So you have all probably heard me say (more than once) that I am not a baker. I am a savory cook. But I’ve always liked the idea of baking. It’s just a little too precise for my liking. Which is weird because I’m a super precise person – except in cooking. But I learned that I was wrong. Some of baking has to be precise. It’s chemistry. But not all. I made some pies for Thanksgiving using the recipes of others. And they were delicious. But I’m always looking to improve or add my own spin, hopefully both. And today, I believe I successfully did that, although that won’t be proved out until tomorrow when we all dig in.
I made a pecan, sweet potato and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I remade them today for my old Heartsway Hospice crowd because they were so helpful last week when Staci’s dad passed away. Also because I love and miss them. I did some “tweaking” with the pies today and they are truly my own. I’ll post the recipes later but here it is in a nutshell.
First, I want to go on record and say I’m not a pie crust lover. I know there are those of you out there who are and I don’t understand you and we probably can’t be friends. I find pie crust to be bland and flavorless for the most part. In quiches, I flavor them with lemon and herbs usually and that helps. I believe pie crusts can be better. But that’s an experiment for another day. Today I compensated differently. I used my mother’s sugar cookie dough recipe and made small Christmas cutouts which I “glued” around the pie crust with a mixture of powdered sugar and cream (until it’s glue consistency). It will totally compensate for the blandness of the pie crust and hopefully not make the pie(s) cloyingly sweet. (The super-cute factor doesn’t hurt either, right?)
For the pecan pie, I embedded pecans around the crust ridge. The sugar cookies would have been way too sweet in conjunction with the Karo syrups. So that’s what I did for the crusts. Let’s talk filling.
There are all kinds of ways to change pie filling. You just have to be careful that you’re not changing the consistency too much so the pie won’t set properly. For the sweet potato pie, I did something super simple. I roasted the sweet potatoes instead of boiling them. When you boil sweet potatoes, you can sometimes end up with stringy innards which does not make pretty pies. But if you take the hour to roast them, they carmelize a smidge in their own sugars and yield wonderful depth of flavor. Another simple change? Try switching out your granulated sugar with dark brown sugar. Again, a nice depth of flavor. I do this in pumpkin pie as well. Dark brown sugar plays well with flavors such as clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Save your granulated sugar for lighter pies and cakes.
With the pecan pie, I initially used the NYT’s Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe but thought, why not take it a step further? My favorite winter drink is a bourbon old-fashioned. So I also added a little bitters and triple sec to the filling and an extra quarter teaspoon of cornstarch to make up for the liquid. The batter was amazing and I can’t wait to try the pie.
I’m so looking forward to seeing all my old work peeps tomorrow and taste-testing these pies! I’m sure I broke all kinds of baking rules today but they look fantastic and if they taste good too?? RULES, SCHMOOLZ!! Be on the lookout for the recipes!
Happy reading, joyful cooking and spread the love!