Posts Tagged ‘pie’

The Theory Of Pie

November 23, 2015


It is officially pie season. Pumpkin, apple, pecan…you name it, we’re making it! In past years, we gave you a comprehensive guide to making the perfect pie crust. This time, we are focusing in on what could possibly go wrong, and how to nip that problem in the bud.

So what happens when you followed our directions to a tee, yet the pie crust lost some of it’s shape in the oven? First of all, you eat it. Even the less lovely crusts usually still taste great. Shrug it off and learn from the experience.

Once of the biggest problems is shrinkage. It isn’t good for clothing or, ahem other things, but it is also a problem for pastry. With all that butter or shortening, the crust is bound to shrink a little. Here are a few tips:

Carry the Weight: Prebaked, or blind baked crusts suffer the most. The filling seems to keep it in place somewhat, even when it wants to shrivel. Make sure that crusts that require pre-baking are properly wieghted.  Cover the pie with foil or parchment paper, and then fill it with pie weights or beans. Bake it for the prescribed amount of time, and then gently remove the weights and the lining, and place it back into the oven to brown. Be careful not to pull the liner off too quickly, taking a hunk of hot, partially baked crust with it.

Prick It: To avoid the crust bubbling up, prick it in multiple places with a fork. This will allow the air to escape, and keep it from getting soggy in the process.

It’s A Stretch: When rolling the dough and placing it in the pan, don’t stretch the dough to fit. Instead, cut the rolled dough larger than you need it to be, settle the center part into the bottom and sides of the pie plate, and then give a little nudge towards the center before trimming off the excess. The dough is slightly elastic, and if it is stretched, it will eventually snap back. Tucking the excess under and crimping it, or adding a decorative border will give it some heft and keep it from shriveling.

Give It A Rest: Let the dough rest in the pan for a bit before trimming and baking. This lets the gluten relax and reduces the shrink factor. Don’t overwork the dough. Gluten, the protein which gives dough it’s elasticity and strikes fear in the hearts of trendy eaters everywhere, is activated when the dough is manipulated. Heavily kneeded doughs, like pizza crust have more gluten than you want your pie crust to have. Handle the dough gently, and minimally to keep it from becoming tough. ( Yes, even the most gently handled crusts have some gluten in them, if they are made of wheat flour.)

Just Chill: Just like us, the dough needs to relax and chill. In this case, it should be done in the refrigerator. Think about butter, one of the prime components of a pie crust. It expands when it is warm and soft, and contracts when it is cold and hard. Chilling the crust allows the butter to solidify. We often make our pie and tart shells a day or two in advance to allow the dough to be firm and cold when we bake them. You can even wrap them well and freeze them for a couple of days. There is no need to thaw them before baking.

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Pie Pops

January 21, 2013

Last night we finally celebrated B’s birthday. This year, she wanted pie, clearly a trait she inherited from one of her favorite pie-lovin’ cousins.
These pie pops are a fun and festive take on the classic apple pie. Besides, doesn’t everyone need pie on a stick?


Roll the dough out, and cut into circles, about 2″ in diameter.

Create fillings that are not too wet. Pureed fruit tossed in flour or cornstarch, a little sugar and perhaps some cinnamon is perfect.



Place a dollop of filling in the center of each circle. Insert a stick and cover with another circle.

Using a small fork, crimp the edges all around. Cut a small X in the center to allow the steam to escape


Brush them with an egg wash and bake until they are golden brown.


Allow to cool and arrange them in a glass or small vase until ready to eat. Enjoy!

( Yes Will, I will make you some too!!!)

photos: Indigo Jones

Unrecipe of the Week: Thanksgiving Edition

November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving is almost here, and we are cooking up a storm! If you haven’t made your pies yet, here is a classic pumpkin pie recipe that works perfectly with the pie crust recipe we posted earlier. Ours came out pretty good, if we say so ourselves!

Pumpkin Pie 

Mix together 1 – 15 oz. can of pumpkin,  3/4 cup sugar, 1 heatlhy teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

Beat in 2 eggs and 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk.

Pour into a prepared pie or tart shell, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake another 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center come out clean.

Serving with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and enjoy!

If you are making it in advance, cool it and store it in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

photo: Spencer Jones /Glasshouse Images

food styling: Shari Hershon/ Indigo Jones

Unrecipe of the Week / Holiday Edition

November 14, 2011

The grand finale of any Thanksgiving dinner is pie. In our house, pumpkin pie is a seasonal treat that everyone looks forward to. This year, in addition to the traditional pumpkin pie, there will be an apple pie for my nephew Will, and a yummy chocolate cheesecake to celebrate Walter’s birthday.

Any great pie begins with the crust. I make a classic French pate brisee that is flaky and buttery.  If you have a food processor, it practically makes itself!

Pate Brisee:

In the bowl of a food processor, place 1 ½ cup flour, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar and 1 stick of cold butter, cut into small pieces.

Pulse the machine for several seconds until the mixture resembles a course meal.

With the machine running, add ice water SLOWLY through the feed tube. Use just enough to get the dough to stick together and start to form a ball. This should only be about 2 or 3 tablespoons or so. Be careful not to over process the dough or it will become tough. The dough should not be crumbly or too wet.  If you need to, add a little flour or water to get the desired consistency.

Flatten the ball of dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate briefly.
Most recipes require the dough to be chilled for a few hours. I find it is easier to roll when it is cold, but still very soft and pliable.

I roll out the dough on a clean kitchen towel or a piece of wax paper. Flour the surface, and the rolling pin to prevent sticking.

Roll the dough gently in all directions until it is about 3/16” thick and slightly bigger than the pie dish or tart pan.

Carefully fold the dough right on the cloth or paper and transfer it to the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. Remove the cloth and gently smooth the dough into the pan. Trim the excess. In a tart pan, just roll your rolling pin across the top to get a nice even edge. For pies, there are a variety of crimping techniques.

The easiest, is to use a fork to score the dough all along the rim of the pan.

Use a fork to pierce the bottom and sides of the crust to prevent air bubbles when baking.
Place the crusts back in the refrigerator until you are ready to fill and bake them.

This recipe makes one crust. If you are making a double crust pie, you will need to double the recipe.

Happy Baking!

photo: Spencer Jones / Glasshouse Images

Food Styling: Shari Hershon / Indigo Jones

Upper Crust

July 15, 2009


Summer tarts are a perfect ending to a great meal. While they are simple to make, adding a creative touch makes them special and personal. I love to cut freeform leaves and berries to top my blueberry tart, instead of the standard latticework. Try your own variation, using flowers, stars or other shapes to create an interesting and delicious tart topper that is truly “upper crust”.

Shari’s blueberry tart:
Pate brisee:
2 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups of flour
a generous pinch of salt and sugar
Put ingredients into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until mixed.
With the motor running, add ice cold water, a tablespoon at a time until it forms a dough. ( usually about 4-5 tbs or so).
Gather the dough into a ball,wrap in plastic, and chill briefly before rolling.
Most people suggest chilling the dough for a longer period of time. I find it gets too hard, and prefer to roll it when it is cold, but hasn’t started to firm up yet.
I always roll on wax paper that is floured, so I can lift the crust up easily and just peel the paper away.

For the top crust, roll the dough out, and cut shapes as desired. While I like to create these by hand, you can also use small cookie cutters to get a similar and more uniform effect. Chill motifs as you go, as those small pieces will be easier to arrange when they are a bit firmer.

3 pints of blueberries
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Mix ingredients. Fill the bottom crust with fruit mixture.
Arrange topping elements artfully. Brush with an egg/water mixture and bake @400 for about 50 minutes until the crust is brown and the fruit is bubbling.
Be sure to set the tart on a cookie sheet as it is likely to run over a bit.
Let it cool before removing from pan
Did you create a unique “upper crust”? Share it with us!

photo:SpencerJones/Glasshouse Images

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