Monday, February 15, 2010

The Nature of Pies and Pastries

From "Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 4"

Pastry is a shortened dough that is made of flour, water, salt, and fat and used in the preparation of desserts. Chief among these deserts are pies. These are made by baking foods between two crusts of pastry or with a single crust, which may be an upper or a lower one. Originally pies were not intended for desserts. Rather, they were used as the main dish of the meal, as they contained a filling of meat or fish and vegetables. Such pies are still made, but they are not usually the ones intended when pastry for pies is mentioned. It should therefore be understood that the pastry considered in this Section is that which is used with sweet fillings and employed particularly in the making of pies and similar foods that are used for desserts.

Some cooks, especially the French ones, regard as pastry such foods as certain small cakes, the paste used for cream puffs and ├ęclairs, and the sweetened breads made with yeast, such as brioche. In reality, such desserts resemble cakes in use more than they do pastry, and for this reason are discussed in connection with them.

Pastry desserts may be made in various fancy shapes for individual servings or in pies that will serve five or six persons. Pies having one crust usually contain a filling that consists of a custard mixture, a mixture thickened with corn starch or flour, or occasionally a fruit mixture. Some pies also have a top crust covering the filling, and when this is the case a fruit filling, either fresh or cooked, is the kind that is generally used.

Because of the nature of the materials used in the preparation of pastry desserts, the finished product is necessarily high in food value. For instance, starchy material is provided by the flour, fat by the shortening, and sugar in comparatively large amounts by the filling, whether it be fruit of some kind or a material resembling custard. This fact, rather than the taste or the appetite, should aid in determining whether or not pastry desserts should be included in a meal. While the popularity of such desserts causes them to be used somewhat indiscriminately, their use should always be governed by the nature of the rest of the meal. Thus, if the other dishes served provide enough food value, then a dessert lighter than pie should be chosen; but if the rest of the meal is not sufficiently high in this respect, a wholesome pastry dessert will generally prove to be a wise selection.

It is true, of course, that every person must determine for himself whether or not pastry desserts are wholesome enough to be eaten by him. Indigestion is almost sure to result from heavy, soggy, imperfectly baked pastry, because the quantities of fat it contains may be slow to digest and much of the starchy material may be imperfectly cooked. Consequently, it is often not the pie itself but the way in which it is made that is responsible for the bad reputation that this very attractive dessert has acquired. If the correct method of making pastry and pies is followed and the ingredients are handled properly in the making, the digestibility of the finished product need give the housewife very little concern. As a rule, a little experience is needed in order that good results in the making of pastry dishes may be attained, but one who becomes efficient in the other phases of cookery should have no difficulty with foods of this kind.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Miss Parola's Chocolate Cream Pie

From "Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes, by Miss Parola"

Beat to a cream half a cupful of butter and a cupful and a quarter of powdered sugar. Add two well-beaten eggs, two tablespoonfuls of wine, half a cupful of milk, and a cupful and a half of sifted flour, with which has been mixed a teaspoonful and a half of baking powder. Bake this in four well-buttered, deep, tin plates for about fifteen minutes in a moderate oven.

Put half a pint of milk in the double-boiler, and on the fire. Beat together the yolks of two eggs, three tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar, and a level tablespoonful of flour. Stir this mixture into the boiling milk, beating well. Add one-sixth of a teaspoonful of salt, and cook for fifteen minutes, stirring often. When cooked, flavor with half a teaspoonful of vanilla extract. Put two of the cakes on two large plates, spread the cream over them, and lay the other two cakes on top. Beat the whites of the two eggs to a stiff froth, and then beat into them one cupful of powdered sugar and one teaspoonful of vanilla. Shave one ounce of Walter Baker & Co.'s Premium No. 1 Chocolate, and put it in a small pan with two tablespoonfuls of sugar and one tablespoonful of boiling water. Stir over a hot fire until smooth and glossy. Now add three tablespoonfuls of cream or milk, and stir into the beaten egg and sugar. Spread on the pies and set away for a few hours.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Plain Lemon Pie

From "Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 4"

A plain lemon pie that is comparatively inexpensive may be made by following the directions given here. More eggs, of course, will make a better pie and they may be added if desired. Grating the rind of the lemon adds flavor to the filling, but too much will give a bitter taste. Lemon juice should never be cooked with the corn starch, as the filling will gradually become thinner and the starch will lose its value as a thickening agent.

* 2 c. water
* 1 c. sugar
* 1/4 tsp. salt
* 1/3 c. corn starch
* 2 eggs
* 1/4 c. lemon juice
* Grated rind of 1 lemon

Bring the water to the boiling point. Mix the sugar, salt, and corn starch and add to the water. Cook directly over the flame until the mixture is thickened and then place in a double boiler. Separate the eggs, beat the yolks, and to them add the lemon juice and the grated rind of the lemon. Beat all well and add to the corn-starch mixture. Remove from the fire and pour into the baked crust of a pie. Make meringue of the egg whites and place on top of the filling. Brown in the oven, cool, and serve.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mock Cherry Pie

From "Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 4"

A pie that closely resembles cherry pie in both flavor and appearance may be had by combining cranberries and raisins. This is an excellent substitute for cherry pie and may be made at times when fresh cherries cannot be obtained and canned cherries are not in supply.

* 2 c. cranberries
* 3/4 c. sultana raisins
* 3/4 c. water
* 1 c. sugar
* 2 Tb. flour
* 1 Tb. butter

Wash the cranberries and cut them in half. Wash the raisins and mix them with the cranberries. Add the water and cook until the fruit is soft. Mix the sugar, flour, and butter and add to the mixture. Cook until the flour thickens, place the mixture in the lower crust, cover with a top crust, and bake in a hot oven until nicely browned.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Authentic Mince Meat Pie

Here's an authentic vintage mince-meat pie recipe, including the use of suet! From "Woman's Institute Library of Cookery"

Mince meat, which is much used for pies during the fall and winter season, is a concoction that finds favor with most people. It may be comparatively simple or it may contain a large variety of ingredients, and in accordance with this variation it may be cheap or expensive. However, the ingredients generally used in this mixture are apples, dried fruits, sugar, molasses, cider, and chopped beef and suet. Other fruits, such as quinces, oranges, and citron, and various spices are also often used for flavoring. The cheaper cuts of meat, such as the neck, shoulder, brisket, etc., are suitable for this purpose, because the meat is ground so fine in making the mince meat that the fact that it was at all tough can be very readily concealed. Such expensive material as citron can be omitted altogether if desired and greater quantities of apples, which are the cheapest ingredient, used. A slight variation in the ingredients does not make any material difference in this mixture and the recipes given are submitted merely as a basis from which to work. If used just as they are given, they will be found to be excellent; but if it is necessary to practice greater economy or if it is not possible to secure all the ingredients called for, they may be varied to suit conditions. The juice from pickled fruits, jelly, or the juice from preserves or canned cherries may be used in any desired proportion in the making of mince meat to replace some of the cider.

Mince pie is most palatable when served warm, but it is entirely permissible to make several pies at a time and then warm them in the oven before serving. In this way they may be kept over for several days. Pie of this kind made with the usual ingredients is a heavy dessert, for it contains a certain amount of protein material and is high in fat and carbohydrate. This fact should be taken into consideration in meal planning, so that the dessert may balance properly with the other food.

* 4 lb. beef
* 15 medium-size apples
* 4 quinces, chopped
* 1/2 lb. citron
* 3 lb. raisins, seeded
* 6 oranges
* 2 c. suet
* 1 lb. sugar
* 1 c. vinegar
* 3 c. cider
* 1-1/2 c. molasses
* 2 Tb. cinnamon
* 2 tsp. cloves
* 2 tsp. nutmeg

Let the beef simmer in sufficient water to cover it well until it is tender, and then allow it to cool in the water in which it was cooked. This broth may be used as part of the liquid in the mince meat if desired. Chop the meat very fine with a chopping knife and bowl or put it through a food chopper. Chop the apples and quinces, cut the citron, and wash the raisins. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and grate the rinds. Force the suet through a food chopper or chop it with a chopping knife. Mix all these ingredients, add the sugar, liquids, and spices, and place in a large vessel. Simmer slowly for 1 hour. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. If the mince meat is cooked in the oven, it is less likely to scorch. Seal in fruit jars the same as for canned fruit and store for future use.

To bake mince pie, fill the lower crust with the mince-meat mixture, place the upper crust in position, and put the pie into a hot oven. Gradually reduce the heat, baking the pie for about 45 minutes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Peach Pie

From "Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 4"

Fresh peaches make a very delicious pie. Canned peaches may be used as well, but they do not make so good a pie. Less sugar will be needed if canned peaches are used instead of fresh ones because they are usually canned with sugar. Clingstone peaches may be used rather advantageously for making pie because the fact that they cannot be cut from the stones in uniform pieces makes less difference for pie than for serving in almost any other way.


1 qt. sliced peaches
3/4 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
3 Tb. flour

Fill the lower crust with the sliced peaches and sprinkle with the sugar, salt, and flour, which have been previously mixed. Moisten the edge of the lower crust, cover with the top crust, and bake in a moderately hot oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Peach pie served hot with whipped cream makes a very delicious dessert.

THICKENING JUICY FRUITS FOR PIES.--When particularly juicy fruit, such as berries, cherries, peaches, etc., is used for pie, flour or other starchy material must necessarily be used to thicken the juice and thus prevent it from running out when the pie is served. If the fruit is very sour, a proportionately larger quantity of flour will be necessary. This is due to the fact that the acid of the fruit reduces the starch in the flour to dextrine, and this form of carbohydrate does not have so much thickening power as the starch in its original form had.

The same thing takes place when browned flour is used in making sauce or gravy. As experience will prove, browned flour must be used in greater quantity than white flour or a thinner sauce will be the result. The browned flour and the flour cooked with the acid of fruits are similar so far as their thickening power is concerned, for the one is reduced to dextrine by the application of dry heat or hot fat and the other by moist heat and the presence of acid.