Food Principles: Pies and Pastries

17 04 2009

So this week’s lab was pies and pastries. We had a lecture on laminated vs. nonlaminated doughs.

Puff pastry would be an example of laminated, or aka, layered. The fat is layered between the dough so that once heated, it can cause steam to rise through its upper dough layer- giving it the puff.

Pie Crust is an example of nonlaminated dough, the fat is cut into the flour usually with a pastry cutter to create a coarse mealy texture. Using pea size chunks of butter/shortening (fat) allows the fat to melt and steam outwards giving the pie crust its flaky texture ( you can see these spots in the pie crust recipe photo below).

We did Sweet Potato Pie…1 BLOG 038

Pie Crust
(Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2003)

Ingredients Equipment

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, chilled
1-ounce (2 tablespoons) shortening, chilled
6 ounces (approximately 1 cup) all-purpose flour,
plus extra for rolling dough
Β½ teaspoon salt
ΒΌ cup ice water, in spritz bottle
Approximately 32 ounces dried beans, for blind baking


1. Place butter and lard in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready, cut both into small pieces.

2. In a food processor, combine flour and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Then add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy. Lastly, add lard and pulse another 3 to 4 times.

3. Remove lid of food processor and spritz surface of mixture thoroughly with water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times.

4. Add more water and pulse again until mixture hold together when squeezed. Place mixture into a large Ziploc bag, squeeze mixture until a ball forms. Press the mixture into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place pie pan in the refrigerator to chill.

6. Remove dough from refrigerator. Cut along 2 sides of the plastic bag, open bag and sprinkle both sides with flour.

7. Cover with plastic and roll out with a rolling pin to a 10 to 11-inch circle. Place dough in pie pan and trim edges. Poke holes in dough and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.1 BLOG 030
( you can see the pea size spreads of butter in our unbaked crust!)

8. Place a large piece of parchment paper on top of dough and fill with dry beans. Press beans into edges of dough and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and beans and continue baking until golden in color, approximately 10 to 15 minutes longer.1 BLOG 031

9. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely before filling.



Sweet Potato Pie

Serves: 1 (9-inch) pie


1 pound 3 ounces sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
3/4 cup packed, dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
5 egg yolks
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 (9-inch) pie shell, see separate recipe below

Special equipment: steamer basket


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer basket into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. 1 BLOG 029

3. Place sweet potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with paddle attachment.

4. Add yogurt, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, yolks, and salt, to taste, and beat until well combined.
1 BLOG 0261 BLOG 032

5. Pour this batter into the pie shell and place onto a sheet pan. Sprinkle walnuts on top and drizzle with maple syrup. 1 BLOG 028

6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the custard reaches 165 to 180 degrees. Remove from oven and cool. Keep refrigerated after cooling. 1 BLOG 039

There is my slice ….
      1 BLOG 041
Our sweet potatoes took forever to cook! So we had a chunkier filling which went well with the crunchy walnuts! The crust was very flaky and overall, one spectacular pie.

My old group did Apple Raisin Pie 1 BLOG 036
… because our class ran out of sweet potatoes! So they threw together a random (un)recipe just like I always do- oh the innovation. It was delicious…
1 BLOG 037 
Theirs had “lots of butter, cinnamon, apples, raisins, walnuts, and brown sugar”. I shared this slice with my new group as I mentioned in my previous post.

My new group also did apple tarts, using puff pastry. I rolled out the dough, cut it, and arranged the apple slices.

Here is the Recipe:

Fruit Tart  (Recipe courtesy Alton Brown)


1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
sugar, for dusting
1 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Apricot jam


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Crimp sides of puff pastry together with fingertips. Dust both sides of pastry with sugar.

3. Using a rolling pin, roll pastry in each direction to close seams. Using a sharp pizza cuter (and tracing a small plate) cut out 2 circles of pastry. Place cut circles on a chilled sheet pan and let cool in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

4. Using a vegetable peeler, cut wafer thin apple slices. Combine tablespoon of lemon juice in water, and add apple slices.

5. Flip pastry circles over and poke them with a fork to provide an outlet for steam. Put a sheet of parchment paper on the sheet pan, place pastry on top.

6. Sprinkle pastry with sugar and arrange apple slices on top.

7. Bake in the middle of the oven fro 15 to 20 minutes. Poke the crust; if it feels soft it needs more time in the oven.

8. Microwave some apricot jam for 30 seconds. Dab the jam on tarts. Cool tarts for at least 4 hours.

1 BLOG 033
1 BLOG 034 

These were tasty! I LOVED our filling in the sweet potato pie- it was delicious and I am really glad that I brought 1/3 of the pie home!!!
1 BLOG 005




8 responses

17 04 2009

Oh goodness I am so full from dinner but I am still drolling over these~

17 04 2009

I LOVE sweet potato pie! Yours looks heavenly πŸ™‚ How fun to make all that stuff!!!

17 04 2009


17 04 2009

Oh my gosh, wow wow wow!!

17 04 2009
Lara (Thinspired)

This post is making me want dessert! I’ve never tried sweet potato pie before but something tells me it would go down well πŸ˜‰ What a fun class!

18 04 2009

Thanks for the awesome recipes and the pastry explanation! Tasty.

18 04 2009

sweet potato pie! YUMMMM

19 04 2009

Sweet potato pie??? Yum : )

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