Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Today I’m going to share a technique for How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust. My kids are all living on their own now, and every once in a while, I get a phone call from one of the three asking how to do this or how to do that. This is one of those things that you don’t do very often, but when you need to know how to do it, you really need to know how to do it! If you don’t do it the right way, you may just end up with a puffy, unusable crust. That would just be totally unacceptable, because blind baking really isn’t hard, but it is sometimes necessary. I think this technique gives you a fairly smooth and useable pie crust every time.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Make a pie crust from your favorite recipe and chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I had one in the freezer (that’s why it’s in a foil pan – I don’t regularly use foil unless I’m taking it somewhere) so I just used that. The recipe I used was from a past post of Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust, but you could search and use any regular pie crust recipe (obviously, don’t use a graham cracker crust) here on Plenty Sweet Life. Don’t forget to “dock” the crust, which means to give the crust a few pokes with a fork. This is an important step because this helps the crust not puff up in the end.

Next get a piece of parchment paper (you could also use foil) to put inside the crust, and figure out what you’re going to use as a weight. You can buy ceramic pie weights, but I use a one pound bag of beans that I have been using for about 35 years. It was cheaper than ceramic weights and all we could afford at the time. Just make sure that you keep them in a jar (and label them so you don’t try to cook them), and you can use them again and again – for years! ūüôā

Put the parchment over the crust and gently pour your pie weights or beans onto it. I usually gently make sure that they cover all the nooks and crannies – this is going to stop the crust from puffing.

Bake the crust at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and take out the parchment and weights. Bake for another 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let the crust cool.

When you take out the pie weights or beans, let them cool right on the parchment.

I use the parchment to cool the beans, then just lift it by the edges and use it to pour the beans right back into the jar. You can see how long I’ve had these beans – the lid on the mayonnaise jar was metal!

Now your crust is ready for whatever delicious pie you want to make. Wasn’t that easy? Not hard to do at all! This crust was used to make a Banana Cream Pie. Stay tuned for that recipe in my next post! Make sure you keep this recipe handy for How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust, and you’ll always be ready for pie!

 

 

 

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Golden Festal Pumpkin Pie

Grandma had this recipe for Golden Festal Pie Recipe (Pumpkin) in her file, and it’s the exact recipe on the back of the can of Festal Pumpkin (although the name is a little different on the recipe card)! All those years ago, and the recipe hasn’t changed.

That means it’s a good one – cuz grandma only kept the best recipes! Our family absolutely HAS to have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving – it’s tradition. This year is no exception. My son makes a mean pumpkin pie, and usually makes it every year, but this year I’m taking this one on because this is the last pumpkin pie recipe that comes from Grandma’s file. It’s delicious. ‘Nuf said.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Golden Festal Pie Recipe (Pumpkin)

Prepare a one-crust pie shell (I used the crust recipe for Old-Fashioned Pie Crust– it makes 2 crusts, and I used this particular recipe because as you’ll see later, we’ll need a second crust to decorate the pie).

Combine:

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup sugar or brown sugar (I used brown sugar)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Blend in:

1 can Festal Golden Pie Pumpkin

Add:

1 1/2 cups top milk (does this mean the top milk from a can of fresh milk – not sure) or evaporated milk (I used evap milk – 1 can)

Beat well.

Pour mixture into prepared pie crust.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Pie is done when knife, inserted in center, comes out clean.

I used a little more than half of the recipe of crust for the bottom crust. I wanted to make sure I had enough, and the second crust was just going to be used for decoration, not a whole top crust.

I trimmed away the excess from the edge of the pie pan. If you have a hole, just fill it in with some of the excess and trim it – it won’t show. Next it went into the frig to chill.

I used the remaining second crust and cookie cutters to make some decorations for the top of the baked pie and put them on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper, using the back of a knife to make the leaf veins. This was so fun!

While the crust and decorations were chilling in the frig, I made the filling. I used a whisk to mix it, but next time I’d use a hand mixer – especially if using brown sugar – so it would mix in better. I did use brown sugar and whisking left some lumps of brown sugar in the bottom of the bowl.

Originally I was going to decorate the WHOLE edge with the cut out leaves, but decided to bake them separately instead. I hadn’t left myself enough crust on the edge to make my usual fluting, so I used a fork to make the design – that’s how Grandma used to do it! The filling was too much for this crust, so I poured the extra into a single portion baking dish for someone to enjoy later that day.

When the pie was baking, I took the decorations out of the frig, brushed them with egg wash, and sprinkled them with coarse sugar. When the pie was done baking, I baked the decorations at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Here is the beauty – out of the oven!

This is a step that you do NOT have to do – decorating. You can totally just make the pie and leave it at that. Delicious. I just decided to try something a little bit different, and decorate.

The single portion that was leftovers – yum! We enjoyed this after dinner that night!

I couldn’t decide which to put on the pie – the leaf or the turkey. In the end, I decided to stick with the thanksgiving theme and go with the turkey. That’s why I put the leaf on the extra serving that was leftover filling. I used the cut out leaves and acorns to go around the edge. It’s so pretty!

It seems a shame to cut into this beautiful pie, but that’s what it’s all about. A delicious pie that’s pretty to look at, it’s festive as all get-out, it’s traditional, and it’s amazingly delicious. Yes – we’ve covered all those bases here. I put the pie in the freezer until Thanksgiving – which I’ve never done before – I just need to thaw it in the frig overnight before serving, and serve it with a big dollop of freshly whipped cream! My family will enjoy this same pie on Thanksgiving day, just like Grandma made all those years ago – but with just a little more decoration. We know it’s going to be delicious, because she kept this recipe for years. You can make this one and be pretty sure the Golden Festal Pie Recipe (Pumpkin) will be a new and delicious tradition for your family!

 

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Peach Pie with Never Fail Pie Crust

It’s that time of the summer when peaches are plentiful and oh so delicious! The grandmas and grandpas would tell of why they loved peach season as children (we all know about their keeping the nice, soft papers that wrapped the peaches hung on a nail on the wall in that little house in the backyard)! My mom would buy a “crate” of peaches every August and me and my sister would eat peaches until we just couldn’t eat any more!! We would eat them, but we would also make as many luscious desserts as we could before we ran out of them. This Peach Pie with Never Fail Pie Crust¬†is another great recipe for one of my favorite fruits. This particular recipe calls for a double crust, so obviously it’s asking for a regular pie crust and not a graham cracker crust. So with today’s recipe, you get a bonus¬†one for pie crust.

Peach Pie

Never Fail Pie Crust

Never Fail Pie Crust 2

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Pie

Sift together:

1 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together with:

8 peaches, sliced

Put into bottom crust and top with a top crust.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Turn oven down to 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Never Fail Pie Crust

1 cup rounded flour

8 Tablespoons butter (she has either margarine or shortening, but I used all butter)

1/4 cup cold milk

1/4 teaspoons salt

Blend flour, salt, and butter.

Stir in milk.

The correct procedure here is to chill the dough, then roll it out, then chill it again, blah, blah, blah. You can chill it if you want to, but I didn’t chill it at all (the recipe card didn’t say to do that). This really is “never fail”.

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Wow – I love peaches.

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I sliced the peaches first before doing the crust or mixing it together.

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This is a very simple recipe for pie crust. It’s best to have it ready to go before getting the peaches ready.

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These peaches were VERY juicy and it made for a VERY JUICY pie. I might add an extra tablespoon of flour or even a tablespoon of cornstarch next time if I know the peaches are as juicy as these were.

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I used my favorite plastic wrap technique for rolling out the crust, which really worked well on this crust that is a bit softer than usual (I didn’t¬†chill the dough this time)!

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One pie – ready for the oven! I cut some slits into the crust to let the steam out and sprinkled the top with a bit of sugar.

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Looks good right out of the oven!

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Beautiful, but juicy! I wonder if this would have firmed up a bit by putting it in the refrigerator? Next time I’ll try that.

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You just shouldn’t eat pie without ice cream! I have posted a great recipe for Homemade Ice Cream in an earlier post. Make some ice cream and make some pie, and make it with those beautiful, plentiful, delicious peaches!

 

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Cherry Pie with Pie Pastry

Today I’m doing a Cherry Pie with Pie Pastry, Pie Pastry being Grandma’s recipe here. It’s part Valentine gift to my husband (cherry pie being his favorite) and part in honor of President’s Day. Thank goodness George Washington and his chopping down¬†of the cherry tree (even though I think they’ve proven that story untrue) gives us a reason to have cherry pie. Cherry pie, when you use the filling from a can, is one of the easiest pies to start out with if you’re just learning how to make pie. I’m 2 years old in this photo and I’m sure I was upset because I wanted to make a pie and they wouldn’t let me. No lie.

Cherry Pie and Pie Pastry

I was in the kitchen, after all.

I started making cherry pie when I was about 10 years old and probably haven’t made it since I was about 12. Even though cherry pie is my husband’s favorite, I haven’t made it over the years¬†–¬† I mean really, you just open a can. Ha. I moved on to bigger and better things – like Blueberry Pie.

Crust

This Pie Pastry was interesting when baked, as you’ll see later.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Pie with Pie Pastry

For pastry:

Sift together (I use a wire whisk to do this):

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Use a pastry blender to blend in:

2/3 cups lard (yes – I did use lard for this one)

Add (by mixing with a fork):

4 Tablespoons cold water (I ended up using 6 – maybe because of how dry it is in our house this time of year)

Mix until dough comes together (I used my hands at the end to make sure all it all stayed together in a ball).

Makes enough for a double crust pie.

Roll out bottom crust and put into pie plate (I still roll it between two sheets of plastic wrap-no sticking).

Fill with your favorite pie filling.

Roll out top crust and put on top of pie (here I cut strips for a lattice top).

Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.

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Yes – I’ve come around to using lard – it really does make it sooooo flaky. Make the pieces about pea sized once you cut it into the dry ingredients.

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Split the dough in two and start with the bottom crust first. Use a sharp knife against the edge of the pie plate to cut off the excess.

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Put in your can of cherry (or any other kind you want to use) pie filling.

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I use my 30-year-old pizza cutter to cut the strips for the lattice top. Just weave them in and out or just lay them on top of each other in a woven-type pattern. Then I used an egg wash and some sanding sugar on the top to add a little sparkle.

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Here’s the interesting thing about the¬†pastry after it was¬†baked. It puffed up! You can see how much thicker it looks after baking. It’s not really thicker – it’s puffed and flaky. That’s what happens when you use baking powder in the dough.

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This pie pastry is a good contrast to the sweet filling. It’s¬†light and flaky,¬†and really holds up well to the pie filling.

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Happy President’s Day, everyone! I cannot tell a lie – this pie is delicious!

 

 

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Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

Today I’m making one of the pies that will be part of our Thanksgiving celebration. I’m trying to get ahead of the game and get as many things done ahead of time as I possibly can. This Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust is one thing I want to get done and put in the freezer, ready for the big day. I only call it old-fashioned pie crust because it calls for, yes, LARD, and I also decided not to use the food processor. I’m actually going to mix it¬†by hand. Usually I’m against lard, or shortening, or margarine – I usually just use butter. I had lard left over from making Hilda’s Donuts¬†(I also still have apples left from our friend, Sven) and I thought – let’s give it a try. I haven’t had pie crust made with lard in about 40 years. I’m not sure why, but at some point we were told that margarine and shortening were better for us than lard or butter. Wrong. How could chemicals possibly be better than something that’s natural. That’s just my opinion.

I have a funny story¬†about apple pie . . . the first time I made it by myself was when I was in 3rd grade. My mom was a working mom so I was home after school by myself and¬†I decided to try to make an apple pie. I’m sure I had seen my mom and both of my grandmas make crust and cut apples for pie. It all went well until it came time to take it out of the oven. I dropped it! Upside down on the CARPET that we had in the kitchen (it was the 70s, remember). Good grief – I probably could hardy lift it – 3rd grade!!!! What is that, 8 years old?!! This photo was taken on my 8th birthday, so I suppose it would have been the next fall that I gave this a try.

Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

I called my mom at work and actually thought I could still save it. Nope. It was a goner. I remember standing there just looking at it, and I couldn’t even clean it up right away – it was HOT!!!! Oh well, it wouldn’t be¬†the last of my culinary disasters. Ha!

This recipe looks like it originally came from my mom. Must be a good one, note the “Good” connotation!

Pie Crust

I had apples that seemed a bit dry, so I didn’t use the tapioca she has on the bottom left corner of the card. These apples also seemed “plenty sweet” so I only used 1/2 cup of sugar with the cinnamon (and I added just a dash of nutmeg and 3 small pats of butter).

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Apple Pie with Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

Mix together:

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Add:

2/3 cup lard

Use pastry blender to cut (mix) until lard pieces are about the size of peas.

Add:

3-6 Tablespoons cold water (I used 6 T)

Mix with a fork until dough sticks together when you squeeze a handful.

Form into disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator while fixing apples.

Peel, core, and slice enough apples to fit into your pie plate. Go ahead and really fill it up – they will shrink a bit when baked.

Take pie crust out of refrigerator, split into two pieces,¬†and roll out the first piece (crust) between sheets of plastic wrap (this is still my favorite way to do it and I wont give that up, even though I did the mixing by hand this time¬†– it’s fast and no sticking to your counter top).

Put the first crust into pie plate.

Fill with apple slices and add the cinnamon/sugar mixture (I added a dash of nutmeg, too, and 3 small pats of butter).

Roll out the second crust – big enough to cover all.

Put top crust on top of apples and crimp edge of crust.

Cut decorative vent holes in the top crust and¬†sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and sugar. (Some people like to use an egg wash on the top crust, but since neither of my grandmas nor my mom did that, I’m not going to do it here.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turn down to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes more.

Cool on a rack. Cool completely if going into freezer.

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You can see the pea-sized bits of lard here.

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It’s hard to see, but there is a squeezed portion in the middle of the bowl.

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Wrap up the dough and chill.

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I usually put two overlapping horizontal layers of plastic wrap on the counter, then put the dough, and then two more overlapping horizontal layers of plastic wrap before I roll it out. My plastic wrap isn’t wide enough to be able to roll out a big enough crust by itself, so I use two and then it’s wide enough without coming out of the sides of the plastic wrap.

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Put in the bottom crust . . .

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then fill with sliced apples, sugar, and cinnamon, and an additional dash of nutmeg and butter pats.

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I take off the top layer of plastic wrap, flip it upside down on top of the filling, and use quick little tugs to remove the rest of the plastic wrap.

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She’s ready for the oven. Isn’t she beautiful? Ready for the freezer. I wrap it well and thaw overnight before putting the pie back into the oven at 350 degrees for another 30-40 minutes or so to re-crisp it and warm it up.

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I can’t wait until¬†we can try this pie crust. I’ll post on Facebook how it goes. Try it yourself – just don’t drop it!

 

 

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Graham Cracker Pie

The recipe for today is one that looked good on the surface, but when¬†I got into it, it was a challenge. I made this¬†Graham Cracker Pie¬†for our family dinner on Sunday and everyone agreed – this one is a keeper – it just needs a little tweaking. Some of the necessary instructions were missing, so¬†I had to guess (and look some things up online)¬†how to do¬†some things. That’s just the way Grandma¬†cooked and baked¬†– she knew how to do it, but we don’t always remember how she did it or didn’t even see her do it. My mom did things that way, too, and me and my sister have to figure out what she means.¬†Some recipes are just written down with ingredients and no instructions. I’m guilty of that, too. My daughters get mad that I don’t have certain recipes written down right or that I don’t use exact measurements. “You just put some in . . . ” After running my own home for more than 30 years, there are just things you get good at. They will be good at it, too – they already are! That’s one reason¬†why I’m doing this blog – so all of¬†those family recipes ARE written down with instructions and they have a resource to go to. So, here we go . . .

Graham Cracker Pie

One great thing about this recipe is the amazing crust!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Graham Cracker Pie

Read through recipe before starting. There were things I had to add to the instructions for the custard.

Mix for crust:

16 graham crackers, crushed fine (8 of the large double ones)

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Reserve 1/2 cup for top of pie.

The card doesn’t say to bake, but I did bake it for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

(Some recipes online said not to bake the crust. I think you can do whatever you prefer.)

Filling:

2 cups milk

3 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

4 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Scald milk (heated just to boiling, but not boiling).

Beat egg yolks and add 1/2 cup sugar, flour, and flavoring.

Mix well and slowly add the scalded milk.

(Here’s where things get a bit dicey. It says that it takes about 20 minutes to thicken, but it doesn’t say whether to stop there and chill it or add it back to the pan and cook it to thicken. When I looked online, I couldn’t find any recipes for this exact custard, so I started by putting it into the refrigerator for 20 minutes and the only part that thickened was the 1/8″ on the bottom of the bowl. Next I put it into a saucepan and brought it to a boil and boiled for 2 minutes. That thickened it some. So that’s what I went with.)

Add all custard ingredients to saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes.

Beat egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar and carefully spread meringue over custard.

Sprinkle reserved graham cracker crumbs over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cool on rack for 1 hour and then chill in refrigerator for 3 hours.

(I found this info online, also, and it made all the difference.)

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Adding the cinnamon gives¬†the¬†crust¬†an amazing aroma. I don’t use the word “amazing” too often. It’s amazing.

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The meringue is tricky to spread on top of the custard, but just be gentle. Don’t forget to top with the crumbs!

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After baking, the meringue is puffed and golden. It does deflate after sitting and refrigerating.

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If left to chill the recommended time, I think this would be fine, but we couldn’t wait the whole time. We tried a bit too early.

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You can see that we should have left it in the refrigerator a bit longer and that the meringue deflated in there. This pie is delicious. The addition of the cinnamon in the crust and the vanilla and lemon in the custard make this so tasty. I did have to figure it out, but it’s definitely a keeper. Definitely.

 

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