Monday, September 14, 2009

Pie: An American Tradition

Pie 3
The Egyptians may have invented pie in 2000 B.C., but it wasn't until a couple hundred years ago that Americans began transforming this culinary wonder into an art form (no offense to my British friends). A lot has changed since the first pilgrims landed in the new world, but our passion for pie has remained constant, which is why to this day no Thanksgiving feast would be complete without one (or 10). In my opinion, few things are more traditionally American than pie. And although this country was built upon many different cultures, it's really "the pie" that binds us. (Bad joke.)

That being said, I rarely have time to bake these days (which is sadly a phenomenon even more ubiquitous in America than pie). Between the longer work commute, new house, growing family and new garden, there leaves little time for much else let alone baking pies. However, I try to make an exception during this time of year. You see, the last of the summer peaches are quickly disappearing from farmer's market shelves while the early varieties of pears and apples are just showing up. Therefore, there's only a narrow window of opportunity to make the local (and best tasting) version of what I like to call my Autumn fruit pie, which highlights all three fruits. I've been making this pie for many years now and it still remains one of my all-time favorites. I hope you enjoy it too!

Pie Dough
It's true what they say, a good pie recipe starts with a great crust. Here is one that has never let me down:

Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2/3 stick of unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
3/4 cup of vegetable shortening (chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 cup of ice water

In a large shallow bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Using a pastry cutter/fork, incorporate the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (you should still have rather large bits of butter and shortening when you're done). Slowly drizzle in the ice water and mix with a wooden spoon. Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface, and fold it together using your hands. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape into balls. Wrap each in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Pie 1
Pie 2
Autumn Fruit Pie Filling Recipe

2 large peaches pealed, pitted and sliced
2 large pears pealed, cored and sliced
3-4 medium (or 3 large) apples pealed, cored and sliced
1 cup of blueberries or raspberries (fresh or frozen)
2/3 to 3/4 cup of sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons of corn starch (depending on ripeness of fruit)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
grated zest of 1 small orange

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until the sugar and cornstarch are thoroughly distributed. Remove the dough one at a time from the refrigerator and roll each into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Lay the first crust into a 9-inch pie pan and fill with the fruit mixture. Beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk and brush the edges of the crust with some of this mixture. Place the second crust on top and lightly press along the edge of the pie pan to seal the two layers. Cut the edges of the crusts to within 1/2 to 1 inch of the pie pan and then fold the edge of the top crust over and under the edge of the bottom crust, pressing lightly as you do so. Cut 3 slits onto the top crust (to vent steam), brush with more egg mixture and spinkle some sugar on top. Bake at 425 for the first 30 minutes, then lower to 350 for another 20-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the pie pierces fruit that is cooked yet still slightly firm. Cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Pie 4


  1. I was just going to say that pie is a work of art, but Marie beat me to it! A big slice would go very well with my morning coffee.

  2. I found you through Marie at 66 square feet. I LOVE to garden and have been making some pie over here too !

    Your apple pie deserves a blue ribbon !

    I'll be following you.
    More later,

  3. What a beautiful pie! the glaze and the little leaves take it from a fabulous pie to a work of art! (followed a link from Marie's over here, too...nice blog, i look forward to reading more!)

  4. Yes, I, too, came via Marie.
    You make pies the way pies used to look.Bet it tastes like pies used to taste, too!

    (Off to read earlier posts...)

  5. Thank you all for your kind words! In an ideal world, we can all sit down together (coffee and pie in hand) and discuss everything edible and green. It's nice to be part of an online community of like minded individuals. I look forward to visiting all of your blogs!

  6. Thomas, thanks so much for stopping by. I am really enjoying meeting people in blogworld that love all the same last....

    The ciabatta bread making is such a pleasure to me. As is the pasta making, pie making, pumpkin growing,corn watering......

    Sounds like we have ALOT in common.

    Glad we found each other :-)
    More Later,

  7. Watch out Martha!! Do you know how badly I want a slice of that pie right now, lol?

    I am very impressed by your beautiful pie, I will have to tuck that recipe away for a rainy day!

  8. Thomas, gorgeous pie as well as your vegetable garden! Congratulations on doing that which is in your heart. We cannot imagine being without our vegetable garden.

  9. Hi Thomas, Thanks for visiting my blog. I am enjoying yours. Sounds like your 'new' life is working out great. My life is similar --in that I was a workaholic and worked in the CITIES for WAY too many years.

    My hubby and I are retired now and live in gorgeous Fairfield Glade, TN. We have a nice yard --and love to garden (flowers, that is). Hubby grows roses and we have about 50 different rose bushes (Hybrid Tea) in our yard. We also enjoying getting out in the woods and hike. We collect waterfalls --and have visited over 350 since 2001...

    Please come back and I'll definitely return to yours.

  10. Wow! What a pie, I bow to your pastry making skills. We are not worthy.

  11. Thomas, we are friends (I thought..) and I never ever knew you could make such a beautiful scrumptious looking totally mouth watering pie. I'm sitting in my office and I think I can't do another thing without going and getting something sweet. I've made my fair share of apple pies and I've never ever created one so perfectly flawless!


  12. Wonderful blog, great photo's and such a good looking pie I must try baking one myself! (Hello from Blotanical!)

  13. Hi Thomas; this pie looks beautiful and looking at the recipe delicious with the fruit filling; yummy! My son in law likes to cook and bake. Sometimes he invites the vegetable gardener and me for breakfast to home made Bomboloni! Your Vegetable garden looks so neat. I wish you well in your green sphere. It is so much nicer to have the open space green and gold and where you can see the sun rise and glorious sunsets.

  14. That is one good looking pie! The recipe seem nice too I just might try it =)

  15. Wow, you took beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing

  16. WARNING...your blog should have one! I am drooling and now starving even though I just ate a cucumber (grew it myself) sandwich! What a pie...I am going to try my hand at making your crust too.

  17. visiting via marie's link as well. definitely heading to the archives.

  18. Yep. I'm going to make that one. The crust sounds delicious too.