Food for Thought – As American as Apple Pie

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A plain American pie is a work of art,” says Maida Heatter, the doyenne of classic home-made desserts for half a century. And, she is right.

Whether or not you are creating a pie with double-crusts, a cookie crust, a crumble or latticed topping, you will be baking the essence of comfort food for friends and family. During the fall and at holiday time, debates abound as to whether or not one should prepare an apple, pumpkin or pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Why not make all three? Be creative and substitute pears for apples, a crumb topping for a second crust. Don’t be intimidated.

Fruit pie recipes vary widely: some have you parboil the fruit, others suggest cutting raw fruit into thin wedges to pile high on the unbaked crust. You can mix cinnamon and sugar in with any fruit, dot with butter and include a bit of cornstarch to ensure thickening the juices. So many options to choose from, all according to a variety of tastes. Try including chopped candied ginger with pears, or envelop apples with sour cream, sugar and a tablespoon or two of flour to absorb the juices.

Brown sugar, butter, and flour crumb toppings tend to be easier then managing to roll a dough covering unto an already filled pie crust. But decorating the top crust is such fun –  with small cookie cut leaves, pumpkins or apples, and well-placed slices to allow steam and juice an opening; then brush with milk and a sprinkling of sugar to brown it. Just make sure to cool your fruit pie completely to let the filling gel.

For an Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pie recipe, please visit:

And, while we are on the subject of pies, don’t forget to enter TaSH’s Thanksgiving Dessert Contest (not just pies!) on Closing Day, November 17th by making your best Thanksgiving dessert using your favorite farmer’s market seasonal ingredients. Register online at: http://bit.ly2AfF2GL. Bring your dessert to the contest tent at the market between 9:30-10:30 a.m. Desserts will be judged by taste, appearance and originality. Three winners will be chosen by a panel of locally-appointed judges in three categories:

1) Best presentation – the most photogenic dessert; 2) Best “classic” Thanksgiving dessert; and 3) Tastiest Thanksgiving dessert. Winners will be awarded a prize, and the winning recipes will be published in one of TaSH’s winter newsletters.

Contest Rules:

> Filling and crust MUST be home-made, no store-bought crust, dough or canned fillings may be used.

> Seasonal ingredients from the TaSH must be the main ingredient,

> Desserts must be prepared by the individual or family submitting,

> Your written recipe must accompany your dessert, and

> Only one entry per contestant. Winners must be present or have a representative present to win.

Visit dessertcontest for more information.

Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pie

(courtesy of Maida Heatter)

  • 1 9-inch baked pie shell
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 ounces (1/4) stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Scant ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla

Place yolks in medium-sized bowl, beat slightly and set aside.

Place butter in 10-12 inch frying pan over moderate heat to melt and begin to brown slightly. Add the brown sugar, stir to mix, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. After bubbles form all over the surface, continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof spatula.

Now, be careful with the next step: Have ready a long-handled wooden spoon or spatula. Add the boiling water to the boiling sugar mixture; it will all bubble up furiously and give off steam Stir to mix and set aside.

Sift flour, cornstarch and salt into a 3-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in the milk. If there are lumps in the mixture, press on them with a rubber spatula to dissolve. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the hot brown sugar mixture.

Place over medium heat and cook, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture comes to a boil. Then continue to scrape the pan thoroughly and let the mixture boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add a few large spoonfuls of the hot mixture to the egg yolks mixing well with a wire wisk. Whisk in a few more spoonfuls, then pour the yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture and stir well.

Place over low heat and cook, stirring until the mixture comes to a low boil. Continue to stir and scrape the pan, and let simmer 1 minute.

Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir frequently, very gently, folding the mixture to allow steam to escape until the mixture cools.

Turn into the prepared, baked pie shell and refrigerate for several hours until fully set.

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (or more – to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the ingredients until the cream holds a firm shape. Place the whipped cream by spoonfuls all over the top of the pie, starting with the rim and then on to the center. Keep the dolloped spoonfuls or smooth with a spatula, or use the back of a spoon to form a few large swirls in the cream.


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