Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Team PIE vs. Team cake
What with all the heavy issues dominating the news today, I thought I should address what is obviously a serious cultural divide: pie versus cake.
I am team pie 110%. So is Vronsky, and my friend Emily, who prompted this post by informing me of the delicious pie that was brought into the office today. Pie is fabulous, and let me state that for the record, cobblers, tarts, and basically anything with some sort of fruit filling and a graham cracker/crumbly crust falls squarely in the PIE category. I am even a little bit jealous of those Yankee pitchers who get a "pie in the face" after pitching a perfect game.
I mean, what is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? Apple pie is an American tradition. We all know my fondness for blueberry pie, and I will pull over to the side of the road to check out cherry pies sold at road-side stands before I ever pull over to ask for directions. Nothing is better than a key lime pie on a hot day, and don't even get me started on lemon meringue pie. I am sure there are pies out there that I've never tried or even heard of. There is a whole world of pies out there waiting to be discovered!
And cake is, well, cake. I have always thought chocolate cake was over-rated and the uniform texture of cake just can't compete the warm pie crust segueing into the cool juicy pop of the fruit filling, followed by the chill of vanilla ice cream, if you take it a la mode. I understand the sentimentality of birthday cake, but make it a birthday pie for me any year. (Hint, hint..)
Autumn is definitely pie season (actually, every season is pie season), but the warm, savory flavors of pumpkin and apple pie definitely define the holidays for a lot of people, and my aunt makes amazing pumpkin pie from real pumpkin, not the canned goop. A loose recipe of hers is below, which I've tried to duplicate but never quite succeeded.
Go out and buy a pie pumpkin (at a grocery/food store, not from the lots on the street, which usually are raised differently than what you will buy in a market).
Wash your pumpkin with warm water, no soap, and then cut the pumpkin in half (serrated knives work best. If you are having trouble, one time we actually had to use a hand saw. Those rinds are tough!)
Scrape out the insides and save the seeds for roasting if you'd like. An ice cream scoop or melon baller works well for this and get everything nice and clean.
Next, cook the two pumpkin halves by steaming it on your stovetop for about 20-30 minutes. We have a large vegetable steamer so it fits comfortably, although you might need to quarter the pumpkin to make it fit. After 20-30 minutes, the pumpkin "meat" will be soft and you can scoop it out from the rind quite easily with a table spoon.
Pop your pumpkin "meat" into a blender/food processor and puree until smooth. Next, make your pie filling. To do so, you will need:
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. all spice
1.5 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of salt
your pumpkin puree (should be about 3 cups if you use a standard pie pumpkin, which is around 8 inches)
1.5 cans of evaporated milk
Mix it all together and pour lovingly into your pie crust, which for us, has always been pre-bought, oops, but Thanksgiving day is always crazy in our kitchen and no one can find the time to bake a separate crust.
Be warned, this filling may be a bit runny/soupy at first, but it will firm up once cooked.
Bake your pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn it down to 350 degrees and bake for another 45-60 minutes, so that when you stick a knife in the center it lifts out clean.
Cool your pie while you're eating the main meal, and then dig in!
Team Pie for life! All you team cakers, you can make a case for yourself in the comments, if you dare.
And for the record, Bubby's in Tribeca has the best sour cherry pie outside of Michigan. (That is an actual picture of it to the right).