In doing this project I decided in advance that I should try to stay stick as closely as I possiby could to the cookbook's original recipe. I have it in my head that if you tinker around with a recipe too much, it then becomes your recipe, not the recipe put forth by the cookbook author. But with these two recipes I have to admit to a little cheating, and I don't think that by cutting a few small corners that the overall result suffered any.
Both of these recipes call for the baker to make a pie crust, with each crust recipe listed on a page seperate from the pie/tart recipe. Now, pie crust is a subject that many at home bakers feel strongly about. Actually I've met a few of these bakers whose fervor about pie crust "authenticity" is of the type usually reserved for book burnings or cult meetings.On a side note, if I liked pie more, I'd definitely start my own pie cult or "Church of the Heavenly Pie", maybe I'll start my own cake cult instead. If you see me in a Wal-Mart parking lot putting fliers on windshields, asking people to be enlightened by the power of the CC, you'll know my dream has come true.
In the baking world so many feel that there is no substitute for a homemade crust, and that they're easy to make, blah, blah, blah. I've made a few crusts from scratch, and yes, they are easy to make, but all the crusts I have ever made taste the same as the pre-made, roll out type that I could have purchased from the grocery store instead. So I ask you, what is the point of making that myself, when I can just buy it? I know that I'll get comments that say something along the lines of "you just haven't tasted my (wife's, grandmother's, great aunt's or cousin's dog's) pie crust recipe or you wouldn't feel that way". And you might be right, maybe their recipe could be the magical pie crust that changes my mind, but don't hold your breath.
Since the DH and I were invited to the in-laws for Christmas dinner, I volunteered to bring dessert and was happy to be able to knock out two recipes in one weekend.
First the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie. This pie is very easy to make, and is perfect for those who cannot choose between having pumpkin pie or pecan pie, since this recipe is a combination of both. Half of the ingredients go into a food processor for blending (the pumpkin portion of the pie) and the other half go into a bowl for blending (the pecan pie parts). I did make a substitution in the pumpkin portion. The recipe calls for dark rum, and I didn't have any handy. I didn't want to buy a bottle of rum, because I knew that it would just sit around for a year or two, until another recipe called for it. So, I added rum extract instead. The recipe calls for two teaspoons of the rum, so I went with two teaspoons of the extract instead. The Darling Husband thought that the flavor of the extract was a little too strong and overwhelmed the rest of the pie, but I didn't notice. What I did notice is that the pie turned out a little runny. I made the pie on Christmas morning, and it had about six hours to cool before it was served. It had been baked thoroughly so I know that it wasn't underdone. I would recommend baking this one the day before if possible and refrigerating it overnight, because a more firm texture would have made this a fantastic pie.
The lemon cream tart is not as extraordinary as the moniker claims. It is somewhat easy to make too, but there is a time where you'll need an instant read thermometer and some strong biceps, to be able to pull the recipe off. The crust for this one was blind baked in a tart pan (very pretty), and then you prepare lemon filling and chill. You'll need to zest some lemons, squeeze the juice from said lemons, and then add sugar to the zest only, and then work it with your hands until the sugar becomes "moist and fragrant", that part was kind of fun. You then add the freshly squeezed juice, and eggs to this mixture and whip it.
Then comes the upper body workout. All of the items you just whisked together go into a pot, onto the stove until it reaches 180 degress per your instant read thermometer, whisking the entire time.This can take up to ten minutes, according to the book. It took much longer than that. The DH and I took turns whisking and I still felt as if my arm was going to fall off!
The mix is then strained into a blender, you blend while adding room temperature butter ( 2 sticks worth! Egads.) and then spoon it into your crust.
I added a little raspberry dessert filling to the top of this just to cut the intense lemon flavor a little. This tart looks good, but the taste was just alright. A few people at Christmas diner seemed to really enjoy it, but the DH and I had a few problems with it. He thought there was a strong eggy taste, and I say there was a strong buttery aftertaste, but not in a good way.
The Twofer Pie is one that I would definitely make again. I'm glad I had the experience of making the lemon tart, but I wouldn't do it again unless someone whom I really like was to request it.