Pining for pies
Traditional versions have nostalgic appeal
Welcome back: Nostalgia and our sweet tooth are nudging some bakers back into the kitchen to give pies a try. Old-fashioned pies especially. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
3 large, ripe bananas, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 9-inch pie shell, baked, cooled
1. Sift sugar, flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. With a large spoon, beat in yolks one at a time. Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan until butter melts and small bubbles form around pan's edge. Slowly pour it into the mixing bowl, a little at a time and stirring constantly with a whisk so the eggs don't curdle. Stir in vanilla. Return mixture to saucepan. Heat almost to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring, until it thickens to a heavy custard; cool to lukewarm.
2. Meanwhile, beat 1/2 cup cream until it forms firm peaks. Gently but thoroughly fold into cooled custard. Spread 1/4-inch custard on bottom of pie shell; arrange a layer of bananas on top. Continue layering custard and bananas, ending with a layer of bananas. Beat remaining cream until stiff. Spread atop pie in decorative swirls. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Per serving: 448 calories, 28 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 144 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 236 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
What the pros know
From Ashley English's "A Year of Pies."
• "Make it cold, bake it hot."
• "Keep your hands cool, especially when adding rolled dough to the pie pan then decoratively forming the edges." If you wash your hands while making pie, give them a cold rinse.
• "Don't lose your cool and your pie will reward you with abundant flakiness."
• To avoid watery fillings giving you a soggy bottom crust: "(Try) blind baking the crust first, to crisp it up a bit."
Cheryl Day, co-owner of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Ga.
• Organize: "Have the proper tools and ingredients at the proper temperature."
• Chill: "If you find the butter starts to get a little soft, put your bowl in the refrigerator and let it chill a little bit. The crust needs to be cold when it hits the oven so you get that nice puffy, flaky texture."
Paula Haney, Hoosier Mama Pie Shop
• Don't overmix: "If you're using a mixer (or) food processor, (the crust) should still be crumbly when you dump it out on the table and knead it together."
• Get your hands in it: "If it's sticking to your hands and you really can't get it off, then you need to add a little flour. If you get done with your dough and you squeeze it together and it won't hold together, it's going to need a bit more water."