Why do we think of fall as pie season?
Is it perhaps because we get to turn on the oven and not worry about heating up the house?
Maybe it's the amazing scent of pie in that oven that makes the house smell so wonderful. And the idea of a slice of warm pie seems more enticing when the weather is growing cooler.
Or, it could be that making pie isn't all that hard, because in the 21st century, home bakers are not stymied by making pie crust.
I bring this up because, while I know there are many readers who make fabulous flaky crusts, I and others haven't had that experience.
And to be frank, we are perfectly happy with bringing home refrigerated pie crust to roll out and put in a pan.
Add advancements in making refrigerated pie dough taste and bake better and it can be difficult to tell who did all the hard work and who went to the store and saved a lot of time. (But yes, it does cost more.) I imagine that's irksome to diehard crust makers, but I and other judges have been surprised during pie contests to find out that a winner used a store-bought crust.
So, that said, the hard part is out of the way. No need to fear the crust. Now you get to concentrate on the innards, which is what really counts.
Here you will find a selection of unusual autumn pies that include usual ingredients, such as pumpkin, pecans, apples and sweet potatoes. Fall is typically not the time for fruit pies (except apple), but a pineapple pie is included because it's not often seen. Frozen pies are not that popular in fall, but the Frozen Peanut Butter-Banana Pie seemed to fit in here.
Maple Walnut Pecan Pie
Pastry for a single crust pie
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup golden syrup (such as Roger's or Lyle's)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 cup walnut halves, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a pie plate with pastry and crimp the edges. In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, maple syrup, golden syrup, eggs, butter and salt. (Don't worry about getting all the lumps of butter out.) Scatter the pecans and walnuts over the bottom of the shell and pour the mixture over the took.
Set on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 50-60 minutes, until set. Cool completely before cutting.
Apple Pie Bites
2 unbaked refrigerator pie crust doughs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups sliced and peeled apples
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg for egg wash
1. Peel, core and dice your apples. 1-inch dice or smaller is best.
2. Add the diced apples to a bowl waiting with the lemon juice. Swish them around with every addition of apple. In a small bowl mix all the dry ingredients except the brown sugar. Pour the flour mixture over the apples and mix well.
3. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven, or deep pot. Add the apple mixture and then pour over the brown sugar and mix it in. Cover the pot and let it simmer, on medium low, until the apples are cooked through. About 20 minutes for me. Stir often so as not to burn the sugars.
4. f your chunks are too big, break the whole mixture up a bit with an immersion blender. Large apple pieces tend to break the top pie crust.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
6. Roll the dough out between two sheets of waxed paper. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut the bottom of the pie bites. Use a 2.5-inch cookie cutter to cut the top so you don't have to stretch the dough. Lay the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
12. The dough will get too warm to deal with quickly, so cut 12 or so circles and set them on the tray, then put the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes before trying to release the circles. You should get 24 circles from each section of dough, cutting and then re-rolling.
13. Fill each circle with a teaspoon of filling. Spread egg wash around the outside rim, them top with the larger circle. Use a fork to crimp the sides and seal the pies. Cover with an egg wash and poke a couple of vent holes in each pie.
14. Dust the top of each pie with some sugar in the raw or other large crystal sugar.
15. Bake 15-20 minutes, looking for them to be golden brown. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the tray, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Makes 24.
-- Angelika of plantfoodfabulous.com
Crumb-Topped Apple Slab Pie
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
8 - 10 tablespoons cold water
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 pounds tart cooking apples (such as Rome Beauty or Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (10 cups)
Crumb Topping (recipe below)
1. Line a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan with 18-inch-wide foil, extending the foil up over the edges of the pan; set aside. For dough: In a large bowl, stir together the 2 1/4 cups flour and the salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cold water over part of the flour mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon cold water at a time, until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Using your fingers, gently knead the dough just until a ball forms.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 19-by-13-inch rectangle. Wrap it around the rolling pin; unroll it into the prepared baking pan. Ease dough into the pan and up the sides, being careful not to stretch it. Trim dough to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pan. Fold dough edge over and flute as desired.
3. In an extra-large bowl, combine sugar, the 1/3 cup flour, and the cinnamon; add apples. Toss lightly until apples are coated. Spoon apple mixture into dough-lined pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle with Crumb Topping (pan will be full).
4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender. If necessary to prevent overbrowning, cover top with foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack.
5. Serve warm or cool completely. Cut into rectangles. Makes 25 servings.
To bake ahead: Bake and cool as directed. Cover and let stand at room temperature for up to 24 hours; or chill for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before serving.
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup pecans
In a large bowl, stir together quick-cooking rolled oats, packed brown sugar, and all-purpose flour. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until topping mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in chopped pecans.
Mallow-Praline Sweet Potato Pie
1 2/3 cups cooked, mashed orange sweet potatoes* or one 17.2-ounce can whole sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk**
1 baked pastry shell
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup tiny marshmallows
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For filling, in a large bowl stir together sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, the 1/4 cup maple syrup, the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Add eggs; beat lightly with a fork just until combined. Gradually stir in buttermilk until thoroughly combined.
2. Place the baked pastry shell on a foil-lined baking sheet on the oven rack. Carefully pour filling into pastry shell. Bake for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Gradually stir in brown sugar, the 2 tablespoons maple syrup, and the milk. Cook and stir until mixture comes to boiling. With pie on the oven rack, sprinkle partially baked pie with pecans and marshmallows. Carefully pour hot brown sugar mixture over the top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes more or until center appears set when shaken. Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Cover and chill within 2 hours. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Tip: To prepare mashed sweet potatoes, in a covered medium saucepan cook about 18 ounces peeled, cubed sweet potatoes in enough boiling salted water to cover for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed until mashed.
**To make 1 cup sour milk, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid; stir. Let stand for 5 minutes before using.
***If desired, make decorative edge. Roll pastry for single-crust Pie from center to edge to a 12-inch square. Using a pastry wheel, cut pastry into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into 1-1/2-inch lengths. Brush edge of pie with water. Attach strips diagonally around edge of pie.
Make ahead tip: Prepare as directed. Cover and chill for up to 48 hours.
-- Better Homes & Gardens
Pumpkin Brownie Pie
1 single-layer pastry crust
For the brownie layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3.5-ounce bar dark chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the pumpkin layer:
1/3 cup sugar
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 can pumpkin puree (7.5 ounces)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On your stove top over medium low heat melt your butter, cocoa and chocolate together. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl whisk eggs and sugar together.
Mix in butter/chocolate mixture.
Mix in vanilla, sour cream, flour and salt.
Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile mix together all of the ingredients for your pumpkin layer.
Remove pie from oven. Pour pumpkin mixture on the top. Return to oven and bake 35-50 minutes, or until the center is set and just barely jiggles.
Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and then frozen
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice cold water
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
pinch of salt
1. Dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt.
2. Add diced, frozen butter and vegetable shortening and pulse several times until mixture resemble course meal.
3. With the food processor running, slowly add water in a small steady stream until the dough starts to form a ball.
4. Empty contents of bowl out onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into two even balls. Form dough into rounded flattened disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Place them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5. Filling: While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. In a medium saucepan, combine the crushed pineapple, sugar, corn starch and salt. Place over medium heat.
6. Bring mixture to a slow boil and cook, stirring often, until mixture has thickened and is no longer cloudy, but clear (about 3 to 5 minutes). Remember to keep stirring so the mixture doesn't scorch.
7. Once thickened, remove from heat and let cool.
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
9. When the dough has chilled, remove one disk from the fridge and on a floured surface, quickly roll it out into a circle, 12 inches in diameter. Fit dough into a 9 inch pie plate ( do not stretch dough) and let edges hang over.
10. Pour filling into pie shell.
11. Remove second dough disk from fridge and on a floured surface, roll it out into a circle, about 10 inches in diameter. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into 9 equal strips.
12. Lay 4 strips across the pie, parallel to each other, and evenly spaced.
13. Fold back every other strip, about half way. Take a strip of dough and lay it right up against the folded back strips and perpendicular to the strips laying flat. Unfold the strips, so that they lay flat over the new strip.
14. Repeat this pattern until the lattice is finished. Trim off extra and crimp edges.
15. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
16. Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 - 45 minutes until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
17. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
*Use 1 refrigerated pie dough disc to make bottom crust and a second to cut for lattice top, if desired.
** If you wish to make the pie using fresh pineapple:
Peel and core 1 fresh pineapple.
Cut half of the pineapple into small chunks.
Place the remaining pineapple in a food processor and pulse several times and then strain. Reserve 1/2 cup juice.
Place the chunks, strained pineapple puree and the 1/2 cup reserved juice in a saucepan and stir in a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch.
Cook on medium heat until a slow boil occurs. Continue to cook until mixture is thick and clear ( no longer cloudy from the cornstarch).
Let cool and then pour into a pie crust and bake as above.
Frozen Peanut Butter-Banana Pie
40 thin chocolate wafers*
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1 large banana
1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
Place the chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. (You should have about 2 1/4 cups crumbs.)
In a large bowl, stir together the chocolate crumbs and butter until thoroughly combined. Transfer the crumbs to a 10-inch (6-cup capacity) pie plate, and using the bottom of a cup, press the crumbs into the dish and up the sides to form the crust. Refrigerate crust while you prepare the filling.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk and sugar, stirring just until dissolved. Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla until mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Beat the well-chilled heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture.
Slice the banana into rounds and arrange them in a single layer on the bottom of the cookie crust.
Pour the peanut butter mixture over the bananas, smoothing with a spatula, and then top with the chopped salted peanuts.
Freeze pie, uncovered, until solid, about 5 hours. Slice and serve. Yield: One 10-inch pie.
*Classic Famous Chocolate Wafers are great for making cookie crusts, however any brand of chocolate wafers will work. You could even use Oreos, scraping out the filling and reserving it for another use.
Refrigerated pie crust Q&A
How long can I store an unopened box of pie crusts?
For best quality, use refrigerated pie crusts before the "use-by" date on the package.
Can I freeze unbaked pie crusts?
Pie crusts may be frozen for up to two months if placed in the freezer before the "use-by" date.
Can I defrost frozen, unbaked crusts in the microwave?
Nope. The uneven heat of a microwave may melt some parts of the crust.
Can I soften refrigerated crusts in the microwave?
Definitely. Microwave each refrigerated crust on defrost (30 percent power) for 20 to 40 seconds. Don't microwave frozen crusts.
How can I keep the bottom crust from getting soggy?
Just follow these tips when baking a filled pie:
Use a glass or dull metal pie pan. Avoid shiny metal or disposable aluminum pans, which reflect heat and prevent crusts from browning.
For a two-crust pie, brush the bottom crust with egg white before filling.
For a one-crust filled pie, such as pumpkin or custard, pre-bake the crust for three to five minutes. To avoid handling the hot pie pan, arefully add the filling with the pie pan still on the oven rack.
Bake the pie on the lowest oven rack.
Bake the pie on a preheated cookie sheet.
Use a cooling rack after baking.
Can I freeze pies that are assembled, but not baked?
Some pies, like pumpkin or pecan, have to be baked before freezing. But you can freeze fruit pies before baking. Follow these tips when assembling and freezing an unbaked fruit pie:
Brush the bottom crust with egg white before filling to prevent sogginess.
Add fruit filling, but do not slit the top crust.
Cover the pie with an inverted paper plate, wrap it thoroughly, and freeze it for up to three months.
When baking a frozen fruit pie: Do not thaw the pie.
Unwrap the pie, cut slits in the top crust, and bake it at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. and bake it for an additional 30 to 45 minutes or until the center is bubbly
Can I freeze pies that are already baked?
Baked pumpkin, pecan and fruit pies may be frozen. But don't freeze custard pies, cream pies or pies with meringue toppings. Keep these tips in mind when freezing a baked pie:
After baking the pie, cool it quickly. Wrap it thoroughly and freeze it for up to four months.
To thaw, unwrap the pie and heat at 325 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until the center is warm.
How long should a pie cool before serving?
Place baked sweet pies on a cooling rack for at least two hours before cutting them. Refrigerate cream and custard pies after cooling them. Cool main dish pies and quiches for about 10 minutes before serving.
How should I store baked pies?
A fruit pie can be stored at room temperature for up to two days. All pies containing eggs, dairy products or meat (including custard or cream pies, quiches and main dish pies) must be stored in the refrigerator for no more than two days.