In the movie “Michael,” starring John Travolta, actress Andie McDowell sings a ditty known as the “Pie Song” about how much she loves pie.
It would appear she is not alone, because February has been designated as the Great American Pie Month!
To celebrate, and because we also love pie, members of the Aroundabout Local Media staff are sharing their favorite pie recipes with you. Enjoy!
Michelle McCulloch, art director
This is a McCulloch family favorite! When my mother-in-law comes to town, this always is part of the visit.
• 2 fully baked pie crusts
• 1 ½ cups of sugar
• 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• 3 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate, or ½ cup of cocoa powder
• 3 cups of whole milk
• 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
• 1 tablespoon of butter
• 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
In a saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, salt and chocolate in a pan, and then slowly stir in the milk. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes. Be patient! It will start to thicken. Then, gently boil for 1 minute. Take a few tablespoons of the mixture and add to beaten egg yolks to temper the eggs, then stir the tempered mixture into the saucepan. Stir on medium heat for 1 additional minute. Add in butter and vanilla. Pour immediately into the baked pie shells. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Serve with whipped cream. Yields two 8-inch pies.
Sweet Potato Pie
Jackie Loudin, managing editor and social media strategist
The best thing about this pie is that it is delicious and versatile. It can be eaten as a side dish to your main meal or as dessert. No matter how you enjoy it, don’t forget to top it off with a dollop of whipped cream!
• 3 eggs
• 2 cans (15 ounces each) sweet potatoes, drained
• 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
• 1½-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon salt
Use a food processor or mixer to combine eggs, sweet potatoes, sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin spice, vanilla and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour into a frozen pie shell.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 28-35 minutes longer, or until set in the middle. Cool on a wire rack. Garnish with whipped cream and toasted pecans, if desired.
Key Lime Pie
Patty Ponder, ALM president
I like the regular pie crust versus the graham cracker crust, so that you can get the real flavor of the limes. This is an easy recipe, but good, and consistent every time!
• 1 10-inch pie crust pre-cooked
• 6 egg yolks
• 4 teaspoons powdered sugar
• 2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
• 8 ounces real key lime juice (Publix sells this where the other lime and lemon juice is sold). You can use fresh key limes, but the pie will be more tangy.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Beat egg yolks, sugar and sweetened condensed milk together in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in the lime juice. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the center is firm. Cool and chill. Top with whipped cream and a thin slice of lime for garnish. Serves 8-10. This is a hit every time!
Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
Katie Beall, Around Acworth editor
I’m not sure where my mom found this recipe, but, growing up, it was a staple for any family gathering. I think my mom liked it because it’s super easy!
• 1 9-inch crumb crust
• 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
• 1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
• ¼ cup of lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 can (1-pound, 5 ounces) chilled Comstock cherry pie filling
In a medium size bowl, beat the cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy. Gradually add the sweetened condensed milk, and stir until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into the crust. Refrigerate 2-3 hours, then add cherries and serve.
Southern Chess Pie
Michelle Smith, marketing and advertising specialist
The filling in this pie is a very rich custard that is sweeter than most, so it is possible to eat it in smaller pieces. Or not!
• ½ cups of butter, softened
• 2 cups of sugar
• 4 eggs, room temperature
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons of cornmeal
• 1 tablespoon of flour
• ¼ cup of evaporated milk
• 1 tablespoon white vinegar
• 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix the butter and sugar until pieces are about the size of cooked rice.
In another bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, cornmeal, flour, milk and vinegar until combined. Mix into the butter and sugar mixture. Pour into the pie crust.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees for about 15 minutes more. Then cover with a pie shield (or foil), and bake another 30-35 minutes, or until barely set in the middle.
Cool completely before cutting.
• You may want to put a cookie sheet on the rack underneath the pie in case some butter seeps out.
• Pie will have a light crust on top (delightful!), but that makes it difficult to tell if it’s set. When you gently jiggle the pie, it will still quiver a bit while hot, and should be slightly puffed at the edges.
Sparkling Cherry Pie
Jennifer Coleman, market manager
Cherry pie has always been my absolute favorite, especially when it sparkles!
• 4 cups of fresh or frozen (thawed) pitted sour red cherries
• 1⅓ cups of sugar
• ¼ cup of quick-cooking tapioca
• 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
• dash of salt
• ¼ teaspoon of almond extract
• 1 box of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on the box
• 1 tablespoon of cold butter, cut into small pieces
• 1 teaspoon of milk
• 1 teaspoon of sugar
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the cherries, sugar, tapioca, flour, salt and almond extract. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pie crusts as directed on the box for a two-crust pie, using a 9-inch glass pie plate. Pour the cherry mixture into the crust-lined plate, and dot with butter. Top with the second crust and flute; cut slits in several places. Brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cover the crust edges with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and bake 40 minutes longer, or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool for at least two hours before serving. If you want to get fancy, you can sprinkle the top with a dash of edible glitter, just for fun!
French Silk Chocolate Pie
Laura Latchford, page designer
Garnishing this pie with grated chocolate is optional. But, why would you make it optional?
• ½ cup of butter, room temperature
• 1 cup of white sugar
• 2 (1-ounce) squares of unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 1 prepared 8-inch pastry shell, baked and cooled
Cream butter with an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl. Gradually beat in the sugar until light colored and well blended. Stir in the thoroughly cooled chocolate, and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating 5 minutes on medium speed after each egg. Spoon the chocolate filling into the cooled, baked pie shell.
Add whipped cream topping on top of the chocolate filling (see instructions below).
Garnish with grated chocolate (optional).
Refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours before serving.
Whipped Cream Topping
• 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
• 1 tablespoon of confectioners sugar
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Place your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to chill.
Pour heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla into the cold bowl, and whisk on high speed until medium to stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.
Do not overbeat.
Our Love for Pie
As someone who considers herself a Frequent Pie-er, I was surprised to find that I did not know the origin story of pie until recently. After a few hours of Googling (and let’s be honest, distracted Facebook scrolling), I settled down and read a top-to-bottom history of pie.
It seems pie has been consumed by people since the time of the Romans. Although it turns out, Julius Caesar was not enjoying a slice of bourbon chocolate pecan pie, but rather, pie for Mr. Caesar and his pals was more of a “meat wrapped in a reed” kind of experience.
As time went on and word spread, people began stuffing more things inside of pastries, and eventually these pies landed in America, thanks to a very popular Transatlantic Cruise in 1620.
Over time, the pie fillings of choice began to expand, and savory and sweet pies were enjoyed. It seems by the 1800s, bakers and eaters alike were completely on board with pastries filled with fruits, nuts and any ingredients that satisfy one’s sweet tooth.
It’s 2021, and although pie has remained a dessert staple, specifically during the holidays, I think we are beginning to see a resurgence in the popularity of pie in our everyday lives.
People have taken to tying up their apron strings, digging out family recipes, and once again filling pastries with mounds of apples, heaps of chocolate pudding, or bushels of berries.
Baking a pie does not need to be difficult and, in fact, I believe it should be an experience that brings you joy, which is why I have a few best practices for you to use the next time you decide to be a part of pie history.
Best Practice No. 1:
Make Your Own Crust
I believe it was FDR who said the famous phrase “the only thing we have to fear when making a pie crust is fear itself … and not keeping our butter cold.”
He obviously knew what he was talking about, because in all of the times I have taught people how to make pie dough that yields a super flaky pie crust, there seems to be two things that hold them back: fear of failure and not knowing how cold their butter should be throughout the dough-making process.
In response to the fear of failure, this will be addressed at the end of Best Practice No. 4.
“And for the butter?”
Pull it directly from the refrigerator when you make your pie dough and move quickly through your pie dough recipe. You want to keep the butter as close to the temperature it was inside of your refrigerator for as long as possible.
Best Practice No. 2:
Cold Pie, Hot Oven
If you are able to, bake your pie in a metal or foil pie pan. This will allow you to freeze your pie crust before filling it with your pie filling of choice.
Putting a chilled, homemade pie crust into a hot oven (that means give it time to pre-heat!) will help your crust be super flaky. Keeping your butter cold at all stages is important for flaky pie crust.
Note: Do not place a glass or ceramic pie pan in the freezer before baking it. The transition from extreme cold to extreme heat can cause your pan to shatter or crack.
Best Practice No. 3:
Bake with the Seasons
We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips at all times, but when it comes to baking a pie, I like to follow Mother Nature’s lead.
In Georgia, our peaches are sweet and juicy at the height of summer, so save your peach pie recipe for when the key ingredient, peaches, are at their most perfect.
Of course, if you are a planner, you can find those seasonal ingredients during their height and preserve them for enjoyment any time of year.
Best Practice No. 4:
Keep Pantry in Stock
You never know when you might get the urge to bake a pie, which is why I recommend keeping certain pantry staples in stock at all times.
Unsalted butter, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, coarse kosher salt, nuts (pecans and walnuts are great), syrup (corn or maple), a variety of seasonally appropriate fruits, vanilla ice cream, and vodka.
From the butter to the fruits, each of those ingredients can be combined to make a pie that would make any pie baker proud. When you are ready to serve your pie, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and of course, if the pie is not quite what you hoped it would be, that is what the vodka is for.
By Lauren Bolden, a self-taught pie baker who has spent the past five years working to spread joy through pie.
Maple Walnut Pie
Being from Georgia, I grew up eating pecan pie. The combination of sweet, Karo Syrup and hearty pecan pieces is a Southern staple. This maple walnut pie has got to be pecan pie’s Northern cousin. Sweetened with maple syrup and filled with earthy walnuts, this pie goes perfectly with a cup of hot coffee … no matter where you are from!
Components of the Pie
• Use your favorite pie crust recipe and roll it out in a 9-inch pie pan. Keep refrigerated.
• Maple walnut filling.
Ingredients for filling
• ¼ cup light brown sugar
• ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
• 1 cup pure maple syrup
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon coffee extract
• 3 large eggs, lightly beaten/mixed
• ½ – ¾ cup walnut pieces, chopped halves or pieces
In a large bowl, combine light brown sugar and coarse kosher salt. Whisk together until combined.
Pour in maple syrup. Whisk until combined.
Pour in melted butter, vanilla extract and coffee extract. Whisk until combined.
Add eggs. Whisk until combined.
Add chopped walnut halves or pieces. Stir with a spatula until combined.
Assembling and Baking the Pie
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the 9-inch pie pan containing the pie crust from the refrigerator.
Pour the maple walnut filling into the pie crust. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and place on the middle rack of your oven.
Bake for approximately one hour. The pie is finished baking when the center is set and the crust is golden brown. Add additional time as needed.
Remove the pie from the oven, allow to cool on a baking rack for approximately two hours, and then keep the pie refrigerated until ready to serve.
This pie will last in your refrigerator for up to seven days.
Note: This recipe was adapted from “The United States of Pie” by Adrienne Kane.