When I first saved this recipe in my Evernote folder, “crack pie” was super trendy. But that was like FOUR YEARS AGO. I am so not trendy. But I had 8 egg yolks left over from making meringues and this is a great way to use them up. The measurements are a bit finicky, probably, I suspect, because they were converted from metric for American audiences, but still workable. I made the cookie crust the day before, just because there are a lot of steps to follow.
To make the oat cookie for the crust: Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Technically you’re supposed to do this in a 9″ x 13″ pan but mine was dirty so what’re you gonna do …
In a bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon baking powder.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.
Beat in 1 egg until well combined.
Then tip in your flour and mix that in well.
Finally, add 1 cup oats and stir until fully blended.
Press your cookie dough (because that’s what it is, surprise!) onto your pan.
Bake for 20 minutes, then cool it completely on a wire rack.
Bust it into pieces.
To construct the cookie crust: Take the crumbled bits of cookie and chuck them in your food processor together with 1/4 cup butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar and pulse until you have fine, clumpy crumbs.
I actually found it easier (because my processor is super small) to pulse the cookie on its own and then add in the butter and sugar.
The crumbs should stick to themselves when you press on them.
Divide the crumbs between 2 10″ pie pans. These are 9″, which will make the filling a bit thicker which means I will have to bake them for a little longer but that’s fine. I rarely use my 9″ pans as it is, so don’t freak out and buy a 10″ one unless you plan on making a lot of skinny pies.
Press the crumbs onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I may have gone a bit too high up the sides. Crack pies are pretty low-profile.
Now, in a bowl (don’t use a mixer for this as you’ll beat in too much air), whisk together 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon powdered milk (if you are unfamiliar with powdered milk, you can usually find it in the coffee/tea aisle of the grocery store).
Melt 1 cup butter (it’s a lot, I know) and stir into it 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Gently whisk the butter/cream into the sugar/powdered milk.
Then grab your 8 egg yolks. I am so pleased with how these fit into my storage container. It’s highly satisfying.
Ever-so-gently whisk the yolks into the rest of the mixture, careful again not to mix in too much air (fluffy crack pie filling will puff up and be way not as good).
Divide the filling between the two crusts.
The recipe told me to bake the pies one at a time, but as it involves temperature changes I decided it would be a waste of energy to do so, so I did them both at once. Bake the pies for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 325°F and bake for a further 10 minutes, until the surface of the filling is a nice even brown and bubbling. I had to bake the one in the white pan for an extra 5 minutes, simply because it was thicker.
Set the pies on a wire rack to cool and then cover them and shove them into the fridge. Crack pie is meant to be served cold, and even cold it’s gooey, like a giant butter tart. It’s a bit obscene, actually.
Before serving, dust the surface of the pie with icing sugar.
Teedz requested a pie when we eventually made it across the border to visit her and Tego and Ando in NYC. And you guys remember that I have all those serviceberries I stole gathered from the neighbourhood. So I made a serviceberry/blueberry pie for the road. Actually, I made two, and the pictures will reflect that, but the recipe below is just for one.
First, I made the pastry dough, using the beloved food processor method. Now that I’ve found a technique that yields consistent results I am so reluctant to try anything else. Anyway, you can find the recipe and process way back here. I pulsed up the dough, split it in two, wrapped it up, and chucked it in the fridge overnight to do whatever it is that pie crust does overnight in the fridge. Dance party maybe?
So, get your dough rolled out into tops and bottoms and preheat your oven to 450°F. Beat up 1 egg in a wee dish.
Use said egg as a wash in the bottom of your pie. You want to do this so the berries don’t make the sucker soggy.
Now, grate the zest of a lemon and juice it as well.
Juicy juicy. Set that aside for a second.
I had a peanut gallery of people installing eavestroughs while I was doing this.
Grab your serviceberries that you have handily frozen. You want them to defrost only enough that the berries separate from each other easily.
I also used some fresh blueberries I had on hand. Essentially you’ll need 5 cups frozen berries (or combo-fresh, but don’t tell).
Pitch the berries into a bowl with your lemon zest and juice, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch (mine was a little runny so I suggest even a little more cornstarch than this), and 2 tablespoons melted butter.
Give that a sound stirring and get ready to fill your pie. Are you excited? I’m excited.
For a 9″ pie you’ll find the berries definitely come out quite high once you shove them into the crust. I patted mine down a bit, but don’t fret too much – they will shrink as they cook.
Slam the top of your crust down and seal the edges (repair any cracks with leftover dough trimmings).
Cut some vent holes in the top.
Slather that with some more egg.
Bung that in the oven for precisely 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for another 45 minutes, until it’s all bubbly and a nice golden brown. Let it cool completely before reheating or eating cold.
And, as a trick I learned from Mrs. Nice, take your leftover dough trimmings, brush them with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, and bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.
These are handy treats for those young ones (or not so young ones) who can’t wait until dessert for the whole pie.
While you’re spending the day prepping for your big turkey feast (or, if you celebrated yesterday, cleaning up afterwards), why don’t you consider what you can do with the leftover bits of that big bird?
I cooked this little baby up after watching a Jamie Oliver Christmas special on the plane home to Ottawa last December, and I served it to the lovely folks at our annual potluck. It’s super easy, super tasty, and a great way to eat up all that leftover turkey. And the best part about Jamie Oliver is he’s big on improvisation. If you watch the videos for his recipes they never end up matching the recipes themselves, and that adds immensely to his charm.
Make sure you have a good package of unthawed frozen puff pastry lying around. I get the President’s Choice brand stuff and it comes in two blocks, which is perfect for our purposes here.
Then you’ll need 2kg leeks.
Leeks are super dirty. My mother told me that as the leeks grow they bury the stems in more dirt in order to keep that stem as pale and tender as possible.
This means you’ll need to clean them well. I find the easiest way to do so is to cut off the scraggly top ends and then slice the whole thing in half lengthwise. Pop those babies in a sink full of water and swish away until all the dirt is gone. Then give them a good shake to drain out the excess water.
Now, chop up those leeks. Make the pale ends a bit chunkier, but slice the tougher green ends up really thin.
Now, take a large, fat saucepan with a lid and chuck in the leaves of about half a bunch of fresh thyme.
Chop up a couple of slices of nice bacon, add a glug or two of olive oil, and cook that for a wee bit on high to medium-high.
Pour in your chopped leeks and let them cook for about three minutes on high.
Then add in some salt and pepper, pop the lid on, and turn the heat down to medium. Let that cook for about thirty minutes, stirring every 5-10, to make sure nothing sticks.
While that’s on the go, chop up your leftover turkey. You’ll need about 800g grams of turkey, chopped or torn into big chunks. Light meat, dark meat, whatever floats your boat. I like half and half, because the dark stuff has more flavour. If you have leftover stuffing it will make a great contribution as well. Huck that into your leek pot when the leeks are done.
Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons flour and stir that to fully combine it with the leeks and turkey.
Then add in 2 pints of stock — turkey, chicken, vegetable, mushroom, whatever you want.
And 2 heaping tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream (or even plain greek yogurt if that’s what you have).
Give that a good stir and bring it back to a boil for a minute. Add more salt and pepper to taste if you like, then turn off the heat.
Pour your leek mixture through a sieve into a pot to get some lovely gravy out of this. Removing the gravy now will also make sure your pie doesn’t end up soggy, and if you drain it directly into a pot then you can easily heat it up before you serve it.
Preheat your oven to 375°F and lay your leek mixture out in a buttered 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
Dust a work surface with flour and roll out a segment of pastry so that it is a few inches larger than your pan size on all sides. If you just have one piece of pastry, then roll it out so it’s double the pan size (you will then fold one side over the other).
Crumble some chestnuts and fresh sage leaves over the pastry (or half the pastry if you’re folding).
Fold the other half on top or roll out the other piece and place it on top of the first and press down a bit to seal the chestnuts and sage inside.
Lay the pastry across your pan and tuck the ends in underneath the mixture on all the sides.
With a sharp knife score the whole pastry surface diagonally.
If you wish you can put an egg wash on at this point by beating an egg, adding a pinch of salt, and brushing that over the top of the pastry, but I didn’t bother. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until your pastry is puffy and golden brown. Serve warm with the reheated gravy. It is so excellent.
Yesterday the Pie turned 31, which he wasn’t really looking forward to, because now for the rest of the year he can’t tell everyone who will listen that I’m older than he is (BY FOUR MEASLY MONTHS). Honestly, the next time someone calls me a “cradle robber” I’m going to punch him or her in the ear. With my ring hand.
I was originally just going to make him a wee cake (because it’s just the two of us and we’re moving shortly) but then Fussellette, who will use any excuse to have a barbecue, made an occasion of the thing and so a bunch of us went downstairs and ate grilled food and drank beverages and had cake — so obviously I had to make a slightly bigger cake.
The Pie loves all things vanilla, so I decided on a sour cream pound cake, a traditional dish I hadn’t tried before. I’m used to the regular ol’ normal pound cake. Now, this recipe will yield two loaf pans’ worth of pound cake, or one ~10″ Bundt or tube pan worth. I’m going with the loaf pan, so I can freeze the other half of this cake for when we celebrate with my parents in a few weeks (also, I packed my Bundt pans). As always when making cakes, it’s a good idea to butter your pans and line them with parchment paper (if possible) to ensure that you don’t get anything stuck. With a Bundt or tube pan it’s good practice to butter the thing and then dust it with flour. Also, for a nice fluffy cake, allow all your ingredients to come to room temperature before you make this sucker.
So. Butter and paper and butter your pans and preheat your oven to 325°F.
Sift together 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 3 cups cake and pastry flour (which I didn’t have, so I substituted 2 tablespoons flour in each cup with 2 tablespoons corn starch).
And actually I didn’t sift this, either, because I packed my sifter. Anyway, set that aside for now.
Using an electric mixer (or very powerful and fast-moving arms), beat 1 cup butter together with 2 cups granulated sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
Add 6 eggs, one at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture, beating until each one is combined, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
Now, tip in half your flour mixture and stir that until combined.
Then dump in 1 cup (full fat) sour cream and stir that in, too.
And now the rest of your flour. Combine that carefully.
Try not to flick batter everywhere. Evidently, I failed.
Spoon this very thick batter into your pan and smooth the top. You’re going to want to bake this for at least an hour, probably more if you’ve done it in one pan. Go for 60 minutes at first, and then check it every 5 minutes after that until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
When the cake is done, let it cool completely on a wire rack before tipping it out of the pan. Tipping out a hot cake is a good way to get yourself a broken cake.
So there’s your cake. If you wish, you can leave it at that. But this is a birthday cake! I took one of them and wrapped it up for freezing.
So we’re going to make some icing. Our standard cream cheese frosting is a perennial favourite, and it’s very simple.
Beat together 1 cup butter with 1 250g (8oz) package plain cream cheese (room temperature) until fully combined.
Beat in as well 1 tablespoon vanilla (or any other flavouring you wish). Then carefully stir in at least 2 cups icing sugar (you will probably want a bit more to get the consistency you like).
Then I sliced the cake in half horizontally.
I filled the gap with a raspberry jam.
Then I iced it, but only the sides at first. Why? Because I was going to do THIS. But instead of sprinkles, because sprinkles are gross, I’m going to use Nerds.
If you’ve never heard of Nerds, they’re basically small crystals of sugar coated with a sour neon candy crust. They come in wee rectangular boxes and are a childhood favourite of pretty much everyone in my generation, because you used to be able to buy two boxes for fifty cents at the corner store.
Fortunately for us, in the Super Size Me generation, you can now buy Nerds in giant boxes. I wasn’t sure how many Nerds I would need for this, so I bought two boxes. I can always rot my teeth on the other box if it isn’t needed.
So. Spread your Nerds out in a flat rimmed dish (like a baking sheet or a dinner plate) with enough room to lay your whole cake.
Pick your cake up and hold it by the bottom and the top (the unfrosted ends) and, working one side at a time, press the sides into the Nerds to make them stick to the frosting.
Set the cake back down and frost the top, being careful not to disturb the sides. Now I should have refrigerated my cake between frosting it and nerdifying it, so that’s why it’s all squishy and demented. Make sure you do that. Also, I discovered that my wee hands were no match for the size of this cake, so that may have added to the dementedness.
Sprinkle the top with Nerds until it’s evenly coated. Press them down a bit to make sure they stick.
Chill the cake until serving. Even slightly demented, it was still mighty tasty!
Okay. So. I’m cleaning out my freezers. This means that sometimes I come up with odd things to eat. Today’s experiment resulted from the discovery of half a package of puff pastry and a plastic container filled with leftover cupcake frosting. And so it begins.
Now, I’m not putting up this recipe specifically because I think it’s something you should make yourself. It all depends on what you have hanging around your house. This is more to show you that you can use your imagination when it comes to throwing a few ingredients together.
Anyway, here’s what I did. Preheat your oven to 375°F and haul out a large pie plate.
I had a small plastic tub full of what looked to be about 2-3 cups cream cheese frosting leftover from various adventures. Basically it amounts to cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, and vanilla, and it’s fantastic. It freezes really well, too.
So I dumped that in a bowl and added 3 eggs to it, for cohesion.
Then I finely chopped up 4 apples (three Red Delicious, one Granny Smith, for tartness). Chuck those into the frosting mix.
I also managed to cleanly slice off most of my thumbnail, but don’t worry, it didn’t make it into the dish.
Gave it a stir. The apples and the frosting, not my thumb. Obviously.
Took my half package puff pastry and set it out on a floured surface.
Rolled it out thin enough to fit in my pie plate with some overlap.
Filled it most of the way with my apple filling.
Gathered the corners together.
It kind of sort of looks like I did it on purpose, no?
I had extra filling so that went into a casserole dish.
Then I baked them for an hour, until the mess in the casserole dish was cooked through in the centre.
And the puff pastry was crackly and brown.
We ate this warm with a bit of ice cream, like it was a pie, but you could eat it like a pudding, too.
How much do I wish I was visiting my parents right now? They’ve been in Florida since January, and they always offer to fly us down there every year when they go for a nice sunny break. Unfortunately the university here doesn’t offer that Reading Week in February that most Canadian universities do. Instead we get three days off, and then two days of midterms. So leaving the country right now is out. I did, however, see this recipe in the Globe and Mail and figured if I can’t be in Long Boat Key right now I can at least have some Key Lime Pie. Even if it doesn’t actually involve Key limes.
I’m a huge fan of lime pies, and I’ve made two attempts to make my own. They aren’t pretty, but they’re sure tasty. This recipe avoids the issue of having to deal with Canadian-sized cans of condensed milk (by adding mango as thickener), which means I can go ahead and only make one pie this time. I also don’t have to grate and juice all those tiny key limes, which is a bonus for me. I really hate doing that.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a 9″ pie pan, stir together 1 cup graham-cracker crumbs (I’ve used Oreo crumbs before as well, and it’s delicious, and I bet Nilla crumbs would also work), 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup shredded coconut (adds a nice texture to the crust). Melt 5 tablespoons unsalted butter and drizzle that over the top.
Stir it all up with a fork and press it down into the pan and up the sides to form your crust. Bake that for 10 minutes.
Let that cool on a wire rack while you’re making the filling, and leave your oven on. If the crust has puffed up during baking (which it probably has), just pat it down again with the fork.
Take 1 medium-sized very ripe mango, peel it, cut it into pieces, and smash it up in a blender.
Take 1/2 cup of the mango purée and put it into a bowl (you’re supposed to save the rest for smoothies or something but I just chucked it all in, to be honest).
Add in 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (this is like the equivalent of 2-3 juicy limes). I grated one of my limes before juicing and added that zest in as well.
Also chuck in 1 300mL can of condensed milk. Sorry to all you folks who use 400mL cans. You’re just going to have to figure something else out. Or chuck in the rest of the can (which is what I would do — screw leftovers). And when I say chuck the can in I mean chuck the CONTENTS of the can in. Recycle that can.
Separate 4 eggs and plop 4 egg yolks into the mix as well. I am going to use the whites to make meringue cookies to serve with the pie. Because I’m that awesome.
Stir what’s in that bowl until it’s smooth and lovely. You’ll notice it’s not green. Key lime pie is not supposed to be green. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
Pour that lovely smooth substance into your pie crust and bake for a further 15 minutes. It’s still going to be rather un-solid in the middle but it will set as the pie chills. Put the baked pie on a wire rack until it’s cool enough to chuck in the fridge. Then refrigerate the thing for at least eight hours, and up to three days. Honestly, try to wait that long to cut into it. The longer you wait, the more solid your pie will be. I promise.
Serve cold with a dollop of whipped cream or meringue cookie. Mmmm. Tastes like summer.
I get a lot of questions from readers I meet about my husband. The main one is, “why is he called the Pie?” Well, I’ll tell you why. And this goes back about nine or ten years, back when we had first met, and long before we started dating. It’s really a great story. I’ll tell it to you here:
One day, he told me that he really liked pie.
Yep. That’s the whole story. That’s why he’s called the Pie. And now you know. I hope you aren’t too disappointed.
Sometimes, the Pie’s favourite pie is blueberry. Sometimes it’s apple. I can’t keep track. But I know that pumpkin pie, even though it doesn’t qualify as a “true pie”, is at the top of my husband’s list of favourite pies. And now that I have sort of mastered the art of vodka pie crust, and especially considering the amount of pumpkin purée I have in my possession, it is a logical choice, and this recipe looks lovely. So here it is, a pumpkin pie that is so from scratch with its home-made pastry crust and fresh pure pumpkin that it’s almost like I made it entirely by hand-stitching individual atoms together (I can do that, you know).
So, now. It’s been a while since I made that vodka pie crust from Smitten Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated, so I think I’m going to lay it all out for you again, just so we both can get some practice. If you like, you can take some more of Smitten Kitchen’s tips on better pastry from her second tutorial. Like her, I’m not a fan of shortening, so I went with an all-butter version of the crust today. And this dough recipe makes enough dough for two single crusts, so I guess that means I HAVE to make two pumpkin pies. I will try to sneak one into the freezer so the Pie doesn’t eat it too fast. That way later on when he grumbles about having no more pie I can dramatically reveal that he is wrong. I like doing that.
For the pastry, you need to make sure everything is cold. If your kitchen is frigid, like mine, this is easy. For everyone else, just keep chucking stuff in the refrigerator if need be. Ingredients. Tools. Bowls. You name it.
In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt.
Cut 1 1/4 cup cold butter into cubes and make sure it’s cold (re-chill it after you cut it before adding it to the mix).
Dump that into the flour and use a pastry blender to chop it into tiny buttery-floury pieces. You want to keep going and going and going, using a knife to clean off your pastry blender occasionally, until you end up with a mixture that closely resembles cornmeal.
Put a dishtowel under the bowl to keep it from sliding around on you.
Here’s the right consistency. You still need whole chunks of butter in there but you want them small.
Drizzle 1/4 cup cold vodka (keep that baby in the freezer) and 1/4 cup ice water over the mixture.
Use a big rubber spatula and a folding motion to bring everything together.
You don’t want to stir so much as squish and squash everything into one big blob. It will be pretty tacky, but that stickiness will disappear when the vodka burns off in baking. You can use your hands to gently squish the remainder together, but don’t work it too much. If you feel you need to add more liquid, drizzle a bit more vodka onto it, but just a little.
Divide your blob into two even pieces and flatten them into disks. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap for at least 15 minutes, and for up to 2 days.
When your dough is sufficiently chilled, lay a piece of plastic wrap out on your work surface. Unwrap one of the disks (keep the other in the fridge) and place it in the centre of the plastic wrap. Place another sheet of wrap over top.
Working from the inside and moving out, use a rolling pin to flatten your disk into a nice round piece of pastry. You’ll need a rough circle of about 12″ in diameter to fit in a 9″ pie pan. Most plastic wrap is about 12″ wide, so you can use that as a guide.
Notice how you can see gobs of butter in my dough? That means I will have some lovely flaky pastry. As the butter melts it will leave a little open space, which will fill with steam from the vodka and water, which will in turn expand the empty space, making the proper pastry flake.
Chill your flattened pastry again for a bit. If you put it on a baking sheet and chuck it in the fridge you should be good. When you’re plopping it in your pie pan, make sure to remove the bottom layer of plastic wrap before rolling it over a rolling pin or folding it into quarters to place it in the pan. I’ve done both methods here, so you can see what I mean.
Gently lift the edges of the dough to make it easier to press into the bottom of the pan without tearing.
Trim off the excess pastry from the edges of the pan.
I used a fork to press the edges more firmly down onto the glass. Chuck those back in the fridge when you’re done.
I had some scraps left over from trimming, so I cut up a small apple, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, and rolled out the scraps again to form a small circle.
I put the fruit on one half, folded it over, and pinched the edges shut. Then I put it in a sprayed pan and baked it with the pie.
For the pie filling, you need some pumpkin purée. You can be lazy and buy the stuff that already has the eggs and spices in it and whatever and just dump that in your pre-bought frozen pie shell but that’s just not cool here at Ali Does It. Make sure if you’re using canned pumpkin that it’s pure pumpkin, without the sugar and salt and all things spicy.
Now, you American folks are likely working from the 14 oz can of Libby’s or whatever it is you have. Fourteen ounces is about 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin goodness. Here in the FAR NORTH of Canada we have E.D. Smith pumpkin, which comes in 28 oz cans (~3 1/2 cups), so we generally use half a can for one pie, a whole can for two. And of course I’m working from a I-have-way-too-much-pumpkin-purée-in-my-fridge perspective. So I will be using that instead of the canned stuff.
Preheat your oven now, to 425°F and position a rack in the centre of the oven.
Beat up 4 eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in 3 1/2 cups pumpkin purée, 2 cans (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk (I believe some countries sell condensed milk in 400 mL cans — I would just use the whole can anyway for a slightly sweeter pie), 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.
Take your pie shells out of the fridge and divide the mixture between them. You may end up with extra filling (lord knows I always do). I emptied it into a smaller pie pan and baked it as-is, for a sort of pumpkin pudding.
Chuck the pies (and whatever else you now have on the go) in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375°F and keep baking for about 35 more minutes, until the pastry is all golden and lovely and you can stick a knife in the centre of the pie and bring it out clean again (i.e. the filling has set). You can see that our crustless pie and the turnover turned out equally well, though with them in the oven everything took an extra 15 minutes or so to cook. Let the pie cool completely on a rack and refrigerate until ready to serve. You can heat it up again if you like. We enjoy ours with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. Yum!