Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving.  My favorite.  

A day full of food, family, friends and (usually) a snow-covered football game (unfortunately no snow this year).  A day also filled with loud, redneck distant relatives, awkward introductions to new spouses/fiances/significant others, a side dish that everyone tries to avoid has to eat for politeness' sake, an overly dry turkey that no one ever complains about that is filled with tryptophan, and the coma that follows.  There are always little kids running around like mad children, argumentative old men who are debating the latest political issue, women who sit around the table and play Rummikub, the young guys who watch football on tv all day, and then me, who usually just sits back, eats and watches all the happenings.  

Great Grandma usually makes all of the thanksgiving pies.  Well, great grandma is almost 90, just got out of the hospital with pneumonia, and is not in the best position to be stressed out and doing tedious pie making duties.  So this year,  I was nominated to fill this position.  Those are some huge shoes to fill, and I have small feet!  

I made 6 pies, all in one day.  I haven't been that stressed out in a long time, and I work with critically ill newborn babies.  That says a lot.  But I managed.  And I got them all done in time, surprisingly.  Here are the pictures...

Caramel Pumpkin Pie
Traditional Pecan Pie
Caramel Cranberry Pecan Tart (most requested recipe)
Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
Apple Cranberry Pie
Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Ok so I know that last one isn't actually a pie, but it was just as good and I wanted to break the pie monotony that I had going on. All of them came out perfectly with the exception of the sloppy lattice topped apple cranberry pie.  Oops.  It was the last pie I had to make, I was tired and hungry.  Give me a break.  It's the taste that counts anyway.  

First year in charge of pies=success.  

5 pies+1 crumb cake + 50 full and happy bellies = tired Sarah.  

So I suppose you guys might want the recipe to these yummy things?  Yeah, yeah, so did everyone else who was at my house.  What I hate most about this blog is actually posting the recipes.  But I guess that is almost the entire point of it huh?  Oh well.  I succumb.  Here ya go...

No Fail Pie Crust (very trusty, delicious, and flaky)  [This makes 3 single pie crusts)
1-½ cup Crisco
3 cups flour
1 whole egg
5 Tbsp Cold Water
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter (or your fingers, or 2 knives), gradually work the Crisco into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll out the dough, until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.  It’s also very helpful to douse your rolling pin in flour.
Lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the bottom and corner of the pan. Trim, flute, crinkle, tuck, and do whatever you do to make those edges look pretty.  

Caramel Pumpkin Pie
from Gourmet

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1 (15-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin (Be sure not to get pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Single crust pie dough

Lightly prick bottom of shell all over with a fork, then line with foil and fill with pie weights (Uncooked rice or beans can be used). Bake until dough is pale golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil and bake shell until bottom is golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes.


Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 3- to 3 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup, washing down side of pan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in cold water and gently swirling pan (do not stir), until mixture is a deep golden caramel, about 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to moderate and carefully add 1 cup cream (mixture will bubble vigorously), stirring until caramel is dissolved. Stir in remaining cup cream and bring just to a simmer.
Whisk together pumpkin purée, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in hot cream mixture, then add eggs, whisking until combined well. Pour filling into cooled crust and bake until puffed 1 1/2 inches from edge and center is just set, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. (Pie will continue to set as it cools.) Remove side of pan before serving.

Caramel Cranberry Pecan Tart
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 single pie crust
1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 cups chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Poke holes into the bottom of the pie dough and bake for 15 minutes. 

Measure the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat it over low heat. When the butter has melted completely, remove from heat.

To make the caramel, spread the sugar evenly in a perfectly dry, deep 10-inch skillet and place it over medium-low heat.The sugar should turn straw-colored, then gold and then a nutty-brown caramel after about 10 minutes. If the sugar cooks unevenly, gently tilt or swirl the pan to evenly distribute the sugar. Remove from heat and slowly whisk the cream and butter into the sugar. If the caramel seizes, return it to the heat and continue to stir until it is smooth and creamy. Strain the caramel into a bowl and cool it for 30 minutes.

Stir the frozen cranberries and the pecans into the caramel and mix until all the fruit and nuts are coated. Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart dough and spread evenly.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the juices and the caramel are bubbling slowly around the edges. Remove from the oven and let stand for 1 hour, then gently lift the tart ring off the pastry.

Dulce De Leche Apple PIe

Adapted from RecipeGirl

½ cup brown sugar

 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

pinch of salt

7 to 8 cups of peeled, sliced apples (granny smith apples work best in my experience)

½ cup dulce de leche 

2 Tablespoons apple cider

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon of water

coarse sugar for top, optional

double pie crust, unbaked

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix sugars, cornstarch, spices and salt.  In a large bowl, toss together apples, dulce de leche, apple cider and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients and toss to combine.
Lay pie crust in pie dish and trim edges.  Brush with egg white mixture. Add filling and spread out evenly.
Roll out 2nd crust and place on top of pie. Crimp edges together in a decorative fashion to seal. Brush with egg white mixture. Cut a few holes in the top crust for venting. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using.
Bake for 30 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. If pie is browning, cover it with foil to prevent crust edges from burning. Bake for another 30 minutes. Remove pie from oven and cool on rack for several hours to allow filling to set.

Apple Cranberry Pie
from AllRecipes

double crust pie dough
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, and chopped
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp lemon juice
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine apples and cranberries in a large bowl.  Add orange juice and lemon juice, and toss.  Add all the other ingredients except for butter.  Toss to coat fruit.  Pour fruit mixture into pie crust and top with butter.  Place other pie crust on top, and cut holes for venting, or make a lattice crust on top.  Flute edges.  Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 50 more minutes.  allow to cool.    

Pumpkin Crumb Cake
from TheKitchn

Dry Mix
1 cup sugar 
2 1/2 cups flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
3 teaspoons baking powder

Cake Batter
1/2 cup butter, softened 
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 dry mix

Pumpkin Filling
3 eggs 
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
1 cup dark brown sugar 
2/3 cup milk  
2 teaspoons cinnamon  
1 teaspoon ginger 
1/2 teaspoon cloves 
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup flour 
1/2 cup butter 
1 tablespoon water 
1/2 dry mixture (see above) 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  
1/2 teaspoon cloves 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Heat the oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder for the dry mix.
Beat the butter until whipped and creamy and then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in about half of the dry mix of flour and sugar. Set aside.
Whip together the eggs, pumpkin puree, milk, brown sugar and spices for the pumpkin filling. Set aside.
Mix the rest of the dry mix with a stick of butter, an extra half cup of flour, and the spices. Add a tablespoon of water and mix with fingers until loose and crumbly.
Grease a 9x13 baking pan and pat the dough into the bottom. Pour the pumpkin filling over top and sprinkle the crumb topping over it.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the filling is set inside. Let cool for at least an hour before slicing.

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