil and you washed your hands well enough while making it.

Meat Pies (WARNING!  EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS!)

1 pound of meat (bison, lamb, turkey, beef, camel, wildebeest, kangaroo)
1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard

a few small red or gold potatoes
1/2 rutabaga
1/2 parsnip
1 cup milk (or 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup water)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Brown meat in a large skillet with the onion, garlic, oil and spices.  Dice the vegetables and add to skillet, add milk and cornstarch.  Stir while cooking for 10 – 15 minutes while the hard tubers soften some, you don’t want to cook them completely.  Turn off heat, let sit while rolling out a top crust (note: you may wish to use salted butter in this crust… just for meat pies).  Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour (until it’s bubbling through the vents).  Serve with homemade tomato ketchup, horseradish, and premium soy sauce.

Cream Pies

NOTE: if you found this recipe because you were looking for porn, sorry!

Cream pies are a little different, you only make half the crust (there’s no top) and bake the crust before filling (425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 20 minutes).  There’s some tricks to this… since there’s no filling, the crust will tend to shrink and bubble up in the middle, so pie weights will be useful.  The order of operation is very different from that of a fruit pie… you need the baked pie crust complete and ready to go before you start on the pudding mixture.  This is when it might be tempting to get a store-bought pie crust.  Don’t DO it, MAN!! You can make this.

Select zero or more of the following base ingredients:
3 bananas
1 cup shredded coconut
3 – 5 oz sweet or semi-sweet chocolate (or Nutella)
1/2 cup citrus fruit juice and zest from the rind

and…
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks (bruised and beaten)
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to almost a boil (‘scald’ it), stir constantly to avoid skimming.  Don’t use a double boiler here, it won’t quite get hot enough to scald the milk, and so the filling won’t thicken properly.

  • If you’re making a citrus pie, add the zest to the milk before scalding, and then afterward let it steep for a few minutes before straining out the zest bits.
  • If you are using chocolate, melt it first, then slowly add the milk and cream.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt, add to the milk while stirring constantly.

  • Extra salt is optional for a citrus pie.
  • If you want to use coconut or Nutella, add that to the mixture now as well.

Whisk the egg yolks.

  • If you’re making  citrus pie, add the juice to the egg yolks.

Spoon some of the hot milk pudding mixture into the egg yolks and stir, then add the yolks to the mixture (don’t just dump the egg yolks into the hot pudding) and cook a few more minutes.  It should be getting really thick and smell really good.  Taste it (don’t burn your mouth) and add more sugar if needed, especially with semi-sweet chocolate.

  • Add the vanilla last if used.  Skip the vanilla for  a citrus pie.\
  • Use a pinch of chili powder instead of vanilla for a chocolate pie.
  • If you use bananas, spoon a little of the pudding into the bottom of the pie crust, then add bananas slices, and then spoon on more pudding.
  • Otherwise, use a spatula and pour the pudding mixture into the crust.

Once that’s done, chill and chill out.  You can’t just pop the hot shell and filling in the fridge, but from here on out, COOL is what you need.  When it’s not quite so hot, then put it in the refrigerator.

If you add a lot of base ingredients, you might need to reduce the amounts, it will make a lot, but you can always just pour the remainder into pudding cups.  Cream pies have milk and egg and so they won’t keep out of the refrigerator, they have to be chilled.  Some recipes call for additional baking, I don’t recommend this.

You can leave the pie unadorned, top with whipped cream, or…  did you save the egg whites?  Good!  Make meringue:

4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Adding the sugar slowly, beat with a high-speed electric mixer until you get soft peaks, this can take 20 – 30 minutes.  When the pie is cool, plop gobs of foam onto the top of the pie with a big spoon and broil (on high) in an oven 5 minutes until the meringue is golden brown… don’t walk away from this, or you’ll burn the meringue and the pie will get all runny.

It’s done.  Let it cool.  Don’t put it in the refrigerator while still warm, or it will get runny.  When it’s no longer warm (call it an hour), THEN put it in the refrigerator and chill out for at least 2 more hours, and while waiting don’t get any Soupy Sales ideas.

General tips for making PIE:

  • Don’t use any ingredients that aren’t at least 100 years old.  Not the actual item (ewww!), the invention of the ingredient… people have been eating pie for a very very long time, you don’t need anything exotic or new to make any of these.  Pie good for cave man!
  • Heart Smart warning: This will kill you.  Do not serve this to people without notifying them that this is real pie, and therefore crammed, jammed, and packed with real fat.
  • This is not a beginner course on cooking and baking, but it’s not difficult.  If you’ve ever put together a piece of tube frame recreational equipment for your kids in the back yard on Christmas Eve, you have the skills necessary to make a pie.
  • Use organic ingredients whenever possible.  Butter, milk, sugar, eggs, flour, and fruit can all be bought organic.  Your body will thank you for it.  Don’t be fooled by the word ‘natural’, natural is not organic.  The word ‘natural’ (as applied to food in the USA) has come to be meaningless at the consumer level through lobbying by the food industry.  Arsenic is ‘natural’.  Read the labels on the ingredients you use.  If there’s anything in them that you can’t pronounce without a chemistry reference, buy something else.
  • Cheap fruit makes experimentation more fun.  When you see a quart of blueberries for $4 at the farmer’s market, think PIE.
  • You can use white granulated table sugar, but exotic premium sugar at the ethnic grocery store will definitely make a difference.  I wish there were a standardized sweetness scale, but until that science is up another tech level, I prefer to use organic powdered sugar.  If you’re looking to reduce the sugar, you might try substituting about half the amount needed with a commercial sweetener substitute.  I haven’t done this, but there is diabetic friendly sugar substitute available.  Somebody also try a tablespoon of light unsulfured molasses and tell me how that goes.
  • In fruit pies, you can use cornstarch instead of instant (or flaked) tapioca, but the texture is boring.  The idea here is to thicken the filling so it will look good on your fork and cut in a nicer triangle.  In the cream pies, tapioca can probably be substituted for the corn starch, but the texture won’t be smooth.
  • Use real unsalted butter and actual lard for shortening.  Using these and cutting it into the flour with a pastry blender keeps the gluten fibers short, and not like pizza.  Use some muscle on this, when properly mixed you should not be able to distinguish any individual lumps of butter or lard.  Yes, you can buy lard in the store, it’s usually near the baking supplies, I usually see it in bricks or small white plastic tubs.  Lard does not contain trans fats, because trans fats were invented when people stopped using real animal fat.  If you’re worried about cholesterol, stop eating pie.  On the other hand, if you would rather sacrifice some taste, green mersh label zero trans-fat shortening bricks will work just fine.
  • Take your time rolling out the crust.  If you goof it, pick it up and do it again.  Roll it out, fold it over a few times, this makes it flaky.  If the bottom crust has a hole or seam, it will leak.  On top crust pies, seal and crimp the edges very high, it will spill, and make sure the steam vents in the top are big enough that they don’t seal up while cooking.
  • If you make a few pies and the next one suddenly seems… not difficult… you’re getting it.  There’s a reason they say ‘easy as pie’.  There’s definitely some arm work in blending and rolling the crust, but nothing else in these recipes is particularly difficult.  Maybe chocolate, chocolate is almost always difficult.

I’m currently experimenting with savory recipes… buffalo with potato, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, basil, oregeno…. sausage with cheese, onions, green pepper, cayenne… beef with cream and rosemary.   I know the cherry and blueberry recipes work well (don’t skip the mace!).  I’m still perfecting the ‘citrus’ cream pies.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space - with PIES

Whaddaya gonna do with those pies, boys?

“Buddha’s Hand” lemon cream pie (Christmas 2009)

"Buddha's Hand" Lemon, pie crust, porcelain pie dish

Lemon pie - not done yet

This is a “Buddha’s Hand” lemon sitting in a blind-baked pie shell in my new porcelain pie dish.  The little dents are from the “pie weights”.

"Buddha's Hand" lemon, cut in half, with bowl of rind zest

What the... where's the... Is there any LEMON in there?

Aparently this type of lemon has no inside fruit, but the outside rind zest is good.  That’s my new Solingen steel chopping knife.

"Buddha's Hand" lemon cream pie

This was made on Thanksgiving Day (a feast holiday in the United States), and the oven was full so I didn’t get a chance to toast the meringue.  The yellow squigglies are more of the rind zest.

Buffalo Pot Pie (New Year’s Day 2010)

(note: does not actually contain pot)
(does not actually contain any pot)

Buffalo Pot Pie

This was the first bison meat pie experiment.  It came out pretty good, but I used unsalted butter in the crust, and it needed the salt.  It also didn’t quite have the binding I’m looking for (notice how it’s loose inside), so this was a very good start, looks like I should have this working well in about 4 more tries.

One Response to “Caveman’s Guide to Pie”
  1. Whoo hoo… we have the top link on Google when searching for “Caveman’s Guide to Pie”

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