Quiche, cheesecake, Shepard’s pie, any pie … my children say I make round foods well. I’ll take the compliment. And it’s true that there is some about this shape that I find soothing — something literal, I guess, about coming full circle.
When talking pies, there is nothing like November. It’s the first month of a real autumn chill — a time when nothing says comfort more than a cup of hot coffee, tea or chocolate and a slice of pie, homemade or otherwise. As Thanksgiving approaches, the makings that go into it become downright ubiquitous: Cans of pumpkin and sweet potatoes line store shelves, just beckoning to be mixed with pungent spices and tossed into the oven.
An October study by, Wisevoter, a bipartisan educational platform, listed some tasty trivia about pies. For instance, the U.S. pie industry has around $700 million in sales annually. The two top favorites in all 50 states (Washington, D.C., was not ranked separately) are pecan pie (15 states), followed by apple (14 states). The five top flavors for Maryland are apple pie, blueberry pie, coconut-cream pie, pecan pie and pumpkin pie, in that order.
The Virginia rundown is: apple pie, peanut butter pie, sweet potato pie, pecan pie and blueberry pie.
According to the study, one in five Americans has eaten an entire pie by themselves. And some 32% of Americans prefer no crust on the top of their pie.
Speaking of crust, that’s the key to this quintessential American dessert. Even if you decide not to mash pumpkin by hand or use fresh fruit for the filling, you can still go all in on the crust. It’s inexpensive, easy to do and not so time consuming. Below is a tried-and-true recipe to wow your guests this holiday season — from Thanksgiving to Chanukah to New Year’s.
Pie Crust (Dairy)
Makes 1 crust
¼ cup salt
1 cup flour
1 large egg (yolk only)
1 stick of unsalted cold butter
2 Tbsps. ice water
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut cold diced butter (dice it first and then put back in fridge until chilled) and mix with pastry blender or hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Blend 1 egg yolk with 2 Tbsps. of ice-cold water.
Blend egg mixture with the flour mixture until it becomes a solid mass.
Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.
Place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll it out to about a 10- or 11-inch circle, sprinkling with flour, if necessary, so dough doesn’t stick to rolling pin.
Place rolled-out dough in pie or tart pan (you can roll it onto the pin and unroll it carefully into pan). Press gently into pan and/or trim sides.
Bake according to recipe directions.