Saturday, December 15, 2007

Your Letters


I'm an old guy out here in Oregon who's gonna be lucky enough to have his granddaughters (8 & 10) stay for a few days until the whole family comes over for Solstice. So I thought that I'd bake some pies with them (and give them a bunch of pie making stuff and baking booksfor the holidays - any ideas on good books or tools?)

so then I found your website - beaucoup cool.

I am a stew and italian sauce cook if I had to describe myself (I'm making a deep sauce and bracciole for our Solstice meal) and have never made a pie crust. My questions -

How long should I bake mini pumpkin or fruit pies? (425 for 10 min and then 375 for 40 min?

How do I keep them from sticking to the bottom of cooking tins?

How do I remove them without brutalizing them?

Do I pile the filling up high - esp. fruits, and let it run wild?

Do I give the kids the ritalin before or after the pies go in the oven?

What else would you do with chocolate chips to make them pie-worthy?

Thanks for your help.

Dear Old Guy in Oregon,

1) Temperature and baking time for mini pies: If you are using muffin tins (or mini muffin tins) we recommend setting the oven to the standard 350 or 375 F and then setting the timer for an initial 15 - 20 minutes. Check them frequently after that-- the filling will be fine, you just want the crust to brown nicely.

2) The sticking issue: We use non-stick mini muffin tins and rely on the butter-rich pie crust to do the rest.

3) Non-brutal removal techniques: This is very much dependent on the pie crust recipe you use (Ann's current favorite is this one from African Vanielje and Karyn swears by this one) and the depth of the muffin tin-- another reason why we favor mini muffin tins, as they are very shallow. Additionally, we let them cool before we even try to lift them out.

4) How much filling: If you are making an fruit mini pie and you intend to put a crust on top AND you are confident of your sealing technique AND you use an egg wash AND you remember to poke a vent hole, piling the fruit high should be fine.

If you're going to leave the top bare or lattice your crust you will probably have a bit of a mess if you pile the fruit too high.

5) Ritalin before or after the pies go in the oven? As we are not physicians we will leave that to your own discretion. :-)

6) What else would you do with chocolate chips to make them pie-worthy? We have been thinking about using that old Magic Bars cookie recipe on a regular shortcrust. Maybe try that?

In solidarity,

Ann and Karyn

PS/ If you send us photos of your pies (and grandchildren) we'd love to write a little follow-up about it... Good luck!

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