Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Pie Fail

Pies with burned crusts
I Don't Know from Pumpkin Pie

Recipes in Process

Merry Christmas, All! You might imagine that a food blogger’s Christmas fare would be unfailingly delicious and cooked to perfection. That is true…in our dreams and on a good year. This year, not so much. My lofty idea of having a captive audience rate pumpkin vs. squash pie suffered from beginner’s no-luck. Bruce has gently hinted numerous times before numerous events that cooking something for the first time doesn’t lead to predictable results.  “You’ve made this recipe before?” he asks optimistically. No answer. Unfortunately reason plays a very small role in the creative process.

Burned Pies with Crusts Cut off
Every Problem has a Solution, sort of
As Facebook “Like-ers” of Seasonal Eating know, I’ve been soliciting piecrust tips. With your help, the crust rolled out easily and was impressively flaky. However, I’ve only made my Mom’s pumpkin pie once (with a pre-made crust), quite a few years back. And she didn’t use fresh pumpkin (much less butternut squash). Knowing when the filling was done proved most challenging. Not wanting it to be too liquid, I erred on the side of too much baking, and burned the crust. But no matter, I was able to cut off most of the burned spots. Still, overcooked custard-style pie fillings are not ideal. Who knew it would be so unlike Mrs. Smith’s pies, so difficult to overbake because of…who knows what ingredients. Even with reduced crust, the pies looked, um, sad.

Pan of Peppermint Brownies
Love and Chocolate Save the Day
What’s a cook to do? Of course, in addition to the pies, belatedly whip up a known successful recipe that is completely forgiving. Peppermint-frosted brownies it is! Except that it’s Christmas day and the liquor store/deli (the only market open for miles around) doesn’t have baker’s chocolate. Despite what the owner said on the phone before Bruce went there. And so, Betty Crocker saves the day with a fudgy brownie mix. Made with walnut oil, extra egg, and an extra square of baker’s chocolate, they are a reasonable substitute for homemade. And, just like in the original recipe, the chocolate frosting and peppermint candy topping cover a multitude of mishaps and add a cheery lift.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. May your days be merry and bright, and may all your cooking mishaps be made right.


  1. A silver knife inserted into the pumpkin pie tells you when it's done baking. The knife should be clean of pumpkin. Also, my recipe calls for baking at 400 for only 15 minutes, then at 350 for remainder of time. Helpful info?

    Glad you saved the day with brownies!!

  2. Thanks, Jacky. Duly noted: I was using a stainless steel knife. I debated about turning the temp down, which I'd seen in some recipes online. I used my mother's method, baking at 425 for 40 minutes, but I'm going to use your method next time.

  3. Don't mean at all to be argueing with you at all Robin, but I thought they were absolutely delicious, nice light flaky crust, great subtle spicing, filling such a nice texture and flavor. So one tiny part of crust was a bit brown, hardly noticeable in my book. I really really appreciated and loved them, I just couldn't eat too much because I was already stuffed! I was really glad you made them and brought them. And the brownies too yum! x0x0x0x LH

  4. They look pretty inviting to me !! I always seem to have a problem with crust getting a little too brown, so I bought a wonderful metal ring that is made especially for the crust. It works so much better than foil, which I had been using. If you can pick one up at least you'll have it for the next pie you bake! Congratulations on even attempting to venture into pie baking!! You will be rewarded with such sweet, yummy goodness the more you bake!!! Happy New Year!!!

  5. I never use a knife to test my pies. I find they leave marks and the metal can leave an unwanted flavor at times. Toothpicks!

  6. Good idea, KT. The knife did make a couple of horrendous-looking gaps.