My Attempt at a Pieathalon 5 Medal!


Music – “Get Baking / Bakewell Counting / Early Bake / Countryside Air / Final Destination (Get Baking Medley)” from Music Featured in the T.V. Program: The Great American Baking Competition by The London Film Score Orchestra. Released: 2014.

Readers may have seen my post of July 31st,  “New Olympic Event? The Pieathalon!” Well, the pie-baking day has arrived, after much putting-off and grumbling. (I am NOT a baker and entered this worthy competition with some trepidation) I was assigned “Walnut Pie” from “The Yul Brynner Cookbook“, published in 1983.   The recipe was courtesy of Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers.

I made my pie on August 15th, which, coincidentally happens to be “National Lemon Meringue Pie Day“, according to my book “Eat the Year“.  And, shame on me, I was making Walnut Pie!  Perhaps I’ve already violated some Pieathalon statute, like doping in the Olympics ? Actually, I don’t even think there are medals awarded (but it doesn’t matter, because my fireplace mantel is too cluttered with my other numerous awards.  Right.)

Nevertheless, I proceeded with caution, taking photographs at every opportunity, after continually dusting off flour from the lens of my camera.  First, the book and the recipe:

“The Yul Brynner Cookbook” 1983

The recipe for “Walnut Pie” from “The Yul Brynner Cookbook”










I assembled the ingredients for the pastry: flour, butter, a pinch of salt and one egg:

Ingredients for the pastry

Here is the sequence:

Now, according to my consulting book “The New High Altitude Cookbook“, I added a tablespoon of water to allow for the drying that often occurs during high altitude baking (don’t I sound like I do this all of the time?  Not!)

Adding a bit of water for high-altitude adjustment

After the dough was sufficiently mixed:

I neglected to take a photograph of the fluted edges I gave the pastry, even though no instructions deemed it to have one.  In high school, I played the flute in music class and I have made fluted crusts on pies.  Unfortunately, I would have to admit that I was never good at either one (which might explain why I forgot to take a photograph!)

Once the pie crust was prepared, it seemed very buttery and soft to me, so I decided to pop it into the refrigerator until the filling was prepared.  The filling consists of light corn syrup, dark brown sugar (I had only light, so I hope this is not another infraction!), sour cream, a dash of salt, melted butter, vanilla extract, eggs and walnuts. Together, it seemed extremely rich and rather a lot of filling considering the size of the pie plate.  I used Mexican vanilla, which has a richer flavour.   I initially forgot to add the melted butter before stirring first, so I added it afterward and stirred again:

Next, it was time to beat the eggs and add to the rest of the mixture.  I should point out that my beater was a Sunbeam Mixmaster, which I received as a gift in 1972 and is still going strong!

Finally, it was ready to pour (I ladled – yet another infraction?) into the prepared pastry and scatter the walnuts over the top.  Although the recipe specified “whole shelled walnuts”, my local grocery seemed to be out of whole walnuts and I had to be satisfied with “halves and pieces” (perhaps another Pieathalon incumbent was in my neighbourhood and snatched up the whole pieces!)

After carefully assembling everything, I proceeded cautiously to my awaiting 350 degree oven:

Because there seemed to be so much filling and I was afraid it would overflow into a burned, sticky mess in my fairly new oven, I excluded about a half a cup of the filling, which I poured into a small Pyrex dish and sprinkled with walnuts (an extra bonus after the pie is finished!) I also put an aluminum piecrust protector ring on top of the pie, or whatever that gadget is called.

The recipe specified that the pie should bake for “45 minutes, or until filling is completely cooked“.  After 45 minutes at 350 degrees, I pulled out the oven rack and the contents of the pie quivered like quicksand, so back in it went.

“I don’t think it’s cooked yet!” (Photo Credit:

I reset the timer for another 20 minutes.  After checking again, the quicksand had congealed a bit, but was definitely not ready to eat.  Another 15 minutes seem to do the trick, so after a total of 80 minutes, the pie was finally done and seemed to have set properly.

Not being a frequent baker (which I have already admitted to), and being at an altitude of about 5,700 feet, I know that weird things happen in the oven and on the stove top, and I think that at least part of the extra time required for the pie to set was a function of this anomaly.  When I first moved to Albuquerque, from just outside of Toronto (about 450 feet above sea level), I couldn’t understand why it took me FOREVER to boil potatoes!  I would put them in a pot and boil, and boil, and boil.  I learned after some trial and error that water boils at 212 degrees at or near sea level, but that due to atmospheric pressure, it boils at about 200 degrees at the elevation of my residence in southeast Albuquerque. The water is boiling away, but the temperature is lower, so it takes much longer.  Lesson learned (but not in baking!)

Now, for the ultimate decision about whether or not I am eligible for a Pieathalon medal (if there is one!)the taste test!  I admit that I am not a lover of “sweet” things, however, my spouse is. Here is his verdict on the Walnut Pie:

Pieathlon 5 (photo provided by Emily Brungo)


(all photos, unless otherwise specified, by Sue Jimenez)

My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

About vintagecookbookery

Cookbook lover and collector with a burgeoning collection of cookbooks. Reading and researching food trends, history of cooking techniques and technological advances in cooking, what we eat and why and cookbooks as reflectors of cultures is a fascination for me. As of November 7th, 2013, I hold the current Guinness World Record title for the largest collection of cookbooks: 2,970 at the official count on July 14th, 2013 (applaud now, thank you very much!) The current (unofficial) number is now 6,500. What next? More shelves?
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17 Responses to My Attempt at a Pieathalon 5 Medal!

  1. I agree, Sheryl. As a self professed non-baker, it is frustrating, even if you follow recipes to the letter and try to make allowances for altitude, etc. Perhaps that is why I “cook” more, but don’t “bake”! The fact that it took double the time for me to cook the walnut pie recipe was not only odd, but almost embarrassing!

  2. Sheryl says:

    I don’t live at a high altitude, but I’ve also sometimes had pies that took FOREVER to get the filling to the right consistency. It’s so frustrating when it takes so much longer than what is indicated in a recipe.

  3. Pingback: Mock pecan pie recipe – a baking challenge with a difference | My Custard Pie

  4. Pingback: 5th Annual Pieathalon - Sweet Onion Pie - Silver Screen Suppers

  5. Not really being a very proficient baker, I agonized at the almost double the time it took for the pie to cook. My oven is only a few months old and perhaps not “calibrated” very well, as they say, and the altitude I think is a contributing factor. Alternately, I just don’t know how to bake!

  6. S S says:

    I’ve had pies that spent up to twice as long in the oven without the high altitude. Sometimes it just… happens? :S
    But your pie looks lovely! I never liked walnuts because the only time I encountered them was in chocolate chip cookies where they got in the way of the chocolate. Maybe I oughta try this one?

  7. Pingback: Apricot Meringue Pie for the 5th Annual Pieathalon « Eliot's Eats

  8. eliotthecat says:

    And I thought I had mountains of cookbooks. You win….. You might have won with the best tasting and most edible pie for this round as well!

  9. Kari….I don’t have all the cookbooks either, but I’m getting there! Believe it or not, I’m pretty discriminating about what books I buy. My goal was never to just have oodles of them, but to enjoy them and write about them. Still, it’s in my blood, I guess!

  10. Kari says:

    What a beautiful pie! I should probably ban myself from this page, since I have a bit of a cookbook habit. I did send my husband the description from the top of the page to prove that I do not, in fact, own all the cookbooks.

  11. Thank you, Poppy! If you look at my posts, you’ll see very few recipes. I love cookbooks like you, because of the history, what they tell us about roles, cultures, food availability, changing technology, trends and so much more. The recipes are a bonus, too!

  12. wendyklik says:

    That is a pretty glowing verdict right there.

  13. Poppy says:

    That pie looks delicious, and you are so good at rolling out a pie crust! Mine look like they were patched together by Dr. Frankenstein. (Glad I got a crumb crust this year.)

    I’m envious of the size of your collection, and I love your note about cookbooks as time capsules. That’s really why I love them so much too. When I get a book with handwritten recipes on extra pages, recipes clipped from newspapers, cards or notes from friends and family– it just makes my day. Old cookbooks really are little windows into the daily lives of women in the past.

  14. Pingback: 5th Annual Pieathalon: Kate’s Pie (1985) | Dinner Is Served 1972

  15. In fact, I do have that cookbook in my collection, in addition to the recipe, which was sent to me by Emily. It is a VERY sweet pie, which I had never made before. The kind of pie that makes you want to run, not walk to your dentist for an immediate teeth cleaning! Thanks for the comments.

  16. Yinzerella says:

    You win a medal, lady!
    I am happy that your pie was delicious and I’m happy that you were able to join in this year’s festivities.
    And Greg has a good question–do you already own Yul’s cookbook?

  17. greg says:

    Your pie looks delicious! Loved the “aluminum piecrust protector ring”-thing…never seen one before (like a crow to shiny objects…I have a weakness for useless kitchen gadgets). Just curious, was the Yul Brynner cookbook in your collection? A Gold Medal posting in my book!

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