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Pies - Tarts

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Perky, sweet and tart. Strawberries would also work in this sensational pie that will have you whistling highlights from Oklahoma in no time. If your rhubarb is tough, remove the fibrous strands on the outer stalk before cutting. This pie is a very refreshing, spring-summer combination that is welcome in any season. 

Anyone who knows of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York has heard of Crack Pie, an old-fashioned oatmeal crusted sugar pie, based on a country style Chess Pie colonialists used to make, that is as addictive as (purportedly) crack. That said, the recipe in the cookbook and online is cracked-up crazy. The original has milk powder and cornstarch – two of my least favorite ingredients in baking, plus the pie recipe didn’t quite work. (The taste of raw cornstarch killed it) So I overhauled it (four times –what I won’t do for baking). Here is my version. It’s sweet, decadent and smooth as silk and best eaten with witnesses. It's one of those pies that everyone says is good but then keeps going back for more spoonfuls (it's a bit sludgey) until there's not a crumb left.

This assembly of choux paste layers makes a giant Eclair. Looks like a cake but is put goes together like pastry and serves up like a cake or beautiful torte. If you're in a hurry, use pudding mix (instead of homemade custard) and whipped cream - you'll still have a decadent and delicious treat that is a crowd wow-er.

A smidge of lemon, orange and small jolt of cranberries does much to heighten the flavor and colour of this wonderful classic country pie. A cut out window shows off its pretty filling. A restaurant supply store is the best bet to get an aluminum 10-inch pie pan for that diner look. Pyrex is also fine or make two smaller pies.

There is a lot of debate over this American pie that has its roots in the Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish and Mennonite kitchens of America. We can agree that it is one old pie. Other than that: do you make it with a crumb topping or use a pastry pie shell? Add spice or not? Use molasses or a touch of corn syrup, smear on some chocolate syrup on top or add some chocolate chips to the filling? My version uses a pastry bottom, crumb topping, just a bit of spice, chocolate inside – all bound together in a sweet, gooey, pie symphony that is heartland amazing! Go to any Pennsylvania Dutch county fair and you are sure to come home with one of these, or the appetite to make your own.

If you can’t remember the last time you had this, it is time to make it again. Simple, nutritious, and gone in a flash. This is a nice, quick dessert and a perfect ending to a dinner of turkey chili and cornbread or a cheese omelet supper. Enjoy the mellow taste of apples, set in a caramelized foundation, and topped with a nutty, brown sugar and oatmeal crisp topping. This is also sublime with diced apricots or pears.

A touch of that amazing Vermont boiled apple cider/syrup again in this great country pie. Boiled apple cider tastes like a zillion apples compressed into a tangy, sweet syrup and is what Johnny Appleseed would have named as his brand of ambrosia. A tiny bit goes a long way and greatly ups the apple notes in this apple pie. But....if you don't have it, use a bit of honey or maple syrup instead. If you do not have these particular apples where you are, just try to find a combination of semi-firm baking/eating apples that are mostly sweet with a hint of tart. The big news on pie dough these days is Crisco’s new No Trans Fats version of their shortening. Look for the green can. We tried it. We liked it. We feel better about shortening lately. If you want to make one, great, classic apple pie, look no further. Make sure the apples are piled high. Don't skimp cuz they sink.

What does this mean? Double-baked? I’ve often wondered about watery an apple pie which is the case if you make apple pie in summer. Why? More than likely, it is because you are using last year’s apples in your filling. Over time, even with the best great cold storage and along with your best baker’s efforts, even the best apples lose their apple perfection and can bake up into a watery pie. So I’ve wondered about cooking the filling a bit first, as pie filling manufacturers do, as evidenced if you’ve ever tasted canned pie filling or had a diner apple pie. I finally did it – cooking up the apples a bit first and I can say the results are really good. Is apple pie made better with this method (and let it be said it is not really double-baked; it is cooked filling and a baked pie)? I would say for apple-pie-in-summer, it’s not a bad approach. Which brings me to the apple-rhubarb combination. I love tart things and again, in summer, last year’s apple crop can taste simply starchy and sweet. But add a bit of summery rhubarb and the whole pie stands up and salutes. Just make sure when you add the par-cooked filling it is not warm or hot; otherwise it will compromise the pie pastry.

Is this strudel or a new wave biscotti? This features a biscotti/cookie dough, that is rippled through with apple pie filling (the homemade filling is included; you can also use a can of apple pie filling to speed things up). It is baked once and cut into small sticks that are tightly coiled, showing off their filling. They are crunchy as cookies, interesting as biscotti, and unique as strudel. They keep well and are one of those extremely satisfying cookie bites – as good for the kids as it is for hosting or giving as gifts.

Two types of apples, dried and fresh, make for a profoundly apple-ish pie.
Dried apples were a mainstay on the journey West. This makes a great big pie, so seek out a 10-inch pie tin at a restaurant supply store or tuck it into a ten-inch springform pan. I cut scraps of dough into little leave shapes with a cookie cutter, mark the veins on them and group about five such leaves in the center of the pie. Glaze, bake and learn to take compliments. If you cannot find apple syrup, use pomengrante molasses or leave it out.

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