Tag Archives: Ken Haedrich

Fruit Pie Problems Solved!

Episode 021-  Fruit pie season is not all unicorns and rainbows.  The bounty of fruit that comes from the spring and summer months makes it this the perfect time for putting it to good use in the guise of pies–many, many pies.   However, there are challenges that are unique to fruit pies as opposed to other types, say, custard pie for example.

Anxiety associates itself for more than a couple of reasons.   First, there  are a number of variables when putting fruit into a pie filling. Second, we have to worry about the crust which is the arch-nemesis  of so many a pie baker.  It’s enough to send some into fits of apoplexy!

Ken Haedrich is a cookbook author and pie expert, having several written books exclusively  on the subject of pie.  He also claims the title of Dean the Pie Academy, which is his website dedicated to helping people making better pie.  He provides a calming hand on the shoulder to bakers who want to get their pies right.

On the the very first episode of the Guys and Food podcast, Ken offered an overview on making great pies.  In today’s show,  he’ll get into the specifics of making fantastic fruit pies for the months ahead.

Ken has selected these recipes for you to use this coming fruit pie baking season:

To start, you need a good pastry recipe for the crust.  Ken says making a good crust is, by far, the biggest concern of people who seek his advice.  That is why he created The No-More-Tears Pie Pastry Course.    In this video course and the accompanying printed material, Ken walks you through the details of making pie pastry.   Instead of merely giving a recipe and saying, “Go get ’em!” he shows you what to do step-by-step.  Let’s face it, Ken is a pie sherpa!

In the spirit of full disclosure, Ken gave me free access to the course in order to evaluate it.  That said, I heartily recommend The No-More-Tears Pie Pastry Course for anyone who is looking for that extra hand in making pie.  Trust me, I wouldn’t recommend this unless I saw great value in it for you.  I have no other skin in the game and am not receiving any compensation if you buy this course.

As I mention in the interview, like a building, a pie needs a good foundation.  Here is that recipe.

Next, here are three fruit pies that will take you through the next few months:

It’s not too late for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Midsummer evenings on the porch would be the perfect place for a Blueberry Ginger Pie with a Three Grain Butter Crust. 

Late summer is the perfect time for Peach Lemonade Pie with Pecan Crumble Topping.

Try them out, and let me know what you think.  As Ken Haedrich so often says, ” Pies make people happy!”  and who doesn’t want a little more people happy?

An FYI, Ken’s newest cookbook, The Harvest Baker, is coming out soon.  It will be available where all fine cookbooks are sold, including Ken’s online store.

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John Tompkins- Wall Street Exec Turned Candy Man

Episode 011-  As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, one’s mind turns to the “go to” food gift, chocolate and candy.  When thinking about chocolate and candy, my attention turns to John Tompkins, owner of JT’s Confections in New Jersey.

In the spirit of full disclosure, John and I went to college together at Buffalo State.  I wouldn’t say were were drinking buddies, but we were friendly, traveled in similar circles as we both were Resident Assistants, and we shared some mutual friends.  After graduation, he went to work on Wall Street and I ran my circuitous journey. Over the decades since graduation, I think we saw each other maybe at one or two alumni things.

When I started Guys and Food, a mutual RA friend asked if I knew that John started a candy business;  I did not.  But I found him on Facebook and we reconnected.  After so many years, it’s nice to know that he did not lose his characteristic Tompkins charm and wit.

In this episode, John shares his very interesting story of burning out from the rough and tumble of the concrete jungle, leaving that, and creating his candy business, JT’s Confections.  He has a storefront but his bread and butter is in mail-order and corporate sales.  He is also using it as a vehicle for helping out veterans and local charities.  Good for him!

This week was pie week for us.  It was kind of blustery and I was in the mood for a pie.  I opened up my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion book as it was on my kitchen table.  The book magically opened to Tourtière .  For the uninitiated, it’s a French Canadian pork pie that is totally appropriate during the cold winter months.  I was going to use the recipe in the book when I remembered that my friend, Greg, made this dish pretty regularly.  I asked and he sent me his family recipe.

Since there was no recipe for the pastry included in Greg’s, I used the pastry recipe from the King Arthur Flour cookbook.  Here the pie crust is made with shortening that is melted in boiling water.  I never tried that technique before. I have to say I was very pleased. It was crisp but not flaky and a perfect match for the tastily seasoned meat filling. It is a new family favorite.  Merci to the Methot/Grenier family!  Here is a picture of Greg’s version of the dish:

One pie was not enough.  In an effort to use a bunch of Granny Smith apples that were laying around, I decided that I needed to make an apple pie.  I used a recipe for Washington State Granny Smith Apple Pie from my favorite pie guy, Ken Haedrich’s book Pie (page  221).  It is a single crust pie (made with butter and vegetable shortening) with a crumb topping.  The pie was not too sweet, not too tart.   In truth, I think that I could have kept it in the oven a little longer to get the crust a little more brown.  Nonetheless,  my wife says it has been a long while since she has had an apple pie that was this delicious.

A handy tip for pie bakers: One challenge that many have is transferring the newly rolled-out pie pastry and getting it into the pie plate without it tearing or falling apart.  Instead of folding it into quarters (risking creases and cracks) or balancing it precariously on your rolling pin (risking dropping and crumpling), try what I refer to as “The Haedrich Maneuver.”  Simply roll out your pie pastry on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper instead of your counter top or wherever you roll things out.  When you have achieved your desired size (for example, 13 inches for a 9 1/2 inch pie plate), transfer it, turn it upside down over the plate, remove the wax paper, and tuck it neatly where it’s supposed to go.  It’s that simple!  Save yourself a lot of stress and try this the next time you make pie.

Two pies were not enough.  I also made Shepherd’s Pie from a recipe in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham (page 190). This is a misnomer as this dish is neither a pie (it’s a casserole), nor does it contain any shepherds.  Still it was simple to prepare, hearty,  and delicious.  It tasted even better the next day when we had leftovers for lunch.

Programming Alert:  On the next Guys and Food episode, you’ll hear an interview with a cheftestant from this season’s Top Chef! Can you guess who it will be? (Hint: It will be a guy.)

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