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written by
Hailey Wist

Pie For Fall

photographs by
Olivia Rae James

Volume: 33

Our seasonal favorites!
Recipes by Jenni Ridell

Pecan-Sorghum Tart

This recipe takes a traditional Pecan Pie and dresses it up in the form of a composed tart. The addition of two unique sweeteners—date purée and sorghum—add a bit of earthiness and elegance that elevate the humble Pecan Pie.

1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough (page 39)

4 ounces pitted Medjool dates (about 8)

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup corn syrup

2 tablespoons sorghum

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

1 egg, beaten

2 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1 cup pecan halves for garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Blind-bake Sweet Tart Dough as directed on page 39 in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, make the date purée. Cut dates in half to check for pits. Place in a small saucepan with water and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Stir in baking soda and purée until smooth. Set aside 1/4 cup of purée for the pie, reserving the rest for another use. 

In a large bowl, stir together melted butter, corn syrup, sorghum, brown sugar, 1/4 cup date purée, vanilla, and salt. Add egg and egg yolks and stir until smooth.

Scatter 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans into the precooked tart shell. Gently pour the filling over the top. Arrange pecan halves in a decorative pattern around the top of the tart. Bake at 350˚F for 35-40 minutes, just until set. 

 

Pear & Cranberry Pie

This pie marries the bright tartness of cranberries with the sweet fruitiness of a ripe pear. Though best made in the early fall when pear and cranberry seasons overlap, this easily can be made year-round with frozen cranberries. Simply thaw in the refrigerator and proceed as directed. 

2 recipes Classic Pie Dough (below)

2 cups fresh (or thawed) cranberries

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 orange

4 tablespoons cornstarch

Pinch salt

4 pears, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Prepare a double recipe of Classic Pie Dough as directed on page 38. Divide into two discs and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll out one of the discs and arrange inside a pie dish, leaving 1 inch of dough hanging over the sides. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. 

Combine cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon stick in a small pot. Using a vegetable peeler remove a large piece of zest from the orange; juice the orange. Add orange zest and 1/4 cup orange juice to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until cranberries have popped and mixture reduces slightly, about 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Discard zest and cinnamon stick.

In a large bowl, stir together cranberry mixture, sliced pears, cornstarch, and salt. Pour into chilled pie crust. Roll out the second disc of dough and cut into 8 strips, about 2-inches wide by 10-inches long. Lay four strips evenly across the top of the pie. One by one, weave the remaining four strips over and under to create a lattice-top crust. Pinch gently all around the edges to seal and trim off any excess dough. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Combine 1 teaspoon cinnamon with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and set aside. Brush pie all over with egg wash and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to catch any drips. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until filling is bubbly and jammy and crust is golden brown. Remove pie from oven and immediately sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool for at least 3 hours before slicing.

 

Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue

Sweet Potato Pie is often overshadowed during the holidays by its northern sibling, the Pumpkin Pie. Here, a richly spiced custard is garnished with a crown of fluffy meringue reminiscent of all the best parts of those old-fashioned marshmallow-topped holiday casseroles. 

1 recipe Classic Pie Dough (below)

2 pounds sweet potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup cream

1 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 egg yolk

Marshmallow Meringue:

2 large egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Roll Classic Pie Dough as directed on page 38 and shape the edges as desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Prick sweet potatoes with the tines of a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast until very tender, about 45-60 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375˚F. When cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the skins as well as any blemishes. Transfer sweet potato to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add butter and purée until perfectly smooth. 

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups sweet potato purée, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cream, rum, vanilla, salt, 2 eggs, and 1 egg yolk. Stir until smooth. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell and bake at 375˚F for 50 minutes, just until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, make the Marshmallow Meringue. Combine egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl and set over a small pot of simmering water. Whisk until eggs are warm and frothy and sugar is dissolved, about 3-4 minutes (the mixture will register 110˚F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove bowl from heat, add vanilla and cream of tartar, then continue to whisk until mixture is glossy and forms stiff peaks, about 2-3 minutes with an electric mixer.

Dollop meringue over the top of the sweet potato pie and swirl with the back of a spoon. Toast gently with a kitchen torch or under the broiler, just until the swirls are lightly golden.

 

Caramel Apple Pie

Apple pies can be tricky because of the moisture content of the fruit. By marinating the apples first, we coax them to release much of their juice ahead of time. We reduce this juice down to create a flavorful apple juice-caramel sauce, which gets folded back into the pie filling. This recipe requires a bit of time to make but holds beautifully, so feel free to make a day or two in advance. 

2 recipes Classic Pie Dough (below)

8 medium golden delicious apples, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pinch salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)

Prepare a double recipe of Classic Pie Dough as directed on page 38. Divide into two discs and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll out one of the discs and arrange inside a deep pie dish, leaving about 1 inch of dough hanging over the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Combine sliced apples, both sugars, lemon juice, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. 

Strain and reserve the juices released from the apples (you should have about 1/2 to 3/4 cup). Transfer to a small pot and simmer over medium heat until liquid is reduced to 3-4 tablespoons. It will be deep amber in color and bubble like a caramel. Remove pot from heat and swirl in butter. 

Toss apple slices with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cornstarch. Stir in caramel sauce. 

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Fill chilled dough with apple slices, mounding them slightly at the center. Roll out the second disc of dough and gently lay over the top, pinching gently around the edges to seal. Trim off any excess dough and crimp edges decoratively as desired. Working from the center of the pie, cut five evenly spaced two-inch slits in the top of the dough to release steam. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Brush pie all over with egg wash and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to catch any drips. Bake in preheated oven for 50-70 minutes, brushing again with egg wash to encourage browning. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 3 hours before slicing.

 

Buttermilk Pie

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this pie. Rich and tangy full-fat buttermilk lends a silky texture to the custard, which is rounded out by subtle highlights of vanilla and lemon. While you can make Buttermilk Pie with a traditional pie dough, the sweet and nutty flavor of the cornmeal really lets the buttermilk shine. 

1 recipe Cornmeal Dough (below)

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups full-fat buttermilk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Pinch salt

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Blind-bake Cornmeal Pie Dough as directed on page 39 in a shallow 9-inch pie or tart pan. Allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300˚F. 

Combine eggs, sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon zest, heavy cream, butter, and salt in a blender. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the mixture and blend until smooth, about 30-45 seconds. Add flour and blend again until smooth and no lumps remain. Let filling rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour before baking. 

Carefully pour chilled buttermilk filling into the prebaked cornmeal crust. Bake for 1 hour until filling is set (there may be a slight wiggle at the very center of the pie; this is okay). Allow to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving. 

 

Classic Pie Dough

This is a classic pie dough made with all butter for both flavor and flakiness. Be sure to use a good-quality butter. The flour amount may vary depending on which brand you use. I use White Lily, a Southern soft wheat flour. If you use a harder wheat flour with a higher protein content (such as King Arthur brand), start by using only 1 3/4 cup. This recipe doubles easily if you are making a double-crusted pie. 

2 1/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

9 tablespoons (125 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg, lightly beaten

1-2 tablespoons cold water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Scatter pieces of cold butter over the flour mixture.Using your fingertips, rub the bits of butter into the flour until there are pea-sized pieces evenly distributed throughout. 

Make a well in the center of the bowl. Add beaten egg and 1 tablespoon cold water. Using a fork or your fingertips, work the dry ingredients into the wet until it forms a shaggy dough. If dough is dry, add another tablespoon cold water. If it is too wet, add a bit of flour. 

Turn the shaggy dough onto a clean countertop. If dough is sticky, dust with a bit of flour. Knead 5-8 times using the heel of your hand, just until it forms a cohesive, slightly tacky ball.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and press into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month.

 

Sweet Tart Dough

This recipe is a cross between a pie dough and a cookie dough, and it’s wonderful for large or individual tarts. Follow the same instructions for Classic Pie Dough regarding the best type of flour to use. 

2 1/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup (100 grams) sifted confectioners’ sugar 

1/4 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons (100 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg, beaten

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon cold water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Scatter pieces of cold butter over the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, rub the bits of butter into the flour until there are pea-sized pieces evenly distributed throughout. 

Make a well in the center of the bowl. Add egg, egg yolk, and 1 tablespoon cold water. Using a fork or your fingertips, work the dry ingredients into the wet until it forms a shaggy dough. If dough is dry, add another tablespoon cold water. If it is too wet, add a bit of flour. 

Turn the shaggy dough onto a clean countertop. If dough is sticky, dust with a bit of flour. Knead 5-8 times using the heel of your hand, just until it forms a cohesive, slightly tacky ball (the dough should be neither too wet nor too dry; add a touch of flour or cold water if necessary). 

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and press into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month.

 

Cornmeal Pie Dough

This is a variation on the Classic Pie Dough recipe. The cornmeal adds a bit of savory texture and the buttermilk yields a very tender, flaky dough. 

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

3 tablespoons fine stone-ground cornmeal

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

9 tablespoons (125 grams) cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons cold buttermilk

Follow directions for Classic Pie Dough, adding 3 tablespoons cornmeal with the flour and substituting buttermilk for the cold water.

 

Blind-Baking Classic or Tart Dough

Roll dough and place in pie pan as directed. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray one side of a piece of foil or parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray and lay on top of the chilled dough. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove pie weights and brush the crust gently with egg wash (made by mixing 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water). Return to the oven and continue to bake uncovered until crust is cooked through and lightly golden in color, about 5-10 minutes. 

Rolling Classic and Tart Dough

Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature until it is just soft enough to roll, about 5-10 minutes. Roll into a large, even circle, about 1/4-inch thick and 1-2 inches wider in diameter than your pie pan, dusting with a bit of flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Carefully lift dough into your pie or tart pan and gently press into the bottom and corners, leaving no air gaps. Fold the overhanging dough under to create a double thickness around the edge, then shape as desired with your fingers or a fork. Trim away any extra dough. Prick dough all over with the tines of a fork and chill at least 30 minutes.

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