Texas Living

The Ultimate Pie Guide

By Haley Shapley 1.23.17

Hold yer horses! Don’t put the pie pans away just yet! The holidays might be over, but pie is a year-round treat. And we can all agree on one thing: There’s really never a bad time to have a slice (pie for breakfast, anyone?). Whether you like sweet or savory, classic or contemporary, we’ve got you covered — with a nice lattice design, of course.

From the outside in

No matter how divine the filling is, a pie is ultimately judged on its crust. Although that kind of pressure can send anyone to a readymade option, remember that homemade wins the day. There are people who swear by butter, those who prefer shortening, and some who like a mixture of both, but one common bit of advice is to keep your ingredients very cold. For fruit pies, freezing the entire pie before baking can help with soggy-crust issues. Beyond that, experiment with different styles and see what works best for you.

(Don’t) feel the burn

Don’t let your precious pie fall victim to over-browning. Protect your crust with a pie guard (available at most stores that sell kitchen or baking accessories) or a homemade foil protector!

Stovetop simplicity

Another secret to pie-making is having a few quick go-to fillings you can whip up in a jiffy. The easiest ones to have on-hand (in my humble opinion) are stovetop fillings such as these simple recipes for pie staples: pumpkin, chocolate, and apple pie.

It’s the tops

How will you top it off? This New York Times guide walks you through creating tops of all kinds, from lattice and whole to cutout and crumble. If you’re ready to move beyond the basics, Martha Stewart has a dozen ideas that make for an impressive presentation.

Small but mighty

Want the wonderful taste of pie without having 12 slices sitting on your counter calling out to you? Then a hand pie (aka empanada, pasty, turnover, etc.) is in order. These pared-down pastries are the perfect vehicle for everything from diced pears soaked in cinnamon to spinach and artichoke dip.

Eating out

After all that freezing, rolling, and baking in the kitchen, sometimes you just want to sit down and enjoy an impeccable piece of pie made by a pro. In the Lone Star State, that’s not hard to find. Here are a few favorites — if you can’t make it in person, they all ship, too:

  • Royer’s Round Top Café: When the founder of a café is nicknamed the Pieman, you know you’re in for something good. Chocolate lovers will delight in Bud’s Chocolate Chip, a pie/cookie hybrid with pecans. If you’re in the mood for something fruity, try Not My Mom’s Apple Pie, described as “apple slices topped off with a brown sugar and whipped cream filling and finally topped off with a wonderful brown sugar and pecan topping.” Need we say more?
  • Texas Pie Company: With the motto, “Life is short, eat more pie,” this cute spot in Kyle is known for its classic Southern Pecan Pie, but there are more than 20 tempting options, including Almond Joy, Coconut Cream, and Dutch Apple.
  • Emporium Pies: With three locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Emporium is beginning to build a pie empire based on creatively named (and tasty!) pies with no artificial preservatives, hydrogenated oils, dyes, or corn syrup. For a delightful blend of sweet and salty, try Smooth Operator, a French silk chocolate pie on a pretzel crust.

With these simple tips for pie creation and a roundup of the top pies in the Lone Star State, you’re sure to become a proficient pie master in no time.

If all that pie talk has you looking for a little eye candy for your sweet tooth, check out the Texas Heritage for Living Dessert Delights Pinterest board.

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