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Related Articles: Favorite Cream Pie Recipes | Perfect Pie Crust

How to Make Your Favorite Pies Even Better!
by Dennis Weaver

My son-in-law, Ben Frantzen, got a couple of bushels of Honey Crisp apples. Now, I love Honey Crisp apples but you can only eat so many. So it sounded like an excuse to make pies--and did we make pies.

I had never baked with Honey Crisp apples before. Honey Crisp are hard and sweet, terrific eating apples but would they work in a pie? We found that they have a terrific flavor but are not as tender as other baking apples—but the people that we served in the store loved them. If you don’t mind a firm apple in your pie, they’re great.

So, we experimented for a week with apple pies. We used our fifteen minute apple pie mixes so we could tear through pies in a hurry.

Make a very good crust.

A good pie needs a good crust. For years, I made all my crusts from scratch. I rarely bother anymore; I use a just-add-water mix. It’s too easy and makes a great crust.

We experimented with crusts. We put apple pies in cheddar crusts, walnut crusts, or cream cheese crusts. (I particularly liked the apple pies in cheddar crusts but we made some maple apple pies that seemed particularly fitted to the walnut crusts. Those we served with a maple nut whipped cream.) We made all these crusts by adding ingredients to a mix so they were quick and easy to put together. (All of these recipes follow.)

Add a streusel topping!

Like in a Dutch apple pie, a streusel topping can make a good pie extraordinary. Add a streusel topping to not just apple pies but any fruit pie—peach, cherry, and berry. We’ll give you the recipe of the pros, one that you can make in bulk, use, and save what’s left in the refrigerator. Or if you prefer, use our new streusel mix. Take out what you need, drop it in your stand-type mixer, add butter and hit the switch. Use it not just on pies but on muffins, cakes, and other pastries.

Top it with very special whipped cream!

We hardly ever make old fashioned whipped cream with cream, sugar, and vanilla anymore. Flavored whipped cream is so much better. We served these apple pies with caramel whipped cream, cinnamon nut whipped cream, and maple nut whipped cream. We guarantee that your guests will ask for the recipe.

. . . and what you’ll need!

You’ll need these to make a 15 minute apple pie. We make a lot of apple pies and we do them in a hurry. (We really do make apple pies in fifteen minutes. Now that’s with all the ingredients on the counter and without baking.)

There are two keys to a quick apple pie: An Apple Master for pealing, slicing, and coring—you can have your apples ready in two minutes—and a just-add-water pie crust mix. Add the water, beat with the paddle attachment for less than a minute, and you’re ready to go.

Try topping your pies with a streusel topping. It’s faster than forming and sealing a top crust on your apple pies and the crunchy topping is wonderful. Again, you can use the recipe below or our mix.

Learn more about our streusel topping mix.

You’ll need dark pie pans with a good nonstick surface. A dark pie pan eliminates soggy crusts; the dark surface absorbs heat to bake the crust. Rather than scratch your pie pans, if they have a great surface, you can slip your pies out of the pan and onto the plate for cutting.

See the professional pie pans that we use.

A pie crust shield is a must. It protects the outer rim of the crust. Long before the pie is cooked through, the edge of the crust is over baked—unless you have a pie crust shield. I put a pie crust shield on every pie before putting it in the oven.

This makes a very easy, very tasty pie crust. It’s mixed in minutes. Because of the addition of sugar, this is slightly sweetened.

1 1/2 cups just-add-water professional pie crust mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 8-ounce brick of cream cheese softened at room temperature
1/3 cup cold water

Use your stand-type mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix the pie crust mix, sugar, and flour together. Add the cream cheese and water. Beat with the paddle, scraping down the sides if necessary, only until smooth. Use as other pie crust dough.

Yield: Enough pie crust for a double crust pie.

Chocolate Pie Crust

I don’t know that this goes with apple but it makes a great crust. The addition of sugar makes it slightly sweeter than traditional crusts.

1 1/2 cups just-add-water professional pie crust mix
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa or equal
1/4 cup cold water

Use your stand-type mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix the pie crust mix, sugar, and cocoa together. Add the cream cheese and water. Beat with the dough hook, scraping down the sides if necessary, only until smooth. Do not over beat. Use as other pie crust dough.

Yield: Enough pie crust for a single crust pie.

Cheddar Cheese Pie Crust

This makes a very easy, very tasty pie crust. It simply is cheddar cheese added to a pie crust mix. It’s mixed in minutes. This is an especially nice crust for a quiche.

2 1/4 cups just-add-water professional pie crust mix
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, softened
1/3 cup cold water

Use your stand-type mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix the pie crust mix, cheese, and water together. Beat with the paddle, only until smooth. Do not over beat. Use as other pie crust dough.

Yield: Enough pie crust for a double crust pie.

Walnut Pie Crust

This makes an interesting, very tasty pie crust. It’s mixed in minutes. We like this crust with a pumpkin pie.

Because of the nuts in the crust, be sure and use a pie crust shield for the entire baking time to protect the nuts from the heat of the oven.

1 1/3 cups just-add-water professional pie crust mix
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (pieces should be no larger than 1/8 inch)
1/4 cup cold water

Use your stand-type mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix the pie crust mix, walnuts, and water together. Beat with the paddle, scraping down the sides if necessary, only until smooth. Do not over beat. Use as other pie crust dough.

The nuts in this crust make the dough a little fragile and may tear the dough in places while you are forming the crust. Use your fingers and maybe scraps of dough to repair any tears. In spite of the nuts, we did not have any trouble forming crusts.

Yield: Enough pie crust for a single crust pie.

Julie’s Favorite Streusel Recipe

This recipe makes a very good streusel. It’s terrific on pies, muffins, coffeecake, or other pastries. You can double or triple the recipe and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a month.

1 cup pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter

Mix the flour, salt, sugars, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla. With a pastry knife, cut in the butter until there are only small chunks of streusel formed. Spoon the streusel over your pie, muffins, coffeecakes, or other pastry.

15 Minute Sour Cream Apple Pie Recipe

The first time I made this pie, it took me 14 minutes. Now, I already had all the ingredients staged—sitting on the counter. If you familiarize yourself with the recipe before, don’t dawdle, and have everything sitting on the counter ready to measure, you really can make a 15 minute apple pie.

That includes making the pie crust (from a mix) and peeling, coring, and slicing the apples (with an Apple Master). And this is no stripped down version of a pie. The filling is made with brown sugar, sour cream, and cinnamon. All in less than 15 minutes.

just-add-water pie mix for a nine-inch, double crust pie
water for the pie crust
6 cups peeled and sliced apples
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pie crust mix and the water in the bowl of your stand-type mixer with paddle attached. Beat for about a minute or until the dough comes to a smooth consistency. Do not over beat.

Roll the dough to nearly 1/8-inch thickness. Place the dough in the pan and form the bottom crust. Trim the excess and form the edges.

Use an Apple Master to peel, slice, and core six cups of apples—about six medium apples. Place the apple slices into a large bowl.

Add the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and sour cream. Stir with a spatula until the slices are coated with filling and the dry ingredients are mixed in.

Mix the streusel and spread over the top of the filling.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or the crust is done and the apples are bubbly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

15 Minute Maple Apple Pie Recipe

This pie is made with maple syrup instead of sour cream. It too has a streusel topping.

just-add-water pie mix for a nine-inch, double crust pie
water for the pie crust
6 cups peeled and sliced apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose corn starch
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple flavor

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pie crust mix and the water in the bowl of your stand-type mixer with paddle attached. Beat for about a minute or until the dough comes to a smooth consistency. Do not over beat.

Roll the dough to nearly 1/8-inch thickness. Place the dough in the pan and form the bottom crust. Trim the excess and form the edges.

Use an Apple Master to peel, slice, and core six cups of apples—about six medium apples. Place the apple slices into a large bowl.

Add the brown sugar, cornstarch, maple syrup, cinnamon, and maple flavor. Stir with a spatula until the slices are coated with filling and the dry ingredients are mixed in.

Mix the streusel and spread over the top of the filling.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or the crust is done and the apples are bubbly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Flavored Whipped Cream Recipes

Never settle for plain whipped cream. It’s so easy to make very special whipped cream. Often it’s as simple as adding a flavor to the whipped cream. Sometimes you’ll want to sweeten your whipped cream with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. We often add lemon zest to lemon whipped cream and orange zest to orange whipped cream. The zest adds a little flavor and the colored flecks are pretty.

Here are some sample recipes to get you started. You will find outstanding and hard-to-find flavors at our store.

Butterscotch Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons butterscotch flavor

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the sugar and flavor and continue whipping.

Lemon Cloud Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon flavor
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the sugar, flavor, and zest and continue whipping.

Caramel Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons caramel flavor

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the sugar and flavor and continue whipping.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar or to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. (See tips in the next section.)

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for one minute at high heat, stir, and continue heating until melted. Let the chocolate cool for three to five minutes. The chocolate should be warm and still liquid but not hot.

Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate.

Stir the chocolate mixture and the extract (along with the sugar, if used) into the remaining whipped cream.

This article was written by Dennis Weaver of The Prepared Pantry. Dennis is a baker, a recipe designer, and a writer.




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