Monday, November 12, 2012

Pie Ninjas

It's that time of year again...time to think about PIE.
Year two of my "How to be a Pie Ninja" class at Common Ground School.

What a great group of folks turned out for my class this year! We made pie dough from scratch and then set in on the apple or pear pies. The fun of this class (beyond the obvious bit of pie making) is that each group gets to personalize their pie:

apples or pears
a variety fo spices to explore: cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon
candied ginger or fresh cranberries 
sugar or no sugar? white or brown? 
crumb top, double crust or stars and hearts?
lattice weave, crimped edge or fork finished edge....

There are so many ways to make a great pie, and it is glorious to watch people come to life with the choices and the realization that there is not one right way to master this sweet treat....and then watch them fall in love with their creation as it turns golden brown and flaky in the oven.

Beautiful warm lovely pie. We sing your praises.

A glimpse into the Pie Ninja's in training.......

And then for the very flaky pie crust:
Above: pie dough scraps baked into cinnamon twists. Showing off the flaky layers from the cold butter cut into the flour and left in large pieces (some small grape sized ones are fine!)

The Best Pie Dough
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup white flour plus 1/4 cup or more whole wheat flour or wheat germ)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup ice water
1/2 teaspoon vinegar (white or cider)

Make the pie dough:

  1. Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Measure and sift all of the dry ingredients. In a mixer, food processor or using two forks,  cut the butter into the dough until it is the size of larger peas or small grapes. Some larger sized piece of butter are good, just pinch them flat. Add the ice water and vinegar and mix dough till combined, dough should be tacky, but not sticky. If the dough is crumbling apart, it is too dry, add a spoonful more water. Gently form the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour or longer until well chilled
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie dish and trim the overhang to 3/4 inch; fold the  overhang under itself and crimp decoratively. Prick the bottom of the pie shell all over and refrigerate until firm.

Basic Apple Pie Filling:
8 apples - peeled and sliced
1/2 cup to 3/4 cups sugar or other sweetener
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, clove - chose one or two or all...)

optional: 1 cup cranberries, 3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger, or anything else you dream up

  1. Toss fruit with other ingredients
  2. Form bottom crust and fill with fruit
  3. cover with top crust, crust shape cut-outs or crumb top
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes until crust begins to brown, turn oven down to 325 and bake until juices are bubbling and have thickened and crust is nicely brown. Rotate pie part way through baking and adjust location in oven to encourage even baking. 

Check out this blog post from a Pie Party I had last winter, with links to some other great pie recipes:
Chocolate Souffle Pie, Coconut Cream Pie and more....
or this great Twice baked Raspberry pie or Sour Cherry Pie...amazing!

What are some of your favorite PIE recipes?


  1. This is great! Thanks for sharing ~ I can't wait to get baking!

  2. Cannot stop salivating...