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Week 5: A Calendar Inspired Pie!

Each year in December, I choose my large calendar of the year. This year it is from the Lang Company and its called American Kitchen with artwork by Susan Winget.

Can I just say this calendar had me at ROLLING PINS!!??? This is the cutest "Americana" type calendar ever! I'm in love and as a cook, I love that each month features a yummy recipe for something good to eat. Flipping the calendar to February I see that this month's recipe is...

EGG CUSTARD PIE! One of my all-time favorites! I love how homey, warm and full of vanilla bean flavor this pie is. It said to use "1 unbaked deep-dish pie shell" so guess what... another pie crust recipe to share with you. About a year ago I started taking public cooking classes with Grandma Ingrid. It was one of the BEST and most fun things I have ever done! If you live in the San Luis Obispo County area, check her out HERE. She has classes practically every weekend of the year and you will not go away hungry! They feed you until you POP plus you learn skills to improve your cooking! This crust recipe is from her pie class that I took about a year ago and is called:

Foolproof Pie Dough (This is JUST what I need to improve my crust making capability! )

(Makes one 9 inch double crust pie)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 1/2 Sticks of cold butter cut into 1/4 inch slices. FROZEN
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening cut into 4 pieces FROZEN
1/4 cup cold water, ice cold
1/4 cup vodka, ice-cold (Yes! Vodka, because it can be at freezing and not become solid so you get a really, REALLY cold liquid for your pie.)

1.Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until 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 the food processor blade.


(Its too easy to forget this part so I made it bold!)

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. Mix until just forming dough or with rubber spatula, use folding motions to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. Roll out crust to a couple of inches larger than the exterior edge of your pie plate so you can crimp the edges.

3. Place bottom crust in pie plate and leave 1/2 inch over-hang. Fill with apples (or whatever fruit or custard you are using). Plast top crust on if using and crimp.

For best results, put your pan with crust onto a cookie sheet for stabilization in the oven. For this pie, I brushed the crust with some egg white in the bottom, sides and over the fancy edged crust. That will help to prevent "soggy bottoms" with the wet filling.


Now onto the pie filling!

The recipe on the calendar says to heat the oven to 400 degrees but I waited just a bit because the crust had to be in the refrigerator for 45 min. So at about the 1/2 hour mark on my crust, I started the preheat business.

Next, it says to warm the milk to just under a boil. I like to do this in a double boiler because you can step away to finish the other part of the pie without worrying so much if your milk is going to burn on the bottom unattended.

While the milk was heating, I mixed up the other filling ingredients. Into my bowl went the 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk (the egg yolk of another egg that I was going to use the white to brush my crust) the 3/4 cup of granulated sugar,  salt and vanilla extract. I mixed those together really well and then added in my milk little by little so I wouldn't cook the eggs in the bowl. That is pretty much it for the filling. Easy peasy!

Then into the oven for a bake of 40 to 50 min. I'm playing it safe by shooting for 45 min. and then checking every 5 min. until done. If the crust appears to be getting too dark too fast, I will put on my pie crust shield to protect it from burning. 

At 40 min into the bake, I put on the pie shield to keep the crust from burning. And I noticed that the insides were still very wet and runny. I'll have to adjust the baking time, checking it every five minutes until it is complete.

Next comes cooling until warm, or chilling until cold which is the way I like it and having a nice little sweet treat! 

A perfect crust is RIGHT! 
Wow, no soggy bottoms here! And it is flakey and crumbly... very reliable and easy. 

By the way, did your parents ever take the pie crust dough, coat it with a little butter and put cinnamon sugar on it and bake it as the pie was cooking? My Dad loved doing this with the leftover pie crust and we loved it as kids too. So of course, I had to make some of my own.

It was good and brought back a bunch of memories! My Dad was the "pieman" of the family. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas he would make his pumpkin pies for us all to devour. He was really good with shaped sugar cookies too. I think baking brings my family that's gone on to heaven back to me and I get to cherish them in my heart and remember all the recipes and good times we shared.


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