It turns out that I'm a great pie baker. Or rather, I'm a good baker with great pie recipes! For probably eight Thanksgivings now I've baked homemade pies. I make the pie crust dough a couple of weeks in advance and freeze it. Then I make the pies the day before Thanksgiving. (This year it was the morning of Thanksgiving. I'll tell you why later.)
I hate most pie crusts. They're too dry and tasteless. But, if you use the recipe I use every year, you'll have delicious, tender and flaky pie dough. It's the America's Test Kitchen Foolproof Pie Dough and it's marvelous. It even has a secret ingredient - vodka! Don't worry, you can't taste the vodka (unless you sample the raw dough). Find it here: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/12852-foolproof-pie-dough. Each batch makes 2 crusts.
As I said, I make my dough about 2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving and freeze it. A day before pie baking day I put the dough discs in the fridge to thaw. Then about half an hour before I want to roll out the dough, I place the unwrapped disc on a counter top liberally covered with flour to warm up a little so it's pliable. It rolls out like a dream. This dough is versatile; it's great for pumpkin pie and any kind of fruit pie and it also works great for savory chicken or turkey pot pie.
While a good pie dough recipe is critical, you've got to put something in it. All I'll say is when I make my pumpkin pie I omit all CLOVES. Yuk. There's nothing that ruins a good pumpkin dish than too many cloves. Don't do it. It's better without.
Here's the scrumptious apple pie recipe I follow: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/apple-pie-recipe-2011423
Just skip the beginning where it describes how to make pie dough. We already have a better recipe for that.
I have one more recipe to share. It's a family recipe but not a secret recipe. You can find variations online. It's called Nantucket Cranberry Pie. We make it every year - nowadays with Wisconsin cranberries (the nation's top producer. Go Badgers!). The recipe card is written in my mom's handwriting, but I actually think it comes from a friend of my grandma's, Joan McRae from Florida in December 1983. Whoever she was I thank her for this marvel that has become such a tradition in my family.
Nantucket Cranberry Pie
2 cups raw cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional - we never put them in)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1 c flour
1 tsp almond extract
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10" pie plate and put cranberries in the bottom. sprinkle with 1/2 cup of sugar and walnuts, if using.
Mix 1 cup of sugar and melted butter. Add eggs, flour and almond extract.
Pour batter over cranberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
Serve with whipped cream. (Freezes well).
And finally, the reason why I was "late" making my pies this year. I now have helpers who want to join me in baking the pies. I have to work around their schedule, but it's a joy I wouldn't miss for the world!
Oh my word, I love them.
- Becky :)