Tag Archives: pie pastry

Salted Nutella Pie

When one of my dearest flickr/facebook friends posted about these Mini Salted Nutella Tarts, she knew that I would have to come up with my own pie version. Straight Nutella is a little intense for a whole pie, so I mentioned that whipping it with cream cheese sounded tasty, much like my popular Peanut Butter Pie. Kelly agreed, her family not so much. Well, sweet Kelly, thank you for the inspiration. I am pretty sure you would love my pie.

I used the base ingredients of my Peanut Butter Pie—cream cheese, powdered sugar, and whipped cream—and the divine Nutella took over the role of nut butter.

I used a 9-inch pie pastry for the crust, but I think it would also be tasty with a shortbread or almond cookie crust. I found the salty pastry as a nice foil to the sweet Nutella, though. I am a huge fan of the salty-sweet harmony.

This is a grand pie on its own, but I had fresh strawberries on hand and I thought it would be tasty (and a tiny bit healthy) to add a layer of sliced berries along the bottom of the pie. It was quite delicious.

Salted Nutella Pie

½ cup powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Nutella (I pretty much used the whole 13 oz jar)
1 tbs vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top*
1 cup strawberries, sliced*
1 9-inch pie pastry, prebaked and cooled

*optional, but tasty

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in Nutella and vanilla. Set aside.

If you want to add a layer of strawberries, it is a good idea to spread a thin layer of Nutella along the bottom of the pie crust before arranging the sliced berries to keep the crust from getting soggy.

Beat heavy cream in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir a third of the whipped cream mixture into the Nutella mixture, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Spoon filling into crust (over strawberries) and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Sprinkle the top of the pie with sea salt before serving, if you desire. (Seriously, do not be afraid of the salt. It is so, so good.)

I added a sliced and fanned strawberry as a garnish. A drizzle of chocolate syrup is another option if you’re feeling fancy.

Let’s look at some pretty pictures now.

I just had to show you how much butter goes into my pie pastry. This is for 2 9-inch pastry rounds

The simple ingredient lineup

Whip the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in large bowl and try not to make a mess

Properly whipped cream cheese and powdered sugar

Now add the delicious Nutella. So thick and so rich, rich

I spread a bit of this mixture over the bottom of the pie crust before layering the berries

I know, right?

The strawberries are layered and the heavy cream is whipped to perfection

Gently fold the whipped cream into the Nutella mixture. You want to keep it fluffy. Where's Fluffy?

This is me trying to hold the camera and take a photo while pouring the filling in the pie

Looks delicious, but it must chill at least 4 hours

Here's the chilled pie in bad lighting

The perfect slice of pie makes me crazy happy


Late to the Pi Party

Those who live in colder climes tend to think of strawberries as a sign of summer. Living in Florida means finding local strawberries from December to April, and we are peaking right about now. Oh, yeah. Spring is in the air and strawberries are everywhere. Aren’t we lucky?

One of the first pies I made when I started this project was a Strawberry Icebox Pie. It was delicious. As of late, I’ve been itching to make a baked strawberry pie. I thought it would be the perfect pie for Pi Day, which was March 14. As you can see, I am late to the Pi party. All I can say is that it’s not easy to bake a pie after work in the middle of the week. Pies take time. No one likes to feel rushed. Pie should not make you cry.

I can say that it was worth the delay. This is one of my favorite pies I’ve made. My best pastry, yet, no doubt. The key to a tasty and flaky pastry is letting the dough rest for at least an hour before rolling and keeping it cool while working it. Don’t rush it and never let it get too soft. I put it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes after rolling, after pressing it into the pan, and after crimping. After finishing the top crust, I put the pie in the freezer for a few minutes to let it firm up before sticking it in the hot oven. It’s the little things that make a difference.

I just used a standard fruit pie recipe. You can use any berries, stone, or hard fruit, really. A little lemon juice and nutmeg really bring out the flavor of the fruit without overpowering. Use more or less fruit depending if you want a smaller or taller pie. Feel free to add another ¼-½ cup of sugar, or brown sugar, if you like it sweeter or if the berries are too tart. If the filling looks too juicy after stirring, add 1-2 tbs cornstarch to thicken it a bit. I also recommend placing a cookie sheet or a spill-mat beneath the pie to catch any drips.

Baked Strawberry Pie

4-6 cups (2-3 quarts) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ cup sugar
¼ cup tapioca or flour
pinch salt
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp grated nutmeg
3 tbs cold butter, cut into bits

2 9-inch prepared pie pastries

Preheat oven to 425°.

Press one pie pastry into 9-inch pie plate. Place pastry in freezer while you prepare the filling.

In a large bowl, toss sliced strawberries with sugar, tapioca or flour, salt, lemon juice, and nutmeg. If strawberry mixture is too juicy, add 1-2 tbs cornstarch.

Spoon into prepared pie pastry. Pour juice over top and dot with butter. Top with remaining pie pastry. Crimp edges and vent as desired.

Bake on lowest rack for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, move pie to middle rack and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown. (I used a pie crust shield for the last 10 minutes to keep the edges from becoming too brown.)

Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Time for pretty pie pictures.

Florida strawberries pose for a still life

The ingredient lineup

Hull and slice 2-3 quarts of fresh strawberries

Pour some sugar on those berries

Now pour some tapioca on there

A little freshly grated nutmeg mingles nicely with the fruit

Freshly squeezed lemon juice complements the sweet berries

Gently spoon the berries into the prepared pie pastry

Dot with butter before adding your top crust

My pie talks nerdy to me

Pretty and delicious. The baked strawberry pie is a new favorite

Oh, My Cherry-Berry Pie

Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen library Pies & Tarts book I checked out from my local library, I have created one outstanding non-sour cherry pie. I am so excited that the crust came out absolutely perfect. Hooray! I used the basic/my new favorite pate brisee. Here it is again for those late to the game:

Pate Brisee

2 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3-4 tbs ice water

Using your hands, a food processor, or stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients. Add butter and coat with flour before mixing. Mix until a coarse meal forms. You will still see pieces of butter. Add water one tablespoon at a time until dough sticks together and forms large clumps. Pat dough together in a ball, cut in half, and form two discs on waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill at least two hours or over night. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before rolling.

Now I put my own twist on the recipe, because that’s what I like to do.

Cherry-Berry Pie

2 tbs quick-cooking tapioca
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
3 cups pitted cherries
1 cup raspberries
2 cups blackberries
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into bits for dotting top of pie

Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out your pastry and stick in the pan, just like I’ve told you so many times before. Stick it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before crimping the edge. The secret is keeping the pastry cool. This will give you flaky, non-soggy crust. Trust me.

While the pastry is chillin’, dump the tapioca, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix together, then add the cherries and the berries and mix well.  (About the pitted cherries: Easy peasy, but they will stain your fingers, so wear plastic gloves if you are prissy like that.)

Take the chilled pie shell out of the fridge and spoon the fruit into the shell. Yes, spoon it all in, then pour the liquid on top. This will also help keep your pastry from getting a soggy bottom. Dot with cold bits of butter and top with the other pastry round.

You can do a lattice-top, have a plain top crust with vents cut for steam, or you can get all fancy with pastry cut-outs. So many options!

Bake in the lower part of the oven at 425° for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°, place pie in center of oven and put a parchment-lined pan on the rack below the pie to catch any drips. Bake about 25-35 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juices are bubbling. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm with vanilla ice cream (or however you wish, but ice cream ROCKS!)

Look at pretty pictures now?

Pose for me, berries, then I will make you into pie!

Best pie pastry yet. Makes me happy

The darker the berry, right? And that buttah! Yum

All of my pies are made with love

Easy as Pie Pastry for the Pie-tard

After playing with many different recipes for pie pastry, I have finally figured out one that is absolutely fool-proof. Meaning even a klutz like me can cut out pretty shapes, make an awesome fluted edge, and even achieve the dreaded lattice top.

I realized that the key is adding a whole egg to the dough. That will hold it together.  All of my preview pie pastry tips apply. Cold, ice cold, baby. Keep the dough cold, let it rest, do not add too much water or overwork the dough.

Now, you can either go with Crisco or butter, but you know that I am going to tell you BUTTAH is best. The flavor is outstanding. And I don’t do butter-flavored Crisco, but have at it if you like it.

This one is for you, LivingLearninEating. Good luck!

Easy as Pie Pastry

2¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 sticks cold butter (real, unsalted), cut into small bits

1 whole egg, slightly beaten

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tbs lemon juice

3-5 tbs ice water

Measure flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. You can mix by hand, using a pastry cutter, or a stand mixer. Your choice. Mix the dry ingredients together then toss in the cut up butter. Coat butter with flour before mixing. Mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Beat an egg with a fork and add to dough. Add lemon juice and mix to incorporate.  Add ice water 1 tbs at a time until dough begins sticking together. Form two balls of dough and flatten slightly into a disc between waxed paper or plastic wrap. Let chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Please refer to my original pie pastry post for more details on rolling, rolling, rolling.

Let's do this!

She’s a Peach of a Pie

It’s summertime so I’ve been all about the fresh fruit pies. Blackberry, Blueberry-Nectarine, and now Peach. These fruit pies are best served warm with vanilla ice cream. Mmm…. Pie à la mode. The filling is easy, really. Fresh fruit, sugar, flour, butter, fresh lemon juice. That’s basically it. The hard part is the crust. This is why people buy frozen or refrigerated crusts. Great in a pinch but isn’t homemade the absolute best? The homemade crust, even when it’s too crumbly and falls apart, is still delicious. I like the crust a little salty to play off of the sweet-tart fruit. Ice cream just takes it to the next level.

I used the butter and shortening pastry for the blackberry and blueberry-nectarine pies (recipes to come, be patient!) and Martha’s recipe for pate brisee for today’s peach pie.

Pate Brisee

2½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3-4 tbs ice water

Using your hands, a food processor, or stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients. Add butter and coat with flour before mixing. Mix until a coarse meal forms. You will still see pieces of butter. Add water one tablespoon at a time until dough sticks together and forms large clumps. Pat dough together in a ball, cut in half, and form two discs on waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill at least two hours or over night. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before rolling. May be frozen for a few weeks. Thaw in fridge.

When I made the pate brisee last night I was planning on making a single crust peach and creme fraiche pie that I found on Martha’s site, alas, I changed my mind and thought I would attempt my second lattice top. LOL. I really think the dough needs to have an egg yolk in it to make it a bit stronger to endure the “weaving” of a true lattice top. I saw a pretty twisty lattice design in my (was my Mom’s) Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but this dough wouldn’t have held up for that. It baked up deliciously puffy in a sort-of lattice top (no real weaving; I faked it) and I accept that. Practice and experimentation makes perfect, right? More pie!

Here is my twist on the peach pie recipe in my Better Home and Gardens (LOL! I typed Better Hoes and Gardens the first time!)

Buttercup’s Peach Pie

5 cups (6 small or 5 medium) sliced peaches, local and organic preferred
¾ cup sugar
3 tbs flour
¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbs butter (dotted on top of filling)
Splash of Cointreau or other orange liqueur

Mix it all together and throw it in the pie crust. Top with a second crust with vents or a lattice top. Easy as pie. Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 40-45 minutes. First 20 minutes in the lower part of the oven, last 20 minutes in the middle. This will bake the bottom pastry faster to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom.  Time may vary as oven temps often do, so keep an eye out for the browning crust. Let cool on a wire rack. Tastes best served warm with vanilla ice cream, or fresh whipped cream, or straight up. NOM.

See pretty photos now?

Slicing peaches is easy as peach pie

Peaches are pretty

So few ingredients, so easy to make

More buttah? Yes, more buttah

Start on the lower rack, then move to the middle

Peach Pie

Looks good, right? You can hardly tell my lattice top is a fake. SHHHHHHH!

More Pie Pastry

Dear Piary,

I am sorry for leaving you for so long. You see, I’ve been writing, you know, by hand, in an actual journal. I think it’s pretty cool to have real pen-to-paper documentation of my pies, my baking trials and tribulations. Handwritten recipes. How novel, right? (Now, go take a look at my friend Anna’s new blog about a recipe box that magically appeared in her life.) Writing recipes by hand. Call me old fashioned but I kind of like the art of the handwritten recipe. And pen pals and postcards and books without an E. But I digress.

This is about pie and my recipes (also available handwritten, some on cute cards, which reminds me that I need to find more recipe cards and cute aprons and cool pie plates, *le sigh*) and my photos of said pies.

While I haven’t been blogging about my pies, I have been baking and documenting my pies, so I have backlog of pie to tell you about. Some happy, some sad, most of them very delicious. (I have issues with my pies looking pretty, which I will get into later because pie really should not make you cry.)

Since my original post about pastry I have tried an all butter (yes! more buttah!) crust that has a fancy name, pate brisee. It is exceptional. Please, by all means, experiment with different crusts. It’s all about experimentation to find the right pastry for the right pie, really. I’ve been having both grand and frustrating times with my pies. Horrible. I haven’t waned to talk about it. But now I’m in the right place to share them with you. *deep breath*

After the success of my first amazing pastry, I had the most frustrating pie pastry problem. My first pie dough was made by hand and the second one I made was my first attempt with my new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer. One of the best gifts ever.

Yes, I'm pimping my bunny with my new mixer. Boo ya!

Behold the power of the mixer! The thing is a beast and it mixes the dough very quickly. I think I may have worked it too long and/or added too much water because it was very moist and crumbly. Living in such humid climes isn’t helpful, either. It was really hard to handle and this was the time I decided I would attempt my first lattice top. All together now: FAIL!

It was too soft. It was sticky. It was an all-around unpleasant experience but I wouldn’t quit. Yes, that’s what I said.

I somehow got it into the pan and in the oven. It baked up more like a crumble than a pie. The slices just fell apart. I tried not to cry. It tasted delicious, though. Very tasty pastry, indeed, but it did not make for a pretty, picture-perfect pie. This is where I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, right? But I want my pie to be PRETTY!

Like this one. xo

Made with fresh local, organic peaches and a whole lotta buttah!

Look at this delicious peach pie with a sort-of lattice top! Fresh out of the oven and still bubbling. I hope this pie slices nicely, unlike the two failed pies I mentioned above. OK, I’m exaggerating. They were not complete fails since they were absolutely delicious. Blackberry and Blueberry-Nectarine, since I know you are dying to know. I think taste counts for a lot more than looks, right?

EDIT: Here is a slice of my most perfect peach pie. Off the charts delicious.

Peach Pie a la mode

My most perfect pie slice yet. Pretty and delicious!

Well, let’s carry on and talk about pies.

Flaky Like Me

Pie pastry needs butter for flavor and shortening for flakiness. Pastry dough needs to chill and relax, so yes, I’m going to say it: Your pastry must chillax. Be gentle with your dough. Pie pastry is tricky. It needs to be kept at the perfect temperature and handled with care. The dough cannot be too wet or too dry. Conditions must be perfect for dough to give you what you want: a delicious, buttery, flaky, golden crust.

I promised that I would tell you all about my pie disasters, and I will, but I want to start with a success. Pie perfection. I’m talking tiara, sash, and pageant tears perfection. Right off the blocks. (I’m a swimmer, I say “off the blocks” rather than “out of the blocks,” so, whatever.) The pie I needed to be perfect baked up perfectly. But before I can even tell you about the perfect pie, I need to start with the perfect crust.

I did a lot of research to find the perfect pie pastry. Duh, I’m a librarian! I am keeping a bibliography of resources I like (lists! I love lists!) and will create a tab just for that. If you can only check out three books today, these are the ones you should get. Now, I am telling you to go to your public library to check out the books. Do not buy them. Once you check out several pie cookbooks and find the one that you like, then you can ride your bike to your local independent bookseller to buy it. Peace, love, and pies, man. Peace, love, and pies.

  1. Baking with Julia is a fantastic reference for the beginning baker. Not really pie-heavy, but an excellent primer for pastry and full of drool-worthy recipes and delicious photographs. (You can find Julia’s pie pastry tips on the PBS website. And if you like public television, make a donation while you’re there.)
  2. Ken Haedrich’s book Pie: 300 tried-and-true recipes for delicious homemade pie is a big book. That’s a lot of pie. I like Ken and I like his style. (Shhhhh! Don’t tell, but you can find the perfect pastry tips and more on Google books.)
  3. Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies is pretty cute and a nice reference for a “Southern” girl like me. Yes, it’s a joke. I was born in South Florida, but now live in North Florida, which is the “Southern” part of the state. It’s South Georgia, really. I love grits and bake pies. That’s Southern enough.  (Take a peek at her basic tips on Amazon.)

From my extensive research and limited experience, I can honestly tell you that this is the easiest and tastiest pie crust you can have in your recipe box. I agree with Julia Child that “heaven forbid” you should have just one pie pastry recipe, this would be it. This is my variation of Julia’s Flaky Pie Dough from Baking with Julia.

This recipe will make four 9-inch shells or two double-crusts. I halved it the first time just to make sure I liked it. It is perfect, so now I make the big batch and freeze the two or three balls I don’t use. Tee hee! It is so much work to get all of the ingredients out and measure and then put everything away, that it saves time to mix up a bigger batch of dough. So there you go.

Did you read Julia’s tips? I’m serious, now. Make sure the water is ice cold. Put the shortening in the freezer and the butter in the fridge. Keep the dough cold. Let it rest. It takes patience for perfection. I promised my Canadian photographer friend that I would give her my perfect pie crust recipe and this is it.

2 ½ cups pastry flour (unbleached, organic, or what you prefer)

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (unbleached, organic, or what you prefer)

1 tbs kosher salt

1 ½ sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes and kept cold (REAL BUTTAH!)

1 ¾ cups solid vegetable shortening, cut into cubes and kept cold (Crisco sticks, or whatever you like)

1 cup ice water

Now it is up to you to decide if you are going to do it by hand or with a mixer. I did it by hand until my pie taster gave me a beautiful KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. {cue Heavenly Angels singing} The mixer works really quickly. Doing it by hand gives your arms a good workout. (Yes, that is what I said.) You can use a pastry blender or two knives, or you can just use your fingertips. Whatever you choose, do not overwork your dough. Keep it cool and let it rest.

Are you measuring properly? Do not scoop the flour, spoon the flour.

Spooning the flour into your cups gives you perfect measurements

Once you measure and mix your flour and salt, toss the butter cubes in and cover them in flour before you begin to cut them into the flour.

Toss your butter cubes in the flour to coat before mixing

You want to achieve coarse crumbs. Do not let the butter get warm.

Coarse crumbs achieved by magic fingers

Cut in the shortening next, the same as you did the butter, working to achieve small clumps.

Ooooh! Coarser crumbs achieved with a little forking

Add the ice water 1 tbs at a time, mixing just to incorporate. You want the dough moist, not wet.

How cold is my water? ICE COLD!

You may not need all the water and that is OK. Once the dough really starts clinging to itself, it is ready.

Oh, that feels nice and moist

Gently form into a ball and halve. Halve those two balls and gently pat into a small round and wrap in plastic wrap.

Wrapped and ready to chill

Refrigerate the dough you are using and freeze the rest. Refrigerated dough should be used within a week; the frozen dough will keep 6 months if wrapped properly. Let the dough chill for at least an hour before rolling.

I like to roll the dough out between two sheets of lightly floured waxed paper.

Ready to rock and roll

Roll out the dough to the width of the paper for a 12-inch circle. Be gentle. Keep the dough cold. I keep returning the dough to the freezer to let it rest. While the dough rests, I clean up the kitchen and have a beer. Beer, rolling, freezing, cleaning. You get it. I like a clean kitchen and a cold beer.

I’ve tried all methods but I prefer to roll the dough around my rolling pin and place it into the pie plate.

Let's do this!

Easy as pie. Gently press the dough into the pie plate and trim around the edges leaving enough overlap to crimp into a pretty crust. Keep the scraps to decorate a double-crust. (This is where I got busy with my crust and forgot to take photos. Photos to come with next pie, I promise.) Now it’s time to put that baby in the freezer to rest for about 10-15 minutes.

And this is the time when I leave you. Wha-hat?!?! Why would I abandon you now? Because you need to figure out what kind of pie you are going to bake. Some pies require blind-baking and pie weights, others need an egg wash, plus there are variations of crimping to discuss. It gets complicated and this post is already way too long. Besides, you need to study the materials I gave you before you attempt that crust. A pie pastry fail is totally discouraging. We want pie perfection.

~Peace, love, and pies