Dessert Holidays

Pie Talk!

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cranberry chocolate nut pie
Pie Talk! A Q&A session about pie and pastry making
Everything you always wanted to know about pie!

cranberry chocolate nut pie

I’m so excited today because I’ve got my good pal Tricia Buice here, and we’re talking pie.  Tricia writes the beautiful blog Saving Room for Dessert, and in my opinion she’s an expert on pies of every kind, so stick around if you’re doing any baking for the big day this week, we could all learn a thing or two.  I’m going to ask Tricia some questions, and we’ll be taking and answering any questions you might have in the comment section as they come in today and all week long.  Tricia is a native Southerner, a lifetime member of the National Pie Association, and she spent an entire year baking a new pie every week for her 52 pie series, so she really knows her pies.  (By the way, that handsome specimen above is #7, Cranberry Chocolate Nut.)

Saving Room for Dessert

Tricia, why pie?  What made you decide to dedicate a year to them?

I’ve always been the pie baker in our family so I felt confident that I could do it.  When I initially thought about the commitment, I sat down and came up with 45 pies off the top of my head; I took that as a good sign.  I LOVE pie, I LOVE making pie and most of all I love to share pie.  Baking is a creative outlet for me, and I love the blank canvas that comes with a pie crust. Baking also embodies all things family and home to me, and my family was extremely supportive and committed to eating pie once a week! 🙂  And last but not least, I’ve always wanted to write a cookbook or an e-book about pies, so that project was a definitely a perfect “trial run”. 

coconut cream pie

#17, Coconut Cream


Do you have any formal baking training?

I have never had formal training but have been schooled by great bakers.  I was only 10 years old when I first learned to make pie crust.  My grandmother (Mammaw) had apple trees and just like any fruit or vegetable, they are often ready to pick all at the same time.  We picked the ripe apples and made 8 apple pies in one afternoon. Mammaw froze the unbaked pies and baked them when company came throughout the year.  She also used the apples to make canned applesauce, apple butter, etc.  Harvest was a busy time!  My mother was also a very good pie maker so I always helped her too. She was patient and happy I showed an interest in baking.  I actually won a blue ribbon for an apple pie in a large County Fair many years ago.  I cried when I saw the ribbon on my pie!  It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Do you have any favorites from your 52 Pie series?

Yes I do!  Lemon Chess, Lemon Ice Box and Key Lime to name a few.  Blueberry, peach, apple and pear pies are all winners too. There was a skillet apple pie that was very sweet but so amazing!  I’ve found that the simple pies made with fresh fruit are the best.  All my taste testers have confirmed!

key lime pie

#31, Key Lime Pie


What’s your advice for the pie-phobic?  For me it’s was always the rolling out of the crust that freaked me out…

It’s not as hard as you think.  As with any skill, practice helps.  Don’t wait until you’re having 15 people to dinner and need the pie to be perfect.  Practice when it doesn’t matter.

perfect pie crust

photo courtesy Saving Room for Dessert


What’s the secret to a great crust?

Regarding the ingredients, I’m partial to unbleached flour.  And when you measure the flour, fluff it a little first, then scoop the flour into the measuring cup and run the flat part of a table knife across the top to level, this will insure that you are getting a consistent amount every time.  My favorite crust recipe uses 1/2 unsalted butter and 1/2 Crisco shortening.  I am not a fan of all-butter crusts because I find them greasy, and the all-Crisco crusts don’t brown very well.  Half and half seems to be the sweet spot.

A few other tips – don’t add too much water, it makes the crust tough; don’t overwork the dough, mix just until it is evenly moist; keep your butter and shortening very cold and allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator before rolling out (at least 30 minutes sealed in plastic wrap), the gluten needs time to develop and it will be easier to work with.  Run your hand over the dough when rolling it out to feel for thick or thin parts.  Make sure your surface is dusted with flour and if you prefer, roll it out on a piece of parchment paper.  When the circle is big enough, fold the dough in half, then in half again (like a pie wedge) then lift the dough into the pie plate with the tip towards the center.  Gently unfold taking care not to stretch the dough.  Ease it into the dish and crimp the edges as desired.  If making a double crust you can brush a little milk on top before baking.  That will help the crust brown evenly.

Of all your pies, which one would you suggest for a beginning pie maker?

Blueberry or apple if you want to make a double crust, or Lemon Chess or Hosier Sugar Cream for a single crust.  Since it’s Thanksgiving I would suggest making a  pumpkin pie.  I have two recipes for pumpkin pie and they are both easy to make and come out perfect every time.

pumpkin pie

#44, Pumpkin Pie


How far in advance, if at all, do you think holiday pies can be made, and how would you store them?

 A few years ago we traveled over 600 miles to spend Thanksgiving with family.  I made 7 pies to carry to Tennessee.  They were all made 4 days before Thanksgiving.  I refrigerated them until we left on our trip and since the weather was cold, they were all fine.  I took an apple, 2 pecan, 2 chocolate pecan and 2 pumpkin pies.  This year I will make mine the day before Thanksgiving and store them in a cold garage or refrigerator sealed in a Tupperware container or cake taker.  The short answer?  A couple of days if kept in a cool place.  Bring the pie to room temperature a couple of hours before serving.  Store leftovers in the fridge.  Some are great slightly heated in the microwave, i.e. pecan, chocolate pecan, etc.  Cream pies should be kept refrigerated.

What pies are you making for your family this Thanksgiving?

Chocolate pecan and pecan.  Every year they want the same thing!

Mississippi Mud Pie

#15, Mississippi Mud Pie


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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    [email protected]+This+is+How+I+Cook
    December 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    What a great post! I love both of your blogs. And what I’d really love now is a piece of that Mississippi Mud pie! Followed by a slice of apple, please!

    • Reply
      December 9, 2014 at 6:48 am

      That mud pie is killer, isn’t it?

  • Reply
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens
    November 25, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    All this pie talk is making me excited for all the pies I’m going to be eating this week!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Perfect timing as I’m making my pies tomorrow. Now I wish I had key lime, coconut cream, Mississippi mud pies on the menu…they all look divine! Thanks, Sue and Tricia.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Love this post ladies! What a nice idea to collaborate on making pies! ….and we love all of them! YUM! We want to wish you both beautiful ladies a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and friends. xoxo Anna and Liz

    • Reply
      November 25, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Thanks Anna and Liz, same to you!

  • Reply
    [email protected]+Cooking+with+Mamma+C
    November 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    This is a feast for the eyes! I’m so excited to know about Tricia’s blog. I’ve been wondering if I should I buy one of those cloth sleeves for my rolling pin. Do you use one, and do you think it makes rolling easier?

    • Reply
      [email protected]+Saving+room+for+dessert
      November 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Hey Andrea! I have not tried using a cloth sleeve but reviews on the products are pretty positive. I’ve never had sticking problems with my standard crust and if rolling a non-typical, stickier dough, I put a piece of parchment or plastic wrap on top and on bottom and move on. Be sure to dust (rub) your rolling pin with flour and dust the pie dough as well. Whatever works for you is the best way – just keep making those pies! I would love to hear your thoughts if you do try the sleeve. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving~!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Tricia this question came in via email:
    “How does Tricia feel about putting Bourbon or Amaretto in her Pecan or Chocolate Pecan pies?”

    • Reply
      Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
      November 24, 2014 at 7:16 am

      Great question! Actually I feel really good about it. We often add bourbon to desserts but reserve the sweeter Amaretto for less sugary treats. There are some in my family (they know who they are) that don’t care for bourbon so this year I’m making a Maple Bourbon Whipped Cream to put on top for those that like the flavor. The bourbon is stronger in the whipped cream since it is not cooked so take care you don’t add too much. Start with a tablespoon of bourbon and see how it tastes. I use 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons good Maple syrup and 1 tablespoon whiskey or bourbon. Bobby Flay also adds vanilla bean and that sounds wonderful to me. I think bourbon pairs well with pecan pies and pumpkin. Substitute rum in lighter creamy pies 🙂 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Great post. Pretty pies.

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s+Recipes
    November 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I still remember your pie project! I love all those pies you have created, Tricia.
    Thanks for sharing, Tricia, Sue.

  • Reply
    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures
    November 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

    What a great post for the week before Thanksgiving! It makes me want to bake a pie 🙂

  • Reply
    November 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Oh my god. Two of my favourite bloggers in one place!!! I may explode with joy!!! My question: what is your favourite pastry?

    • Reply
      November 23, 2014 at 10:17 am

      I don’t know if you want my answer, Dom, but my favorite pie is cherry 🙂

    • Reply
      [email protected]+Saving+room+for+dessert
      November 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Dom – you are such a talented chef, compelling writer and fabulous photographer from across the pond! Thanks for commenting and visiting with us from time to time. A favorite pastry? That is a hard question 🙂 I love a great chocolate croissant but I guess mine would have to be a pie pastry, double crust, with a fruit filling, of course! Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Do you have any advice for making crumb crusts? I have a favorite pie that uses a graham cracker crust and it never comes out the way I want it to, it’s either too soggy or too crumbly.

    • Reply
      [email protected]+Saving+room+for+dessert
      November 23, 2014 at 8:59 am

      You can try baking it for a few minutes before filling. It doesn’t need to brown just dry out a bit. This method is called “blind baking” when using a pastry crust but the idea is the same. To prevent a soggy crust just pre-bake a few minutes (5-8) at about 350 degrees. This seems to work for me! By pre-baking it will also “set” the crust so it may turn out less crumbly. A crumb crust will always be a little crumbly – so be sure to press it down with the bottom of a glass or other flat object before baking. You don’t want it rock hard but use a little effort to pack it slightly. Hope it helps and happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Oh my goodness! I just visited Tricia’s page and I’m an instant fan! What gorgeous photography, and perfect creations!

    I love pies, and make both sweet and savory, but would say that instead of the 50-50 butter/Crisco recipe, I prefer the 50-50 butter/lard recipe instead. I know many people grew up with their mothers using Crisco, but with it containing FULLY hydrogenated palm oil and TBHQ among other things, I prefer to use something natural, like lard.

    I’ve already liked Tricia’s page on Facebook and cannot wait to follow along…I want to make everything on her site! Thanks for featuring her, Sue!

    • Reply
      [email protected]+Saving+room+for+dessert
      November 23, 2014 at 8:13 am

      I have always wanted to try lard and will next time I make pies! I wanted all butter crusts to work for me – but unfortunately adding the shortening / lard really makes a big difference. Thanks!

      • Reply
        November 23, 2014 at 8:28 am

        I want to try lard, too! I grew up with Crisco, so it doesn’t bother me, but I have heard that lard is amazing.

  • Reply
    Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen
    November 23, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I have never been a great pie maker, so any tips for me is really helpful! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate @ Diethood
    November 23, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Ohmegosh! Those pies are incredibly beautiful!! Such talent!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Great idea! Love the blog. I don’t make pie a lot but when I do it often sticks to the pan. Will greasing the pan help?

    • Reply
      [email protected]+Saving+room+for+dessert
      November 23, 2014 at 7:57 am

      I think I would try another pie plate if you’re having sticking issues. I have an old pie plate that is made from stoneware and it always sticks, so I don’t use it often. I think I need to “season” it better with more fat. I prefer a ceramic or glass pie pan and never have troubles with sticking. Since I’m not sure what kind of pan you’re using – you may try spritzing it lightly with a non-stick spray. Crust is pretty high in fats (i.e. shortening and butter) so don’t get over zealous with greasing the pan. Happy Thanksgiving Guy!

      • Reply
        November 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

        Tricia I have the same issue sometimes, especially when I crimp the edges of my crust, when it comes to cutting it, it’s hard to get the slices out, I wondered about lightly greasing the lip of the pie plate.

        • Reply
          [email protected]+Saving+room+for+dessert
          November 23, 2014 at 8:12 am

          Lightly greasing sounds reasonable to me – especially if it is sticking around the top. I have a lot of pie plates and never remember having any trouble with ceramic. If you’re in the market for a new pie plate, Amazon has a lot of inexpensive ceramic or glass plates – just in time for Christmas presents!