Lots of people (including my own mother) thought I was insane for wanting to make all the pies for our wedding. I am so glad I stuck to my guns, because hive? The pie tasted awesome. People kept coming up to me and saying it was delicious (although, I suppose, who would tell the bride on her wedding day that she made sub-par pie? Hmmm…) and wedding pie was such a great idea. I have to admit that it was nice to receive all those compliments, and it felt like a little bit of vindication after all the doubters. I thought it was delicious, and I even managed to have two slices!
(this is the first guest photo of the pie table to surface!)
This is the part where I give you the recipes I used!
I used the Fool-proof Pie Dough recipe from Cooks Illustrated, via Smitten Kitchen, but I didn’t make it exactly the same way. Here’s my version of the recipe, but I’d suggest testing it as-written the first time though. Remember that the adjustments are what work for me, in a very dry climate at 3438 feet above sea level. (Altitude absolutely affects your baking!) I also used my food processor, as I am a lazy bones.
Foolproof Pie Dough
Cooks Illustrated, November 2007
Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices (the original recipe has you use a mix of butter and shortening – I just like butter better)
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/3 cup cold water (the original recipe had 1/4 cup cold water)
1. Process the flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined. Add butter and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.
2. Pour water into food processor, then once the food processor is running, pour the vodka in a thin stream through the feeder spout. Stop processor and scrape down the sides as needed. Pastry is ready the moment it all clumps into one big ball and threatens to pop the lid off (although that last bit might just be because the latch on my processor is broken!) Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Below are the sources for all the pie fillings I made. I doubled most, as I was making two pies of each flavour, but found both the apple and the apple-blackberry much too generous. I used 7 – 8 apples per double batch of filling. I was generally aiming for 4-5 cups of filling per pie, because I didn’t want pies with enormous domes. Giant pies like that also tend to bubble and spill more in the baking. I also took care that each recipe included some tapioca or cornstarch, so the pies would be non-drippy.
The cherry pie filling I made up with a vague recipe from my mum. I bought four of these jars of sour cherries:
Drained three of them and put the cherries in a big saucepan, and poured the whole other jar (syrup and all) over them. I mixed in some cornstarch (about 3 tablespoons) and some sugar until it tasted like I wanted it to (about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup, I think) and let it bubble and get a bit thick. Remember that things will also always be thicker when they’re cool too.
For the chocolate tarts, mum came over to my house on Thursday and baked the crusts, then did the filling on Friday while we were waiting for fruit pies to bake. It’s a simple but delicious recipe.
Cooking pies from frozen:
We did 6 pies at a time in Cinnamon Buns’ mum’s convection oven, so we only got two tries to perfect this art. I don’t recommend using both oven racks unless you have a convection oven though – the baking will be too uneven. Even with the convection oven we switched the pies around from top to bottom halfway through. We started out cooking them at 350 and that took a long time, and we ended up turning the oven up to 400 near the end. The tops were brown by the halfway point, but the filling was still room temperature. What we did the second time was start the pies at 400, with the tops loosely covered in tinfoil, then when we switched them around (top rack pies to the bottom, bottom rack pies to the top) we took off the foil and turned the oven down a bit, back to 350.
We weren’t serving these hot (obviously, as we baked them on Friday, and served them on Saturday) but we still wanted the fillings to get bubbly hot, so the cornstarch and tapioca could do their jobs. The test pie I did a week or two before the wedding got cooked at 350 for an hour, and while the pastry was done, and it wasn’t cold per se, the tapioca was still visible as little white dots everywhere. If it is hard to see, stick a metal knife into the pie through one of the slits in the top, and hold it there for 10-15 seconds. Then take it out and touch it to see if it is hot. If it hurts, your filling is hot. 😉 You can also just wait until you see filling bubbling through the slits too.
Beware when moving pies from one rack to the other! As we were fitting 3 pies on to each rack, some pies had to be pushed to the back of the bottom rack, and I (inevitably) touched my wrist to the top rack accidentally. After that mum took over the job of transferring pies, and also pointed out that I could have pulled out the bottom rack, placed the pies, then pushed it back in. Oops. Luckily it wasn’t a bad burn, or very large, and I wore a bracelet on that wrist which helped camouflage it on the wedding day.
What’s your wedding dessert? What’s your favourite flavour of pie?