Pie Academy: Part 2 (Don’t Fear the Crust)

100_9060_2Now that I’ve gotten past Chanukah-giving trauma — and have many more successful pies under my belt, both literally and figuratively — I’m ready to spill. And split my pants.

My fellow blogger Chicago John reminded me the importance of keeping track of what I’m baking, so when I had to make a second pecan pie in 48-hours (don’t ask), I decided to take notes. Next year I’m going to go corn-free (not because I think corn syrup is the root of all evil, but to see if I can make a pecan pie with a lower glycemic index) but this year, I merely modified the recipe on the good old bottle of Karo syrup. Dark kind, in case you are interested. karo-dark-corn-syrup-63508

I also made double-crust apple and pumpkin tarts but pecan pie is so freaking easy — I wanted to share it with people who are afraid of baking pie. Crust is just flour and water. Really. You don’t have to roll it out unless you feel like it. And the secret to flakiness (of crust, anyway) is about to be revealed.

Crazy Easy Pecan Pie (dairy-free)

Make the crust at least an hour before so it has time to chill. Some say to chill it overnight and it will be better. If you have time, do it.

Ingredients for the Crust:

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour plus extra for your hands
1 stick of Earth Balance (cold from the fridge but not frozen)
1 or 2 tablespoons cold water, mixed with 1 teaspoon orange juice or other acid — plain white vinegar works too
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar (if desired, this is optional)

crust-ready

Ready to be crust

Put the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the Earth Balance into the flour until the particles are about the size of peas. Add a little bit of your cold water/OJ combo and mix with your hands until dough is formed. Too dry? Add more water. Too wet? Sprinkle a bit more flour. You are aiming for the consistency of Play-Doh. For my purposes (press crust) you just need a big ball. But don’t play with it! Overworked crust isn’t tender-tasting.

Take a 9 inch pie pan and lightly oil and flour it. This is new this year — but I discovered it makes it a whole lot easier to get the pie out afterwards.

Once your pie pan is prepared, put the dough ball in your floured pan. Flour your hands to keep from sticking to the dough and press it flat, making sure to get it up the sides. Try to get the crust as even as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Light the candles and relax for an hour — or up to a day or two. channukah 2013

Ingredients for the Filling:

1 bag of pecans (6 oz.) — whole or pieces
1 cup of brown sugar (darker the better)
1 cup of Karo syrup (or substitute up to 1/3 maple syrup if you’ve got it)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs

My mom is going to kill me for saying this but it sort of doesn’t matter how many pecans you use. I have used a whole bag, half a bag, two bags. Honestly, if you can fit them in the pan, you can pie them. I have toasted the nuts before baking too and I don’t think it adds anything except the chance of burning them both before and during.

Mix the sugar and syrup with the vanilla in a big bowl. In a separate small bowl if you are nuking (or pan, if not), melt the Earth Balance. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Add the eggs to the sugars and mix well. You can’t over mix this. Add the pecans. Once the melted Earth Balance is no longer hot (you don’t want to cook those eggs), add it to the mixture and blend well.

Oven-ready

Oven-ready

Pour the whole mess into your chilled pie shell. Bake for just under an hour or until the top no longer shimmers to the touch or a toothpick to the center comes out clean. As always with pie, if the edges (or any other part of it) starts to get too dark too soon, put some foil over it.

This recipe could not be easier or more foolproof. No mixer, no rolling pins, no nothing. And it is crazy delicious.

Crazy Easy Pecan Pie: Printer-friendly version

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I'm a writer who is always baking! Or a baker who is always writing...No. Other way around.
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12 Responses to Pie Academy: Part 2 (Don’t Fear the Crust)

  1. Pingback: Never Fail Pie Crust | Ashlie's Blog

  2. Audrey Sauer says:

    Have you ever tried to use vodka or applejack instead of water for the pie crust? It suppose to help make the pie crust crisper.

    • My friend Jackie told me about the vodka trick yesterday. I have never done it so I can’t speak to it. I DO like to put booze into most everything I bake though so I will give it a whirl. Applejack sounds delicious — like Calvados? I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Applejack. I’m going to keep an eye out. I like hard apple cider a lot. Thanks for the comment!

  3. ChgoJohn says:

    I, too, heard that vodka is better than water and I’ve lived by that code. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that it was for referring to pie crusts. I’ve not tried that yet. I love pecan pie but that glycemic index thing keeps me from more than 1 piece a year. If you can succeed in eliminating the corn syrup, I’ll be first in line for a 2nd piece every time it’s served..
    Thanks for the shout out. It pains me to think of all the “perfect” recipes that have fallen by the wayside because I didn’t write them down as I made the dishes. )

    • I took your advice to heart and baked more — with notes! I’m going to work on that corn syrup-free recipe. I think pecan pie is always going to be bad for you though. I admire your ability to eat just one piece!

      • ChgoJohn says:

        Well, it’s not like I’m on a fast. There’s usually a pumpkin pie there, too. :)

      • We usually have like a half a pie per person at Thanksgiving. It’s disgusting! Cuz we also do apple pie with the pumpkin, pecan, and this year — lemon in a meringue shell. I’m feeling a bit queasy just talking about it.

  4. Pingback: Round Pie in a Square Pan | bakingnotwriting

  5. Sheryl says:

    I use a different recipe, but agree that pie crusts are easy to make. It just takes a little practice. I’m surprised how few people make their own crusts. They are so much tastier than the pie pastries sold at the grocery store.

    • I know! Those pre-made pie crusts are nasty. I wonder why? Preservatives I suppose. What recipe do you use if you don’t mind sharing? I thought I was really doing well with crust until this weekend!

  6. A dairy-free pecan pie! :D Looks great!

  7. Pecan pie is one of those things that is delicious without butter — thank goodness. All that caramel-maple-nutty goodness tricks your palate into tasting it anyway. :)

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