Category Archives: Pies and Tarts

Rustic Apple Pie

Apple Pie
Rustic Apple Pie

There is something warm, inviting, and nostalgic about walking into a kitchen to the tantalizing scent of an apple pie baking.  In my opinion, one of the best desserts is homemade apple pie, especially when topped with a nice round scoop of high-quality vanilla ice cream!  Fall is a great time to make apple pies (and some extras for the freezer) because the apples are so fresh and there is a great selection. The house smells so divine while the apple pie bakes!

Apples
Apples

One of my favorite fall rituals is to go picking apples.  I love being out in the middle of an orchard on a crisp, sunny autumn day surrounded by trees heavy laden with gorgeous big apples.  Typically, we make the annual trek to Arlington Orchards, west of Summerside, to pick a supply of apples.  It’s fun to load up some apple baskets into one of the orchard’s little red flyer wagons and strike off through the orchards.  They have many different varieties of apples from which to choose.

The Apple Wagon
The Apple Wagon

I like making pastry and baking pies and have been doing so since I was about 11 years old.  I watched my mother and grandmother make pies and as soon as I could mix the dough and handle a rolling pin, I was off and running! And, apple pie just happens to be one of my favorites to make.

Not all apples are suitable for making pies.  Some (like MacIntosh variety) are just too soft and, essentially, become apple sauce while the pie cooks. Soft flesh apples that have no crunch when you bite into them are not suitable for pies. It is important to choose apples that have good structure – i.e., those that will cook well but, at the same time, hold their shape.  A slice of a good apple pie will reveal the apple slices still in tact and recognizable.

Apple Pie
Apple Pie

My favorite apples for pies are Cortlands, Spartans, Honeycrisps, Lobos, and Pippins. The one thing each of these apples has in common is crisp texture which makes them ideal choices for pies because they don’t break down in the baking process.  I also like to use more than one kind of apple in my pies because each brings its own flavor and characteristics and, in my opinion, a blend of different apple varieties with various degrees of sweetness, tartness, and juiciness will result in a pie with a great depth of flavor.  Cortlands are a bit tart and quite juicy and, of these five varieties, perhaps has the least crisp texture which means it will soften the most in the pie and that will help to bind the filling .  Honeycrisps have a sweet-tart flavor and are quite aromatic which gives the pie that lovely scent while it is baking.  Spartans are juicy and have an ideally balanced sweet-tart apple flavor. Lobos are a bit tangy and Pippins have juicy flesh, are very aromatic, and reveal a balance of sweetness and acidity.  A combination of any three of these apples will yield a tasty pie. Some apples of each variety can, of course, be used in the pie if you have them.

For this 9” pie, 3½ pounds of apples are needed. It may look like a lot but the apples will settle as the pie bakes and the pie looks more impressive if it has some depth to it.

Apple Pie Under Construction
Apple Pie Under Construction

I peel, core, and quarter the apples when preparing them for pies.  I then slice each quarter, horizontally, into slices about ¼” thick and toss them with a tablespoon of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

Apples Sliced for Pie
Apples Sliced for Pie

A perfect blend of spices is necessary to enhance the flavor of the pie.  I use cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. It is important that just the right amounts of spices be used because they are meant to enhance, not dominate or mask, the flavour of the apples.  Because apples are juicy, some thickening agent needs to be added to the pie – either all-purpose flour or cornstarch works for this. I like to use a blend of brown and granulated sugars in my pie.  I find the addition of brown sugar gives a deeper flavour and an enhanced color to the pie filling.

Apples mixed with spices for pie
Apples mixed with spices for pie

Mix the sugars, spices, a bit of salt, and the thickening agent (flour or cornstarch) together in a small bowl then toss the dry ingredients with the prepared apples to coat them.  Immediately transfer the apples to the pie plate fitted with the bottom crust pastry, ensuring that they are arranged so that any gaps are filled in.  Dot with some pieces of cold butter.

Once the top crust pastry has been placed over the apples, be sure to cut slits in the pastry to allow the steam to escape as the pie bakes. I also use the tines of a fork to prick the pie pastry in various places. It’s important that the steam have an escape valve as, otherwise, it may cause a soggy pie crust if it is trapped inside with the filling.

Venting the Apple Pie
Venting the Apple Pie

I don’t always brush an egg wash on the top crust of the pie but, for a more rustic looking pie, it does give a nice finish and appearance as it browns well.  If the pie browns too quickly before the apples are cooked, simply loosely tent a piece of tin foil over it.

I recommend placing the unbaked pie in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the filling to settle and to chill the crust to prevent shrinkage during baking.

Fruit pies are known for bubbling out as they bake, even if they are well vented.  I think, so long as they aren’t too messy, some filling that has escaped to the top pie crust just makes the pie look like a good homemade pie and it really doesn’t bother me too much at all. However, the one thing I do not like is a messy oven to clean after the juices of a pie have boiled out. For this reason, I recommend placing the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with tin foil.  If the pie does boil out, it’s on the disposable tin foil making clean-up easy.

Apple Pie Ready for the Oven
Apple Pie Ready for the Oven

For this pie, I pre-heat the oven to 425°F and bake the pie at this temperature for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F for the remainder of the baking time.  Be patient. This pie will take at least 50 minutes (maybe a bit longer) to bake. To check for doneness, carefully insert a fork into the center slit of the pie – the apples should be fork tender, not baked to mush, but not too firm that they will taste somewhat raw in the pie.

Apple Pie
Rustic Apple Pie

What follows is the apple pie recipe I have been making for many, many years. I hope you enjoy it!

Apple Pie
Rustic Apple Pie

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rustic Apple Pie

Ingredients:

3½ lbs apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼“ thick (any combination of Spartans, Cortlands, Pippins, Honeycrisps, Lobos)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Pastry for double crust 9” pie

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
1¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, chopped into small pieces

1 large egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk
Apx. ½ tbsp granulated sugar

Method:

Prepare apples, place in large bowl, and toss gently with the lemon juice. Set aside.

Roll pastry for bottom crust to approximately 1/8” thickness.  Transfer to pie plate and trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate.

In small bowl, combine the flour or cornstarch, sugars, spices, and salt together.  Mix into prepared apples.

Arrange the sliced apples in the pie plate, taking care to ensure that any gaps are filled in.  Top with small pieces of butter.

Prepare pastry for the top crust in the same manner as for the bottom crust.  Brush edges of bottom crust along pie plate edge with a bit of water to moisten. Transfer pastry to the top of pie filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate edge.  Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of fork to adhere top crust to bottom crust.  Cut slits in top of pie pastry to allow steam to escape as pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with tines of a fork.

In small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk and milk together.  With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie with the egg-milk mixture.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Transfer pie to oven. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 400°F. Bake for another 40 minutes then test with fork inserted into slit in center of pie to determine if apples are cooked. Apples should be fork-tender when pie is done. If not done, return pie to oven and check every 5 minutes until apples are fork tender.  If pie browns too quickly before it is cooked, loosely tent pie with tin foil.  Remove pie from oven and transfer to cooling rack.

Yield:  1 – 9” pie (apx. 6 servings)

Rustic Apple Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" double-crusted pie

A classic apple pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices.

Ingredients

  • 3½ lbs apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼“ thick (any combination of Spartans, Cortlands, Pippins, Honeycrisps, Lobos)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Pastry for double crust 9” pie
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 1¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk
  • Apx. ½ tbsp granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Prepare apples, place in large bowl, and toss gently with the lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Roll pastry for bottom crust to approximately 1/8” thickness. Transfer to pie plate and trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate.
  3. In small bowl, combine the flour or cornstarch, sugars, spices, and salt together. Mix into prepared apples.
  4. Arrange the sliced apples in the pie plate, taking care to ensure that any gaps are filled in. Top with small pieces of butter.
  5. Prepare pastry for the top crust in the same manner as for the bottom crust. Brush edges of bottom crust along pie plate edge with a bit of water to moisten. Transfer pastry to the top of pie filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate edge. Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of fork to adhere top crust to bottom crust. Cut slits in top of pie pastry to allow steam to escape as pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with tines of a fork.
  6. In small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk and milk together. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie with the egg-milk mixture. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  7. Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.
  8. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  9. Transfer pie to oven. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 400°F. Bake for another 40 minutes then test with fork inserted into slit in center of pie to determine if apples are cooked. Apples should be fork-tender when pie is done. If not done, return pie to oven and check every 5 minutes until apples are fork tender. If pie browns too quickly before it is cooked, loosely tent pie with tin foil. Remove pie from oven and transfer to cooling rack.
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Classic Apple Pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices

 

 

Classic apple pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices
Classic apple pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie Recipe

Blueberry Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

There are many ways to make blueberry pie but I have found that this is one of the tastiest. It’s also a great alternative to anyone who is not overly fond of double-crusted pies as this one is all about the filling!

Now, I love blueberries but sometimes I find they need a little help with a flavour boost.  That’s why I have created this recipe for a blueberry filling that adds a gentle amount of cinnamon and nutmeg along with some orange juice and orange rind.  To add a bit of depth and complexity to the flavor, I add a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier liqueur after the filling has cooked and been removed from the heat.  As with any food, it is important to know what flavor combinations work and will complement each other.  Cinnamon and nutmeg are two spices that go well with blueberries and, of course, blueberry and orange have long been a successful flavor combo. The other thing that is important is not to add in too many different flavors (or too much of any one additional flavor) as that can confuse the palate, detract from the authentic blueberry flavor, and not have the desired result.  Sometimes less really is more!

The blueberries I used in this recipe are locally-grown here on PEI. I am very fortunate in that I am not far from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick field of high bush berries.  When they are in season in August and early September, we always have these fresh.  The berries freeze well and this pie can certainly be made with the frozen berries so it can be enjoyed at any time throughout the year.

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

This is one of the those pies that is best eaten the day it is made so plan to make the pie early in the morning, let it chill for the afternoon, and enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream as a special dessert treat for dinner.

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

[printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

Ingredients:

9” baked pie shell, cooled

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla

¾ cup granulated sugar
3½ tbsp cornstarch
Dash salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
12 oz. high bush blueberries (apx. 2½ cups)
2 tsp orange juice
2 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur
½ tbsp butter

1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp sugar

Method:

In small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Spread over bottom of baked and cooled pie shell. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind together.  In medium-sized saucepan, combine the blueberries, orange juice, and cornstarch-sugar-spice mixture.  Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in Grand Marnier liqueur and butter.  Let mixture cool to room temperature then spread over chilled cream cheese base.  Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow pie to set.

Beat whipping cream and vanilla until soft peaks form then slowly beat in the sugar. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to each individual pie serving or, alternatively, completely cover chilled pie with the whipped cream. Refrigerate until use.  Pie is best eaten the day it is made.  (Note: Cool Whip can be substituted for the whipped cream, if desired.)

Yield:  One 9” pie.

Pin This Recipe to Pinterest!

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie Recipe

Yield: One 9" pie

A luscious and decadent blueberry cream cheese pie that combines high bush blueberries with cinnamon, nutmeg and orange liqueur flavorings

Ingredients

  • 9” baked pie shell, cooled
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3½ tbsp cornstarch
  • Dash salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 12 oz. high bush blueberries (apx. 2½ cups)
  • 2 tsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Instructions

  1. In small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Spread over bottom of baked and cooled pie shell. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind together. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the blueberries, orange juice, and cornstarch-sugar-spice mixture. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Grand Marnier liqueur and butter. Let mixture cool to room temperature then spread over chilled cream cheese base. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow pie to set.
  3. Beat whipping cream and vanilla until soft peaks form then slowly beat in the sugar. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to each individual pie serving or, alternatively, completely cover chilled pie with the whipped cream. Refrigerate until use. Pie is best eaten the day it is made. (Note: Cool Whip can be substituted for the whipped cream, if desired.)
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For more great blueberry recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on these links:

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Blueberry Bread Pudding with Grand Marnier Sauce

Blueberry Barbeque Sauce

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Grunt

Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Funny how certain foods will evoke great memories. When I was a small child, our family often went to a tiny local restaurant in North Tryon, PEI, on Sunday evenings for dinner.  Simmons’ Restaurant was built and run by Jean and Harold Simmons and they served up really good traditional home-cooked meals.  One of the desserts I most fondly remember from their restaurant was coconut cream pie with mile-high meringue. Every time I have coconut cream pie, I remember Sunday dinners at the Simmons’ restaurant.

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

While not all coconut cream pie recipes use coconut milk, I have included it in my recipe to give the pie extra coconut flavor. It does make a difference.  Some tips on successfully making custard pies:

  • Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a smooth custard.
  • Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs while they are cold but let them come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before using them in either the custard or the meringue. Room temperature eggs will blend better into the custard and, for the meringue, they will whip faster with more volume.
  • Temper the beaten eggs with a couple of tablespoons of the hot custard mixture before adding the eggs to the custard. This will prevent the eggs from curdling.
  • Stir the custard constantly as it cooks to prevent it from scorching.
  • Add the sugar slowly to the egg whites when making the meringue and do so after first beating the egg whites to the soft peak stage.
  • Work quickly to make the meringue as it is important that it be applied to piping hot custard in order for it to seal to the filling. This will also help prevent the meringue from shrinking.
  • When applying the meringue to the pie, make sure it completely covers the custard, right to the pie shell edges. This will seal in the custard and will also help to keep the meringue from shrinking.
Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients:
1 – 9” pie shell, baked
¾ cup granulated sugar
3½ tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup whole milk or 10% blend cream
3 extra large egg yolks, slightly beaten (reserve egg whites for meringue)
1½ tbsp  butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavoring
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Meringue:
3 extra-large egg whites, room temperature for 30 minutes
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Method:
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium-sized saucepan.
Combine coconut milk and milk (or blend cream). Gradually whisk liquid ingredients into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (apx 10-15 minutes).

Stir approximately 2 tbsp of the hot custard mixture into the beaten egg yolks then pour the eggs into the custard and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove custard from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Gently stir in the coconut.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To make meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Pour hot coconut custard into cooled, baked pie shell.

Spread meringue over hot custard, spreading to the edges of pie shell to completely seal it.

Swirl meringue into decorative peaks with the tip of a knife, if desired. Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meringue is lightly tanned in color. Cool pie on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

Yield: 1 – 9” pie

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Coconut Cream Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" pie

Ingredients

  • 1 – 9” pie shell, baked
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3½ tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk or 10% blend cream
  • 3 extra large egg yolks, slightly beaten (reserve egg whites for meringue)
  • 1½ tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Meringue:
  • 3 extra-large egg whites, room temperature for 30 minutes
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Combine coconut milk and milk (or blend cream). Gradually whisk liquid ingredients into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (apx 10-15 minutes).
  3. Stir approximately 2 tbsp of the hot custard mixture into the beaten egg yolks then pour the eggs into the custard and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove custard from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Gently stir in the coconut.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. To make meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Pour hot coconut custard into cooled, baked pie shell. Spread meringue over hot custard, spreading to the edges of pie shell to completely seal it. Swirl meringue into decorative peaks with the tip of a knife, if desired. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meringue is lightly tanned in color. Cool pie on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.
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Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie

Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s summer berry pie time!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie

As I write this post in August, the raspberries are in full swing on Prince Edward Island so today’s posting is all about raspberries!

I never mind picking raspberries because there is no bending or crouching involved so it’s not hard on the legs or back. I picked these raspberries at Belanger’s U-Pick near Hunter River, PEI.

These glorious and perfectly-shaped tasty red berries are versatile and can be used in many ways.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie

One of my favorite ways to use raspberries is in a raspberry cream cheese pie.  It’s a cross between a pie and a cheesecake – the best of both worlds.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie

This pie is not difficult to make although it does take a bit of time.  It’s also the type of pie that is best eaten the day it is made.  I like to use the real whipping cream for the topping but Cool Whip works just fine, too.  Sometimes, I like to just pipe the whipped cream around the outer edge of the pie because it allows the rich red raspberry filling to show which, of course, doesn’t happen if the entire top of the pie is completely covered in whipped cream.  Alternatively, I sometimes don’t put any whipped cream on the pie top, preferring instead to simply drop a dollop of whipped cream on each pie serving as it is plated.  Any of the three versions works just fine.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Pie

Ingredients:

9” baked pie shell

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla

3½ tbsp cornstarch
¾ cup granulated sugar
Dash salt
2½ cups fresh raspberries
3 tbsp pineapple juice
1½ tsp lemon juice
½ tbsp butter

1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp sugar

Method:

In small bowl,  beat the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Spread over bottom of pie shell. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

In small bowl, combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt together. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the raspberries, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and cornstarch-sugar mixture. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let mixture cool to room temperature then spread over chilled cream cheese base. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow pie to set.

Beat whipping cream and vanilla until soft peaks form then slowly beat in the sugar. Pipe on to pie in decorative design or, alternatively, completely cover chilled pie with the whipped cream. Refrigerate until use. This pie is best eaten the day it is made. (Note: Cool Whip can be substituted for the whipped cream, if desired.)

Yield: One 9” pie.

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Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" pie, apx. 8 servings

A delectable and flavorful raspberry pie with a layer of cream cheese and a topping of whipped cream. Always a showstopper.

Ingredients

  • 9” baked pie shell
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 3½ tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 2½ cups fresh raspberries
  • 3 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Instructions

  1. In small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Spread over bottom of pie shell. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. In small bowl, combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt together. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the raspberries, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and cornstarch-sugar mixture. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let mixture cool to room temperature then spread over chilled cream cheese base. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow pie to set.
  3. Beat whipping cream and vanilla until soft peaks form then slowly beat in the sugar. Pipe on to pie in decorative design or, alternatively, completely cover chilled pie with the whipped cream. Refrigerate until use. Pie is best eaten the day it is made. (Note: Cool Whip can be substituted for the whipped cream, if desired.)
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Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Strawberries and rhubarb are always a winning combination as their flavors and textures play off well against each other.  On PEI, there is a very short window of opportunity to have both fresh rhubarb and Island strawberries available at the same time.  As I write this posting, our rhubarb season is just about done and the strawberry season is in full swing.

While it is possible to use frozen rhubarb in the strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe I am sharing, the strawberries do need to be fresh, not frozen, since frozen berries will release too much moisture into the pie filling.  So, now’s the time to make a fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Lightly spiced, this pie is a summertime treat, especially when served with a scoop of high-quality French vanilla ice cream.  This is a double crust pie so choose your favorite pastry recipe that makes enough for a 9″ pie.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for two-crust 9” pie

3 cups rhubarb, cut into ½” pieces
1½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1¼ cups white sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
Pinch nutmeg
1½ tsp grated orange rind
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp butter cut into pieces

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Grease 9” pie plate. Roll out pastry and line pie plate, trimming pastry to fit.

In small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, spices, and grated orange rind.

In separate bowl, beat egg with orange juice. Blend in dry ingredients.

Add rhubarb and strawberries and stir gently to mix.

Transfer filling to prepared pie crust.

Dot with butter.

Dampen edges of pie pastry with a finger dipped in water.

Roll out remaining pastry for top crust. Place over filling and trim to fit. Crimp or press edges of pastry together with fork tines to seal.

Cut slits in top of pastry and prick with fork tines in several places to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.

Circle edge of pie with a collar of tin foil to prevent over-browning. Remove this collar after 35 minutes of baking to allow edges to bake and brown.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake 15 minutes at 425°F then decrease temperature to 375°F and bake for approximately 45 minutes longer or until pastry is golden brown and fruit is cooked.

Remove pie from oven and cool completely before slicing and serving.

Yield: One pie,  apx. 8 servings

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" pie, apx. 8 servings

A lightly spiced double-crusted pie that combines two of summer's best flavours.

Ingredients

  • Pastry for 2-crust 9” pie
  • 3 cups rhubarb, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1¼ cups white sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp grated orange rind
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp butter cut into pieces

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Grease 9” pie plate. Roll out pastry and line pie plate, trimming pastry to fit.
  3. In small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, spices, and grated orange rind.
  4. In separate bowl, beat egg with orange juice. Blend in dry ingredients. Add rhubarb and strawberries and stir gently to mix. Transfer filling to prepared pie crust. Dot with butter.
  5. Dampen edges of pie pastry with a finger dipped in water. Roll out remaining pastry for top crust. Place over filling and trim to fit. Crimp or press edges of pastry together with fork tines to seal. Cut slits in top of pastry and prick with fork tines in several places to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.
  6. Circle edge of pie with a collar of tin foil to prevent over-browning. Remove this collar after 35 minutes of baking to allow edges to bake and brown.
  7. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake 15 minutes at 425°F then decrease temperature to 375°F and bake for approximately 45 minutes longer or until pastry is golden brown and fruit is cooked.
  8. Remove pie from oven and cool completely before slicing and serving.
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Squash Pie

Move over pumpkin!  Your cousin, squash, makes better pies!

Squash Pie

Growing up, it was more common in our household to have squash rather than pumpkin pie.  My ancestors always claimed squash makes a better, more tasty pie and I have to agree.  Squash gives a richer pie with a depth of flavour that I don’t find characteristic of pumpkin.

Squash Pies
Squash Pies

There are several different kinds of squash that can be used for pie making but my preference is the tall vase-or bell-shaped butternut squash. Butternut squash is considered a variety of winter squash.  Though harvested in autumn, butternut squash is generally available in supermarkets through the winter months because of the squash’s long “keeping” quality.  I’m guessing it is their availability through the winter months that has earned them the term “winter” squash since they certainly wouldn’t be harvested in the winter in our cold and frosty northeastern climate!  With its mildly nutty flavour, butternut squash has a natural sweetness to it.   The  pulp of the butternut squash is bright orange in color and, while it loses that color when made in to a pie, it turns to a lovely caramel color.

Squash Pie
Squash Pie

My grandmother always cooked her squash in a pot with some water on the stovetop.  However, squash already has a high moisture content and adding more water to the mix can make it difficult to get the cooked squash sufficiently drained that you don’t end up with a soupy texture pie.  My preference is to, instead, roast the squash as it reduces the moisture level and I find it also gives the squash an even deeper, richer flavour.

For my squash pie recipe (found at the end of this posting), 2 cups of puréed squash is needed.  I used a butternut squash weighing 3 pounds which yielded 4 cups of purée, enough for 2  – 10″ pies.  So, if all you want is one pie, try to find a squash that weighs 1½ to 1¾ pounds.

Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash

To roast the squash, I simply began by cutting the squash in half, starting at the top narrow end, slicing all the way through to the bottom.

With a spoon, remove the seeds.

With a soft brush, apply a thin layer of olive oil to both the flesh and skin sides of the squash.

Place squash, flesh side down, on a greased, foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Bake in preheated 425°F oven for about a half hour. Remove the squash from the oven and, with a large lifter, carefully flip the pieces over, applying another light brushing of olive oil to the flesh side. Return the squash to the oven for about another half hour or so, until the flesh of the squash is very soft.  Remove from oven.

As soon as the squash has just cooled enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin of the squash and put it in the bowl of a food processor.

Process until the squash is puréed smooth.

Then, transfer the purée to a cheesecloth-lined colander fitted over a large bowl or pot and leave it to drip for about an hour or so.  The goal is to remove as much remaining liquid as possible.  I find it helps to stir the mixture two to three times and to press down the mixture with the back of a large spoon to extract the liquid.

To make one pie, transfer 2 cups of the purée to a medium-sized bowl.

Add the slightly-beaten eggs.

Next, add the sugars, salt, spices, and evaporated milk.

Mix the ingredients well – I use a hand mixer.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust.  Although not necessary, I sometimes (but not always) pre-bake the crust for about 10 minutes to set it.  If you do this, be sure to use pie weights to ensure the crust does not bubble up, creating air pockets underneath.

I find it useful to place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet for easy transport into the oven.  The filling is very liquid at this point and it is very easy to spill it or slosh it up over the sides of the crust edges.  In fact, sometimes, I only partially fill the pie, then set it on the oven rack and finish filling it there.

It helps to start baking the pie at 375°F for the first 15 minutes to give it a quick set then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 1¼ hours longer or until a knife, or a toothpick, inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

The pie should be thoroughly cooled and allowed to set before cutting.

Squash Pie
Squash Pie

Squash Pie

1½ – 1¾ lb butternut squash
Pastry for deep 10-inch single crust pie

For the pie filling:
2 cups squash purée
2 extra large eggs, slightly beaten
⅔ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
⅓ cup white sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp mace
⅛ tsp nutmeg
1⅔ cup evaporated milk

To roast the squash:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line large rimmed baking sheet with tin foil. Spray with cooking oil.

Cut the squash in half from top to bottom. Remove and discard seeds. Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of squash. Place squash, flesh side down, on baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes then remove from oven and carefully flip the squash halves over. Apply a light brushing of olive oil on the flesh side of the squash.  Return squash to oven and continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes or until squash is very soft.

To prepare the squash purée:

Line a large colander with cheesecloth.  Set aside.

Remove squash from oven. As soon as the squash has just cooled enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the squash and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Purée the squash until it is very smooth.

Transfer the purée to the cheesecloth-lined colander. Let sit for about an hour to allow any excess water to drain from the purée. From time to time, stir the purée and, with a large spoon, press out the moisture from the purée.

To make the pie filling:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Transfer purée to a medium-sized bowl and add the eggs, sugars, salt, spices, and milk. With a mixer (either a hand or stand mixer), mix ingredients thoroughly. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell. Place on rimmed baking sheet.

Bake pie in lower third of oven at 375°F for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 350°F and continue baking pie for about 1¼ hours longer or until knife or toothpick inserted in center of pie comes out clean.

Let pie cool completely before cutting.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Squash Pie
Squash Pie

Squash Pie
Squash Pie

 

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Butter Tarts – A Quintessential Canadian Dessert

Butter tarts that melt in your mouth, is there anything better?  There are as many recipes for butter tarts as there are bakers and pastry chefs making them.  Essentially, these are the basic, core ingredients that will normally be common to all butter tart recipes:  brown sugar, eggs, butter (absolutely no substitutes), and usually some kind of syrup (e.g., maple, corn, or both).  The ingredients may vary in different amounts from recipe to recipe and this will impact the flavor and texture of the filling.

What will often define a good butter tart is the pastry.  No matter how tasty the filling is, if the pastry is tough or hard, a good butter tart is ruined.  Just as in a pie, tart pastry shells should be light and flaky. When you bite into the tart, the pastry should be very tender and just literally flake apart and you should be able to see its different layers.

Some use very thick pastry for their tarts and they fold and pleat in quite a chunk of pastry to each muffin cup; however, I don’t care for a lot of pastry as I find it detracts from the filling.  I guess you could say that I don’t like a dessert that is more about the pastry and less about the filling (the yummy part!). I make my own pastry and roll it quite thin, just leaving it thick enough to hold the filling and just large enough that it only lines the muffin tins – no extra tucks or folds of pastry for me.  I think it also makes a more refined, neater, and pleasing tart presentation when the shell perfectly and smoothly fits the muffin tin.  I use a 3 7/8″ ruffled edge cookie cutter to cut out the pastry shells but it depends, of course, on the size of muffin tins you are using.  You may need to experiment to find just the right size of pastry circle to fit the tins you are using.     Because pastry will shrink when baking, I fit the pastry shells into the muffin tins and put them in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to chill.  This helps to reduce the shrinkage during the baking process and keeps the original size and shape of the pastry shells, or at least close to it.  Then, I immediately fill the shells and pop them right into the pre-heated oven.

The consistency of the filling varies from recipe to recipe.  Some fillings are very runny, so much so that the tarts have to be eaten on a plate and with a fork.  I prefer tart fillings that are not runny but yet have soft texture and are sufficiently thickened that the tarts can be picked up in the hand and eaten without the filling dripping down the chin.

Then there is always the perennial question about whether the tarts are better with, or without, raisins and/or nuts.  I don’t necessarily mind those additions but my preference is to leave them out in favour of a nice smooth, uninterrupted filling.  Some bakers have started being creative with butter tarts by adding ingredients such as chocolate chips, coconut, or dates, for example, to their tarts.  These, however, are not traditional additions to butter tarts on PEI.

One of the tricks I have learned when making tarts is not to beat too much air into the eggs as this causes the filling to rise while baking and, consequently, spill over the top of the pastry shell and stick to the muffin tins in which they are baked.  It then becomes difficult to remove the tarts from the pans without wrecking them.  For this reason, I don’t use my Kitchen Aid or hand mixer to mix the filling.  I beat the eggs very, very little and only with a whisk.

Some desserts are trendy for awhile and will come and go with time.  Not so with butter tarts.  They are a true Canadian classic that are always en vogue.  I grew up with butter tarts regularly being made by both my mother and grandmother.  My mother would often whip up a batch of butter tarts on a Saturday morning and think nothing of it.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say tarts were almost a staple in the household and we always kind of looked upon them as rather commonplace as opposed to a delicacy.   Put a tray of butter tarts on any dessert table and watch them disappear quickly!

The recipe that follows is my own, adapted from the one my mother used.  My mother, for example, never added maple syrup to tarts but I think it enhances the sweet taste of the tarts so I have incorporated it into my version.

Barbara’s Butter Tarts

Ingredients:

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs, lightly beaten (with whisk)

3 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 cup melted butter (no substitutions)

2 tbsp cream, blend, or whole milk

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla

1 tsp vinegar

dash salt

Method:

Prepare your favorite pastry recipe and cut out round shapes of sufficient size to fit into muffin tins.

Place shells in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350C.

Assemble ingredients.

Add all ingredients to large mixing cup or bowl.  Whisk, or stir, just until ingredients are combined.

Pour or spoon filling into prepared shells, filling each about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 25 minutes or just until filling has set.  Let cool 20-25 minutes in muffin tins on rack then remove from pans to rack to finish cooling.

Yield:  Apx. 12-14 tarts

This blog entry is part of the Canadian Food Experience project which began on June 7, 2013.  The September theme is “My Cherished Canadian Recipe”.  Butter tarts are one of the most common desserts often associated with Canada, particularly when the tarts have maple syrup in them, so I have chosen to share my recipe.

As we (project participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice.  Please join us.

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