Atlantic Beach Pie

For the crust:

1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers (about 6 ounces or 60 crackers)
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
Fresh whipped cream, for garnish
Coarse sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350° F. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands.

Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients.

Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set.

The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced.

Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Passionfruit Ice Cream Pie with Ginger Crust

One 8-ounce box gingersnaps, lightly crushed
1 dried sweetened pineapple ring (1 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped candied ginger
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups dulce de leche (16-ounce jar)
1/2 cup passion fruit nectar (see Note)
3 pints vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1/4 cup salted roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut

In a food processor, combine the crushed gingersnaps with the pineapple, candied ginger and butter and process until fine crumbs form. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

In a blender, blend the dulce de leche and passion fruit nectar until smooth.

Spread 1 pint of ice cream in the chilled crust. Using a very small ice cream scoop (2 tablespoons), scoop the remaining 2 pints of ice cream into the crust, leaving some nooks and crannies. Drizzle 3/4 cup of the dulce de leche sauce over the ice cream, allowing it to pool in spots. Sprinkle with the pistachios and coconut and freeze until firm, at least 2 1/2 hours.

Remove the ring and cut the pie into wedges. Serve the extra dulce de leche sauce at the table.

MAKE AHEAD
The pie can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

NOTES
Look for passion fruit nectar at supermarkets, preferably the Looza brand.

Ricotta Turnovers

1 sheet ready-made puff pastry (about 230 grams or 8 ounces of pastry)
7 ounces (200 grams) ricotta
1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar
1 egg, separated (save the white for brushing the tops)
Grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 splash rum (optional)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) candied orange, finely chopped (see note for substitutions)
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Roll out the puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and with a sharp knife divide the dough into 12 even squares.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the ricotta, sugar, egg yolk (save the white for later), zest, rum (if using), and candied orange until smooth. Use a fork or a spoon.

Place about 1 heaped tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on the bottom corner of every square (not too close to the edges), then brush the rest of the surface of the pastry with the leftover egg white. Immediately fold over the opposite top corner to create triangles encasing the ricotta filling. Press the edges firmly down with fingers or with the tines of a fork.

Bake 15 minutes or until the pastries are puffed and golden.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Peaches and Cream Crumble Cake

For the cake:
200 g / scant 2 cups all-purpose flour
150 g / 2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
100 g / 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 6-8 pieces
3 firm, medium peaches, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 large eggs
200 g / scant 1 cup heavy cream (35%), table cream (18%) or half and half cream (10%)
120 g / 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
100 g / 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch salt

For the crumble topping:
120 g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
140 g / 2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
80 g / 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 360° F./180° C. and grease an 8-inch/20 cm springform pan. If you want to easily remove the cake from the base to a serving platter easily, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, as well. Set on a baking sheet and set aside.

Make the cake: In a food processor, add the flour, sugar and baking powder. Pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is combined with the flour. You’ll end up with a very dry mixture, like sand almost.
Sprinkle about 3/4 of this mixture over the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Don’t press it down at all, but move it around a bit so it goes up the sides just a bit. Scatter the prepared peach slices over the crumbs (avoiding the sides), then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the top. Again, do not press down. Leave it as is. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

When cake base has baked 20 minutes, remove from oven and carefully pour the egg mixture over the top. Return cake to oven and cook for a further 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the crumble topping. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add melted butter to the mixture, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture comes together in large clumps. Place the bowl into the freezer until needed.

When the cake has baked for a further 25 minutes, remove from oven. (The egg mixture should have set somewhat so that the crumbs won’t sink into the cake. If it is too liquidy still, return to the oven for a few more minutes.) Evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top. Return to the oven and bake a further 25-30 minutes. Note that the cake will be sunken in the middle, even when it’s “done”. As long as it’s not jiggly and a tester inserted in the centre comes out with just crumbs (not liquid), it’s ready to take out of the oven. It should have bake about 70-75 total, including all 3 steps.

Allow to cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around the outside and carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Allow to cool more before removing from the base.

Dust with powdered/icing sugar, if desired.

Icing/Confectioner’s Sugar, for garnish

Pan-Baked Lemon-Almond Tart

4 eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (according to personal taste)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sliced almonds, more for garnish
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds, lemon zest and juice.

Melt butter in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet over low heat; when foam has subsided, add almond mixture to pan, tilting pan to distribute batter evenly. Continue to cook tart on stovetop until edges just begin to set, then put pan in oven and finish cooking, about 10 to 15 minutes more.

When tart is done, put it in broiler for about a minute or until just golden on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and sliced almonds. Serve.

***** Pie

1 stick butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup black walnuts (you can use other kinds, but the flavor is superior with these)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 premade pie crust

Heat the oven to 300°F. Get out your stand mixer.

On low speed, combine the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in the flour, then the salt, then the sugar. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips until just combined. Pour into the unbaked pie shell, and bake for 50–60 minutes, until the top is set but the innards are still jiggly; if you stick in a knife, it won’t come out exactly clean. That’s okay. Let it cool.

Just as you sit down to dinner, put the pie in your oven that’s already warm from all your other cooking. By the time you’re ready to eat it, you’ll be good to go. (If you want to slice the pie into clean pieces, you can chill it and cut it with a hot knife.)

Cream Cheese Pie Crust (for pies with Decorative Tops)

Makes 1 double crust

350 g all-purpose flour
5 g salt
25 g sugar
150 g cream cheese, from a block
150 g butter, cold, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
25 g apple cider vinegar, chilled
100–125 g ice water

Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl and stir until evenly combined. Cut the cream cheese into ½-inch pieces, and toss them with the flour. Place the bowl in your freezer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the bowl from the freezer and transfer the flour and cream cheese to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the food processor 8 times. A pulse in the food processor is not a nervous jump in which you release the pulse button as quickly as you press it. A pulse is an intentional motion, lasting at least one second, but not much longer. If you were waltzing with your food processor, you would hold the pulse button for the 1 and 2 count, releasing it on 3.

After 8 pulses, add the butter. Pulse an additional 8–10 times until the butter is broken down into nuggets ranging from the size of M&Ms to the size of Nerds.

Turn the mixture out into a large work bowl at least 12 inches wide. Begin adding the vinegar and ice water by dripping two spoons of liquid over the surface of the butter-flour mixture. Plunge your hands to the bottom of the bowl and pull the flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl upward, vigorously tossing the entire mixture. Continue, two spoonfuls of water at a time, until you have added 75 grams of water and it is visibly beginning to form moist clumps.

Grab a handful of the dough and compress it by squeezing it with about 3/4 of your strength. If it falls apart, add two more additions of water and check again. If it holds together, but falls apart when pressed with your thumb, add 2 more spoonfuls of water and check again. You’ll know you have enough water when you can press your fistful of squeezed pie dough and your thumb leaves an imprint, and only a little bit of the dough begins to fall off the sides. It will look just a touch on the dry side, and you might be skeptical that it’s actually going to hold together. However, if it’s moist enough to press together, 90% of the way, you’re set. The flour will continue to soak up the water in the refrigerator for the next couple hours.

You will now begin a process the French call frissage. This is a fancy term that simply means pressing with the heel of your hand in a forward motion. This compresses the dough together while it flattens and elongates the butter into flakes. I like to keep the dough in the bowl, as it helps keep all the bits and pieces contained. However, you can turn the mess out onto the counter, which is what you’ll see if you Google “frissage” and obsessively watch videos of people performing this act.

Once the dough has come together, divide it into two pieces, one a little larger than the other with the intention of the larger piece being rolled for the decorative top crust.

Shape each piece into a 1-inch-thick disk. The more evenly you press the edges of the disk, the less likely they are to crack and split when you roll your dough. Wrap these disks in plastic wrap and let them rest in your refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours before you roll your pie crusts. The crusts will keep in your refrigerator for up to 48 hours, and your freezer for two weeks.

A go-to crust for decorative tops. Whether it’s a carefully woven lattice, a network of overlapping circles individually punched out, or a meticulously pinched rope around the rim, this dough stays put in the oven. This recipe is sized slightly larger than most other double-crust recipes to give you a little extra dough to cut and shape.

Flaky Butter Pie Crust

Makes 1 double crust

275 g all-purpose flour
4 g salt
25 g sugar
225 g butter, cold, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
75–100 g ice water

Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large work bowl, about 12 inches across the top. You’ll want ample room for your hands to work with the dough in the bowl without being cramped. Transfer the bowl to the freezer for 30 minutes.

When the flour mixture has chilled for 30 minutes, remove it from the freezer, and place the butter in the bowl. Working with both hands at the same time, begin picking up and squeezing the cubes of butter in to smaller pieces, pressing them into petals, then tossing them back into the flour mixture. Continue fishing out all the cubes until you have flattened them all. Now, use your hands like the upside-down claws of a backhoe: Dig each hand into the flour-butter mixture, pulling up a small fistful and letting it rest in the cradle of your curved fingers. Using your thumbs, begin pressing the dough in a rolling motion, moving from your pinky forward to your pointer finger. While doing this, let the butter and flour fall from your hands back into the bowl.

Continue this process, occasionally tossing the mixture to ensure the butter is constantly being coated in flour, until all of the butter pieces are between the size of a chickpea and a grain of rice. Restrain yourself from breaking the butter down too small—the variation in the size of the butter pieces creates the flaky texture of the pie crust when baked.

Begin adding the ice water by dripping two soup spoons of water over the surface of the butter-flour mixture. Plunge your hands to the bottom of the bowl and pull the flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl upward, vigorously tossing the entire mixture. Continue, two spoonfuls of water at a time, until you have added 75 grams of water and it is visibly beginning to form moist clumps.

Grab a handful of the dough and compress it by squeezing it with about ¾ of your strength. If it falls apart, add two more additions of water and check again. If it holds together, but falls apart when pressed with your thumb, add 2 more spoonfuls of water and check again. You’ll know you have enough water when you can press your fistful of squeezed pie dough and your thumb leaves an imprint, and only a little bit of the dough begins to fall off the sides. It will look just a touch on the dry side, and you might be skeptical that it’s actually going to hold together. However, if it’s moist enough to press together, 90% of the way, you’re set. The flour will continue to soak up the water in the refrigerator for the next couple hours.

You will now begin a process the French call frissage. This is a fancy term that simply means pressing with the heel of your hand in a forward motion. This compresses the dough together while it flattens and elongates the butter into flakes. I like to keep the dough in the bowl, as it helps keep all the bits and pieces contained. However, you can turn the mess out onto the counter, which is what you’ll see if you Google “frissage” and obsessively watch videos of people performing this act.

Once the dough has come together, divide it into two pieces, and shape each piece into a 1-inch-thick disk. The more evenly you press the edges of the disk, the less likely they are to crack and split when you roll your dough. Wrap these disks in plastic wrap and let them rest in your refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours before you roll your pie crusts. The crusts will keep in your refrigerator for up to 48 hours, and your freezer for two weeks.

Tender Lard Pie Crust

275 g all-purpose flour
4 g salt
25 g sugar
200 g lard, ideally leaf lard (or shortening) straight from the refrigerator
75–100 g ice water

Makes a double crust

Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large work bowl at least 12 inches wide across the top. You’ll want ample room for your hands to work with the dough without being cramped. Cut the lard into 1-inch pieces, and add them to the bowl with the flour. Begin cutting the fat into the flour by pressing the multiple tines of a pastry blender into the fat, then tapping the pieces off as necessary back into the flour. Continue pressing the pastry blender into the large chunks of lard until they are all broken down.

Now you can use the round edges of the bowl and the round tines of the pastry blender collaboratively. Begin cutting the fat into the flour by using a swiped cutting motion from one curved edge of the bowl to the other by rocking your wrist. Pause to tap any fat that is building up between the tines from the pastry blender, and toss the mixture with your hands to encourage even fat-to-flour distribution. Continue cutting the lard into the flour until you have a very crumbly looking mixture made of very small pieces of fat. The mixture will resemble couscous.

Begin adding the ice water by dripping two soup spoons of water over the surface of the lard-flour mixture. Plunge your hands to the bottom of the bowl and pull the flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl upward, vigorously tossing the entire mixture. Continue, two spoonfuls of water at a time, until you have added 75 grams of water and it is visibly beginning to form moist clumps.

Grab a handful of the dough and compress it by squeezing it with about 3/4 of your strength. If it falls apart, add two more spoonfuls of water and check again. If it holds together, but falls apart when pressed with your thumb, add more spoonful of water and check again. You’ll know you have enough water when you can press your fistful of squeezed pie dough and your thumb leaves an imprint without any crumbles falling off. It should hold together like a dough, but beware of over moistening the dough, the flour will continue to soak up the water in the refrigerator for the next couple hours.

When your dough holds together when squeezed, begin compressing the dough into two evenly sized spheres. Gently press each sphere of dough into a disk about 1-inch flat. The more evenly you press the edges of the disk, the less likely they are to crack and split when you roll your dough. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill them in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours. The dough will keep in your refrigerator for 2 days, or your freezer for up to a month.

Perfect Apple Pie (and Several Variations)

4 to 4 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious, Braeburn, or other baking apples, peeled cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
3 quarts boiling water (or cider, see note)
10 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling over crust
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch (see note)
1 recipe Easy Double Pie Dough (see related)
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Notes:
–For a looser, juicy pie, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. For a firmer filling that holds its shape more when sliced, use up to 4 tablespoons cornstarch.
–You can use hot cider in place of water to soak the apples. The cider can be saved for drinking.
–For better texture, sous vide apples before baking. Seal apples with their sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch, bag ’em up, and cook ’em at around 155° for an hour or so before baking them as usual.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and place a heavy rimmed baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place apple slices in a large bowl or pot. Pour boiling water or cider directly over top. Cover and set aside at room temperature for ten minutes. Drain apples well and let sit in a colander in the sink, tossing occasionally until completely dry, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add 10 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch, and toss until apples are evenly coated. Set mixture aside.

Roll one disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Add filling, discarding any excessive juices in the bottom of the bowl. Roll remaining disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to top of pie. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the edges of both pie crusts until they overhang the edge of the pie plate by 1/2 an inch all the way around. Fold edges of both pie crusts down together, tucking them in between the bottom crust and the pie plate and working your way all the way around the pie plate until everything is well tucked. Use the forefinger on your left hand and the thumb and forefinger on your right hand to crimp the edges. Cut 5 slits in the top with a sharp knife for ventilation.

Use a pastry brush to brush an even coat of lightly beaten egg white all over the top surface of the pie. Sprinkle evenly with a tablespoon of sugar. Transfer pie to sheet tray in the oven and bake until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and continue baking until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

Variations:

For skillet apple pie, place prepared apples in a cast iron skillet and cover with one pie crust. Bake just like a regular pie.

If you want to get extra special, try adding a layer of nice nutty aged cheese, like good cheddar, or perhaps some Comté, to the top of the apples. You’d be amazed by how well cheese and apples go together.

Or, turn your skillet pie into a perfectly fine pandowdy by breaking up the crust half way through baking and pushing the edges directly into the filling to soften up a bit as it finishes baking.

Apple crisps and apple crumbles are perhaps the easiest variations to make. Just make your apple filling, then combine 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup old fashioned oats, 3/4 cups chopped or slivered nuts (I like almonds or pecans), 3/4 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 a cup of butter. Work the mixture together with your fingers, spread if over your apple filling, and bake at around 375°F until nicely browned.

If you’ve got a thing for biscuits, then a cobbler is your dessert of choice. All you’ve got to do is make your apple filling, drop it into a deep sided pot (I use my enameled cast iron Dutch oven), drop a few balls of biscuit dough on top, and bake.

Blind Baking a Pie Crust

To blind-bake a crust, start by preheating your oven to 425°F, with a rack placed in the lower third. If you’re using a metal pie plate, you can place it directly on the rack. If you’re using a glass or ceramic dish, placing an empty rimmed aluminum baking sheet on the rack while the oven preheats can help ensure that your bottom crust comes out extra crisp.

To prevent puffing, you’ve got two options: docking or using weights. With docking, you poke the bottom crust several times with the tines of a fork to give expanding air and water vapor a means of escape. Of course, this does nothing to help the sides of your crust stay upright.

Weighting a pie crust by first lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil, then filling it with pie weights, dried beans, or pennies, both solves the puffy-bottom problem and helps keep the sides upright as the pie crust bakes. (For the record, weighting a pie crust without first lining it with parchment or foil is also a bad idea, which I also learned the hard way.)

For the best results, line your pie plate with your dough, then transfer it to the freezer for about 10 minutes in order to really firm it up before lining it with foil or parchment. This will help ensure that the crust keeps a nice shape as it bakes.

Once it’s lined and weighted, transfer the crust to the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, just until the crust begins to set.

Remove the liner and the weights and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Remove it from the oven, and make sure that it is completely cooled before you fill it. A blind-baked crust can be covered loosely with foil and stored at room temperature for up to three days before being filled.

Cranberry Apple Slab Pie

2 recipes Easy Double Pie Crusts (see related) shaped in a rectangular block and chilled for at least two hours, ideally overnight
4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) rolled oats
1 ounce (about 3 tablespoons) all purpose flour
4 ounces (about 7 tablespoons) light brown sugar
Big pinch of salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 to 12 medium fresh apples (such as golden delicious or Granny Smith), peeled and cored
6 ounces fresh cranberries
8 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Shape the dough: Line a 12- by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet with a 12- x 22-inch piece of parchment paper, creasing the paper along the bottom edges and allowing excess paper to hang over the ends of the baking sheet. Lightly flour a rolling pin and your work surface and roll the dough into a rectangle large enough to completely line the bottom and sides of the baking sheet. Press the dough over the parchment and crimp the edges along the walls. Chill the shaped dough on the sheet for one hour.

Make the crumble: In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the cold butter. Use your fingers to rub the dry ingredients into the butter until it is well combined. Chill the crumble at least one hour before using.

Assemble the pie: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Cut the cored and peeled apples in half down the axis (from top to bottom). Place the flat side of the apples down on the cutting board and slice the apples into 1/4-inch thick pieces. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle approximately half the sugar mixture over the bottom the chilled, shaped pie shell. Sprinkle half (approximately 3 ounces) of the fresh cranberries over the bottom, then roughly chop the remaining cranberries, just enough to puncture each one. Pack the apple slices into the shell so they are resting on their flat sides. Toss the chopped cranberries with the sugar, then sprinkle cranberries and the rest of the sugar evenly over the top. Break up the chilled crumble into small pieces and sprinkle over the top.

Bake the pie: Bake the pie at 425°F for 20 minutes, then rotate, cover the filling loosely with foil, and turn the heat down to 375°F. Bake until the filling is bubbling in the center and the crumble and crust are a golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes longer. Allow the pie to cool completely in the pan before serving.

Easy Double Pie Crust

This makes enough for two single-crust pies or one double crust pie. For a slightly more tender crust, replace up to 6 tablespoons of butter with vegetable shortening. Pie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator before rolling and baking.

2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats
6 tablespoons cold water

Combine two thirds of flour with sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to incorporate. Spread butter chunks evenly over surface. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

Sprinkle with water then using a rubber spatula, fold and press dough until it comes together into a ball. Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.

Extra Smooth Pumpkin Pie

1 9-inch Pie Crust

6 ounces granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree, or 15 ounces homemade pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position. Place a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet on the rack and preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the edges of the pie dough until it overhangs the edge of the pie plate by 1/2 an inch all the way around. Fold edges of pie dough down, tucking it under itself, working your way all the way around the pie plate until everything is well tucked. Use the forefinger on your left hand and the thumb and forefinger on your right hand to crimp the edges. When oven is ready, line chilled pie shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with weights (I reuse dried beans for this), transfer to the preheated baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and liner, turn pie, and bake until the bottom crust is a golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove pie shell from oven and allow to cool completely.

Reduce heat to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and pulse 3 times to mix. Add the cream cheese and pulse until a homogeneous paste forms. Add the pumpkin and butter and process for 30 seconds. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process until the mixture is completely smooth, about 30 seconds longer. Add the eggs and process until completely smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. For extra-smooth pie, press the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or a chinois using the back of a ladle.

Pour the mixture into prepared pie shell and smooth over the top with a rubber spatula. Rap the shell firmly against the counter a few times in order to release any air bubbles. Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven and bake for until the filling puffs slightly and the center only moves slightly when jiggled, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pie half way through baking. Allow the pie to cool for at least one hour before serving. It may be chilled for up to two days.

Sweet Potato Pie

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled (about 1 3/4 pounds)
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
Unbaked pie shell, 9 inches

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until very tender, about 45 minutes. Drain well.

Mash the potatoes in a bowl. The potatoes should yield about 2¾ cups mashed potatoes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add butter to hot potatoes, and mash until smooth. Add sugar, nutmeg, egg and vanilla, mixing well. Combine baking powder with evaporated milk, and stir to blend. Add to mashed potatoes. Whisk mixture until velvety. Mound into pie shell, then spread evenly to edges.

Bake until pie has set and is lightly browned on top, about 55 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Apple Pie Tart

For the crust:

5 tablespoons butter, cold
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cut the butter into small chunks. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, flour, baking powder, sugar, and cinnamon until the butter is the size of small peas.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until the mixture is crumbly. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a spring form pan or a tart pan. Using your fingers, press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan, spreading it up the side of the pan as well. Set aside while making the filling.

For the apple pie filling:

3 Granny Smith, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp Apples
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon pear or apple brandy
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel and core the apples. Slice the apples very thinly. This will look like a lot of apples, but it will all work out.

Starting from the center of the pan-filled tart pan, arrange the apples in circles, filling an entire layer of the pan. When the first layer is done, start on a second layer and a third if necessary. Repeat until all of the apples have been used.

Sprinkle the tart with 1 tablespoon of sugar and bake for 40 minutes at 350° F. Five minutes before the 40 minutes is up, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Remove the butter from the heat and mix in the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, the brandy, and the cinnamon with a whisk.

Remove the tart from the oven and brush with the glaze. Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Nectarine Pie

Crust
20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
7 tbsp. heavy cream
3 tbsp. rendered lard (or use more butter)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling the dough
3 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt

Filling
8 cups (about 7) ripe nectarines, unpeeled, pitted, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg white, beaten, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

For the Crust
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream, and lard until smooth. In another bowl, thoroughly mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter and beat until the mixture comes together like a fairly wet dough. Add the remaining flour and mix until the dough just begins to come together. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and gently knead it into a smooth ball. Divide the dough in half, wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap, and flatten into disks. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight (or up to 3 days).

For the Filling
In a large bowl, toss together the nectarines and lemon juice. Add the sugars and the salt, and gently mix to combine without mashing the nectarine chunks. Set aside to macerate for about 30 minutes.

Return the nectarines to the bowl and add the cornstarch, mixing until it has completely dissolved. Stir in the brandy and vanilla. Reserve.

To Assemble and Bake
On a lightly floured surface, roll out both disks of dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and fold in half. Then re-roll to rounds about 12 inches in diameter and 3/16 inch thick (about the thickness of two quarters). This will create the layers of flakiness in your pie dough. Transfer one round of dough to a black steel or Pyrex 9-inch pie pan, and trim the edges so they are even with the rim of the pie pan. Place the second round on a flat baking sheet and put it in the freezer. This will become the top of the pie.

Freeze the dough in the pie pan for 1 hour. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the pie pan from the freezer and line the dough with aluminum foil. Fill with baking beads, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. When cool, preheat the oven again to 350°F.

Pour the nectarine filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Use a pastry brush to moisten the edges of the bottom pie crust with some of the egg white. Remove the top dough from the freezer and place over the fruit. Press down around the edges with your fingers to seal and tuck any excess dough under the edges. With a paring knife, cut 12 slits in the center of the raw dough, barely piercing it, to create air vents. Then, brush the top dough with the remaining egg white and sprinkle with Demerara or granulated sugar.

Bake on an aluminum-foil-covered rimmed 11-by-17-inch baking sheet on the center rack until the pie is deeply golden and you can see the thick juices bubbling through the vent, for 1 hour. Let cool before serving.

Coconut Pie

8 graham crackers (one sleeve)
1/4 cup pecans
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
15 ounces can sweetened cream of coconut
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon icing (powdered) sugar

Start by making a graham cracker crust: Crush the graham crackers and pecans in a food processor (or by hand in a baggie with a rolling pin). Stir in melted butter, press into a pie tin, and bake at 350° F for 10 minutes. Then leave the crust to cool.

To make the coconut custard, start by heating milk and cream of coconut in a saucepan until scalding.

In a bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until pale yellow. Carefully temper the yolk mixture by whisking in 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture. Then, slowly add the remaining milk, whisking continuously until fully combined. Pour the custard base back into the saucepan and place over low heat. Whisk continuously until the custard boils and thickens. Then remove from the heat.

Whisk in the cold butter and vanilla extract. Leave custard to cool to room temperature. Pour the cooled custard into the cooled crust and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.

Toast coconut flakes in a pan over low heat until the edges are golden. Let cool.

Whip cream with icing sugar until it is thick and spreadable. Top the coconut pie with whipped cream and sprinkle on coconut flakes. Slice and serve!

Summer Strawberry Pie

For the Crust:
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
14 ounces graham crackers (about 24 crackers), crushed into fine crumbs in a food processor or blender

For the Strawberry Filling:
3 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled, divided
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin
Pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon (optional; see note above)
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

For the Crust: In a medium bowl, stir butter into graham cracker crumbs until evenly incorporated. Firmly press into an even layer lining the bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate; it helps to use the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten bottom of crust evenly. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

For the Strawberry Filling: Place 1 pound of strawberries in a food processor or blender and blend to a smooth puree. You should have about 3/4 cup puree (see note above).Transfer to a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and set aside.

Cut remaining strawberries into 3/4-inch slices, transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the sugar. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until berries release about 3/4 cup liquid, about 1 hour. Measure out 3/4 cup macerating liquid and combine with strawberry puree (you should now have 1 1/2 cups total puree and macerating liquid). Drain macerated berries of any extra liquid; reserve extra liquid for another use or discard.

Place 2 tablespoons water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly on top and let stand 5 minutes. Microwave gelatin mixture in 10-second intervals until gelatin is melted and hot, about 10 seconds.

Scrape melted gelatin into a large bowl, then gradually whisk in strawberry puree mixture until well combined. Whisk in salt.

Add drained macerated strawberry chunks and stir to combine. Adjust taste with lemon juice, if desired, then immediately pour into the prepared pie crust. Turn the berries on top skin side up for best presentation. Refrigerate until set, 4 to 6 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Cracklin’ Oat Bran Pie Crust

Makes one 9- or 10-inch pie or tart crust

1 1/2 cups finely ground Cracklin’ Oat Bran cereal
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling of choice

Preheat the oven to 375° F. In a medium bowl, mix the ground cereal with the melted butter until the cereal is evenly coated and damp. Dump the mixture into a 9- or 10-inch tart pan or pie pan, and press in evenly, using a spoon, the flat bottom of a cup, or your fingers (it helps to put a layer of plastic wrap over the crust in this case).

Bake the crust for 7 to 9 minutes, until it is a deeper shade of brown and dry-feeling. Monitor it closely so that you can turn the oven down if it’s browning too quickly.

Let cool completely before filling.