For the Epicurious: Pies, Pies, Pies! 

November 24, 2014

I’m not sure why pie tastes so good come November; maybe because it’s so dark and gloomy outside, that a comforting slice of pie helps me get through what is just the start of the “rainy” season around here. Or maybe, I now have extra time to bake, since gardening and bike riding are out of the question. It could be the anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner that makes me want to get a head start on things. Whatever the reason, I love to bake pies.

I feel fortunate to have had a French Canadian grandmother who also loved to bake. I still love to pull the old crusty file card out where I copied down the recipe so many years ago. Since she was French, her flour- butter ratio is 2-1! Please don’t let that scare you off; butter is what makes it taste so good! My oldest daughter never liked pies until I taught her great-grandma’s recipe for pie dough; since then, she requests pie for her birthday dessert instead of cake!

As I pondered on what pie recipe I should share with you, it came to me that I couldn’t decide. Thinking back to all Plymouth’s past Thanksgiving dinners I used to prepare, I couldn’t decide then either, so I ended up making three different kinds of pie.

It was always hard for me to make just one since I like them all. And since you can get away with abundance at Thanksgiving, why not?  Choose pumpkin; it’s the most traditional. Choose apple since it’s a classic, or pick chocolate pecan, because it’s simply delicious? I am hopeless and can’t decide so you will have to, or make them all like I did and have extra to eat for breakfast the next morning, because the real breakfast of champions is…Pie! –Happy Thanksgiving, Molly Anderson

Grandma’s Pie Crust

1 cup flour

½ cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces

½ tsp. salt

3-4 Tbsp. Ice Water


Blend flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. (It’s okay to have chunks of butter the size of peas). Remove mixture from food processor put into bowl. Slowly add 2 tablespoons ice water until small moist clumps form; add more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball. Flatten into disk.

Pumpkin Pie with Toffee-Pecan Topping

I love pumpkin pie; add topping of toffee bits and pecans and not only is it pretty, it adds a little something special that makes it even that much more irresistible. Add a thin layer of ground pecans and gingersnaps on the bottom of the crust before adding the filling to prevent soggy crust and add extra flavor too!

4 (2-inch) Gingersnaps

¼ cup pecan or walnut halves, toasted


  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup Pecans or Walnuts toasted, chopped
  • 1/3 cup English toffee bits (such as Skor)
  • 4 (2-inch) Gingersnaps
  • 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves, toasted

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Fold overhang under, forming high-standing rim. Crimp edges decoratively. Freeze 15 minutes. Bake until crust is set but still pale, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

Process the gingersnaps and pecans until finely ground. Sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie crust and, using your fingers and the back of a spoon, press them into the dough to coat the entire bottom, going about 1/2 inch up the sides.

Filling: Whisk first 12 ingredients in large bowl. Pour into crust. Bake until filling is set, about 55 minutes. Transfer to rack. Sprinkle nuts and toffee around edge of hot pie, forming border. Cool pie completely. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Apple Crumb Pie

The thing I like about this apple pie recipe is it combines two of my favorite ways to eat apples for dessert, pie and crisp all rolled up into one! I love contrast of taste and textures the oatmeal spice topping brings to the pie party. A thin layer of apricot jam spread on the crust before filling it with apple also adds a lovely little tang to the pie.


3 pounds Pippin apples or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into scant 1/4-inch-thick slices

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves



  • 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 7 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Crust: Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°F. Place rimmed baking sheet in bottom of oven to catch spills. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Fold overhang under, forming high-standing rim. Crimp edges decoratively. Freeze 15 minutes. Spread preserves over the bottom of the dough.

Filling: Toss all ingredients in large bowl. After dough is chilled, fill with apple mixture.

Topping: Blend together the dry ingredients. Add butter. Stir until well mixed. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples.

Bake pie until topping is golden, about 40 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until apples are tender when pierced with small sharp knife; cover pie loosely with foil if topping and crust are browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Cool pie on rack until slightly warm, at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Pie

This is non-traditional pecan pie, but it has so many qualities that it makes it hard to resist! First, it takes about 15 minutes to make! It’s super easy, doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, but most of all it is super delectable! I make this in many forms; put it in muffin tins, and make little tarts. Add a drizzle of chocolate ganache on top before serving and create a fancy dessert. Put it in a 9 x 13 baking dish, cut into bars and you have a magical Christmas cookie.  With a little imagination, the possibilities with this recipe are endless deliciousness.

For crust

  • 1 1/2 cups Chocolate Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

For filling

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 cups pecan halves (about 10 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ tsp.  Kosher salt


Make crust:

Blend all ingredients in processor. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Chill while preparing filling.

Make filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring often. Boil 1 minute. Stir in nuts and cream. Boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is well blended. Pour hot filling into crust. Using spoon, evenly distribute nuts. Bake until filling bubbles all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool.







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