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24 November 2009

What's Right With Pie

I've been noticing that pie has a very bad repuation, and after looking at the nutrition facts for one of our favorites, pumpkin pie, I'm puzzled about why. Here's what I'm baking tonight:

For the Crust:

1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 t salt
1/3 c shortening
3 T cold water

Sift flour, add salt. Blend in the shortening with a pastry blender till it's a coarse meal. Add the 3 brimming tablespoons of water, mix a bit. I can never get it to come completely together at this point. Turn it out, crumbs and all, onto a strip of wax paper that's about twice the size of your pie pan. Place another sheet of wax paper on top, and sort of mush the crumby pie crust together. Roll out between the sheets to 6-8 inches. Fold in half, then into quarters, and center on the wax paper again, handling as little as possible. You'll probably still have crumbs. Roll out to about 1/8 inch thick. I find that rolling it till it's just peeking out of the wax paper on both sides makes a piece that's just perfect for my pie pans. You want it to be about 1 inch larger than your pan, if you place it upside down on your rolled-out crust. Carefully peel the top piece of wax paper, and center the crust, still on the bottom piece, over your pan. Be careful, it's going to be inclined to flake. Carefully peel the other wax paper off. I usually end up with bits that stick to the paper, but seldom ever have actual tears. If it does tear, just sort of squeeze it back together, or patch it with extra after you're done. The crust at this point is suspended just over the pie pan, so carefully lift a section and let it droop all the way into the pan. There's not a lot of stretch in the crust, so don't try to press it into place. Cut the excess off around the edge of your pan with a sharp knife, and set aside. Your crust is ready to fill.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

3/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
15 ounces pumpkin puree (1 can)
12 ounces evaporated milk (1 can)

Mix sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add pumpkin and mix well. Add eggs, mix well. I just used a spatula, but you could do a hand mixer too. Add your evaporated milk and stir until it's an even consistency. Pour into your pie crust. I like to set it on a cookie sheet while it bakes, and I sometimes put tinfoil on the sheet to catch the drips, though not always. If it's going to drip it'll be while you put it into the oven. Depending on how big your pie pan is, this can be quite the balancing act! Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake another 30-40 minutes. If you're doing 2 pies at the same time, rotate them about halfway. When I do this, I ended up baking the bottom pie a while after the top one came out, so keep an eye on them. They're done when you knife comes out clean when inserted to the center. Let cool completely before serving. I like to make these a day ahead of when I need them so they're not rushed.

So, since I was thinking about the nutrition value, I ran this through my recipe program's thing to get the nutrition information. Here's what you get in a slice if you cut into 8 slices:

Calories: 296
Fat: 13 g/20% RDA
Fiber: 1g/4%
Protein: 7g/13%
Iron: 9%
Vitamin C: 10%
Vitamin A: 22%
Vitamin B12: 4%
Vitamin B1: 12%
Vitamin B2: 19%
Folacin: 22%

That just doesn't sound so bad to me. Especially with all those vitamins in it. Most candy bars have more calories. Pioneer Woman's Grilled Cheese Sandwiches have about the same amount of calories, more fat, and not quite as much vitamins. It's a delicious sandwich, and I don't think that anyone would argue that it deserves to be "main dish food." But pumpkin pie's not so bad either. Nutritionally speaking, I think the case could be made for pumpkin pie being better than the grilled cheese. Though that might be a hard thing for a lot of us to take, viscerally. But apparently pie can be more or less healthy.

Unless you put bunny tracks ice cream on top like we did tonight.

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