Friday, February 5, 2016

American Pie - Shaker Lemon Pie in an American Oil P-309 Pie Plate

What can possibly be more American than pie?  Well, pie baked in a Corning Ware P-309 pie plate in the American Oil (Amoco) promotional pattern, of course.   While it could be argued that an Apple Pie baked in said American Oil pie dish would be the pinnacle of pie perfection and American reflection, I would beg to differ.  While apple is the quintessential pie of the United States, I feel that there are many other pies that should not be easily discounted in their American-ness.   Shaker Lemon Pie happens to be one of them.   (AKA: Ohio Lemon Pie)

While Lemon Meringue pie, at least in this part of the United States, seems to be the most abundantly taken form.  This was not always the case.   The Shakers of the Midwest, while masters of fruit production, were unable to grow lemons in their community's climate.  According to one source, Lemons, which pack a hefty dose of Vitamin C and various other antioxidants, were one of the first items for which the Shaker community of North Union in Ohio began trading, back in the 1800s.  Hailing from New Orleans, these lemons were such a precious commodity that the Shakers, in their ever frugal practices, used the entire lemon for their pies, instead of just the juice.

Though still a form of custard pie, the inclusion of the rind with the sugar and eggs creates custard texture that falls somewhere between Lemon Curd and Lemon Marmalade.  The process of soaking of the thinly sliced rind and pith in the lemon juice and sugar promotes a sort of "candying" effect on the rinds, leaving them soft but slightly chewy.   In other words, this pie showcases the lemon at it's full potential. Sour, Sweet, slightly bitter, and completely delicious.

The major key to a successful Shaker Lemon Pie is thinly slicing the lemons.  The rinds must be as close to paper thin as possible or the sugar will not be able to penetrate far enough into the pith and reduce the bitterness during the soaking phase.  This is of paramount importance for baking as well, for the rinds will be tough, in the completed pie, if they are not thin enough.  I suggest investing in a mandolin before attempting one of these pies, unless you have wicked, Ninja-like knife skills. (which I do not)

Shaker Lemon Pie

4 medium Lemons
2 cups Sugar
1 tsp Salt
5 Eggs
4 TB Butter, melted
enough Pastry Dough (Pate Brisee) for a double crust pie (store bought or home made)

Corning Ware P-309 Pie plate

Cut the ends off of 2 of the lemons and slice as thinly as possible with a knife or a mandolin. (cutting the ends of the lemon off reduced the amount of "extra" pith in the pie filling)

Remove any seeds from the slices and place them in a medium bowl.

Using a zester, remove the zest from one of the remaining Lemons and add it to the bowl as well.

If you are making your own Pastry Dough, zest the final Lemon and place the zest in a small ramekin, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for use in your dough, otherwise, add it to the bowl as well.

Supreme the zested lemons, removing as much pith as possible, then slice thinly with a knife (removing seeds) and add them to the bowl as well.

Add the 2 cups of Sugar and 1 tsp Salt to the bowl and stir everything together to coat evenly.

Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. (24 hours is better)
The lemon slices and sugar should be stirred occasionally.

When you are ready to make your pie, preheat your oven to 400F degrees, gather the Lemon slices, Eggs, melted Butter, Pastry dough (I made mine) and your Pie plate, cause this part goes pretty quick.

Crack 4 Eggs into a small bowl, then separate the last Egg, reserving the White in another small bowl for brushing on the pie crust, and add the Yolk to the other 4 Eggs.

Whisk the 4 Eggs and 1 Egg Yolk briskly, until well combined.

Stir the melted Butter into the Lemon slices, stirring well.

Add the beaten Eggs and stir everything together until well combined, then set aside while you prepare the pastry.

If you are using store prepared pastry dough, go ahead and skip this next part.

If you reserved the Zest of a Lemon for use in your homemade pastry dough, simply mix the zest into the ice water, before adding it to your Flour/Butter mixture.

Roll out half of your pastry dough and line your P-309 pie plate, making sure there is at least a 1 inch over hang.

Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry shell. (gently flatten any "bent" slices that are sticking up out of the mixture, so that everything is nice and flat)

Roll out the second piece of pastry dough and cover the filling.

Use a knife to cut off any extra pastry, leaving 1 inch overhang.

Pinch the 2 pieces together, then fold the edges of the pastry under.

Crimp as you would for any other pie...  I normally just do a pinch crimp, but occasionally I like to press a fork in between the crimps, just for fun.

Beat the Egg White with a whisk until foamy, and brush the crust all over and sprinkle with Granulated or Turbinado sugar.

 Cut vent holes in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

Back pie 1 rack notch lower than the center of the oven at 400F degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake an additional 20-25. (Check the pie at 20 minutes)

If your crimped edges are becoming too browned (depending on how much butter is in your pastry) you may need to wrap the edges in foil or use a pie shield.

Remove pie from the oven and place on a rack to allow it to cool to room temperature. (it takes about 4 hours for this pie to cool down and for the custard to soft set)

Do not cut until the pie is completely cooled or the filling will be runny. (I actually jumped the gun a little, so mine was a touch on the runny side - but not terribly so)

Cut a large pie and enjoy with a nice cup of  Tea (Coffee doesn't really play all that well with Lemon Pies)

Where is your Corning Ware??

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Counter (Saver) Culture - Counter Saver Cookie Baking & Rolo Cookies

Today, I am trying an experiment.   I have been asked this question before, about a year or so ago, and I did not have a definitive answer at the time.

Can you use a Corning Ware Counter Saver as a Baking Sheet, in the oven?

At the time, I only had 1 Counter Saver.  Not wanting to risk a breakage of said solitary saver of counters, I was leery of tempting fate by experimenting.  There is nothing quit as sad as a broken Counter Saver...   except maybe the demise of the cookies contained thereon.

Recently, the question came up again.  This time, however, I am fortuitously prepared with multiple Counter Savers in multiple sizes.  I even have two of the type that was originally "Installed" (as opposed to the "portable" variety) into a hole cut in your counter top.  I consider one of these to be of the disposable nature, since it has strange dimensions.  

It would have originally been butted up against the wall on the straight side (right).  So this is the Counter Saver I have chosen for sacrifice, should the Corning Ware gods feel the need to punish me for misusing it.  It should be noted that because this is an "Installed" (versus a "Portable") Counter Saver, there are, nor were there ever, little rubber feet on the bottom.   

This need to be completely removed from a Portable Counter Saver, before attempting oven usage.  (unless you relish the smell of burning rubber

OK, lets get this proverbial ball rolling with some cookie dough...... 

Rolo Cookies
 (AKA: Turtle cookies)

48-50 Rolo Candies
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup natural Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Salt 
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup unsalted Butter
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
2 Large Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 1/4 cup Pecans, chopped
1 TB Granulated Sugar

First, you have to unwrap ALL those Rolos.. Don't bother counting them out.  If your anything like myself, you will just eat the extras anyway.  So just go ahead and unwrap them all.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Flour, Cocoa, Salt and Baking Soda; then set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter, Brown Sugar and Granulated Sugar

until light and fluffy.

Add the Eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition.

Mix in the Vanilla extract.

With the mixer at low speed, gradually add the Flour mixture, beating until combined.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours.

 Combine the chopped Pecans with 1 TB granulated Sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

After chilling the dough, begin preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and begin scooping out Tablespoons full of dough.

Flatten the dough, making a shallow "pocket" and insert a Rolo candy.

Gently wrap the edges of the dough around the Rolo,

Then roll it between your palms to create a ball.

Roll in the chopped Pecans before place the cookie balls on your Counter Saver.

Space the cookies about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes, depending on your oven.

Cool on the Counter Saver for 5 minutes to allow the caramel to set a little before moving to a cooling rack to completely cool.

Voila.... No breakage or anything.  SO I now feel that it is safe to say that your Corning Ware Portable Counter Saver is safe to use in the oven.... Proviso....  for cookies and up to 375 degrees.

The only issues I found are......

You need to remove your cookies ON TIME (no fudging), because the residual heat in the counter saver will over bake your cookies if you leave them in the oven even 30 seconds too long.  Which leads me to the second drawback....

The Counter Saver stays way to hot for way to long after being removed from the oven.  Thus, it cannot be reloaded with more cookies right away, one must wait until it has cooled enough.  30 minutes passed before it was cool enough to be used for the next batch of cookies.   This recipe makes 4 dozen.   If I didn't have spare baking sheets and a Broil and Bake tray, it would have taken me 2 hours to bake all the cookies.  You need at least 2, possibly 3 for any major cookie baking... BUT, if you are only baking 1 dozen, it's perfect.

Problem number 3 is due to the nature of the Counter Saver itself...  It's flat.  VERY flat; as it should be, since it was originally designed for counter top usage.  Thus, there is nothing to get a hold on with the pot holder, when trying to remove said Counter Saver, turned baking sheet, from the oven.  And it's gonna be hot.  If you can get your pot holder between the cross pieces of the oven rack, you can get a hold on the edge, but it's a little awkward.

But the clean up? 

Come on...  This is Corning Ware... No Sweat.

 Where is your Corning Ware??