Pie #7- Grandma’s French Silk Pie

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I have two pies to blog this weekend so stay tuned!  This French Silk Pie shout out is two weeks late- whoops!

About 2 months ago I attempted this pie as a “Welcome to Memphis” for my inlaws.  Unfortunately, due to my struggle with blind baking it was down right inedible.  So, when the time came to celebrate my dear friend’s birthday, I thought it might be time to give it a second shot!  I have LOVED making my grandmothers’ pie recipes (I’ve made Gram’s Sweet Strawberry Pie 3 times in 3 weeks) and this one is no exception.  First of all, this is probably the fastest and easiest pie I’ve made, AND it’s absolutely delicious.  WARNING:  this pie uses raw eggs (because grandma’s don’t cook health food, am I right?) so proceed with caution… but I think it’s worth the risk!

On to the birthday girl… When I graduated from college I was told over and over again that it would be so hard to find friends in the grown-up world.  For the most part, that has been true and many of the friends that I have made have been a little out of the ordinary.  Speaking of out of the ordinary, meet Kathy McCoy:

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Kathy (front and center doing the “Kathy hand”) is one of the beautiful front office ladies at work.  To give you some insight into this woman I’ll tell you that the photos I had to choose from included: Kathy picking out her tatoo, Kathy in a hula hoop, Kathy and a hot dog, and various pictures of Kathy with her “girls” aka the senior girls in our youth group.  Kathy is a youth volunteer extraordinaire and she has become one of my very dearest friends.  Kathy has taught me: to never hang up a phone call with Seth without saying I love you, how to pour into the lives of girls through notes and time, that not every woman over 55 has to wear pant suits, how to let things go (I’m still working on that one), how to be a loving and less-crazy wife, and many many other things.  She and Dewey are so special to Seth and me and we’re incredibly thankful for their friendship.

So, in honor of this dear woman’s 30th (cough, cough) birthday I made her and Dew an easy-breezy French Silk Pie:

frenchsilk

Ingredients:

1/4 lb butter

3/4 C sugar

1 square melted bitter chocolate

1 tsp vanilla

2 chilled eggs

 

 
Directions:

With an electric beater (according to my grandma- in the 21st century you can read that as either stand or hand mixer :)), cream the butter with the sugar.  Add melted chocolate and vanilla.  Add the chilled eggs, one at a time, beating 2 minutes after each addition.  You may want to beat an additional 2 or 3 minutes to make sure your sugar is dissolved.  Nobody likes grainy pie!  Pour into a blind baked pie shell (because you’re a pro at those now!).  Chill at least one hour.  I garnished with mini chocolate chips and you can also top with whipped cream.

That’s it!  It’s that easy and that unhealthy.  Enjoy!

Coming up next… Peach Pie and a new crust recipe.

 

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Blind Baking 101

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So here’s my little blind baking for dummies crash course… This post comes to you after four tremendously ruined pie crusts.  From the wise words of Bill Gates, lover of pies,

It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

Ok, so maybe I made up that he loves pie, but someone so smart just has to love a good pie… as long as it’s not an Apple pie… see what I did there?

But just so we all remember the kind of failure I’ve learned from, let’s rock a #TBT (oh, hey teenagers!) with this beauty:

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After that sort of failure, I had no where to go but up.  Here are a few things that I learned from my failures:

1.  Blind baking involves beans.  Or rice.  Or something.  You cannot just stick a pie crust in the oven.  Who knew?

2. If you do just stick a pie crust in the oven, the sides sink and melt and form into a pie-rock.  Which is nasty.  But maybe your father in law is nice enough to eat it with a smile.

3. Pie dough is sticky.  And easily ripped and mutilated.

4. I throw ugly temper tantrums when I ruin pies.

5. No one is really sure why it’s called “blind baking” but it makes me feel fancy so I do it anyway.

So here is your mini lesson based on my temper tantrums and trashed pie crusts:

Blind Baking 101

Blind baking is basically baking an empty pie shell.  This is necessary when you’re making certain cold pies that only cook briefly or using a filling that doesn’t bake at all.

1. Make some pie dough- get it nice and chilled, roll it out on some parchement paper, or a silpat, or a lightly floured surface (I just HATE cleaning up that flour… “lightly” or not, it still equals a gigantic cloud of floury doom).

2.  Line a pie pan with your lovely rolled out crust.  Form the edge of your crust by crimping, braiding, whatever.  I usually go back and sort of “lift” the edges so that they aren’t mushed down and you can get a pie server under them.

At this point, you’re going to look a little like this:DSCN0101
3. Now here’s the important part.  Line the pie crust with EITHER: 1) Some parchment paper or 2) Foil that you have lightly greased.  My butter crust is so buttery and sticky that it sticks like a bear,  leaving you with the lovely crust you see above.  I’ve had great luck with parchment paper.

DSCN01034.  You now need to weight your pie crust.  You can buy pie weights… psh… or not.  I sent my hubby to Kroger to buy a big and cheap bag of pinto beans.  There are a lot of them, if I drop one and the dog eats it I won’t cry, and they get the job done.  Once you use the beans you can’t cook them, but you can save them and use them a million more times. Your weights (whether that’s uncooked rice or beans or whatnot) need to completely fill the crust to support the sides and prevent the pie-rock I mentioned above.

5. Bake your crust for 15 minutes at 415°.  Take the crust out, and carefully remove your parchment paper and beans (set those aside so they can cool).  At this point your crust may be done.  I usually stick it back in the oven for between 3 and 5 minutes to make sure it’s all nice and toasty.

And… voila!  Happy Blind Baking to You!

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Coming up next… Grandma’s Frech Silk Pie!

Pie #6- Gram’s Sweet Strawberry Pie

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Ok, here we go.  I’ve got to get caught up on pies before summer hits and my free time disappears (yay for youth ministry!).  This past Sunday was our annual Fifth Grade Blessing where we welcome in our new babies to the youth ministry.  It’s neat experiencing my third FGB and knowing all of the families already… Sycamore View is family and we have the privilege of watching these pre-teens jump into the big world of the youth group. As a part of our magical evening of blessing, I had to line up enough desserts for 40 people.  I made two pies and then roped in two of my favorite bakers to make a few desserts… the final line-up was beautiful to say the least.  DSCN0095We ended up with banana pudding, chocolate chip pound cake, strawberry pie, oreo cake, Peanut Butter Thank You Pie, and apple pie. Not too shabby.

However, since you aren’t here to see pictures of dessert parades, I’ll cut to the chase…  That beautiful dish of ruby-red goodness third from the top is so worth your time.

A few months ago when I began this journey, my mom and aunts scavenged through kitchens and boxes to find some good old family classics.  At that point, my dad’s mom had passed away and my mom’s mom was deep into her battle with dementia and Alzheimer’s.  For that reason, I am thankful for their daughters who have taken it upon themselves to make sure the Parker/Henderson/Durrington legacy lives on.  I now have emails stashed away that contain some pretty serious baking traditions.  One such tradition is my sweet Gram’s Strawberry Pie.  Gram passed away in March and I haven’t been able to bring myself to her recipes until now.

I don’t have memories of Gram making pie, but I remember plenty of cakes, these incredible oatmeal bars, and lots and lots of cookies.  Actually, a vast majority of my Gram memories take place in her kitchen so it seems a fitting way to remember her now.  Her strawberry pie recipe was easy and SO SO good.  The filling sort of turned to soup (incredibly sweet and beyond delicious soup) but one of our youth group dads kindly took my pie plate and scraped out any juicy remnants- you could say it was a hit.  Next time, I may cook the filling a little longer and use a quart and a half of strawberries instead of just a quart- my pie pan was deep enough that it could have held even MORE awesome strawberry-ness.  And before we start with the recipe, let the record show that THIS girl blind-baked a successful pie crust.  WINNING.  I’m planning a mini-post on the horrifically dangerous world of blind-baking next week.

So here it is, Gram’s Sweet Strawberry Pie:

strawberrypie

Ingredients:

-1 baked pie shell
-1 quart (4 cups) strawberries- if your pie dish is deep- go for 6 cups.
-3 tbsp cornstarch
-1 cup sugar
-3 tbsp lemon juice

-Whipping cream for garnish

Wash and trim strawberries, cut in half.  Reserve 6-8 halves for garnish.

Take half remaining and place in saucepan with 1 cup sugar, 3 tbsp cornstarch and 3 tbsp lemon juice.

Mash berries well and cook, stirring, until thickened and clear.  Resist the urge to just eat it out of the pan… although if you do, it’s good.  Chill filling.

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Add remaining berry halves gently (cut larger ones so they are uniform in size) and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Just before serving, spoon berry mixture into cooled pie shell, top with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with remaining berry halves.

Do the best you can cutting and serving… it may not be pretty but oh my goodness is it good!