Friday, September 17, 2010

Carole's Concoctions-Testing A Pie Recipe

Today - it's all about sharing my pie recipe testing for Gina Hyam's Pie Contest in a Box.  My friend Karen Lee came over to test "Grandma's Brown Sugar Pie".  So here's how it went (the recipe will be at the end of this post):
The first task was to make the pie crust.  According to the recipe I need 1/3 tsp salt.  Now mind you, I am well-stocked in the kitchen gadget realm and finding a measuring spoon with a 1/3 tsp was not happening.  For many, this would create a problem - it's obviously a little more than 1/4 and a little less than 1/2. If the crust doesn't seem to come out right - one might worry that they put in too little or too much.  Next, the crust requires LARD.  While I am a purist and love to use heirloom ingredients, I know LARD is not something you can just run out the grocery store and find.  I would suggest an alternative if you can't find LARD.

The directions for making the crust were good.  I am not sure most people would understand "smear" - I would elaborate: "use the heel of your hand to smear the dough against the side of the mixing bowl several times. This smearing action will create a multitude of small layers in the dough, causing to act almost like a puff pastry; the result will be a light, fluffy dough, rather than a dense, heavy one."

I think you should pre-heat the oven when you are rolling out the pie dough.
We found that the pie dough should be more like 11-12" round to amply flute the edges.
If you use a old-fashioned pyrex dish that isn't rated to go from fridge to oven - I'd be careful about chilling the crust before placing it in the oven.
We didn't like the looks nor the ingredients in the evaporated milk so we opted for the light cream because it is fresh!!  And Karen jumped ahead and stirred the mixture ever-so-slightly until I read DO NOT STIR!!  Oops - and will this be a problem??  Karen felt the need to stir because it wasn't clear that the brown sugar mixture should be "evenly" distributed - perhaps adding "evenly" would help.
We sprinkled nutmeg and cinnamon, but really - how much? We covered it but not densely - we weren't confident.
And, to the oven it went - but alas - where - middle? bottom? in-between?  We went for the middle.

I'm no pie judge but the finished product was not satisfying.  We were bummed!!
On the flip side - pie really does equal peace as Karen and I had a great 1+ peaceful hour together - mixing, chatting, giggling - so in my book - making pie is a bast and should be done with friends and family and served with love and laughter!! 
Thank you Gina for the opportunity and Karen for the company!!

And on second thought - I am not sharing the recipe until the changes are made....


  1. Thanks, Carole and Karen, for testing this recipe. Please confirm: Did you use an 8" pie pan as the recipe specified? It's a little smaller than the standard size and I'm wondering if that was the issue re: size for rolling out the dough. My sense is that for this pie to come out as intended, you really do need to use the evaporated milk. I very much appreciate your careful notes and am glad you two had a good time, even if you didn't like the pie!

  2. yes - we measured the 8" pie plate too!! I actually think it was the topping mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon - I think all cinnamon with a touch of nutmeg - we did equal parts and the nutmeg overwhelmed the taste.

  3. P.S. In looking at the recipe again, I see that she said light cream was OK. Hmmm...maybe that not-stirring thing really is critical? The other person who tested this recipe had some trouble with the baking time, but said her family loved the pie. Anyhow, thanks again.

  4. Thanks, I'll ask her to clarify on the nutmeg and cinnamon (and oven position). Very helpful catches.