Cookbook Love: How to Build a Better Pie

Cake or pie…doesn’t it seem that dessert lovers have their favorite?

Well if your answer is pie (I’m partial to both), then I urge you to get this book so you can start baking for your next holiday party: How to Build a Better Pie by pie baker extraordinaire Millicent Souris.

Souris, who teaches pie making at the Brooklyn Kitchen, tells us everything we need to know about the subject.

She explains how to:

  • make and roll out crust
  • make a lattice crust
  • make a crumble topping
  • make hand pies, turnovers and galettes

all with the fervor and passion she has for pie.

Souris includes recipes for the usual suspects (apple, strawberry rhubarb, bourbon pecan), as well as not so usual: apricot tomatillo, corn buttermilk, boiled cider, lemon honeysuckle, blackberry banana and many others.

I love how Souris has included a chapter on savory pies: chicken pot pie is one of my favorite comfort foods. But since it’s the holiday season and chocolate is everyone’s favorite, I am sharing this rich recipe with you.

Chocolate Olive Oil Pie

  • Basic Pie Crust (see below)
  • Filling
  • 5 ounces of dark chocolate (72 percent works well)
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 2 yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  • Wash
  • 1 egg white
  • Prebake Tools
  • aluminum foil
  • baking beans

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.

Add eggs and yolks together in a medium size bowl. Whisk well then slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream so it is emulsified with the eggs. Add the buttermilk, sugar, salt and cornmeal. Mix well.

Add a few inches of water to a sauce pan and heat up over a high flame then turn down to a simmer. Weigh the chocolate and put it in a bowl that sets atop the sauce pot to melt. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Mix the chocolate a bit as it melts.

Once the chocolate is melted, allow it to cool and then add the dairy mixture and whisk together well. Bang the bowl down hard on the countertop to release any air bubbles.

Pour the filling into a cooled, partially baked crust and put it into a 325 degree oven. After 30 minutes, turn the pie 180 degrees. The pie is done when the filling is set. The filling of the pie will be risen above the edges of the crust with a light brown top crust. It will fall as it cools. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Let rest for an hour.

The author, Millicent Souris, recommends adding sea salt to the pie. She says:

"I sprinkle sea salt on top of this pie, which adds a tasty, addictive element to the pie. If you are hesitant to add salt to your chocolate, try it once and decide—a good approach to many things in this world."

I agree!


Basic Pie Crust

  • 1 cup and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup strained ice water, plus 2 tablespoons

Pour all dry ingredients into good size bowl and mix together with your hands. Cut the cold butter into 1/4-inch pieces. It's imperative that the butter is cold; its ability to maintain its shape is what lends flakiness to the crust.

Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients, incorporating by pinching each piece. Do not break up the butter beyond this; it should keeps its shape.

As you work, cup your hands and lift all the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl to the top. That way you aren't stuck with dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl. The butter should not get warm or create tiny little butter pebbles. The goal is for the fat to have presence in the crust.

Strain the ice water, so ice doesn't end up in the crust. You could also pour the ice water through a slotted spoon held over the bowl. Slowly pour the water into the bowl. Start with a 1/4 cup and pour it around the outside of the bowl. Never sloppily dump wet ingredients into dry, especially for a crust. The water should be evenly distributed. Push the crust around with a fork, moving from the outside of the bowl. Add the second 1/4 cup of water and repeat.

When mixing the ingredients, make sure you are incorporating all ingredients on the bottom of the bowl. It is almost there but you may need to add 2 tablespoons more water. After adding the extra water, push the crust with your fork.

Your crust is ready to be shaped when:

You can squeeze it together and it won't fall apart, and the center isn't crumbly.

The crust becomes slightly golden and a little cooler to touch. The is the perfect moment when the mixture becomes crust.

Separate the dough into 2 equal size balls, and flatten them into discs. Wrap each one in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

When ready to roll, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Farenheit. You'll only need one ball for the Chocolate Olive Oil pie. use other roll for another pie. : )

Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and about 15 inches in diameter. Place in pie pan. Trim the edges so there is no more than 1/4 inch overhang. Lift and crimp the overhang along the rim. Chill your curst in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. It is important that the crust be cold.

Pull your pie plate out of the freezer or refrigerator and place foil in it. The foil should come over the ages in order to protect the crust from over browning. But do not press foil to the edges. Place your baking beans in the bottom and level off.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425. The pull out the crust, lower oven to 350 and carefully lift the foil by the edges with the beans in it. Bake crust for another 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. After 10 minutes, lightly brush with beaten egg whie to patch nay holes.


Want more pie tips and recipes? Check out How to Build a Better Pie.

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