Category Archives: Pie

Making Lemon Meringue Pie

This is what you call a classic American lemon meringue pie: a light, frothy-sweet baked egg foam above, a tart and creamy curd filling below, all heaped up on a delicate crumb (or traditional) pie crust. Not much not to like here in my opinion. Indeed lemon meringue consistently ranks about fifth on the list of the America’s favorite pies. It would probably rank higher if more people made this pie at home, but its reputation for fussiness scares a lot of home bakers away.

That reputation is deserved to some extent. Under-baked meringue toppings often cause weeping, and are quite common as the very center of the pie is hard to fully heat without breaking the lemon custard (which causes another kind of weeping). Large pools of syrup are commonly found in pie plates, either upon cutting or the next day after any leftovers have had a chance to sit. The process below is designed to avoid that problem, and it works very well. However it is something of a dance, so I strongly encourage you to have all of your ingredients and component parts prepared and laid out on the counter before you begin. There’ll be much less confusion that way.

Ready? Then let’s begin. Start by preheating your oven to 350 and getting everything prepped and ready for the meringue. First order of business: the cornstarch goo that will serve as your meringue stabilizer. Combine the cornstarch and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Like my all-wood cooktop? It’s the latest thing.


And when the mixture starts to clear and thicken, remove it from the heat. Set it aside to cool.

Now combine cream of tartar and sugar. Just a little whisking will do the trick.

Put your egg whites in the bowl of your mixer or in a whipping bowl. Yes, I know my copper egg bowl is covered with tarnish spots. I’m sure Martha Stewart’s is immaculate if you’d rather go over there. Sheesh!

With all that ready, prepare the lemon curd filling. Put the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and stir them together.

Add the water and the lemon juice. Set that over medium heat and bring it to the boil.

Meanwhile, swizzle your yolks in a medium bowl. We’re about to make our curd.

Whisk the lemon juice mixture as it heats. When it starts to thicken and clarify, you know it’s time to combine it with your yolks.

Pour about half of it into the yolks to temper them (i.e. bring them gently up to temperature). Yep, it’s thick and goopy.

Whisk the mixture…

…then pour it from the bowl into the saucepan.

Set the saucepan back on the heat and whisk in the butter and lemon zest. Whisk until the thick mixture starts to boil: plop, plop, plop.

Remove it from the heat right away to prevent curdling, then set a piece of plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming.

Tired yet? We’re almost at the finish line. All we need to do is whip up our meringue. Whip the whites until they’re good and frothy, then add the sugar mixture in a heavy stream…more or less all at once. The early addition of the sugar will yield a slightly denser and more stable meringue.

It’ll take almost a full minute to get to soft peaks because sugared whites take on air more slowly, but you’ll get there. When you get peaks that are tall yet still flop over — see below — add the cornstarch goo stabilizer…

…and whip another 20 seconds or so to stiff peaks.

Now to assemble. You want the filling hot for this, so depending on how long you took to whip up the meringue, you might want to give the filing another shot of heat. Remove the plastic wrap and return it to the burner until…plop plop…it starts boiling again. Whisk it as it boils for about five seconds then pour it into the shell. Hmm…this pie plate says “pumpkin” to me more than “lemon”…where IS that Martha when I need her?

Give it a quick level with a spatula…

…then dump on the meringue all at once and promptly spread it around, all the way out to the crust edges. Use broad strokes to spread it evenly and give it a little decorative swirl if you’re so inclined (I wasn’t).

Get it straight away into the preheated oven and bake it for 20 minutes until it looks about like this:

There now, that wasn’t so hectic, was it? Allow the pie to cool completely — at least two hours — before you serve it because the custard needs time to set up. The first piece or two will be a little sloppy, but after that they should hold their shape nicely.

So what about the weeping problem? Well, because this procedure is designed to heat the middle and cook it before it even goes into the oven, you should have little to worry about. The cornstarch goo stabilizer also does a great job of maintaining the integrity of the meringue without compromising the flavor or texture. Here’s what my pan looked like after the leftovers sat in the fridge overnight:

A single drop of syrup at the very tip there. Close enough for jazz, as they say. Of course any meringue pie is best on the day it’s made, but I was surprised at how well this help up in the fridge. The curd had mellowed a bit as well. Now that’s what I call breakfast!

Filed under:  Lemon Meringue, Pastry | 27 Comments

Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

Lemon meringue pie is a basically a citrus curd pie save for the fact that the “curd” is made with a mixture of water and juice (instead of all juice), and it’s thickened with cornstarch. The water provides added volume (and frankly also keeps the flavor of the filling from becoming overwhelming) and the cornstarch provides thickening as well as insurance against curdling in the oven. This recipe — which steals tricks from both Rose Levy Beranbaum and Cook’s Illustrated — combines a deep pie with a break-resistant American-style meringue.

For the crust

One recipe crumb or conventional (pre-baked) pie crust

For the Meringue

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2.5 ounces (scant 1/3 cup) water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
4 egg whites

For the Filling

3 ounces cornstarch (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
10.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 egg yolks
16 ounces water (2 cups)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter


Prepare the crumb crust mixture and press it into a 9″ pie pan. Alternately, prepare and pre-bake a conventional pie crust in a 9″ pie pan.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prep for the meringue step at this point. Combine the cornstarch and the water in a small saucepans bring it to a simmer, just at the point it starts to thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and set the mixture aside. Now’s also a good time to put your egg whites in a medium bowl (if you’re using a hand mixer) or in the bowl a mixer fitted with the whip. Also, whisk together the sugar and cream of tartar in a small bowl.

Now prepare the filling. Whisk the yolks together in a medium bowl. Whisk together the sugar, salt and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the water and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat (it will start to thicken). Pour about half the hot mixture over the egg yolks and whisk vigorously to combine, then return everything to the saucepan. Whisk in the zest and the butter, and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Immediately remove it from the heat and set the pan aside, placing plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Promptly prepare the meringue. Whip the whites until they’re very frothy and have a little body to them, then whip in the sugar mixture. By then the whites will be at soft peaks. Add the cornstarch mixture and keep whipping to stiff peaks.

Lastly, assemble. Take the plastic off the filling and pour it into the prepared shell. Then immediately spread the meringue over the filling, making sure you get some over the crust edges (so it won’t pull away as it bakes). Bake it 20 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned. Cool it completely and serve the same day.

Filed under:  Lemon Meringue, Pastry | 10 Comments

Making Pork Pies

I have to admit, these Melton Mowbray-style pork pies aren’t just something you throw together, but for the serious pork pie enthusiast they are well worth the time and effort. To make them the old-fashioned way you’ll need an old-fashioned piece of equipment called a pie dolly plus some rendered leaf lard, for without good quality lard the side walls of the pie won’t stand up in the oven. Oh yes friends, these pies are baked free-standing, didn’t you know? Forms are for sissies. At least they are in Melton Mowbray.

That said you absolutely can adapt this recipe to more conventional ingredients and equipment. A standard hot water pie crust or even an American-style pie crust can be used along with a muffin tin or other form. They’ll come together in an afternoon. Personally, once I read about this technique I couldn’t resist trying it, even if it took three days. The result was the pork pie of the gods.

On day one you’ll need to make your hot water dough and let it chill for at least four hours or overnight (which is better). Next day, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm back up to room temperature, about three hours. What’s the point of the chilling? To hydrate the flour but more importantly to re-firm the fat, since the firm fat helps keep the pie walls standing. But of course too firm is no good for rolling, so it needs to come back to room temperature at which point the fat will still be firm but plastic, and that’s what you want for shaping.

When you’re ready to shape, make your filling. Assemble the ingredients and combine the pork, bacon, salt pepper, spices an anchovy paste (the secret ingredient) in a food processor.

Pulse until the meat is chopped well, but no further. You don’t want it reduced to a paste. Set that aside while you get the dough ready.

Produce your pie dolly and a round cutter (from a cutter set) that’s a bit larger than the circumference of the dolly.

Now separate about a quarter of the dough and roll it to a little less that 1/4″ thick.

Cut out five circles (assuming your dolly is about the same size as mine) and reserve the scraps.

Poke a hole in the centers with a dowel or some other device. Here I’m using a funnel, which is just about perfect, even though the holes it makes aren’t perfectly round. Who cares?

They look good to me!

Now for the shaping. This is really fun. Take a 4.5-ounce piece of dough…

…roll it into a ball…

…and pat it down into a circle.

Now apply the pie dolly and press down hard. I mean really hard…like lean well over it and put your weight on it. You’re trying to crush the center down to about 1/4 inch. If you’re unsure how you’re doing just take the dolly off, pick up the dough and pinch it. If it’s thicker that a pie bottom ought to be, keep pressing. You may get a couple of big splits, that’s not a problem.

Once the bottom is thin enough, it’s time to shape the sides. Here I should say you want to use as little flour as you possibly can. Flour really won’t help with sticking and will create a flat, flaky finish on the outside of the crust when the pie is baked. A very slight dusting is all the more you need. Now then. Plant your thumbs on the top of the dolly…

…and start squeezing with your pinkies, firmly and steadily stretching the dough up the sides. Take your time…there’s no hurry here. Press together any splits in the dough, without extra flour on the dough they’ll come together easily.

After a few minutes of pressing and rotating the dolly, it’ll look about like this.

Now slip off the dolly and…your shell is done. I noticed that some of my pie shells came off more easily that others. One stuck pretty seriously, so I used a wooden coffee stirrer to loosen it. It came off easily after that. Should your walls get compacted during removal, just pinch them thin again.

Plop a ball of filling in…enough to come within about 3/4″ from the rim. The apply a top. If it’s not big enough, roll it a little more the pin.

Pinch it all the way around to seal.

You can leave it like that, press the edge with a fork to give it a decorative frill, or curl it over, which is what I did.

Once that’s done it’s time to rest the pies for a minimum of three hours, though overnight is better. The long rest not only relaxes the dough, it chills the filling thoroughly, and that’s important because a nicely chilled center will help keep the fat in the walls cool even after the pie has gone into the oven. And that’s important. Why? Because the residual chill will help keep interior of the wall firm while the oven’s heat gelates and sets the starch on the exterior. The result being that the unusually tall walls stay up without bowling outward or compressing. Pretty neat.

Now then, when it’s time to bake preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (the high heat will set the outside of the crust quickly). Paint the pies with egg wash and promptly get them in the oven.

Bake them on a middle rack for half an hour, until they start taking on color. Open the oven, rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 350. Keep baking at least another half an hour until the pies are golden and a thermometer inserted into the middle of the pie through the ventilation hole registers 180 or more. If the crust starts getting too dark, tent them with tin foil.

Allow the pies to cool completely. At this point you can eat them, or press on and add the final touch that marks a true Melton Mowbray-style pork pie: the “jelly”. Adding that means another deep chill in the fridge. A minimum of three hours though — say it will me — overnight is better. Why is this important? Because your gelatin-rich stock will be very fluid before you pour it in. to prevent it running out all over the place — as it will even through a well-formed crust — it needs to firm fast. A very cold pie will chill it quick. Pour it in until it reaches the top. I couldn’t get pork bones at the butcher so this is some home-made chicken stock. Works every bit as well. If you really like jelly in your pork pies, do a second application after about five minutes to make sure it completely fill sin the interior gaps.

The good news is that after this step they’re ready to eat as the jelly takes only about five or ten minutes to set. Of course, allowing them to warm for an hour or so is best. I know, it’s even more waiting, but friends you’ll be happy you did. Pour yourself a pint of good ale, cut a piece, close your eyes and pretend you’re in the Midlands.


Filed under:  Pastry, Pork Pie | 12 Comments

English Pork Pie Recipe

A classic pork pie has three components: crust, filling and “jelly” or a gelatin-thickened stock which is poured in through a hole in the top crust while the pie is still warm from the oven. Why the jelly? Because these pies bake for a good 90 minutes. In that time the fresh pork is going to lose some if its moisture. The jelly is a way of putting back some of that moisture, as well as adding extra flavor. Notice my recipe calls for powdered gelatin. If you prefer you can make the stock the traditional way by adding two fresh pork trotters (feet) to the stock. Me, I’d just as soon let the good folks at Knox smell up their kitchen with feet, that’s what I pay them for.

For the Stock

2 pounds pork bones (use chicken if it’s easier…and it probably is)
1 bay leaf
about 20 black peppercorns
1 carrot, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
small bunch fresh parsley
several sprigs fresh thyme
powdered gelatin (one 1 teaspoons per cup of stock)

Place the bones, bay leaf and peppercorns in a large pot, pour in enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to the boil, then turn down to a bare simmer and allow it to barely bubble for 1 1/2 hours. Add the diced vegetables and simmer another half an hour. Add the herbs and simmer for a final 15 minutes or so. Turn off the heat, let the broth cool and strain it through cheesecloth. Let the stock cool and refrigerate it until needed.

On baking day measure the stock to find out how much you have (should be at least 1 1/2 quarts). Pour two cups into a sauce pan and set it over medium heat (reserve the rest for another use). Meanwhile, combine two teaspoons of gelatin with about two tablespoons if ice water and stir to moisten. When the stock heat to a low simmer, whisk in the gelatin mixture and make sure it dissolves completely. Remove the simmering mixture from the heat and allow it to cool (though it needs to remain liquid for the filling process).

For the Filling

1.5 pounds ounces pork shoulder (pork butt) cut in pieces
4 ounces slab bacon, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well chopped but not paste-like. Alternatley you can chop the meat finely by hand before mixing everything together.

For the Crust

One recipe hot water pie crust, chilled overnight then rested at room temperature for about three hours

To Shape and Bake

Shape according to the Making Pork Pies tutorial. Allow them to rest overnight in the refrigerator then coat with egg wash and bake in a preheated 400 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan lower the heat to 350 and bake a further 30-45 minutes until the crust is golden and the pies register 180 degrees or more on a digital thermometer. Allow them to cool completely, refrigerate them overnight and while cool, pour in the finished stock to fill. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving, they’re best if they’re allowed to warm to room temperature.

Filed under:  Pastry, Pork Pie | 13 Comments

Making Sweet Potato Pie

Do you believe pie can expand consciousness? You might after a couple slices of sweet potato pie. It has a creamy, earthy sweetness…and an almost infinite ability to please and comfort. Done right, it’ll change a person. Oh yeah.

Begin yours by assembling your ingredients including your shaped and pre-baked pie shell. Or you can use a store-bought pie shell in a pinch. Peel and cut up about two pounds of sweet potatoes, place them in the steamer insert of a saucepan and steam until they are falling-apart soft. Half an hour to 45 minutes.

Some sweet potatoes have natural pigments in them that can range from brown to black. Don’t worry if yours take on a little color in the steamer. It’s all part of the grand sweet potato pie experience.

Put the sweet potatoes in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat them until they’re completely and evenly mashed. If you find lumps in the mixture after a few minutes of mashing, pass the whole mess through a food mill or process it in a food processor until it’s completely smooth.

You want 1 1/2 to 2 cups of mashed sweet potato for the pie. To that add your sugar and very soft (or melted) butter.

Beat all that together, then add your eggs one at a time and beat them in for about 20 seconds each.

Add the vanilla and spices. Huh…nothing’s pouring in this shot. Dang. I hate that.

Anyway, once your pie shell is ready, sprinkle on the brown sugar.

Add the filling. It’ll look a little shaggy probably. But hey, this is a rustic pie. You want some of that.

Put on a pie shield and bake 40-50 minutes until the pie no longer sloshes in the middle when you move it, but rather jiggles and domes slightly in the center.

About like so.

Let it cool for at least a couple of hours before you serve it. You can add whipped cream to the top, but…why?

Filed under:  Pastry, Sweet Potato Pie | 9 Comments

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Sweet potato pie is one of the glories of Southern cooking. The best ones really taste like sweet potato instead of pumpkin, which happens a result of pumpkin pie spice (ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, etc.). A little nutmeg and some brown sugar are really all you need to bring out the best in the spuds. You’ll need:

1 recipe pie crust for a single-crust pie
about 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
2 ounces (1/2 stick) very soft butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Prepare the pie dough according to directions, a day ahead of time if you prefer. Roll and rest the dough according to the directions here.

Next, steam the sweet potato. Fill a saucepan with a steamer insert with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Steam the sweet potato pieces until they’re easily pierced with a fork. Allow them to cool completely.

When you’re ready to make your pie, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pre-bake your crust like so.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the cooked potatoes in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat them until they’re completely mashed. Remove any strings you see. You’ll need between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of the mashed potato. Beat in the butter and the sugar, then the eggs one at a time, the vanilla, bourbon, salt and spices, and lastly the milk.

When the crust is lightly browned, take it out of the oven and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the brown sugar on the hot crust and gently pour in the filling. Bake the pie 40-50 minutes and cool it completely on a rack for 2 hours before serving.

Filed under:  Pastry, Sweet Potato Pie | 4 Comments

Making Shoo-Fly Pie

You know that huge stash of syrups and sugars I had after the sweetener extravaganza? It’s gone now. That’s what a couple treacle tarts and four or five shoo-fly pies will do. At least I won’t be worrying about ants.

Why so much trouble with shoo-fly pie? Because of the crust. As a rule I don’t like pie crusts that aren’t pre-baked. They can have a cereal mouthfeel that results from uncooked flour. They also get wet and sloppy, especially when a pie filling goes in as runny as this one does. True, for some people “wet bottom” shoofly pie is a delicacy. For those folks an unbaked crust is the way to go.

Me I like my crusts firm and flaky. The trouble has been that every time I pre-baked the crust I got a couple cracks or holes. No big deal with most fillings, but in this case the filling just ran right through, causing a sticky, unsightly mess. Reader Heather helped me solve the problem by suggesting some egg wash. This turned out to be the key to Joe’s perfect shoo-fly pie. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with suggestions!

Begin by assembling your ingredients and preparing a pie crust. Roll it out and rest it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke a few holes in the crust with a skewer to prevent bubbling up (I know, I said cracks and holes are death with this pie, but don’t worry, we’ll plug them back up when they’ve served their purpose).

Lay in some parchment paper or foil.

Now add some weights. You can use beans, rice or clay weights. Those who know me know I like loose change. Spread it around well.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove the paper and weights, then bake another five until it’s barely browned at the edges. As soon as you remove it from the oven, paint on some egg wash. Plain egg white is probably best since it will cook up on contact, but beaten egg will also work. Now allow that to cool while you work on the filling. Turn the oven down to 375.

Combine the butter, salt, sugar and flour in a large bowl.

Rub it all together into “crumbs”. A lean streusel is what this is.

Pour half into the pie shell and reserve the rest.

In another large bowl spoon in the baking soda.

Add the hot water…you’ll see the reaction starting.

Promptly add the molasses. See the bubbles there?

Now the egg…

…and the rest of the crumbs.

Whisk it all together…

…and pour it into the cooled crust.

Bake it at 375 for ten minutes, then turn down the heat and bake for about 30 minutes at 300 until the pie no longer sloshes in the center when you move it. Place it on a rack to cool for about two hours, then chill it for another hour or so in the refrigerator.

Slice and serve it with whipped cream, which is pretty much essential for a pie this sweet. I should add that shoo-fly pie has a strong molasses taste. If you don’t like that you can cut the molasses with light corn syrup, or even replace it completely with dark corn syrup which will give you the color without the molasses taste. Golden syrup is another possibility. Have fun!

Filed under:  Pastry, Shoo-Fly Pie | 12 Comments

New Shoo

Reader Mike D. generously offers up his grandmother’s recipe for the cause. I ended up tweaking it, but left it mostly the same. I greatly appreciate the submission! Thanks Mike!

one 9″ pie crust, unbaked
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
5 ounces (2/3 cup) brown sugar
two generous punches salt
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) butter or shortening
6 ounces (¾ cup) boiling water
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 beaten egg
8.5 ounces (3/4 cup) molasses

Prepare your pie crust according to instructions, resting it for an hour in the refrigerator. Combine the sugar and flour and butter to make the crumbs and divide the mixture in half. Dissolve baking soda in the water and add the egg, molasses and remaining crumbs. Mix thoroughly. Pour liquid into unbaked pie-crust. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake 10 minutes at 375°, then 30 minutes more at 300°.

Filed under:  Pastry, Shoo-Fly Pie | 3 Comments

Making World Famous Kentucky Horse Race Whose Name Rhymes with “Herbie” Pie

There are three words I want you to remember when you set out to make either pecan pie or World Famous Kentucky Horse Race Whose Name Rhymes with “Herbie” pie. Those words are: syrup holds heat. That concept is critical because just like pumpkin pie, pecan pie and World Famous Kentucky Horse Race Whose Name Rhymes with “Herbie” pie are custards. Overcook the filling and they will curdle. The result? Lumpy-textured slices that weep syrup on the plate.

On the flip side, an undercooked pie is no better. It may have a smooth filling, but the crust will be wan and greasy. Yuck. But such are the wages of fear in the world of corn syrup custards. One must go boldly on the crust yet baby the center. This method, which is very similar to the one I use for pumpkin pie, will allow you to do both. Start by preparing your dough, either standard pie crust or a perfect pie crust. Both work great with this pie. Roll and shape your dough then rest the crust for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to make your pie, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a sheet of aluminum foil with vegetable oil, melted butter or cooking spray.

Lay it, greased side down, onto your rested crust. Gently press it into the form.

Apply the loose change. Or you can use pie weights. Or dried beans. Whatever floats your…er, sinks your…whatever does the job for you. Put the pie plate in the oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, get your filling ready. The idea here is to prepare the filling so that it’s nice and hot (or at least hot-ish) when the crust comes out of the oven. What will this do? It will help the filling heat through faster in the oven, thus preventing curdling around the outside of the pie. Applying the eggy filling to the hot crust will also help “seal” the crust, preventing sogginess.

Great, right? But there’s a risk. As anyone who’s every been burned by hot caramel knows, once a syrup gets hot it tends to want to stay that way (syrups holds heat, remember?). If the syrup hasn’t cooled down to below 150 degrees Fahrenheit when you add the eggs, the syrup will begin cooking the eggs right then and there. No good.

So. Combine your brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a medium saucepan and gently bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. You’ll want to have it off the heat after the crust has baked for 15 minutes or so, so it can cool down.

While the syrup is heating, wreck the eggs in a bowl and add the whiskey. Just proceed on down the tutorial while I keep pouring here. I like my pie with a little extra kick. Go on now.

Mix the nuts with the chocolate chips. These chips have bloomed as you can see. Must have been hot in that delivery truck.

So alright. Once the 25 minutes are up, remove the pie pan from the oven and gently remove the foil and weights. Return the crust to the oven for a further 5-6 minutes, until the edge is very lightly browned. Check the syrup mixture. If it’s got a thick skin on it or seems cool, you can give it a short shot of heat to warm it. For extra safety you can check the temperature with a thermometer. Anything between 130 and 145 is OK. Egg whites start to set at 140, but the beaten eggs will also cool the syrup a little when they go in.

Now for the baker’s ballet. Remove the crust from the oven and turn the heat down to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Promptly whisk the eggs into the hot syrup mixture…

…pour that mixture into the hot shell…

…and sprinkle on the nuts and chips.

Apply a pie shield to the crust if you like at this point to keep the crust from over-browning, then put the pie into the oven and bake it for 50-60 minutes. This low-and-slow approach, baking the warm filling at just 275, will help ensure a perfect, curdle-free pie.

At about the 40 minute point you’ll want to check the pie by giving it a little jostle. The uncooked center will slosh from side to side. Keep baking until the very center just barely stops its sloshing and the whole pie is slightly domed and jiggly. Because — remember what I wrote at the very beginning? — syrups hold heat, the pie will continue to cook for another ten minutes or more once you take it out of the oven. It’s this continued cooking that causes so many homemade corn syrup custards to overbake.

I wish I could show you a picture of a slightly domed and jiggly pie, but static photography just doesn’t work that way. I think you’ll know it when you see it, yes? Let the pie rest on a rack and cool it for at least three hours before slicing. Five is better, overnight is better still. Slice and serve.

I think you’ll agree that World Famous Kentucky Horse Race Whose Name Rhymes with “Herbie” pie is a very different animal from traditional pecan. The black walnuts and the bourbon give it very distinct flavors and aromas. And then there are the chocolate chips of course. They help too…a lot.

Of course I know that a lot of you are admiring the punchiness and pith of the name I created for this pastry: World Famous Kentucky Horse Race Whose Name Rhymes with “Herbie” pie. You may well be tempted to steal it. Let me warn you right now that I have already applied for a trademark on it. Just think about using the name and I’ll slap a lawsuit on you faster than you can say Kentucky Derby. Don’t think I won’t!

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World Famous Kentucky Horse Race Whose Name Rhymes with “Herbie” Pie Recipe

This recipe for the pie-that-shall-be-nameless is based on a clipping from the May 7th, 1973 edition of the Louisville Courier Journal. I changed the fat from butter to margarine and have changed the process quite a bit to ensure a smoother filling without curdling.

2 ounces (1/4 cup) butter
7 ounces (1 cup) brown sugar
3 eggs
8.5 ounces (3/4 cup) light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ounces (1/2 cup) chocolate chips
2.5 ounces (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts (black walnuts if you can get them)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) bourbon
1 8- or 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Prepare dough for 9″ single crust pie, roll it and lay it into a pie pan. Let it rest for a minimum of an hour in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line the crust with greased tin foil and pour in pie weighs or dried beans. Bake the crust for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Place the butter, sugar, corn syrup, salt and vanilla in a medium saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Beat the eggs and bourbon together in a small bowl. Mix the walnuts and chocolate chips together in another small bowl. Bring the sugar mixture to a simmer, stirring every so often, then remove it from the heat.

After 25 minutes, remove the crust from the oven and gently lift out the foil with the weights. Return the crust to the oven and bake a further 5-6 minutes. If the sugar mixture is cooling to the point that it’s starting form a crust, whisk it and give it another short shot of heat. DO NOT simmer it again…you want it around 140 degrees or so when the crust comes out.

When the crust is lightly browned remove it from the oven, which in the egg mixture and pour the filling into the hot shell. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips and nuts. Turn the heat down to 275 degrees, apply a pie shield to the pan if you have one (this will help keep the edge from over-baking) and bake the pie for 50-60 minutes until the center just stops sloshing when you jiggle the pan. The filling will continue to cook for the next ten minutes or so.

Cool the pie at least three hours before slicing and serving. Overnight is best.

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