Happy Pie Day!!
Nicolas decided he wanted a zucchini pie to celebrate, so I took out previously frozen pie filling. It looks like this:
Note that if you are preparing pie filling for freezing, it’s a good rule of thumb to prepare a little more than the recipe calls for. For example, the zucchini pie recipe calls for 5-6 cups of sliced zucchini, and I use a generous 6 cups for the frozen filling. This is because, when you freeze some fruits and vegetables, they will break down or shrink somewhat. Thus you will need more to fill out your pie.
Next up is preparing the pie crust. Sure, there are some decent prepared pie crusts on the market, but I take pride in preparing my own. Besides, I feel like if I’m going to take the time to grow the produce that goes into the pie, it’d be a shame not to have a ‘completely from scratch’ creation. The recipe I like to use is a ‘stands the test of time’ Betty Crocker recipe. I found it online here. This recipe is for a single crust, and you will need to double everything for both crusts.
I would like to offer up some tips I’ve discovered over the years as I have greatly improved my crust-making.
1. Roll out the crust on a floured sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Then you can pick up the paper and flip the crust over into the pie plate with less chance of tearing. I have found that ‘folding the crust into quarters’, as the Betty Crocker recipe suggests, doesn’t work for me at all.
2. When dividing the dough into two for top crust and bottom crust, make one ball slightly larger than the other. This is because the bottom crust needs to be slightly larger than the top crust, and then you won’t need to roll the bottom crust quite so thin. Once the pie is filled, distribute the filling to make an even surface. This will minimize ‘sharp’ spots that may tear the top crust when you lay it down.
3. After you’ve trimmed the excess crust and crimped the pie down, you may wonder what to do with the leftover dough. I learned this from my Mom – make cinnamon rolls. Roll out the leftover crust, spread some softened butter or margarine (any ‘buttery spread’ will do), sprinkle generous amounts of sugar and cinnamon on top, roll up, and cut into 1 inch rolls. Bake on a tray or sheet of aluminum foil in the oven with the pie. Yummy!
4. One last note about baking the pie. It’s a good idea to cover the edges of the pie with a metal ring that’s made to fit over standard pie plates. This will prevent the edge of the crust from browning too much. Some recipes say to remove the ring during the last 10-15 minutes of baking, but I’ve found that if I do that the edge still gets too dark. I leave the ring on throughout baking. If you don’t have a fancy ring, applying strips of aluminum foil around the edges works just as well.