For Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, I made four pies: three pumpkin and one berry (an experiment!).
First, the experimental cranberry pie. I combined a couple recipes: Bon Appetit’s cherry-bourbon pie and a blueberry pie from AllRecipes. Here’s what I used: 1) old-fashioned butter pie crust; 2) cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, corn starch and cherry brandy for the filling; 3) oatmeal, brown sugar and butter for the topping. The orange juice tempered the tartness of the cranberries quite nicely, but the filling turned out a bit too runny. Probably a combination of not cooking for long enough + not using enough corn starch + too much orange juice/brandy.
For the pumpkin pies, I used my tried-and-true Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie recipe from Yankee Magazine. But each one I made did something different (read: didn’t look as good as I’d hoped).
Here’s one before it went in the oven.
And this is how it turned out. I’d say this one was the most successful. I’ve learned the trick to crimping is to try to stand the crust on the edge and forcefully pinch so the crust will hold its shape in a 400-degree oven.
This one looks hideous, but that’s because I baked it way too long (lesson learned). The knife inserted in the center trick doesn’t always work. The sign it’s done baking is if the middle is wobbly but not too much. I’m also convinced that taking a pie out of a hot oven and into a cold house somehow contributes to cracking. I’ll be sure to tent these with foil next time.
And last but not least, my Christmas pie (which sunk in the middle and cracked!). As you can see, the quality and consistency vary immensely from one pie to the next. But they tasted great, and that’s what matters, right? The presentation isn’t perfect, but I’ll keep trying for pie perfection.