Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Pie Shell Creations from Pet-Ritz" - Caramel Custard Pie for "Pi" Day - 03.14.14

Date I made this recipe:  March 16, 2014 (to commemorate Pi Day 03.14.14)

Pie Shell Creations from Pet-Ritz®
Published by:  Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen/Meredith Publishing Services
© 1979
Purchased at Hopkins (Hennepin County Library) Library Sale
Recipe: Carmel Custard Pie – p. 60

Folks, if not for the Internet, would any of us have realized that Pi Day was upon us?  I think not. 

Actually, Pi Day was discussed on my local radio station's morning show (The Current – 89.3 FM – the most fabulous station ever!) but you know how that goes, right?  You're waking up, you turn on the radio, you hear announcers talking but it all sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher and then you think you hear something about "pie."  Okay...sure...and then maybe if you're me, you doze off for a bit and forget you heard any of this...

....until you sit down at your computer and you pull up the local news and there it is – Pi Day.  A day set aside to celebrate a mathematical constant – 3.14.  Wow—are we a great country, or what?

Now if you are mathematically challenged like me, "pi" – the number – means nothing.  It's not like I've ever walked around with that knowledge stuck in my head.  3.14?  Yeah, what about it? 

But when you talk about "pie" as in an incredible edible, then we're onto something.  This is language I can speak. This is a concept I can retain. This – the baking of "pie" – is something I can do.  And so I did.

And so to the bookshelves I went and I have to say that the main reason I selected this book above all others was that it is musty and I wanted it off my shelf and into storage ASAP to avoid further allergic moments.  That and the fact it was taking up shelf space; recipes were secondary.

What I love about this book – and this will crush many bakers, including my husband – is that I didn't have to prepare the dough.  My husband, Andy, loves to make pies.  I do not love them as much.  They're not hard, but there is an art form to making the perfect crust and I wasn't in the mood for a tutorial (or more likely, a crash and burn).  And so when the recipe ingredients told me to buy a frozen pie crust, I was all over that one.  And then pre-bake the crust for 6 minutes – what?  How easy is that?

The next (easy) decision I made was what kind of buy to make.  Andy tends to like sweet pies (as opposed to savory) and he loves custard (crème brule, flan, etc.) and loves caramel and so decision made. Other than the pie crust, all I had to do was purchase a can of evaporated milk and that was that!

 Now just because Pet-Ritz mass-produces these pie crusts, doesn't mean they don't pay attention to the details of making a pie.  The first couple pages are instructions for making the (perfect) single crust pie; double crust pie; lattice topped pie; graham cracker crust pie and so on.  There's even a section for Microwave (pie) cooking – a first for me!  And then there are instructions for keeping pie fresh and this is always good to know.  A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a fresh blueberry pie.  For whatever reason, I didn't think it needed refrigeration and so it sat out on my counter for a few days.  You should know that  this was not a good idea as my stomach just roiled and I was sick for the rest of the day after eating a very small slice.  Ah – life's lessons learned!  (Never turn your back on the ocean and never trust a pie that's been sitting out!)

Once you get past all the preliminary instructions, then you can knock yourself out with any number of recipes in this book – pot pie, taco pie, quiche, turnovers – you name it.

I'm glad we went with the simple and easy approach – as easy as...pi(e).  I can't say the texture was to my liking but the taste was great.  I find custard pies to be challenging as you don't want them too underdone but you also don't want to move in the direction of them looking too eggy.  This one was close to that but we didn't care as the caramel was fabulous.  And you can be sure that this sucker went into the refrigerator shortly after cooling.  Safety first, folks!

So Happy Pi(e) Day, everyone!

Caramel Custard Pie
1 Pet-Ritz "Deep Dish" Pie Crust Shell
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tall can (13 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
2/3 cup water
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter

Prebake unpricked pie crust shell on preheated cookie sheet in 450 degree oven for 6 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Reduce temperature to 400.

Combine eggs, evaporated milk, and water.  Combine brown sugar and flour; cut in butter until crumbly.  Add milk mixture; beat well.  Pour into partially baked pie shell.  Bake on preheated cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until knife inserted just off center comes out clean.  Cool.

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