Friday, October 5, 2007

I Love Pies and Cakes OR Anything Creamy

I LOVE baking! Anything to do with beautiful pies and luscious, creamy cakes will be right up my alley. When I was a little girl, my parents were total health nuts. I mean really, how many kids have parents who are both bodybuilding trainers as a *hobby*? Yep, that's right, full gym in the basement of our house while growing up. We chitins were not allowed sugar. Sugar substitutes like, ooohhh lets see, honey, carob instead of chocolate, and sweeteners of different sorts. How many ways can a kid say Yum? So you guessed it. I have a horrible sweet tooth! My redeeming factor is that I love to make the dessert more then I enjoy eating it. I can't wait for whatever I am making to come out of the oven and cool down just enough to get someone to try it. . .and sometimes I have been known to *not* let it cool down enough before pushing, okay not really pushing it on someone, or lets say asking someone to taste test it. I am standing there with bated breath waiting to hear the immortal words: This is the best I have ever tasted. Better then anyone in my family has ever made. I know, I'm terrible but I am constantly experimenting to improve! In the back of my mind, I have to remember that I do not want to improve to the level of my infamous Grandma. She will make something completely awesome the first time, listen to everyone tell her how wonderful it truly is *then* the next time she makes the dish, she will throw everything but the kitchen sink into it and wonder why people are trying to sidetrack her while slipping it to the dog. Yeesh! I have seen her slip in candied pineapple to beef stroganoff, wondering if the sugar and pineapple would add to the dish. No one ate it and she told poor Grandpa if he disliked her cooking so much then he could just make himself a peanut butter sandwich. I helped him make the sandwich.

Okay, the point to all this before I started wandering, was pies and cakes. One of the first pies I realized that I personally loved was those little pecan pies. You know the ones. The little individual small pie in a foil shell that is wrapped in plastic and sold for a couple of dollars at grocery stores. I loved them! Sweet, creamy and crunchy along with my natural love for pecans. Then I made the mistake of making my first pecan pie. . .I say mistake because I could not believe just how much better freshly baked tasted over store-bought, factory made. The flavor was to die for! Did I say WoW!? Well, after making my first couple pecan pies, I started wondering just how hard it would be to come up with a deep-dish pecan pie? My biggest issue was proper baking technique. Temperature and time was extremely hard for my to adjust. If the temperature was to high, then my crust was way over baked, even with a foil cover and the center of the pie was underdone. If the temp was to low, same problems only longer baking. My hubby loved the experimenting because it just so happens that pecan pie is his favorite also. After several months of trial and error, I think I have come up with a solution and perfect mix of creamy filling with extra bunches of pecans, crushed, broken in quarters and halves for the top. I think it is only fair that I share this great pie with everyone who truly understands the quest for a perfect pie of choice.

The start for the pie is a good crust dough. I was going to add crushed pecans to this but then overkill comes to mind. Simple is best in this case. I already have about 3 cups of pecans in the pie filling, itself.

I think there are a lot of naturally talented bakers out there that have the creation of a perfect edging down but I am not one of those bakers. I have to practice to get my edges fluted right and I have a deep-dish pie plate that has the indents already there. Even cheating, I still struggle. I was pretty proud of this crust though.

When I am getting ready to make something, I not only like to reread the recipe but I also like to pre-assemble all the ingredients. Premeasured and ready to go doesn't mean allot of dirty dishes and the whole cooking process is a lot more fun! With everything right there, I just follow my recipe or baking on a whim and relax. I am not worrying about thinking I have everything and then finding out in the middle of assembling the pie that I don't have enough of something. Yep, I learned that earlier in life. Nothing like running to the store at the worst time. There are times that this will happen and I can not help it. Being tired and making something anyways usually means making a mistake and having used the last of an ingredients means I am running to the store. Bummer.

This pie is all about the pecans. . .LOTS of pecans. Crushed, quartered and halves creates different textures plus lots of flavor.

The pecan pie is fully assembled. I have looked over the setting of each and every pecan half with approval of the final outcome. I am now ready to set this beautiful deep-dish pecan pie into the oven. My hubby is already rubbing his hands together in anticipation. I have to admit, me too! (smile)

Deep-Dish Pecan Pie
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
2 T. white sugar
1/2 c. butter, chilled
4 T. ice water
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. light corn syrup
4 T. dark corn syrup
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
6 T. butter, melted
1 pinch of salt
1 c. pecans, finely crushed
1 c. pecans, quartered
1 c. pecan halves Directions
**Requires Deep Dish Pie Pan**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pie Crust:
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and white sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually sprinkle the water over the dry mixture, stirring until dough comes together enough to form a ball. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, flatten dough ball with rolling pin. Roll out into a circle that is one inch larger than pie dish. Place pie shell into dish and refrigerate until pie filling is complete.
Pie Filling:
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, light and dark corn syrups, brown sugar, butter, salt and finely crushed pecans. Spread quartered pecans over bottom of refrigerated pie crust. Pour syrup mixture over top of pecans, then arrange pecan halves on top of pie.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Now cover pie with foil so as not to burn pecans or crust edge and bake for an additional 60 minutes.
**Important**- Please allow pie to cool for about 1 hour so as to fully set up in the middle before eating. Fresh whipped cream is soooo good with the pecan pie.

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