How to Make a Pie
3.03: What is a pie?
They’re simple, they’re American and come Thanksgiving, everybody saves room for them. But the pies we know today are a fairly recent addition to a history that goes back as long as mankind has had dough to bake into a crust and stuff to put inside it.
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savory ingredients.
Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie (also single-crust or bottom-crust), has pastry lining the baking dish, and the filling is placed on top of the pastry but left open. A top-crust pie has the filling in the bottom of the dish and is covered with a pastry or other covering before baking. A two-crust pie has the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell.
3.04: History of Pies
The need for nutritious, easy-to-store, easy-to-carry, and long-lasting foods on long journeys, in particular at sea, was initially solved by taking live food along with a butcher or cook. However, this took up additional space on what were either horse-powered treks or small ships, reducing the time of travel before additional food was required. This resulted in early armies adopting the style of hunter-foraging.
Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. The first pies were made by early Romans who may have learned about it through the Greeks. These pies were sometimes made in "reeds" which were used for the sole purpose of holding the filling and not for eating with the filling.
The Romans must have spread the word about pies around Europe as the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was a popular word in the 14th century. The first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie.
The early pies were predominately meat pies. Pyes (pies) originally appeared in England as early as the twelfth century. The crust of the pie was referred to as "coffyn". There was actually more crust than filling. Often these pies were made using fowl and the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles. Fruit pies or tarts (pasties) were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.
Pie came to America with the first English settlers. The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans calling them "coffins" like the crust in England. As in the Roman times, the early American pie crusts often were not eaten, but simply designed to hold the filling during baking. It was during the American Revolution that the term crust was used instead of coffyn.
Over the years, pie has evolved to become what it is today "the most traditional American dessert". Pie has become so much a part of American culture throughout the years, that we now commonly use the term "as American as apple pie."
3.05: Variations of Pies
When you think about a pie what comes to mind? For many people it’s a fruit pie such as apple, cherry, or blueberry; however, there are MANY different types of pies to include in our discussion about pie.
Meat pies with fillings such as steak, cheese, steak and kidney, minced beef, or chicken and mushroom are popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand as take-away snacks. They are also served with chips as an alternative to fish and chips at British chip shops.
Pot pies with a flaky crust and bottom are also a popular American dish, typically with a filling of meat (particularly beef, chicken, or turkey), gravy, and mixed vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and peas). Frozen pot pies are often sold in individual serving size.
Fruit pies may be served with a scoop of ice cream, a style known in North America as pie à la mode. Many sweet pies are served this way. Apple pie is a traditional choice, though any pie with sweet fillings may be served à la mode. This combination, and possibly the name as well, is thought to have been popularized in the mid-1890s in the United States. Apple pie can be done with a variety of apples: Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Rome Beauty.
3.06: Steps for Making the Perfect Pie
Start with the Crust
Roll the pastry into a circle large enough to overhang the edge of your pie pan by about 1/2" all around, then crimp it: i.e., shape the edge in a decorative way. Add filling as directed in your recipe.
Some people prefer to bake their pie crust first and then add filling afterwards. This is called pre-baking, or blind-baking.
Divide the pastry into two pieces: 2/3 for the bottom crust, 1/3 for the top crust. Roll the larger piece of pastry into a circle big enough to line the pan, with about 1/2" of overhang. Roll the remaining piece of pastry large enough to cover the top of the pie, with just a bit of overhang. Once you've filled the pie, squeeze the bottom and top crusts together, then crimp them decoratively. Make several vents in the top of the crust, for steam to escape.
Leave the crust plain, or embellish it as follows:
To enhance browning, brush the crust with milk or cream;
For a shiny, deep-brown crust, brush with a beaten egg;
For a shiny, golden-brown crust, brush with a beaten egg white;
For crunch and glitter, brush with the liquid of your choice, then top with sparkling white sugar.
For extra flavor, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Pick Your Pan with Care
Most pie recipes are written to fit a 9" or 10" wide, 1 1/2"-deep pie pan. While a 1 1/4"-deep pan is barely acceptable, a 1"-deep pan won't be large enough to hold a typical amount of filling, which is about 4 to 10 cups (depending on filling type).
If you're following a recipe for deep-dish fruit pie, one calling for more than 8 cups fruit, use a pan that's at least 1 1/2" deep, preferably 2".
Material matters, too:
Pie with a pale, soggy bottom crust is usually the result of choosing a pan that doesn't conduct heat well. Darker-colored metal pie pans tend to become hotter, and transfer heat better, than stoneware, ceramic, or glass pans, and therefore brown crust more quickly.
Stoneware or ceramic pie pans do have an advantage, however: their beauty. For Thanksgiving, a dinner party, or any time you're seeking a fancier touch, choose a handsome colored or painted ceramic pie dish instead of utilitarian metal. And clear glass dishes have a "clear advantage" as well: you can peer underneath to see when the pie's bottom crust is sufficiently browned.
Thickening fruit pie can be tricky. The juiciness of the fruit you choose will determine the amount of thickener to use, but it's never a sure thing; there are just too many variables, even within each fruit (think storage apples vs. fresh, juicy apples).
If you consistently make runny fruit pies, try this: prepare fruit pie filling by combining fruit and sugar - with or without thickener - and placing the mixture in a saucepan. Cook the fruit on top of the stove until it's about three-quarters of the way to the consistency you like. Cool the filling to room temperature. Spoon it into the crust, top with the second crust, and bake the pie as directed.
Freezing Pie Before Baking
Take advantage of summer's fruits and berries by assembling pies, then freezing them to bake later. Be sure to check out this post Freeze and bake fruit pie: the fastest way to fresh-baked. Note: Don't try this with custard or cream pies; they'll become watery.
3.07: Review/Critical Thinking
Please complete the following questions. It is important that you use full sentences and present the questions and answers when you submit your work.
Go to the Assessment area in the course to complete the assignment Review and Critical Thinking and submit the work as a file attachment.
The answers to the Review and Critical Thinking Questions are worth 10 points.
3.08: Cooking Assignment #3
For this cooking assignment you will be baking a pie. You may choose which type of pie you want to do. Some suggestions include apple, cherry, pumpkin, or even shepherd’s pie! It is entirely up to you dependent on what you and your family eat. Please make sure you take photos of the process and write a summary of your experience. What worked or didn’t work. What you found easy or difficult, etc. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Baking Your Own Pie
3.09: Discussion Based Assessment
Your assignment for this lesson is to contact your instructor for a Discussion-Based Assessment. Be prepared to answer a series of discussion questions based on content that you have learned in the course so far. You may choose any Module to complete your DBA over - DBA must be completed by 10/31/20!
Submit a summary of the call and the date you spoke with your instructor in the Assessments area.
How to Make a Pie
3.10: Module 3 Quiz
Before you take the quiz for this unit take a moment to review what you have learned.
When you feel that you are ready to complete the Module 3 Quiz, How to Make a Pie Quiz, click HERE.