Parade of Pies

For me Autumn means pie-baking season, because it’s the only time of year I actually make them!  With the holidays coming up this week (that and a few of you were asking about a couple of pies I had alluded to on Twitter), I thought I would post 4 festive pie recipes.

DazzleBerry Pie

Ignore how homely my poor pie looks. I’m just not good with presentation.

Named after a song about “dazzleberry lemonade” from a Yo Gabba Gabba episode, this pie is a pleaser for the not-so-sweet crowd who, like me, want just the right amount of sweetness mixed in with some tartness.  You are welcome to use either fresh or frozen fruit, but at this time of year it’s difficult (and expensive) to find fresh berries.  If using frozen berries, thaw them partially (about 30 minutes).

  • Double pie crust pastry (homemade or store-bought refrigerated dough), unbaked 9-inch
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup marion blackberries
  • 2 cups unsweetened strawberries, halved
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons instant tapioca or 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Note: You need to use a thickener in fruit pies.  I prefer using the flour because the tapioca can harden in bits with a lattice-top or any open-type of top crust layer.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt (to bring out the sweetness of the fruit)
  • 1.5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon cream (or you could use an egg wash: 1 egg white with a smidge of water mixed together)
  • 1 tablespoon of coarse sugar for sprinkling on top (Note: Granulated sugar works if you have nothing else, but it does melt unlike the coarse sugar.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix the granulated sugar, thickener of choice, lemon zest and salt.
  3. In a separate and large bowl, combine all the berries, gently folding to mix.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the berries and gently mix together.  Allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan (I prefer the deep dish) with half of your dough.  If using the pre-packaged dough, use one roll.
  6. Trim the overhanging edges of the dough to 1/2 inch.  Then fold the edge up and over the pie plate, pressing firmly.
  7. Pour the berry filling in the pan.
  8. Dot the top with the butter pieces.
  9. For the top of the pie, you have a few choices.  You can make a lattice top, completely covered (with a few vents cut by a knife to allow steam to escape and prevent the pie from exploding!), or you can do what I like, which is a festive cookie cutter top.  This is an easy way to let young children participate and have fun, not to mention a way to avoid lattice tops and fluted edges (I’m not artistic, remember?).  We chose some small cookie cutters and stuck to a theme.  This time my son wanted Christmas, so I went with it.  Cut about 40-50 shapes from your dough and lay them on top however you like.  I used the holly leaves around the edges.  To do this, lightly moisten the rim of the crust in the pan, and arrange the shapes firmly.
  10. Brush the cream over the dough shapes and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
  11. You will need to cover the edges with foil to avoid burnt, crispy crust edges.  The easiest way to do this that I have found is to get a large square of foil (large enough to fit over the edges of your pie pan), and cut out a 7-inch circle from the middle of the foil (so what remains is the foil square with a huge circle cut out of the middle).  Lay the foil on top of the pie pan and lightly cover.
  12. Place the pie pan on top of a cookie sheet to catch any overflowing juices.
  13. Bake for 25 minutes (40-50 if using frozen fruit), then remove foil.  Bake for another 20-25 minutes, carefully watching to see when the filling starts to bubble or boil.  That means the pie is done!
  14. Allow the pie to cool for 2 full hours (or longer) so that the filling sets nicely.
  15. Use the leftover dough to cut more shapes.  Brush with cream and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.  Then bake for a mere few minutes (keep a close watch).  It makes a good pre-snack while you wait the for the pie to set.

Perfect Marriage Harvest Pie

I’m not a big pecan pie fan, but my husband is.  In fact, he can’t have Thanksgiving without one.  On the other hand, I’d much rather have a cherry pie.  So this pie is the perfect marriage of both of our favorite pies.  A festive cherry pie with apricots (for a slightly sweeter taste) with a sweet, crumbly pecan-crusted topping.

Note: You can substitute peaches for the apricots, dried cranberries (‘tis the season) for the cherries and walnuts or almonds for the pecans to suit your own liking (or your husband’s).

  • Double-pie crust pastry, unbaked (homemade or store-bought refrigerated rolls)
  • 12 apricots, peeled, pitted and quartered (or 4 cups of dried apricots)
  • 4 cups cherries, pitted and halved
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (as a thickener)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (for the topping)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, lightly chop the pecans.
  3. Add the butter, flour (for the topping), and brown sugar and pulse the processor on and off to achieve large crumbs.
  4. Refrigerate topping.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and flour (as a thickener).
  6. In a large bowl, gently mix the fruits and lemon juice.
  7. Add the contents of the small bowl to the fruit mixture.  Gently mix.
  8. Add vanilla extract and gently mix.
  9. Line the bottom of a 9-inch deep pie pan with pastry dough.
  10. Trim the overhanging edges of the dough to 1/2 inch.  Then fold the edge up and over the pie plate, pressing firmly.
  11. Pour the filling in the pan.
  12. To make it festive, cut about 40-50 leaf shapes from the remaining pastry dough.  If desired, use the dull side of a small knife to make veins on the leaves.  Lightly moisten the rim of the crust in the pan, and arrange some of them firmly over the rim like a wreath.  Pile the rest on top of one another in the center to resemble a pile of raked leaves.
  13. Sprinkle the pecan topping lightly over the leafy dough and generously over the uncovered fruit filling.
  14. As in the dazzleberry pie, loosely cover the top with a square piece of foil with its center cut-out.
  15. Place the pie pan on top of a cookie sheet to catch any overflow.
  16. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil.
  17. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 25-30 minutes until filling starts to bubble/boil.
  18. Allow the pie to cool for 2 hours to avoid the filling from falling apart when slicing.

Jan’s Pumpkin Custard

Wondering what to do with all that leftover pumpkin?  Think pumpkin cheesecake without the crust – it’s wonderfully divine!  Lighter in taste than a pumpkin pie, and so very creamy.

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of pumpkin puree (or 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, pumpkin puree, spices and sugar in a large bowl.  If you have a KitchenAid mixer, now is the time to use it.  Otherwise, use an electric hand mixer. Choose a medium setting and mix for a couple of minutes until the ingredients have blended together smoothly.  (Note: You can always beat by hand, though tedious and time-consuming, or by using a blender on a low setting.)
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time and blend well.
  4. Pour the filling into a 9×9 inch square pan.
  5. Bake for 33-50 minutes until set (or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean).
  6. Cool then chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
  7. Serve with whipped topping (optional).

Banana Nut Cheesecake

After tasting the pumpkin custard, my husband had the idea to make a banana nut cheesecake.

  • 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs or graham cracker crumbs (or you can purchase a pre-made crust)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and divided (Note: By lightly toasting the walnuts pre-baking, they will remain crispier and have more flavor.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the crumbs with the 1/4 cup melted butter by hand or for 30 seconds in a food processor.  Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool.
  4. Combine the cream cheese, banana, and sugar in a large bowl.  Using a KitchenAid mixer or electric hand mixer, mix for a couple of minutes on medium until smooth and creamy.  Again, as noted in the pumpkin custard recipe above, you can also use a blender on low or beat by hand.
  5. Mix in the eggs one at a time and blend well.
  6. Stir in half of the walnuts with a spoon.
  7. Pour the filling into the crust.
  8. Top with the remaining walnuts.
  9. Bake for 30-45 minutes until set or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool then chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
  11. Serve with whipped topping and/or drizzled chocolate (optional).
Photo credits 1 and 2

Comments

  1. 3

    These pies look delicious! Thank you for sharing!

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